the perfect house


We're in the midst of renovating and adding onto my husband's childhood home.

I say "we." By that I mean "my husband and lots of other people who know what drywall and HVAC and trim work mean." My job primarily is to act like I understand how load-bearing walls and can lights and roof angles work. {Failing miserably and owning it.}

When the house is finished, our children will be the fourth generation to live there. My husband's grandparents raised their children there. My husband's parents raised their children there. And now we will too.

Picking light fixtures and flooring, countertops and doors has caused us to have a lot of conversations about this home: how we want it to function, how we want it to look, and what we want to occur both within its walls and outside of them.

We know this:

(1) It will be beautiful, but it will not be a museum. We want our children to be able to be at the dairy with their dad, to come home dirty and dusty and smelling faintly of cow, and to be welcome there. We want it to be cozy and inviting, but we do not want it to be sterile for the sake of a blown-out Instagram post. 

(2) It will be a secure, thriving, warm place for our children as they mature. Because we intend to educate them at home, we want our play/homeschool room dedicated to learning and discovery, a space where they will be able to decipher poetry and dig into the sciences, admire art and cheat their way through math. {Whoops. That was me as a kid. Forgot who I was talking about there for a minute.} We want the views from that room -- of trees and crops and a lake -- to bring the outdoors in and allow for imagination and even a little daydreaming.

 

(3) It will have a traditional with a touch of funky kitchen and an inviting dining room so that we can welcome others into our home and feed them and make them feel loved and cared for. We want them to sit at our 100-year-old kitchen table and look at the kitchen cabinets Chris's grandfather built for his wife by hand and have a good glass of wine and a steak my farmer put on the grill and a big salad and a loaf of bread that I hopefully didn't burn and tell stories and ask questions and debate and laugh and lift their glasses for a refill.

(4) It will have a library because reading is life. We have a space where kids and parents alike can lose the smart phones and immerse themselves in a good book for an hour or two, or pull out a map to find where the a certain battle occurred, or play a game of chess. We also have lot of books . . . from Hop on Pop to Kristin Lavransdatter, books about theology and history and agriculture and all the classics we can get our hands on. {Kristin Lavransdatter is, by the way, a great book that you should all read. It may take you all of 2020, but it will be worth it.}

(5) Our kids will share bedrooms, because sharing is caring. {Or just a good way to teach them how not to be selfish.} We want them to have conversations late into the night when they should be sleeping, to learn how to live side by side with another human being, to strengthen the relationship between siblings because they are all they will have in this world. And also because, channeling my mother, I want to be able to holler up the stairs at least once a week, "Kids, it's time to stop talking and go to sleep!"

(6) It will have a family room with a fireplace and piano so that we can gather together every night, as we already do, for devotions and giggles and singing and the general chaos that comes with small, noisy people, namely Dad roughing kids up and kids shouting for more and Mom telling everyone they're supposed to be calming down instead of getting riled up.

(7) It will have a guest space in the basement so that our family and friends who need a quiet respite from life can find it. We want them to sleep in, to enjoy the sunshine, to make a cup of coffee and look out over the fields, to have their own space, to feel replenished, to feed on some stillness in the midst of a world bent on noise and chaos.

(8) And it will have porches, because the First Article gift of being able to sit on a porch with a glass of lemonade, and a slight breeze, and the sounds of bugs chirping and birds singing and wind blowing through the corn is rare, and it is good.


Our list goes on, but we are doing our best to keep those main goals as our focus: to provide our children with a place to grow in faith and understanding, to care for those around us, and to enjoy time with one another in all the best ways that country living has to offer.


Perhaps, better put, our goal for our new-old home is this, as Tolkien wrote, "That house was a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness."

And if, when we're all finished, we -- and anyone around us -- thinks that, we'll be tinkled pink.







10 comments:

  1. Perfect! I can picture it already. My passion is home architecture and how home design impacts family dynamics. But you have already thought of that! From your description, your home will be where peace and fun settle in for a nice long stay. BTW, I speak HVAC and load-bearing (hint: neither are related to childbirth, no matter what they sound like), so let me know it you would like some handy-dandy definitions I mostly made up.

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    1. Oh my word. HVAC and load-bearing and childbirth had me all sorts of cracking up! :)

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  2. OK, this is my favorite thing you've ever written... Probably because it hits to incredibly close to home. As I was reading, I was mentally going, "Yep, check. Yep, check." to your list...especially (emphasis added) #s 1, 5, and 6. Please keep writing these kinds of articles. I love all of the things you write, but "In a world where women want to be just like men...", we need people who write about how "parents are still raising their boys to be manly, confident men and their girls to be feminine, pioneer women who can be protected and still hold their own." And I quote. ❤️

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    1. The size of the house doesn't matter. It's what happens there that counts. Not that we haven't discussed this a million times or anything...

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  3. In addition to the wonderful scene you depict, keep in mind the recent comments Dr. Veith gleaned from newly released studies which add definition to your family's future. "It is true that church membership has been going down and the number of 'nones' is rising...but they are not coming from the ranks of conservative believers. Rather, they were nearly all from theologically liberal churches... In fact, 'intense religion' has not declined at all and is persistent...thus, Christianity isn't collapsing, it's being clarified." The future for your children both outside and inside the church looks better every day. Follow the known prescription and your family's health will be just fine. There is no higher calling for a woman than to be a Godly mother. Keep at it.

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    1. I love you, Dad! This is why "In my living room" lives on.

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  4. I don’t know whether to cry or hug you. Maybe step into a dark room in the library for both. ����

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  5. Absolutely beautifully written! Thanks for the reminder that no matter what our houses look like, the character we are building and the faith we are nourishing on the inside with our families is the most important.

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