Friday, July 23, 2010

23 July 1956 “The American Dream Home”

50shouse1 I think what a 21st century visitor would notice at first about middle class life here in 1956 is the size of the homes. They are diminutive by today’s standards and are not all full of brand new plastic Eames chairs as we might see in the magazines of the time. There would be much ‘recycling’ of items handed down, borrowed etc. The  middle class homemaker would look at you oddly if you said ‘recycling’, for you see being Green here simply  means being smart and frugal. Thrift, it seems, is even taught in high schools and at home. A ‘consumer economy’ has not yet set itself into the psyche of the American public.
There was an increase need for homes after the war. Returning soldiers were already husbands or soon to be and they were getting ready to feather the nest. Many had GI bill aspirations to college and all facets of the middle class (even the lower rungs) were beginning to have a taste of a life they may not have considered before the war: college, their own home, a sense of economic growth. All of these things were held like shiny apples before the donkey cart to the new American middle class families at this time. Yet, these families came to them with the inante thrift and frugality of Depression Children and War Time Ration still fresh in their minds. They also felt their country was now set upon the eve of a Brave New World and all in it would now be done for the good of all.
What is interesting to me is that many things today such as food and clothing are dirt cheap comparative to 1956 yet housing is the opposite. The above kit ranch house of 1200 sq. feet cost $6030 at the time. That is comparative to around $35,000 today. (the image came from a nice Flickr site HERE, they have other houses and prices listed) I can’t even imagine a piece of land that cheap today. 50shouse2
In my research for this post I read a modern article about recent home sizes. I thought this an interesting quote from a real estate agent on L.I. in New York from a modern newspaper, "You know, we are very tenuous," says local architect Ann Surchin. "No one knows when the next 9/11 will happen. And these houses represent safety — and the bigger the house, the bigger the fortress."
I had to laugh at that. 9/11? I mean come on. I am certainly not belittling what happened, but here in 1956 people not only remember a world war that has maimed and killed friends and family, people are still living daily with a very real fear that at any moment the Atomic bomb could come crashing down on them. And yet they have no problem having one bathroom for a family of five or having older children (even teens) share a bedroom. Rather than seclude themselves in fortresses they cannot afford, they open up their new little modern homes with ‘window walls’ and patios to Barbeque with neighbors. Even wealthier individuals who summer here on Cape Cod do not all have mansions. But, their quaint little cottages are going to be decimated with Mc-mansions in 60 years.
So why such a great divide between houses then and now? I think the real answer, again, is the media. What do we watch? What do we see on tv/computer: Perceived wealth; shows like Cribs and many design shows portray homes very large and beyond many peoples means. We don’t even realize anymore that half of the shows being presented are just really highly advanced 30-60 minute ads. Because we find ourselves wanting to emulate the show and buy and have the things the characters have, this really is effective advertising. We are unable to distinguish the reality from the fantasy. We are SO plugged into the digital/media/ad/entertainment world, that our brains have trouble distinguishing the difference. When you consider we mostly give our mind these false images,  it follows we then succumb to wanting what they have. There is a realness to it: I see all that wealth and stuff, they have it, it seems real, I have this card, so now I want it and have it.  The advertising of today is so genius and smart and sophisticated, even what you look up online is collected and fed back to us in adverts that sell to our own demographic. The level of marketing is more advanced than the intelligence we had access to when in WWII. Advertising here, in 1956, is still a young art/ad man drawing out images and coloring them in to be placed in magazines. There is an innocence that still exists not only in the ads themselves, but in the very nature of the people. In some ways we are so removed from them by how we think, it is as if we are a different species, breed to buy.
I shudder now, when I think of the design shows I used to watch when they would just gut and tear out any kitchen and replace it with the latest style. The idea of using what we have or making do and making it pretty seems completely gone. Which is odd to me when I think the average homemaker or wife today has SO much at her fingertips as far as design inspiration and lessons on how to do it all, but it seems it has just become another form of entertainment to watch OTHERS do it and then hire someone to rip out and replace.
A homemaker in 1956 would not even have access to the money we see today and yet would use what she had to make her home lovely. A woman who was a homemaker in her 20's in the 50's told me she wanted to redo her bedroom and wanted valances. She couldn't afford wood, so she saved up heavy cardboard from boxes, bought fabric and glued and made valances and matching pillows and bed skirts. You couldn't tell the difference, she told me and I believe her. Especially when I think of what house wares today ARE made of and where they are thrown together.
