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

5 comments

  • Now that the kids are gone, my wife and I have a house that some would consider “empty” and oversized. It's an older home, built in 1932, though, and we manage to fill up the space. It's handy to have when the kids do come home for the holidays, or when we have the opportunity to host visiting missionaries or old friends.

  • We have lived in 700 ft2 and 35oo ft2. Most we have rented and some we have own. We never had a mega mortgage and own our house- debt free. I think the size of the house is not important – the home is made within the family- and ours is solid. We are alone with a large house now- but our children feel free to come and go with their families as they please. I just wish the “pleased” more often:>)

  • We have lived in 700 ft2 and 35oo ft2. Most we have rented and some we have own. We never had a mega mortgage and own our house- debt free. I think the size of the house is not important – the home is made within the family- and ours is solid. We are alone with a large house now- but our children feel free to come and go with their families as they please. I just wish the “pleased” more often:>)

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  • I too prefer a smaller more cozy and warm house. I don't like my walls to be naked and I hate it if there is an echo in my house. Every party eventually ends in the kitchen because it's usually a smaller room and everybody can interact with one another without having to shout or walk too much.
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