Our house is small by most standards. It is 1100 square feet and was built in the early 1960s. At the time, it was a two-bedroom, one-bath farm bungalow replacing Roy’s parents? original two-room log house, and as such, I suppose, it felt quite grand. When Roy, Greg, and I moved here in 1984, after the death of Roy’s parents, it seemed grand to us as well. We were leaving an even smaller fixer-upper first home in Andrew. In fact, with the expanded square footage, we did what we had resisted in the tiny house. We got pregnant and added our precious Hilary to the family.
Fast-forward 26 years. In the dying months of 2010, this house no longer feels grand. Despite renovations and upgrades, It’s an old house. It’s as solid as can be, but It’s still old. We’ve replaced shingles (with red tin), siding, both exterior doors, all the windows, the furnace, and the hot water tank. Our kitchen renovations from about 23 years ago are looking tired. The lack of electrical outlets, phone jacks, and TV connections throughout the house has led to extra breakers, strung cables, extension cords, and those six-outlet thingamajigs that turn an ordinary outlet into a spidery tangle of cords. There are no pot lights to flood the place with light. The bathroom is miniscule. The flooring has had many incarnations. Some of the interior doors have been sanded, primed, and painted. Most are still that almost orangey-looking stain from the ?60s. Some baseboards are missing altogether.
Now don’t get me wrong. I thank God for a safe, paid-for roof over our heads. It has sheltered us from the elements and provided a backdrop for a happy family life. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming?or buying dream home lottery tickets. The odds of building a brand new house are dwindling with each passing year. It sounds shallow, but I want a new house built to my needs.
I especially want more space and good design. Never has that been more important than in the last few weeks. Our overstuffed house has become a storage warehouse for party decorations and supplies. we’re helping Hilary’s company decorate for a large corporate Christmas party in early December. Because It’s a Mardi Gras theme, we’ve got seven cases of feather masks that need sticks added to them. We have 14 cases of beads in purple, green, and gold. We have eight bolts of fabric and a couple hundred yards of tulle. There are a hundred small vases to be used for the centerpieces, and a dozen more floor?sized ones. don’t forget the rolls of cellophane, foil streamers, ribbons, garlands, feather boas, and coins. Still to come are the velvet robes for the king and queen, and two jester costumes. When decorating a convention hall, you need large-scale decorations and dramatic lighting. Part of the design includes an 18-foot-wide by 12-foot -high fabric panel that will be painted like a streetscape, and 100 pieces of 10-foot electrical conduit to create a large-scale focal point.
So with the walls closing in around me, I can’t even fathom hosting Christmas. It’s a damn shame, from where I sit.