I don't always want to end up seeming to be playing the 'its better back here' game, but some how it always happens. I think really it is more, “Oh, they did that, then why can’t we do that AND still move forward”.Even if you think of me, "Well, your not really there, so of course it seems better” There still seems to be lessons here in frugality, creativity, and action. That means even if you are not a  time traveling homemaker like me, you can be a thoroughly modern Millie and start taking advantage of what our 50's sisters did with the power and ease of today! Why spend what we perceive of as less at a big box store for particle board, when you can use scrap wood you might have, a jigsaw, some paint, and fabric and make a custom item fit for you, for less!
Here is another quote from that same modern article on house size. The man has built a large house and says, "I always wanted a house big enough that my kids could be in their room screaming, and my wife could be in a room screaming, and I could be somewhere else and not hear any of them," he says. "And I think I have accomplished this with this house, because this house is so big that everyone has their own space."
I think it is odd that this man should not mind that his children or his wife ARE screaming, as long as he does not have to hear it. I think that says so much about modern family and community dynamics. We don't care what happens to people as long as we don't see it. Who cares that our cheap products are made by children in china, as long as I don't have to make it or see it. It all makes sense. Yet a father in 1956 would not allow a child TO scream in his room for it would firstly upset the family and secondly he would, hopefully, want to know why they are screaming. Because if it is for fun then you have to learn that you cannot just scream when you want just because you are in a big place. How does any of this prepare us for the real world. Does that mean if you go to a large library or the airport, which is also large, you can scream at the top of your lungs? This bigger house size merely adds to the unrealistic atitude we have and give to children who then have to go out into the real world. It also shows our own increasing inability to accept a new reality here in our country. Bigger and more is not better and it is not only leading us down a bad path, but really not the unique original American ideal.
The lead me to consider that increased house size actually affects our overall attitudes. No wonder people are so rude to one another and staff at restaurants and stores. When you have your own bedroom and bath and rarely see your siblings and family members (even to eat) there is no need for compromise. There is no working it out with your siblings to get to the bathroom, so you get what you want, when you want it. Now add that to the instantaneousness of our world. Tv, computers, phone , texting, microwave food, drive-thrus, its all there cheap and ready in a second and if it is a moment late, look out we will shout at you! We want it and we want it NOW and we want it BIG! (Would you like to Super size that? It’s only 20 cents extra for a Venti)
I also find it interesting that the 50’s woman will have to spend much more time IN her home than the modern woman, yet has so much less space. But, to a person whose job it is to maintain the home, decorate it, feed a family and have time for her extra curricular such as reading, sewing, knitting, art and so on, a small house is a boon! It is odd that as the decrease in home food prep goes down the kitchen size and cost goes up. If you were to see this on a graph it would be two lines diverging drastically. And the increase in money spent on rooms where little happens save microwave use and heating up prepared food, we could really have 5 x 5 kitchens with a  microwave a few burners and a small stove. But, of course, a bank of freezers and ice boxes would be needed.
I have felt this need to enlarge and live big in my own home often. Before 1955, I always was planning a large home. My ideas and dreams often had endless rooms. But, as I have become a homemaker, the appreciation of smaller space has actually begun to really shine through. At the end of last year (1955) we moved out of our house that was twice the size of our current old antique cottage so we could rent it out. We now literally have 1/2 the size as when I started my project and probably have closer to what an average homemaker would have had at the time. Initially it required me to really downsize and many of those things are still boxed in our out building/barn waiting for a yard sale. Many of the things I had originally intended on keeping but lately I have really begun to see that I have been living without them for the past 7 months and have not noticed, except that there is less to dust and organize. Smaller really is a part of a proper vintage life. Even if we consider the size of 1950’s car, it was large, but not like the monstrous 6000 lb vehicles we have today with tv panels in each seat and ipod docking stations. Our cars are more advanced than the home of 1956, but are we happier, more organized or smarter? I don’t know, I think not.
