“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” “Home! Sweet Home!” (also known as “Home, Sweet Home” composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop with lyrics by American actor and dramatist John Howard Payne.
Even though the economy has changed for most of us during the past several years, it seems we can still never have enough - in our homes, that is. The trend is still big and bigger; more finishes; more luxurious furnishings and accessories; more rooms; more toys; just more in general. And, in a time when we’re trying to be more Earth-friendly, we have found ways to still live big.
But today, let’s talk about living simple. One of my favorite books on lifestyles is called “A Simple Home, The Luxury of Enough,” written by Sarah Nettleton (The Taunton Press).
Nettleton’s description of a simple home is “a straight forward floor plan, a functional and unadorned interior and abundant daylight. The rooms of a simple home typically serve many purposes and are flexible enough to change with their owners’ needs over time.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds awfully nice to me. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in having the biggest, best, latest and most expensive, that we lose track of what exactly home is about.
Nettleton explores different types of homes and talks about six paths to simplicity. And doesn’t this sound familiar: simple is enough; simple is flexible; simple is thrifty; simple is timeless; simple is sustainable; simple is resolved complexity. I’m in love with the subhead in the title: “The Luxury of Enough.”
Just think about that for a minute. Because we tend to be so materialistic, we don’t imagine that having enough is a luxury. But, oh, it is.
In reality, what home means to each of us is very different. We have varying ideas of what it should be, what we expect from it, how much it should cost and what it says about us.
One thing that is quite apparent is that regardless of what size our homes are - big, bigger or biggest – that piece doesn’t directly equate to the good life. I’m sure we all have friends and acquaintances living in every type of home, from the most modest to the most extravagant, and can attest that some of the most contented souls live on the more modest side.
Another tenet expressed in the book is called “honesty in building” and it says that simple doesn’t refer to the type of home design “but as an approach to building a home marked by honesty and careful choices. Simple homes are, above all, authentic. They make no pretensions. More important than size, cost of style, the simple house says what it is, it expresses the carefully considered needs and tastes of the people who live there. It is not designed to please someone else.” What a concept!
Economic woes have caused some people to rethink “big” and they are finding smaller places to call home. Conversations with people I know in these circumstances reflect their pleasure in finding new, smaller spaces. Most have certainly learned about the luxury of enough.
So whether it’s the simple home you long for or the mansion on the hill, keep in mind that neither guarantees success or happiness. That’s entirely up to you.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to email@example.com.