the empty house

Ranch house swimming upstream


Recently I’ve noticed a trend – people who buy a huge house for three people (father, mother, child).
The house is huge and empty and grand and beautiful, with echoes.  A huge house substitutes for a sense of home.

I don’t know what the dividing line is between cozy and empty. I like to think of my home as cozy, but I guess it could be argued that it’s empty.  If you take a small gathering of people – friends, family – and pack them into your house, does it feel cozy?  Or does it feel like an empty auditorium space with a few people huddled in the corner?

Most of my life I’ve felt at home in the kitchen. The warmth and pure simple fun of a kitchen make it the heart of a home, and every party inevitably gravitates towards the kitchen.  Many of the large, empty homes I’ve seen don’t have a kitchen that encourages people to move towards it; even mine is part of the family room thanks to an open design.

I have to wonder what the extra cost paid towards these mega-mortgages is worth. The vast empty spaces and cold hallways aren’t going to create a child-friendly space that generates fond childhood memories.  I know that many people look at American homes and wish for more and more space, but I’ve seen the extreme, and it’s not a destination I hope for.  I want a space to be comfortable in, and a space for my children; if I didn’t have a vast cathedral-ceilinged family room to complete their lives, I’ll live.

photo credit: Allan Ferguson