Why’d you move into a smaller home?
Let me tell you why.
Over the last 10 years our living space has varied. We’ve lived in shared spaces. We’ve lived in different cities. We’ve lived in different states. We’ve lived in “homes” we’ve owned and “homes” we’ve leased. But one thing that hasn’t varied is that the living spaces just kept getting bigger and bigger. It was as if our concept of a dwelling was this fat cow on its way to the slaughter-house, we just kept feeding it and it just kept getting bigger until it was busting at the seams and walking through its own toxic shit.
In 2005 we started in an apartment in the Chicago suburbs that was two bedrooms, two baths, a large living room, kitchen and a walk out deck. When we bought our own home in 2007 we found ourselves in a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath, with a finished basement, two car garage with a yard town home. Moving out to Texas we moved into a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, with office, formal dining room, kitchen eatery, media room, fenced in yard and not to mention a master closet the size of my college dorm room. After birthing a set of twins and turning our family of 3 into 5 overnight, we moved into another Texas beast at 3,600 sq. ft. with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a sitting room, an office, a formal dining room, a kitchen eatery, a butler’s pantry, a media room, a master suite and more closets. Moving back to Illinois we knew we needed to think smaller to keep our budget in check. But apparently we didn’t think small enough. We moved into a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, with a sitting room, a formal dining room, lots of closets, a mudroom and a finished basement.
How did we fill all these rooms that often we never even stepped foot in? With stuff. A bunch of stuff that went unused and collected dust. Lots of stuff that I found myself constantly cleaning or dusting or turning off. None of it made sense, it just made a lot of stress. A bunch of stuff that filled corners and shelves to fill the square footage that we found ourselves living in. But isn’t that what everyone wants? The big square footage number? The American dream … to hear your echo in you huge, gigantic fatty home????
It turns out that’s NOT what I wanted. At the end of a decade and having moved into 5 different living spaces in 5 years, I was in need something that wasn’t a fatty. It turns out that I didn’t need all that “stuff” we had bought and stuffed our hungry homes with. I was tired of cleaning the unused rooms and the decorative items that were just collecting dust. I was frustrated with the spaces that were deemed for my children. They weren’t playing in those playrooms or using their “assigned” bathrooms! In actuality they were dragging their toys out to be with our family or brushing their teeth in the morning next to me on a stool as I applied mascara. It was becoming painfully obvious that what I wanted in life, a tight-knit family, was actually playing out. We weren’t spending time apart but rather together. We needed a home to reflect that. And what we didn’t need was unused space and a bunch of material items that some else could better use than us.
So we began our search … we began our purge.
Daily trips, between nap times, were taken while checking house after house off our list with our ever patient realtor. All the while creating a mental list of haves and have-nots. Back at our current living space minivan loads were taken each day full of stuff that we decided we just didn’t need or want anymore. Every morning I kept motivated by reading blogs and articles about minimalism and pondered what truly made me happy, which turned out was not anything I owned by purchasing or adjoined to a bar code. No more piles of clothes or overstuffed linen closets. No more holding onto items out of sentimental value, after all the memory wasn’t held within the makeup of the tangible but rather in the makeup of my mind and heart. We donated bed frames, televisions, clothes, cookware, dishes, bedding, furniture, tables, chairs, toiletries, accessories … you name and we got rid of it. At the end of our purge I can say with confidence that we probably ended up furnishing at least 1.5 homes with all the “stuff” we got rid of, not to mention decor for an entire holiday season.
Our idea of what our “family home” looked like began to take shape, molding into a living space that could have fit inside our last Texas home.
Then one day as I was playing at a new park that I stumbled across with the kids, we found it … we found our family home for the next 20 years. The home our kids will grow up in. The home they will say good-bye to when we send them off to college. The home where Erik and I will find an empty nest and become honeymooners again. We found our HOME.
A ranch style contemporary piece built-in the 50’s with unique attributes and a backyard that takes my breath away. A 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with finished basement, but no sitting room, no eat-in kitchen, no office, no butler’s pantry, no “formal” dining room, no play room, no master bath or master suite. IT. IS. PERFECT. A perfect fit for our busy family of five that though constantly bickering we are constantly loving on one another. However some things have changed … less time devoted to cleaning, faster times set for getting out the door, no more endless laundry, quieter mornings, less fighting, no more annoying background noise, less stress, more family time, more pillow talk, just more us.
Now the echoes are not from the square footage of our home but rather the lack of stuff that fills it even though it’s filled to the brim with love and memories to come. We’re excited to get our hands in the renovations to come. To make the kitchen and other areas of the home our very own with our ideas and Halperin stamp of design … which should prove for an interesting year to come.
So that’s it folks, that’s why we pulled the trigger and did the opposite of what we had been doing for the last ten years. We wanted more us and less home.
(My ultimate favorite minimalism blog is The Minimalists! Read it and take it in. I followed their example for unpacking when moving into our home. I asked myself the questions that they repeat through out their posts in regards to “really needing” something or “really needing to devote our time” to something or someone and it makes things a whole lot clearer!)