I grew up in a 3,803 square foot McMansion. My dear sweet beloved parents had worked hard, been successful, and thus purchased a house that looked just like every other house in the neighborhood in a pre-planned suburban community. The McMansion looked very much like this:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can’t complain about growing up in suburban Atlanta with upper middle class parents in a good neighborhood with good public schools. Life was, in retrospect, pretty much gravy.

But, argh, the McMansion! More house than our five person family could possibly fill up with anything besides junk we’d never have time to use. It was possible, thanks to two staircases, to spend a whole day and not actually run into someone you lived with unless you wanted to. This was no “east wing” type house, but it definitely turned me off to big houses in a big way.

The fantasy? A cottage. A cozy cottage with two or three bedrooms (one of which I can use an office to write in), a kitchen big enough to actually cook in and even eat in, and one living room/ den (the McMansion had both) with a corner for a dining room table. Bookshelves floor to ceiling everywhere for my ever-expanding collection. A hanging rack for pots and pans and random kitchen implements that I can reach (all 5 feet of me). A fireplace or a wood-burning stove if I really dare to dream. Outdoor space with a nice high fence covered in vines and a big shady tree or two where friends and I can cocktail by a firepit in the fall. A WASHER and DRYER are compulsory- renting has forever made me resent lugging my dirty underwear four blocks on foot to wash them. And I’d love a porch, with a good old rocking chair to sit and read or write in. And the ability to have non-renter-white walls for once in my adult transient life.

So when I read the article in the New York Times  about Tiny Houses and especially the super affordable and durable Katrina cottages, I got a glimpse of what I hope to save money for- even though I suspect a cottage would need a little extra insulation to work up here in the frozen tundra. Maybe one like this? Or this?

They’re cost-effective, earth friendly, and they look cozy enough to meet my fantasy need of actually running into people I live with if I live with someone. Plus my grandma’s quilts need a home, and this place looks ready to be filled with them. Now to figure out how to save the money for all this cozy-ness. I suspect dropping my shopping habits and taxi habits (I seem to keep oversleeping now that I spend a few hours awake and sick every night) will help. That and my big new raise that starts next week! Whee! I have until May of 2011 to make myself a home according to my 101 in 1001, so it’s time to get real about what I want.  And what I want is home, even if I have to make it for myself.



Filed under Daily Life, Links, Soul Searching

8 responses to “Home-Making

  1. You can do it! Saving is the key. Does your work promote a 401K plan? If so, start saving the maximum amount allowed. If your work also matches, you are in luck. Once you are vested, and plan to spend many more years at that particular job, take a loan out against yourself for the down payment. Do not do this, however, if you feel you will not have this job for years to come, as you will be required to pay it back immediately or face severe tax penalties.

    There is no reason for a woman on her own to feel like she cannot buy property, if she has the money to make the monthly payments. You can do this.

  2. Thanks Fancy. Luckily I work for the feds, so we have the TSP (similar to a 401k) with matching up to 5% of our income. I’ve been dumping the 5% in for a few years now and will vest in another year. Plus, now that BBB, the evil boss, is not the boss I’ll probably stick around a while.

    I’m really starting to believe that old Goethe quote: “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

  3. I agree. We don’t want a huge house either. Maintenance and cleaning are difficult, heating and cooling bills are higher, and there just isn’t a point.

  4. I stumbled on your blog a bit ago and have been reading regularly (god love google reader), but never realized you were from Atlanta! I myself grew up in a John Weiland (not quite McMansion, but pretty damn close) home in Gwinnett County – and as a result developed a bit of an aversion to suburbia and houses you could comfortably fit three families in. Your domestic fantasies echo my own completely, down to the hanging pots and pans in the kitchen.

    I’m still in Atlanta – though now in downtown Decatur, which I love – and am trying to make preparations to purchase a small house or condo in the next few years. As such I’m attempting to put myself on a self-imposed fiscal diet, which is taking some getting used to.

    The photo of the little white house is adorable. Good luck with everything!

  5. Oh you can do it! I have this image of you and that is you can do anything, I picture you being a very strong woman.

    I think I don’t want a house when I make my home, I think I want a castle. High hopes? Maybe. Possible? Definitely.

  6. had i known about your raise earlier, my former justifications for purchases would have been boundless! there is no purchase that has ever changed my life like that of the washer/dryer…

  7. I currently live in a McMansion. I crave the second staircase so I don’t have to see anyone I don’t want to. But because it’s what my parents chose, I can t help but wan the other direction: I so very much want an older home with the beautiful architecture and simplicity. They tend to run smaller as well- also part of the appeal.

  8. I would settle for just the washer and dryer at this point. And direct sunlight.

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