Monday, August 23, 2010

Sense of Space

Some days I feel as if I've been living in a storybook neighborhood while the world "out there" has been going through changes that I've seen but hardly experienced.  Today, nails in certain housing coffins seem to be the story.

What struck me the most about these stories was a passing sentence in one of the links.   "For a little historical context, 1,200 square feet was the average home size in America in the 1960s. That grew to 1,710 square feet in the 1980s and 2,330 square feet in the 2000s".

Our house was built back in the mid 1910's, when Wilmington was known for shipbuilding and not just DuPont.  An "English garden" community was set up a bit inland from all of the shipbuilders on the Delaware River, for the workers and their families.  The houses range in size from 1,100 to (only one house) 2,100 sq. ft., wth the average being about 1,400, not including the (ever-leaking) basements.  So, for the day, early 1900's, these houses were considered quite spacious.  The attached house next door to us is occupied by a single woman and her dog; in the 1960's a family with 5 kids resided there.  Not including the dog, that means she had an average of 1,400 sq. ft. to herself while the 1960 family had an average of 200 sq. ft.  From all accounts of neighbors who were familiar with the family, everybody was relatively happy in "tight"quarters.   The young lady next door moved for a more "comfortable feel" of a home.  A larger house.

I am an admitted CroMagnon man.  If I live in a space I personally take care of the space.  Differences of opinion as to maintenance of said space do occur with my Ever-Loving Wife as our respective Visual Dust Detection Monitors are on different settings.   She sometimes infers that my Monitor is either off or its batteries are shot.  I believe in the "settling of dust" as a valid house-owning policy.  Our discussions are lively and our blood flows quite well thanks to these matter-of-opinion exchanges.

I can only imagine the level of discussions and the repetitiveness of the exchanges in houses of 50% or 100% the size of our 1,700 sq ft one.   Not to mention the size of the monthly billings for services ranging from heat to cleaning to lawn maintenance to electric to roofing.  That is a house that is a sinking ship of woes.

On any given day you may, if you're lucky, see a house for sale in our community.  You have to keep your eyes open as usually within a week that sale ssign is gone.  While larger, newer houses are bought up, eventually, as t a 10 to 30% discount, these old houses in our neighborhood go for the asking price or a 10-15% premium.

Sanity seems to be returning to home sizes.  No more bowling alley length corriders running between rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting running hither and yon.   You'll have to excuse me, I'm off to the backyard (cute & tiny) for a round of post-hole digging.   Winter was not kind to our fence.

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The more "living space" a person owns, the more junk a person fills it with -- speaking from personal experience, of course. I sometimes wish we had just one more bedroom, but it mostly wouldn't hurt to attempt doing better with the ones we already have.
WP, I think you're referring to the natural occurence that my Ever-Loving Wife "points" out to me on occassion. She refers to it as the "Goldfish Rule".

Buy a goldfish. Put it into a bowl. The goldfish will grow to fit the size of the bowl. Buy another bowl, bigger this time. Transfer the goldfish to the new bowl. The goldfish will grow to fit the size of the bowl.

The bowl determines the amount of stuff, uhmmm...I mean, the size of the goldfish.
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