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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Parade of Homes

Brian's entire family seems to have been born with blueprints in hand and the genetic inheritence of skills for construction sites. Physically, they all look suspiciously like the mailman, Schwann's man, the meter man, the travelling salesman.... but all my questions were put to rest when I observed their commonality with drafting proposals and the sheer joy that fills the room at the meer mention of additions, garages, or house plans.

On Sunday, the women of the group found ourselves on a parade of homes, of sorts. Two brothers had recently constructed a house for resale and we decided to go and give our assessments. This morphed into a scavenger hunt/show-and-tell as I was challenged by my malicious sisters-in-law to find each of their houses in succession. We then admired newly painted walls, new flooring, some nifty appliances, kitchen designs, crown moulding, gorgeous couch sets, decorating ideas, and a shocking lack of clutter.

"We won't be including MY home on this tour!", I said, picturing my ratty couches held up by tuna cans, the cheap malanene cabinetry, the laminate flooring minus baseboards, the duplo on the china cabinet, the primed bannister, the paint splodges where I tested colours about a million years ago, then got distracted, the closet door that keeps falling off, the nail holes we never filled......... not to mention the spider webs (and summer was a long, long time ago...), the mis-matched kitchen chairs, the complete absence of curtains and blinds, and the clutter, CLUTTER, clutter!

Now, I'm not really embarrassed by my home. Its our home-- its where we are a family, where we have hilarious dinner parties, where kids come to paint, where we fight, where we love one another. That doesn't make it better or worse than anyone else's home, but it does make it special.

This got me thinking about all the homes that I have warm memories of. There was my best friend's farm house when we were little girls. It was old and quirky. The bathroom was in the middle of the house, just off the kitchen. There was a hand-written note on the wall suggesting that employing the fan was always a good idea. The only bathtub was in the half finished basement. That always made the idea of sleepovers a little threatening... to think of going down to the furnace room for a nice relaxing bath...

That house is one of the happiest places I ever was in. We rummaged through clutter for cake mixes and old pizza mixes and learned to "cook". We had Fantasy Island parties on Saturday nights in their kitchen. We had zillions of sleepovers. We played hide-and-seek. We tricked her mom into thinking we were cleaning up after ourselves by running the vacuum cleaner while we read comics on her brother's bed.

As an adult, some of my favourite memories are spending time with my collector friends. One of them lives in a giant castle of an ancient house, filled top to bottom with interesting repurposed furniture and ecclectic tidbits. My other friend lives in an old stone farmhouse that "wrote the book" on country living- complete with laying hens, a goat, and a grove of trees for the kids to make forts in.

In total contrast, I have friends who live in show homes. White leather. Real art. Pristine design. The most amazing fridges. I mean, I could be happy just living in her fridge!

I have friends who live in house trailers that drop worms from the ceiling every spring. I have a friend with three couches in her back yard, and just one chair to sit on in her living room.

It's not the physical structure of any abode that draws me back for another look. It's apparant that wealth of character comes in many packages, floor plans and colour schemes. The commonality of warmth in trendy or trashy is what has real people coming back for more. That diversity of taste and preference displayed in friends' dwelling places is simply an extention of what we celebrate about their personal qualities.

So, thanks for letting me in, everyone.
More than that, thanks for letting me into your realities, and sharing a bit of how you see it.


Judy said...

Oh, I agree with you!

I have clutter. Lots and lots of clutter.

I give it away by the truck load, but more finds me.

Anonymous said...

"Never have anything in your house which you do not believe to be useful or beautiful."
Don't know who said it, but love the sensibility in it. The temptation to move on to bigger and better things lingers here. But there is just something about knowing that our babies learned to walk down that hall, or seeing the scuff on the wall from the highchair. And then there's all the mini hockey stick damage. All of these imperfections make it us and ours, and after a while, it's just too hard to leave all of it. It's really not about square-footage is it. Loved this post.

it's a gong show... said...

No curtains and clutter?? Sounds vaguely familiar.


Homo Escapeons said...

Alice and I (for genetic reasons) tolerate organised long as it has been washed in bleach and OK'd by our weekly inspection by the nice man from the Virology Lab.
My Mother redecorated every 2 years so I think that is normal. Yep couches drapes curtains paint the whole thing went out the door every second year...and I would love to do that too.If you do that you never have to move.

There is a HUGE difference between living in a Home and living in a House. Anyone can build an amazing House if you have enough money...
but you can't buy a Home.

Anonymous said...

I'm the opposite, I have a hard time with clutter. Other people's I don't mind but don't have much in my house. My youngest kept us from having much stuff around, she destroys things, dumps things, rips things, puts them in her pants, you get the picture. So everything is put away but I do have lots of stuff on the walls.