October 27, 2006

House Thinking

Having needed something to read when I was huge and pregnant and something to read while nursing and sitting around, I recently finished House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher. The author takes a look at houses, room by room (and second houses and the location of the house) and discusses what works, what doesn't, what we collectively want in a house, and why.

The book is neither completely fluffy nor a difficult read. It suited my need for light, but interesting, reading quite well. The discussions of various rooms and the psychology behind why we look for certain things in different areas of a house were helpful to me, especially as I am currently trying to reimagine my own house and figure out a way to rework the living spaces we have to fit our family.

When we bought our house we had one child and were expecting our second. While I didn't expect to stop with two children, I never really considered what adding two more children would do to the feel of our cozy, comfortable 1850 square foot, 3 bedroom house. Unsurprisingly, we feel cramped. However, after spending several months looking at houses this summer, knowing that there were certain things we really did not want to give up in a house -- something old, no farther from my husband's job than we are now and not requiring us to take on a mortgage much bigger than our current one, we realized that there really wasn't much of anything out there for us. Everyone else's house has increased in value at about the same rate as ours and even moving to a much less desireable neighborhood and a fixer-upper without amenties like a kitchen would not actually fit all our requirements, because sellers are convinced that they can still garner high prices for houses even if those houses have no kitchen, plumbing that drains into the crawl space, and holes in the roof.

Needless to say, for at least the present, we'll be staying where we are. But we have realized that we need to figure out a way to live better in the space we have. We have two front rooms that do not get used nearly as much as they should and we tend to live in the kitchen and tiny morning room behind it, ignoring most of the living room space taken up by the two front rooms.

Reading House Thinking really has gotten me thinking about how to make changes to our home to make rooms we've been passing through more inviting. Places we want to linger.

Not that any of this will get me another bedroom, but perhaps that will come eventually after we figure out how to use the downstairs better. Afterall, The Baby isn't planning to sleep in his own room for quite some time yet.


Well, I have 2200 SF with 7 people presently living here.

I have three girls in one room, and the boys have their own each.

What seems to work for a lot of people is to have the kids bunk together with a playroom downstairs.

Little to no toys in the bedroom with most of them down where they end up anyway!

Posted by: mary at October 27, 2006 10:52 AM

I'll have to check that one out. Thanks.
We deliberately put our only TV in the living room, thus ensuring that living room will at least be used at night. If we put it in the breakfast room, we would never leave this space!

Posted by: Meredith at October 27, 2006 11:21 AM

Can you take a wall or two out downstairs without hurting the structural integrity of the house?

I hated this ranch until we could do that.

Now we have a family-friendly great room that everyone likes to be in.

Posted by: Janis Gore at October 27, 2006 02:42 PM