Friday, February 29, 2008

big house - little house

I lived in Indiana for five years, and watched the steady march of cookie-cutter mcMansions eating up the corn fields. It was horrifying.

I grew to hate the big box houses.

Now, we're moving into the country (ok, the woods). The pictures I've posted make the house look pretty big. . . . even if it's not repeated in 20 slightly different configurations in 20 side-by-side 2-acre lots. Are we guilty of inflicting just one more mcMansion on the countryside?

I really do hope not.

This article hit me hard: The Next Slum?

Imagine that! The recently-completed "Heathcliff's Preserve" (just to make up a pretentious-sounding name - puhlease don't tell me this place actually exists!?) overrun by druggies and the homeless, when the overly-optimistic subprime mortgagors are unable to make ends meet and have to return to a rental property somewhere. The failure of the American 'suburban dream.'

I might have to drive through some pretty tough areas to get back into town. . . .

Meanwhile, we continue to inspect our own dream of what this place - the greenwood - is to be like. Excellent, but simple. A place of peace and hospitality. Of quiet walks in the woods or a turn in the garden. A place for books - many books - and quiet study. Time and space for conversation in front of a fire or around the table. Music. Space set aside for the messiness of art and crafts, and the cultivation of plants. And a place - a separate place when needed - for guests. A retreat.

If anything, the greenwood is a folly - not a mcMansion. It's a one-off whimsey, not a mass-produced fad. I think there's a big difference. Of course, I could be wrong.

Here's the original inspiration, by the way, a picture I saw years ago of a folly in a garden up north.

Right now, things do look big. But we were originally inspired by Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House and we've continued to recognize the need for human-sized spaces, one of the reasons we refused The Great Room in favor of a reasonably-sized "living room".

Undoubtedly, we will have gotten some things wrong. . . . I keep trying to remind myself that the perceived size of new construction keeps changing: from looking enormous to looking way too small; back to big again. Here's hoping that - in the end - it'll be just right. For a while, though, I don't know that I'll post any more 'big picture' shots. They're just looking a little too big these days, which I find a little scarey.

1 comment:

nancy said...

you would not believe what you see in carmel now!