Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Square Footage Blowout

Sometimes, every once in a great while, you hear something that sounds perfectly innocuous, but just throws you through a loop. And you can't even figure out why, really. It just does.

In talking to some acquaintances recently, one woman was referring to some remodeling her daughter just completed. Red leather couches and short shag carpeting and whatnot. This is in their finished basement. The daughter, mind you, is about my age, maybe a wee bit younger. Just had a baby a few months ago. Lives in my municipality...maybe five miles away. You know, so we have a few things in common.

So the mom is talking about the red leather couches and the shag carpeting in the finished basement, and how there is room for a pool table, etc. Someone asked if the basement was a walk-out, and she said, "Oh yes, you walk right out to the pool area." Very nice. I like the whole idea of a "pool area."

Then she mentioned the layout of the basement, and how when you walk downstairs you go through one little room, then the room with the gas fireplace, and then over here are the double doors that lead to the "theater room."

Okay. Pool area. Theater room. I'm starting to wonder about this house.

Then she drops the SF bomb. Square footage. This girl's house (yes, I say girl, because she's my age and I refuse to think of myself as old and so neither is she) is 6,500 square feet.


I don't know why this is bothering me. I don't think it's jealousy, because M and I look at giant houses (we're becoming surrounded by them with all the dang tear-downs) and all I can think is, "Can you imagine cleaning that thing?" I want just enough space to live in comfortably, and no more. I don't want more storage space, as that's just incentive to collect more crap we don't need. I don't want rooms that sit empty for 99% of the year. I don't want a foyer that echos and makes people feel intimidated when they come in.

Would I like a larger house? Yes, by a bit, so I could have a main floor laundry, a mud room, an actual pantry, and a dedicated place for the litter boxes. But for the most part, I am perfectly content with the space we have. Feels homey. Keeps us from collecting too much stuff we don't need.

So one of the other women in the group made a comment about why on earth does this girl, with her family totaling two and a half, need 6,500 square feet. The mother replied, "Well, she does a lot of entertaining."

Who does she have over? The Queen of England? The Pope? For the love of Pete. We have our giant Grand Lighting Party every year, and there is usually upwards of 40 people there, and we do just fine with our measly 1,800 square feet.

I think I'm in awe of the excess. I think our society, as a whole, lives to excess. Credit card debt. Gigantic houses. Cars that cost more than most people make in a year and that take up two lanes on the highway and four parking spots at Target.

There is a series of books out by an author/architect named Susan Susanka. I think that's her name, anyway. The series is called "The Not So Big House," and it's all about the idea of not building giant mansions in favor of smaller houses that you can really use, really live in, day to day. No unwasted space. Every room is vital and essential to your lifestyle.

I like that concept. Love it, actually. It fits in with my goal to be able to look around our house and see only things that we use on a regular basis or absolutely love. Things that tell the story of our lives and don't scream, "Pottery Barn!" or "Crate & Barrel!" Not that I don't love Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel...I just want our life, our home, to be personal, to represent who we are, and what we believe in.

And I can't imagine doing that, the three of us, in a 6,500 square foot palace.


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