Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock. Matthew 7:24
When I was very young, I dreamed of owning a big beautiful house. A house with lots of rooms, an attic, a huge kitchen, a big front porch – you get the picture. My first house was a townhouse. It had 2 bedrooms, a medium sized kitchen, a dining area, a nice sized living room, and an unfinished basement. I think it was around 1100 square feet.
I grew up in a house that was just slightly larger, maybe 1500 square feet. I don’t know what I thought the draw was to owning a large house, but oh, how I dreamed! In the meantime, life happened. I got divorced and suddenly had to pay the house payment with my piddly paycheck. I was definitely house poor! I could’ve moved, but I was stubborn and I had two dogs, and no money for a new house. I didn’t think I could find a rental that would allow dogs. I worked two jobs, had roommates, did whatever I needed to do to hang on to the rock around my neck…then I met Jim.
My Jim. He lived in a tiny little house – about 500 square feet. It was a typical bachelor pad on the inside – everything was brown and gray. There were boiled bear bones in the crisper drawer and pheasant feathers everywhere. The head and foot of the bed were covered in circles of different colored leather that he had cut out and glued on. The bedroom curtains were kelly green and black, and the bedding was cast off floral. In his tiny living room resided a cedar closet, a desk built out of an old door, a piano (I kid you not), a filing cabinet, a table and chairs, and a couch. And he was in the process of decorating the arch in the middle of the room with tongue and groove cedar. There was grasscloth wallpaper (under which I later discovered another 8 layers of wallpaper dating back to the early 1900s). And plants everywhere. Hung up by hangers he had macramed himself. A perfect old hippie bachelor pad. To say it needed a bit of sprucing up would be the understatement of the century.
But oh the yard. Not much wider than the house, but so deep – about the length of a football field. And in the back, his wonderful, magical garden. Sunflowers and green beans, potatoes and beets, carrots and onions, lettuce and peppers, and the tomatoes! Row after row of tomato cages bursting with bright red fruit. And all around the house a nimbus of morning glories creeping up the sides and glowing with color. In the front the sidewalk was lined with huge hostas, and he had brought back two birch trees from his family’s cabin up north – one for the front yard and one for the back yard. And there was a majestic elm tree in the back yard, perfectly placed to shade both the bedroom and an outdoor table. The piece de resistance were the lilacs lining one side of the yard. In full bloom and smelling like heaven. I think seeing the wonder of Jim’s yard may be the first time I realized I was falling in love. And when I first began to see the charm and loveliness of a small home.
Over the years, there have been many changes in the house. It’s still tiny, and it needs lots of work, but what I love most about is that it’s cozy. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. My step brother-in-law is from Turkmanistan and he was over one day – I got such a kick out of his comment – he said, in his thick Russian accent, “You liff in a mini house!” And then he chuckled wryly. Jim has done all the work in the house. He completedly gutted the living room (which is also the dining room) at one point, and made it a beautiful room. He milled the wood for the windows and millwork from black ash, which is actually a very light wood.
My friend Leslie came over a couple of weeks ago and what a gift she gave me – she painted my living room for me with the yellow I’ve always wanted. It’s just beautiful. After Jim redid the living room I learned to sew – making my curtains out of red gingham fabric with red rick rack trim. Over the years we’ve furnished it with good quality hand me down furniture and sale items; and a couple of really cool garage/rummage sale finds (including a coffe table with a top that pulls up and out, so you can sit on the couch and eat at a regular table; and a gorgeous and expensive Queen Anne wing chair we got for $7.50). My mom’s gorgeous half round china cabinet fits perfectly in the corner and houses all my glass “treasures”
I have kitchen gadgets and machines coming out my ears, and Jim built me a wonderful cabinet over the stairs to store everything. He’s the master at figuring out how to use space effectively. And although I still sometimes dream of a larger house, it wouldn’t be much larger. As the years have gone by I’ve come to love this little house we live in. I would miss my house. It’s very dear to me. And what I find really neat is that it seems the trend is going towards smaller homes – sometimes to the point of silliness (70 square feet is just a tad too small). But what I have learned is that my home is in my heart. It’s the people who gather with me for good and bad, and the laughter and closeness that makes my house my home. I can have celebrations and dinner parties and the smallness seems to bring people closer together. And I feel so blessed to be among those who have a place they can call home. A spot to come to each night and rest a weary head and limb. A place that makes me feel safe and happy. I thank God every single day for the blessings he has poured out on me.
What do you love about your home? What would you change if you could? Would you rather live in big house or a small house? I’d love to hear your thoughts.