 50skitchen2 This house size also got me thinking about kitchen size. Many of the kitchens in my 50’s magazines, though they are ‘redone’ modern versions are still very small in square footage compared to today. When we first moved back to this house, I kept redesigning my kitchen over and over. I started with additions and breaking down a wall into another room (all on paper of course) and pouring over my vintage magazines for ideas and Craigslist for vintage appliances. I had slowly lessened my plan to no additions and just removing a wall that separates my little sitting room from the kitchen to enlarge the space inside. Since our Holiday at Home and my increases desire to sew more and do more art with my non homemaking time, I am really rethinking the entire idea. I do still need a better vintage stove and I have an old 50’s icebox (refrigerator) in storage waiting to be redone, but do I really need more space? The kitchen we now have was added on in the 1900’s and redone in the 1950’s but I stupidly removed the old vinyl (this was years ago) and the original handles to the cabinets. There is very little space in there, yet I have really had no trouble preparing meals, baking a cake and getting hubby’s lunch together all at one time. As it is mainly just me in there, there is no issue of a crowd.
Our Staycation really has had me look at our home in such a new light. The small house became the quaint sea cottage through the perception of our Holiday at Home and now, though I again view it as our main home, have begun to appreciate it’s size. Luckily I added a barn type building a few years ago that I can turn into my sewing/craft/art/50’s club location, so really there is no need to add to this house.
So, if any of you are on the track to redoing any of your home, I ask you to sit down and think about how you really use it. Think about what you do in the kitchen and what would help it out. When you are on a holiday or in a holiday cottage or camping or something such as that, do you enjoy the simplicity of that? If so, then your home can reflect that ease and comfort. You don’t need dirt floors, but you could possibly pare down the amount of dishes you have (make them be a collection you love so each time you drink or give a guest a drink, it is from something you have chosen. It has meaning and artful purpose). I think we just have so much STUFF today, that we don’t really even see it clogging up our lives. It fills every nook and cranny and we give over our lives our contentment and happiness to all this stuff.
I know for me it has been a gradual process over the past year and a half to really come to terms with the STUFF and see it for what it is. And if we are to have stuff around us, let it me things we feel connected to and have personally chosen. The positive aspect for we vintage women, is many 1950’s items are still fairly inexpensive (as the fad grows, this will become less so of course) so sell off 10 items you don’t care about at a yard sale and take that money and buy one dear thing you cherish and put the change in your pin money. It can be very liberating.
Now, from a simply esthetics standpoint, many of the modern huge houses are just ugly. They have no proportion or beauty. They almost feel like an aniseptic office building.mcmansionmcmansion2The first house here has no trim or ornamentation, nothing to break up the endless expanse of brick and office building windows. I would not want to pay the ac/heating bill for this.
Yet, consider these little 1950’s homes. Consider their charm and position in the landscape. When one has less to build more can be done to it to make it special and livable.50scapecod 50shousehodgson (this image from check it out to see more on prefab 50’s homes.)
Here are some house plans from my magazines. (click to enlarge) and you can see how small the rooms actually are.homeplans2homeplans1
Even consider something as simple as the outdoor room. Here we see a darling 1950’s version.50soutdoorlivingroomThere is small space, but it is used wisely and you can see it is also practical. There is a place to eat, barbeque, prepare food, but also lawn and garden tools are neatly stored and easily reached. Inexpensive items such as peg board is used with style.
Though this is a lovely modern outdoor room, it almost has a cold feeling to it.  modernoutdoorlivingroom2modernoutdoorlivingroomI wonder how often that huge grill gets used and that great expanse of space for dinning, where is the intimacy? I am not saying large is bad, when done right and one can have an architect and many friends, but for the intimate needs of a small family on a fixed income, this would be shown as their ideal today. There would be no ‘cute and clever’ solution for them. But, then again, why bother, we can just charge it all, right? And then go off and work more hours to pay it off while not using it and the kids are inside on the computer or texting anyway.
So, house size may seem a simple thing, but once we really start to break down all the factors of cost and emotional connections we have in small as opposed to larger spaces, I feel it is just another layer of the modern dilemma. This is one more point where we have been lead astray from the 1950’s to today that does not, in my opinion, make for an easier or better life. So, next time you are planning a room or house or even apartment, really consider our 50’s sisters and what they had to work with. They were clever ladies from which we can learn a lot.
If you would like to read the article where I took the two modern quotes HERE it is.
Have a great day and Happy Homemaking.


