Wednesday, July 22, 2015

rethinking house

I was leafing through a high-end shelter magazine that was laying around my sister's house last week. (disclaimer: it was not hers, it was a freebie sent to her husband's business. Leave it. Suze.) It got me thinking about house.

What is house? In it's most basic form, house is shelter: shelter from the weather, animals, and enemies. House is what we build to keep the neighbors from picking through our stuff, goats from joining us at the dinner table and the hot sun from burning our skin.

Because house provides us with shelter, we get all emotionally attached to it and start calling it "home". I'm thinking about house, though - the bones of our shelter and how we use it, not the pride and longing and happiness we may feel when we think about it.

What is house? It's the place where we carry out many of the daily activities of living. We sleep there. We prepare and eat our meals there. We raise our families there. We work and play and relax there. We depend on the structure of our house to support these activities. We want a quiet and safe place to sleep. We want a cooker and running water to help us prepare our food. We want interior spaces to enhance our work and play and relaxation.

I think it's possible we may have gone a bit too far in our expectations of house. If this magazine represents our expectations of house, then house has also become art museum, spa, restaurant/cooking school, library, hotel and movie theater. Wait, didn't we used to go out and experience those things in public spaces? With other people?

We have been sold the concept that house now means all those auxiliary activities that we used to do socially. We have been conditioned through advertising to view house as all-inclusive retreat center where we should be able to have spaces and furnishings to do whatever we want to do - all by ourselves (or with our select friends). The companies that make home theaters, sectional couches and high-end kitchen appliances want us to build bigger and bigger individual palaces where we can spend lots of money on things that only we can use.

We need to rethink house. I think we need to reassess our expectations of shelter. House should function as a place to sleep, eat and be safe. The rest of our activities should be done outside of house.

Go to the art museum. The museums have better art than most of us can afford and they rotate it and provide some back story.

Go to the movie theater. Get excited about the drama with a room full of other people and experience the huge view and great surround sound.

Go to the library and find books you haven't already read.

Go to a restaurant and get a special meal. Eat ice cream on the sidewalk with friends on a hot afternoon instead of from your state-of-the-art freezer.

Put your visiting family up at a hotel instead of maintaining guest rooms that otherwise never get used.

Let house, just be house.

Tammy Strobel's Tiny House