It would be safe to say that the current world we live in offers an abundance of choices and ideas for the general public if you are at all interested in home design. There have never been more tv shows, Pinterest ideas, or blogs written on home renovation than we have right now! Maybe we are a little home obsessed? It perhaps begs the question are we over-designing our homes and the bigger question, have we missed the point completely in our quest for the perfect home?
I recently was involved in the renovation of a 1940's era farmhouse, which had me thinking about a few things. 70 years ago the bench mark of a perfect home was if it had electricity and running water. I took this picture from the kitchen window of said newly renovated 1940 farmhouse of the "shack-out-back" which is the original homestead house.
I would guess there would have been a wood stove, minimal to no indoor plumbing and most likely gas or kerosene lighting. The new house, which is now an old house, would have seemed like a mansion! Not having to run outside in your slippers to the outhouse at 3am just to pee, would have been considered luxury.
We have been working since the dawn of time to make life more comfortable and efficient for ourselves, we really are obsessed with it. Bill Bryson wrote a fantastic book on this topic if you are looking for a light 500 pager to read! As designers we are asked to spend a lot of time and energy creating pretty spaces with the very best finishes and latest amenities, especially present day as I stated above, where the choices are endless. What I have noticed in my twenty year design career is that we have mastered the efficient. Homes have never been built to handle our human needs more efficiently. What I've also noticed is that even after a project is done and thousands have been spent, home owners still can feel a void.
So why is that I wonder, even with our endless choices, we can feel that our houses fall short. I would suggest it's actually very simple. Our shiny fancy homes with every possible item on our human needs check list covered...do not hold us. Because we do not let them.
Now what do I mean by that exactly? Well imagine living in the shack-out-back and you've been making 3am potty runs with the rain, snow, and random coyote..and suddenly you have INDOOR plumbing. You don't have granite counter tops.. you don't even know what those are, but you have a toilet..inside. The opposite of outside. There is something inside of you that is singing praises and at complete peace and contentment because a need has been met more efficiently and the comfort level has gone from a 1 to a 10. Our space is taking care of us, and we'd feel that right down to the slippers that no longer had to go outside. The problem in our modern day is how to do we re-create this feeling where our space has our back, when every single thing that used to be a luxury is now kind of taken for granted?
Stop taking things for granted..like your toilet. When was the last time you had to run outside at 3am being chased by a coyote just to pee??? Ya that's right.. NEVER! And your lights that you flick on without a second thought?? Those things are cool! You don't even need a match!
Find things that are meaningful to you, like 3 things max, and incorporate them into your space. So often designers hear "my living room looks like a magazine..but it really isn't us! Help!" We need to connect to our space and the quickest way to do that is to incorporate something meaningful to you or your family into the home.
And the most important: If you think every home design problem has been solved you'd be wrong. We are resourceful beings us humans and I really believe we are hard wired to figure out more efficient creative living. Maybe it's a command centre to help your family flow better (you should give THIS lady a call..) Or a kitchen makeover to help your food prep and clean up a snap. Maybe it's a living room layout that feels off but a quick furniture re-shuffle can refresh the space and make it work better. Sure the whole plumbing and electricity problem has been solved but the sky is the limit for living more efficiently.
So the next time you binge watch HGTV, instead of being overwhelmed by the choices of slate tile on the market today, start planning out your next renovation or project to make your family flow better. Think of ways that your space can hold you. And then let it hold you by appreciating everything in it.