  1. I agree with everything you said, and how true it is. I was born in '53 (I have a new blog, and new blog name, but used to comment here under my old name of Civilla).

    People were content with so much less. It really is ironic that the less time we spend in the kitchen, the bigger it is! The less time we spend at home, the bigger the homes are! The fewer children we have, the more bathrooms we have! Funny.

    And, you are right, the modern homes have an antiseptic quality to them: they look like banks or nursing homes...and nobody is ever in them.

    Things really changed when most women went out to work (I'm not picking on women who must work, you understand, it's just that those who choose to stay home because they are able to are often made fun of).

  2. I wrote my memoirs of growing up in the 50's and 60's. You can see them on my blog, if you scroll way down to the labels and click on "1950's Housewives," which goes through the early 60's, or "1960's Confessions of a Non-Hippie" which goes from about 1964 onward to 1970. Maybe you would find them interesting.

    Something I remember of my father, and our neighbors, who had migrated out to Long Island from Brooklyn and other boroughs of New York City, is that when entertaining guests who had not been in their home before, they would always offer, "Would you like to see the house?" Then would commence the house tour of their relatively small homes. They were so proud of home-ownership after living in those high rise tenaments and apartments.

    If you dropped in unannounced on a friend or neighbor, you never dropped in empty-handed. You always stopped off at the store first and picked up a crumb cake or a box of donuts or something, since you wouldn't want to embarrass your friend if they did not happen to have something to serve you. Since you were casually dropping in, you brought a casual store-bought bakery item. Lots more visiting back then.

    I, unfortunately, grew up in what was then called a "broken home," my mother having abandoned us. My father had custody, and so was a single dad back in the 50's, and my grandmother helped raise us. Stuff like that happened back then, but not as often.

  3. So true. We live in a tiny flat, and I couldn't be happier. Right now, it is due to financial constraints as both my husband and I are students, but I dread the day when we buy a house (even a small one) because I know I'll be overwhelmed by the expense of decorating and the time involved with maintaining it. Recently I've been thinking about how feasible it would be to have a baby in this house - it would mean giving up our study, but until maybe 10 or 15 years ago how many people had a room set aside for their computers?

    In response to Travels' statement in previous comment:
    "If you dropped in unannounced on a friend or neighbor, you never dropped in empty-handed..."

    I love this! My mother-in-law often drops in with little or no notice, and I feel ashamed when I don't have so much as a biscuit to serve with her coffee!

  4. What an interesting post. I love looking at old house plans, and was glad to see you're also familiar with I also enjoy looking at old home decoration photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s. I'm often struck by how well organized and tidy everything appears in the small rooms, and yet how very homey and comfortable they seem. I definitely think I could live well in a home from that period. Our home is about 1700 square feet, and I suspect our next home will be smaller.

  5. I live in an area with mostly older homes. I've noticed a new trend that makes such sense I wish I had done it. Instead of doing a big family room/kitchen addition off the back of the house some families are forgoing the formal living room and using the space as a family room. So the tv is in there-an idea that horrified me when we bought out home- but it makes sense. Don't get me wrong, I love my formal living room, but it's a large room and would have made a nice familyroom. I balked at the idea because it's directly off the foyer and I didn't want the mess of toys and art projects in full view. We've made our large finished basement the familyroom with the tv, computer, toys, etc and it's great because if someone stops by it's easy to avoid the chaos. But the home was built for a family to live in. Seems silly to hang out in the basement. We use the living room to read, talk, etc and it's not always immaculate but I sometimes wish I had considered using the space differently.

    I love this post! That father who was quoted about the screaming is pathetic. What an awful reason to want a big house. Its like the man wants quiet roommates. I get tired of the noise and chaos but if I can't see what's going on I need to be within earshot of my kids and my hubby.

    I've been working lately on not only getting rid of things but not buying so much stuff. It's surprisingly hard to do. At the grocery sales are "2 for $x" so buying one just doesn't seem like an option. I used to be so worried about "running out". But really what's the worst thing? I send one of the kids to the neighbor's to borrow an egg? Or we use Kleenex in the bathroom until I can go get some toilet paper?? It's not the end of the world, is it?

    Anyway, thanks for this interesting post and all the research. :)


  6. We will be closing on a new home in 2 weeks. It was built in 1946 and has had little done to it since it was built. It was loveimgly lived in by a simple man for 50 years. We have also been able to purchase much of his furniture.

    My husband is a contractor who builds multi-million dollar homes, but we live a very simple life. The home he is bidding on at the moment has 3 kitchen spaces and just the appliances will cost 3-5 times what one of those houses cost in the 1950's. And the wife of this home is still in her 20's. Although building the home will mean work for my husband, I find it ridiculous and beyond anyone's need. It disgusts me.

    With our home we hope to keep its integrity while adding a few modern touches like electrical sockets. It has only one bathroom and with just the two of us, we see no reason to add another.

    What we hear often is, " what about re-sale? You need granite and stainless and you HAVE to have two bathrooms."'s not going to happen. My husband likes very modern things, but has caught a "touch" of my vintage bug and has even been looking on craigslist for old appliances.

    I will be blogging about what we do with the house in the future. I hope to be inspired by you.

  7. Three kitchens?? More to clean. I wonder if this young woman realizes this?

  8. My mouth always drops open when I see the size of American houses on the television. My husband and I live in West London in the old kitchen and front parlour of a converted Victorian house and it is TINY. In reality it is only 2 rooms, (the old kitchen is our bedroom and the parlour our lounge) with the addition of an old cupboard as the bathroom and a corridor being used as the kitchen.

