I used to confuse house with home. I think I have it straight now, because leaving this one will be as easy as closing the door. Leaving my gardens, that’s another story. But this house, it was never love.
Much of my creative self over the years and the past ten houses has been spent arranging rooms in my home, choosing colors, sewing decadent fabric into bed and window coverings with my own two hands, selecting rugs, and toting home from foreign places things that spark memories of adventures that I can carefully place in my home so I move from memory to memory throughout my days. Making a home is an art.
I used to believe that if I worked to earn money I would be an interior designer. I’d have fun spending someone else’s money for a change on making a home. (Craig is saying “Amen!”) The concepts of design are universal and I get it. It’s like a bowl of white paint where I add the personal flair of individual creative energy and ideas, pigments if you will, and then it’s transformed into something entirely original and colorful. Design ideas pop out of my head like gumballs from a machine. It’s my kind of fun. But I have five children and a ministry for orphans in Uganda, so I don’t work for money. Sorry Craig.
I do not redecorate every time we move. I have neutral furniture; interesting rugs and eclectic style that make it all come together. All of my furniture coordinates so I can mix it and match it anyway I need to suit the space. It’s fun and challenging to rethink the same things into new arrangements.
Space. That’s a topic I am eager to share my feelings about. In this house we have too much of it. I purposely have not talked about this specific house in my blog because it’s so big it’s embarrassing. But now that we are going to sell it, I feel released to be honest about what it is like to live here. We regretted buying it soon after moving into it. It’s 7400 square feet. I know even a family as big as ours doesn’t need that much space. What were we thinking?
When we bought it we felt like it solved some urgent problems at that time in our life. We had to move in between semesters at Christmas. We couldn’t put the boys into school unless we had an address. We couldn’t move them after the term began because it would be impossible for them. It was a significant and painful time pinch. We also felt it was necessary to be set up with an in-law suite for just in case issues that were brewing. Having that extra wing on the house was our way of being prepared for future ability to be helpful. It turned out to be Kira’s first bedroom! This house was just being finished when we looked at it. It would be available for move in right when we needed to be here for the boys to start school. We bought it, even though it never really spoke to us or felt like it matched who we are. It is pretty, but after a while, it’s just becomes background and it’s another house, but one that takes too much time to manage. Precious time I could be spending on more worthwhile projects and people.
Something happens when someone walks into my home to meet me for the first time and they take in our house. I am immediately misunderstood because home is meant to match who you are. I am not the mistress of a mansion. I am a slave to it, and I can’t wait to be free.
When we buy our next house we are going to cut a couple thousand square feet off, enjoy downsizing to a space that is more manageable and comfortable and less ostentatious. We have learned the hard way that more is not better. We also learned just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you should. Our goal is to be completely debt free in a few years and live more simply in a space that matches who we really are. I feel this great gush of relief.
So many times people have looked at our house and said, “Oh, that’s my dream to have a home like that.” I always want to say, find a new dream because it’s just a house. Surrounding who I am with something like this doesn’t change who I am. I don’t become someone better, prettier, more important or powerful because my house is huge. I become someone better when I spend myself helping others, loving people, and pursuing peace and joy. There’s nothing joyful about excess. But that’s just me and if it does make others happy, they should come buy this place.