My son called from Illinois last night and told us that he and his wife are looking to buy a house. They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary last month. Kids today sure seem to hurry into things like that. We were married five years before we looked for a house. The days of “starter homes” seems to be passe’ as well. Everyone wants their “dream home” right away.
A “dream home” is a fallacy. There is no such thing. I’ll bet even Bill Gates doesn’t like some things about his house. No matter how expensive or modern a house is, it never meets every expectation. That is because our lives are “fluid” and our houses are not. A house that fits our needs this month, might not next month. With kids, we have different needs/wants in a house than we did when we were newly married. The house we have now, with its stairs, will not be as convenient as we age.
When I think of the house I grew up in in Cozad, it seems like an idyllic place, the perfect house. But, if I lived there now, it might not have the same appeal. It has to do with memories, the love and security I felt there. The house seemed huge when I was a kid. It was a big two-story house, Victorian style with all the bric-a-brac and curly-cues. Lots of room for six kids to run around. It had nooks and crannies that were great for hiding. I remember playing hide-and-seek and sitting in a cubby area by the bathtub. There were several little built-in cupboards here and there. As a kid, the house was a wonderland. Now, I would probably consider the cubbies as a hassle, difficult to clean out or maintain due to their odd placement and shapes.
A friend of mine in West Chicago has a big, beautiful house with all the “bells and whistles.” They have a big jacuzzi, remote control everything, a beautifully landscaped yard with a pond and terrace. Her kitchen is fantastic with all modern appliances which also have amazing electronics. But she doesn’t use a lot of the stuff. When I asked her why they rarely used the jacuzzi, she said because it uses up all the hot water. It takes a long time for the hot water to be restored. The gizmos and electronics also have drawbacks. They can’t always find the right remote controls, something malfunctions causing problems with the entire system, or things are just too complicated. The lawn is high-maintenance and they have to hire people for much of the work. I love visiting her because I enjoy her company and her house, but I have a feeling that being a guest is much nicer than being the homeowner.
When we moved back to Omaha after living in the Chicago area for 4 years, we bought a two-story house in our old neighborhood. Our very first house was a small ranch with three bedrooms and one bath. We lived there for 17 years. It was in a great neighborhood. I think our first home had 1400 sq. feet. It had a huge backyard which was great for the boys. The boys were 12, 10 and 5 when we moved to Chicago. There we bought a much larger house, two-story, four bedroom, three baths, 2400 sq. feet. Returning to Omaha in 2000, we bought an older, but comparable house. This house has a finished basement, so more liveable space. The basement has been a great place for the boys and their friends to hang out. But..now we have only one boy at home, so it feels like we have too much space. I have four bathrooms and four bedrooms to clean now and we have a larger yard to maintain. (Dennis loves yardwork, though, so that has been his release. I wish I liked housework as much as he likes yardwork! Our house would be spotless!) Before we bought the house, it had an above ground pool. We told the previous owners that we would buy the house if they took out the pool. We didn’t want to hassle with it. (I like the saying that “it is better to have a good neighbor with a pool than to have a pool yourself!”)
Our house reflects our personalities. We have a lot of sentimental “treasures” around that most decoraters would toss out. I joke that I need clutter around my desk for inspiration. We have books in almost every room. Our furniture is very eclectic and not very well coordinated. Basically, we have no taste! But we are happy with it and the kids’ friends are comfortable here.
I hope Dave and Carlota can find a house that they can turn into a home, and not fall for the “dream house” hype. A dream house is just an illusion. Like the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny, it doesn’t exist.