I have just started reading Albert Hsu’s book The Suburban Christian and he asks the question ‘do we need to live in the kinds of houses we do or is it just western indiviudalism driving us?’
Its a fair question and I have been reflecting on the answer.
We live in a 4 bed 2 bath home with a study and 3 distinct ‘living areas’ as well as an alfresco area. Currently I am in the study tapping away here while Danelle is watching the Sunday movie in the ‘family room’. (And ironing… couldn’t forget to mention that 🙂 )
It seems like we currently use every space in our home and to some degree I feel like we need them.
* Our kids could share a bedroom. At a young age that wouldn’t be a problem, however it might not be so practical for teenagers.
* Our spare bedroom is a guest room and we probably have people staying for 4 or 5 months of the year at the moment, so its kinda important to us.
* Of the 3 living areas one is the common family area – TV, hanging out etc. There is a room dedicated to kid’s play area and Danelle’s computer and then the other area which was originally included as a ‘meeting room’ for church activities has somehow been claimed by Danelle as a ‘scrapbooking room’. (Suddenly I am perplexed as to why I am currently sitting in the smallest room in the house except for the toilet and my wife has two rooms for her activities and associated junk… hmmm…)
* No doubt we could get away with two living areas.
* As a lap top user I don’t really need a study as such, but working for home it does help to have a dedicated (and tidy) space to inhabit.
As I write I remember that one of the primary concerns in designing a house was not simply affordability and functionality, but a large factor is that of resaleability. A 3 bed 1 bath house does not appreciate as much nor sell as easily as a 4 by 2 with all the desired rooms. So some of our choice to live as we do is an issue of financial stewardship. This is a better use of our funds.
We also entertain a heap so having a spacious home makes that much more doable.
So perhaps the questions are:
* what kind of house do we really need to live in?
* what kind of house complements the life we find ourselves called to live? (regular house guests, frequent entertaining and work from home, 2 small kids)
* what kind of house ought we buy (if we can afford it) to use our money wisely?
* how do we walk the line here without simply chasing bigger and better?
I honestly don’t know if we need to live as we do. My take on it is so coloured by my present experience that I find it hard to imagine doing differently. Could we share our home with another family, or even family members? Its hard to imagine a permanent arrangement (we have had Danelle’s folks here for 6 months last year) but again maybe that’s because it is no longer a western concept.
If we didn’t have kids I wonder if we would live in a smaller home? Maybe… or maybe we would build this size house again for financial reasons and have boarders stay. (We have had overseas students live with us at times in our married life.) I would find it hard to justify a big house for two people for ever.
Anyway, just needed to stop and think out loud. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make much sense I just wanted to give some time to reflecting on what I was reading rather than buzzing thru it like I normally do!
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