Sunday, December 05, 2010

What Can't I Live Without?



An interesting recent issue of the NYT Magazine examined the 21st century house. And a sensible eco-friendly version would weigh in at around 1700 feet.

"Horrible," many people exclaimed. "I need more space than that. I need 3.5 bathrooms, a hot-tub, a kitchen big enough for granite islands, two fridges, and a breakfast area. I want, I want, I want." We'd better learn to stop wanting so much soon!

What are the things in a house you can't live without? Of course, should you have six kids, your needs would be different. But what is one essential feature other than the prosaic? I chose a fireplace. Can't imagine not having one to light up the winter here. In California or Louisiana or Texas, maybe not.

18 comments:

Deb said...

Prosaic: Toss up between washing machine and dishwasher. Probably I'd choose the washing machine because, if necessary, I can wash dishes by hand. Not so easy to hand-wash clothes for a family of five though.

Not-so-prosaic: Lots of windows. I like light and outdoors streaming into the house.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We live in a townhouse so we don't have a lot of light and I really miss it.

Naomi Johnson said...

Nothing takes the place of indoor plumbing, as anyone who has ever lived without it can attest. And I personally believe that the divorce rate would be lower if every married couple had separate bathrooms.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I thought that would be true about bathrooms, too, Naomi until I found it meant I had two to clean all the time.

Charles Gramlich said...

The fireplace wouldn't be important to us here, but the kitchen sure would.

John McFetridge said...

I find house size really interesting. I've been doing research into Levittown and the post-war suburbs and all those houses were around 1500 square feet.

What I find really interesting is how nostalgic people are for those houses, how much they say they loved them and how so many people bought much bigger houses themselves. Most people of my generation shared a room with sibling but try very hard to make sure each of their kids get their own room.

Big houses seem to be a solution to a problem that didn't really exist.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I grew up in a house of about 700 square feet. I thought Levittown houses (and there was a PA sub) were palaces. My brother's room was 5 by 8 at best. Then we had a house at 1200 feet bringing up our kids. Now that we are empty nesters we have 2400 and it is a huge waste and $$$ to heat. But we can't move until prices rise a bit.

Dorte H said...

My husband and my three children! - but probably also that fireplace plus a washing machine and some books.

Kent Morgan said...

Bookcases

pattinase (abbott) said...

Amen, Kent. The more the better.

Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed reading all the preceding answers. We have something close to that magical 1700 number, but there are just two of us.

Reading about the Old West, you find people with families living in a single room, with no conveniences, just a stove.

Then there's the guy who sleeps rough on the sidewalk near where I park my car at work. If he had all his wits he might wish for more, but somehow he manages without even a roof over his head.

pattinase (abbott) said...

There was something awfully cozy in that tiny house I grew up in. We could hear each other call from every room. The Waltons house seemed rather sprawling for that to work.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Plumbing, sure. Appliances. My home office and computer. But above all that I treasure peace and quiet. A nice home with noisy, inconsiderate neighbors is just another bad location.

Anonymous said...

Deb, we've lived without a dishwasher for 40 years and a washing machine the last 24. Of course there are only two of us.

We've always lived in apartments and time has proven that for us a house is not a necessity or even - to be honest - really wanted.

But then we've always had large apartments. We have two very large bedrooms (one functions as the den/book/computer room) and a very large living room/dining room plus a big eat-in kitchen and a long, wide hallway (lined with bookcases).

The one thing Jackie would take would be that second bathroom.

As long as I live in a nice, safe neighborhood and a comfortable apartment in a safe building, I'm pretty content.

Jeff M.

Richard R. said...

Can't live without?
- laundry facilities
- two bathrooms, one with a tub
- bedroom for me, one for guests, one for the books
- a 2 car garage
- a place for a computer, and a data line for it

Yes, I think 1700 ft would be enough, though I just bought a home larger than that, not because we wanted the extra square footage, but because we wanted the parts of the house we needed, in the area we wanted, and it came with the extra space at our price. It allows for many not have to haves, such as an art/quilting studio, a lot of indoor storage. Plus we love the view.

I subscribe to the theories of The Not So Small House. An excellent book.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Exactly why our house is much bigger than we need. A third floor with two bedrooms and a bath we never use. Too cold in winter, too hot in summer.

K. A. Laity said...

A lovely deep bathtub. I'd never rent a place that doesn't have a tub, but my present one is just too shallow for real relaxing, like too many American bathrooms. No luxury more satisfying and simple as a nice hot bath (a nice cuppa would be the other).

pattinase (abbott) said...

A real disappointment is that soaking in scalding hot water now dries out my skin. Plus there is a leak somewhere and the floor beneath shows signs of collapsing. Oh, these old houses.