"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.
It seems we can never have enough — in our homes, that is. The trend is big and bigger, more finishes, more luxurious furnishings and accessories, more rooms, more toys and just more in general.
Even in a time when we’re trying to be more Earth friendly, we have found ways to still live big. And why not — if you can afford it and have the space.
But today, let’s talk about living simple. I ran across a book not too long ago called "A Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough." It was written by Sarah Nettleton (The Taunton Press.)
Nettleton’s description of a simple home is "… a straightforward 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. Often times 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; and simple is resolved complexity. I’m in love with the subtitle of the book, "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."
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 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. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to email@example.com.