Friend James of England (and formerly of the blog Them’s Me Private Thoughts) emailed recently to suggest I take some photos of where I live. Being from England, he was curious as to what my piece of the world looks like. He mentioned wanting to see “downtown” and I did take and post some pictures, but it spurred further conversation which got me to thinking. I do have a few blog friends that live in other countries. When we read each other’s words, we often leave the details of our surroundings to the imagination. I’m sure there are many, many things that are similar in our different corners of the world and I’m just as sure there is much that is different. Even those of us who share the same citizenship, depending on which part of the country we live, are likely to see very different things when we look around us. James’ curiosity spurred an idea. Why don’t we help each other see what it’s like where we live?
This is the house in which I live. It’s not a great picture, but you get the idea.
The houses on either side of us are very similar, as are many others in the neighborhood. There are a variety of other styles of homes as well, but overall, these are considered to be modest homes.
When Mark and I first moved into our house, it seemed enormous. We had both grown up in small homes where the children shared bedrooms and we had to fight for time in the bathroom. When we were first married, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a duplex. His parents owned the house and we rented from them. The bathroom was probably the biggest room in the apartment and there was no shower, only an old-fashioned claw-foot bath tub.
So our new house felt roomy to a couple of young newlyweds. But as our family grew, the house began to feel smaller. We dealt with it, just as our parents did, by arranging things and making what improvements we could to accommodate us.
When we first bought the house, it was very basic, with three rather small bedrooms upstairs and an unfinished basement. Over the years, as time and money allowed, we painted and improved the various rooms and turned the basement into a livable space.
If you look at the picture of our house, you can imagine what it’s like inside. The front door leads into a foyer, and as you walk in, you’ll be met by two half-flights of steps, one going up and one going down. When you go upstairs, you’ll see the kitchen straight ahead, which just last year, Mark completely remodeled and I love it! Our family spends a lot of time together there, sometimes tripping over one another as we clean up together after a meal and sometimes making great memories while we cook or bake something together.
The kids in the living room. The Christmas tree is where the television usually sits.
While you look into the kitchen from the top of the stairs, you can find the living room to your left. The living room has a couple of cozy chairs and a love seat, as well as a small television in the outside corner of the room. The kids tend to spend a lot of time here watching t.v., playing video games or hanging out with friends. We always make space for our Christmas tree in there, and there have been many holiday and birthday celebrations there.
My brothers and niece in the dining room during a family celebration
Behind the living room and next to the kitchen is the dining area. It’s not a large area by any means, and we’ve pretty much filled the space with the pub-height table that comfortably seats six. These days, it’s less likely that you’ll find us all seated there together for a meal, but there are still times when we make it happen. It’s also a great place to play cards and board games together or with friends. There’s a patio door in the dining area that leads out to the deck and the back yard.
To the right of the upper stairway is the hallway. Down the hall you’ll find the small main bathroom on the right, and just beyond it, Jake’s bedroom, which is the former master bedroom where Mark and I slept before he finished the basement. Although it’s the biggest of the upstairs bedrooms, it’s not big by any means. Across the hall is Brad’s bedroom at the end of the house, and Kacey’s bedroom between Brad’s room and the kitchen. The boys used to share a bedroom and there were several instances of room-juggling as our family grew and then again once the lower level was finished.
Mark and my brother-in-law sitting at the computer desk in the family room.
Now if you come back to the foyer and go down the stairs this time instead, you’ll find the family room to your left. It spans the depth of the house and Mark made it very cozy and rustic by installing a gas fireplace with a stone face and by covering the walls with knotty pine. This room is filled with comfy furniture and a big television, and the large computer desk that Brad built in his wood shop class in high school. This is where I spend a lot of my down time and where I write on my laptop while sitting in my favorite recliner.
Kacey and friends getting ready for a dance in "my" bathroom
The knotty pine was carried all the way down the hallway and if you head that direction, you’ll find the large lower-level bathroom, also covered in knotty pine. There’s a nice long vanity in there, a linen closet and a whirlpool tub that (sadly) rarely gets used. Across from the bathroom is the laundry/furnace/storage room. That is where most of the holiday decorations are stored and the place where the cat’s food and water dishes are kept. And at the end of the hallway is the “new” larger master bedroom, which Mark designed with a nice big walk-in closet. That room also spans the depth of the house. Its lower level location makes it easier for Mark to sleep when he’s working nights and sleeping days. Since ours is a half-basement, there’s a ground level window there that offers a nice view of the back yard. Drives Mark nuts when he’s working the night shift and I go to sleep with the window open. I love to do that on warm summer nights. He’s sure that I’m putting my safety in danger, but the window is actually somewhat secluded by a huge dogwood bush, so I continue to do it.
I guess you would consider our neighborhood to be a middle-class neighborhood, though because we live in a suburb, the immediately surrounding neighborhoods range from low-income to the more prestigious. Just a couple of miles away you could buy a home for anywhere from five hundred thousand on up to a million dollars. I always wonder about the people who live in those expensive homes. Do they really get to enjoy them? Or are they so busy making money to pay for them that they rarely get to spend any actual time there?
I guess that’s what I love about our home. It’s on the small side, but over the years, we’ve made it our own and figured out how to be happy here. It’s affordable enough that we don’t work simply to pay for our house and our neighborhood is filled with hardworking people who we’ve come to know not just as neighbors, but as friends.
So now you’ve “seen” the inside of our house. Maybe another time, I’ll show you around the neighborhood!