In a neighborhood near our house there is a charming little model home. Every time I drive passed I smile because I think it has such a wonderful attention to detail and is built with quality. I finally remembered my camera and stopped by to take a few pictures.
Homes are kind of my "thing". I have been interested in homes since I was a little girl. My parents started taking me to home-shows when I was in elementary school and I looked forward to it each year. In college I studied Interior Design and we had a wonderful professor who had us use, "The Not So Big House," book as our text book for her class. The book covers the fact that our homes keep getting bigger and bigger, but that doesn't mean that they function for our families and meet our needs. It was very informative and I learned a lot from the book and the concepts that it taught, but as a newly married starving student in the back of my mind I still dreamed of owning a large fancy home.
When my husband graduated with his master's degree several of our friends who were also graduating started talking about where they were moving to and about their new houses. One friend's husband had just finished his medical residency and they were moving to a six bedroom home. Another friend was having a new home build with four bedrooms. Our situation turned out to be quite different. My husband's fellowship took us to Palo Alto, CA where the cost of living was significantly higher than where he had attended graduates school in the Midwest. Unlike our friends who were out shopping for a new dining room table for their new home. I started to clean out and give away everything we could spare as we prepared to leave our spacious two story townhome with attached garage and extra storage. We even downsized to be a one car family. We moved to a second floor apartment that was 900 and something square feet in Califonia.
Downsizing wasn't easy, and the truth was I felt quite sorry for myself! I was unprepared for the lesson I would learn. I discovered an amazing fact: with less stuff I could live the life I wanted. My priorities shifted from wanting more to loving what I had. I spent time playing at the park with my kids. We read books. In the afternoon while the baby slept I taught my daughter preschool. We went on walks as a family in the evenings. We exercised regularly, went to library story time, attended the Oakland Temple regularly, cooked, sewed and thoroughly enjoyed life.
I spent less time cleaning, less time shuffling belongings, and more time focused on family. I look back at that time as one of the happiest years of my life.
Since our Palo Alto days we have added 4 children to our family. A second floor, 900 square foot apartment just wouldn't work for us any more (or the poor people who would have to live below us)!
Each time we have bought a new home I have tried to seriously consider the lessons that I learn in Palo Alto. Requirements for my dream home are:
1. Can my family and I reasonably maintain this home?
2. Can I afford to pay this home off in a reasonable amount of time?
3. Does this home function and meet our needs or is it just for show?
From my Palo Alto days I have learned to focus on Quality rather than Quantity in home and what will enable me to live the life I dream of living. To me the model home that I regularly drive passed exhibits the principles that I believe. It isn't large or showy, it is functional and beautiful; it can be reasonably maintained and provide a space that overflows with memories.