    Yet I love it! With clever storage, (such as the old wash-house being used for our washing machine) it works perfectly for us and is full of character and period features. Amazingly, it is still bigger than many flats we first looked at.
    In London, there are very few 'new builds'- (no more room to build!) so often period buildings are converted. Some are cleverly done, like ours, others have the interior smashed through entirely in order to try and convert them to look like they have 'more space' all the time. By doing that it makes them bland, but it seems that that is what everyone wants - large blank white walls :(

  9. Sarah-you can retrain the 'buying need', I did and boy oh boy was I a major consumer before 1955! You begin to look at it differently and you know when you buy one of buy one get one, it is still cheaper.
    I bet the three kitchen home will have a housekeeper of somesort, so the multiple cleanings probably won't affect the wife. What gets me is people who build such homes but are still just living on the cusp of their actual income and could live like a king in a small paid for house without the stress of upkeep/utilities and the need to work as much.
    Our apt in Boston was small, but really larger than most. It was the dinning room and sitting room and butlers pantry (became bath) of the old 5 story brownstone. We lived with very little space but were lucky to have 12 foot ceilings, crown mouldings and oak paneled walls and a working fireplace and parquet floors. Our kitchen was TINY, but mattered little to me, as all we used it for was sometimes nuking leftovers from restaurants or keeping our drink mixes cold. Our fridge was a glorified bar and our oven was rarely used. Most of our meals were eat out back then. My how I and times have changed.
    I also hate blank white walls! So uninspirational. At least in the 1950's when all the new drywall and houses were going up here in the usa, they used fun colors, paneling and various 'modern tricks' of pegboard or random open walls of painted 2 x 4's. Now, it is all white and bland. Luckily, we live in a pretty old area for the us (1600's our town was founded) so we have many old historic buildings and honestly, the majority of the houses around me are never really newer than Victorian and really Colonial out weighs that. So esthetically we are lucky there.
    We really do need to look into every corner of our life, our home size down to what we are eating and where it is coming from, to truly understand ourselves and then make changes for better life quality. It is an adventure and sometimes hard, but one worth taking. The longest journey, it is said, begins with the first step after all.

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  11. Sassy Lassie, your vintage home sounds wonderful. I would love to read what you do with it. Don't worry about resale: I'm betting that as vintage becomes more and more popular, should you have to sell, there will be buyers who will love your home.

  12. I think if you want people to e-mail you (I saw in an older post that you wondered about that), you have to click "show my e-mail" in your profile.

    You can also go to "design" and click on "add a gadget" and type in "recent comments" so you can see if people have made comments on older posts.

  13. Travels-You aren't addressing me, are you? I wasn't wondering if people were emailing me, in fact I have trouble sometimes keeping up with reader emails, but maybe you are addressing another comment and I just didn't see it.

  14. Yes, I was wondering if you had an e-mail available here on your blog. I seem to have read on one of your older posts in your comment section that you wondered how to get "e-mail me" on your blog here. Guess I misunderstood.

    I found an e-mail to you on the Apron Revolution site. I think that is you.

    Anyway, I'm reading your older posts, such fun. In a post, you mentioned keeping your linens clean.

    Yes, in the 50's they had plastic over everything -- the lamp shades still had the plastic on them that came with them from the store, plastic runner over the parts of the wall-to-wall carpet that got the most traffic, even fitted heavy plastic over the living room furniture and car upholstery. Thrifty but tacky! They didn't want to replace all that expensive stuff. People today make fun of it.

  15. Though I know such plastic was often found in homes, I think not all homes did that. In fact I know my own family (though I was not yet born-I had 1950's parents) did not have that. I think, in fact, some people even considered it tacky back then, but possibly is just depended where you were living etc.

  16. No, not everybody had it. Mostly working class ethnic families. My family didn't, but my parents' friends did -- they had new furniture and carpets and didn't want them ruined. We did, however, leave the plastic on our lamp shades, lol. Most of us were working class where I grew up, as was my family.

  17. I had never met a soul who had plastic on their furniture until I went to visit my friend on Long Island for the first time. I'd never even heard of that practice until I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Down here in the Deep South, plastic over anything is an invitation for a bumper crop of mildew. And that's still true even with A/C in every house.

    Lots to think about in this post. I do have a big fondness for big, open, airy kitchens. When you're cooking for an army the extra space really does make a difference. But when it's just a couple of people a tiny kitchen is no problem at all. When I was growing up, more often than not my mom was cooking to feed an army! We always had extra people around, whether it was cousins or friends spending a few days with us.

    I was 21 before I had a room all to myself. My sister moved into the little guest cottage on our property and I had a room all to myself. We never thought it was weird to be sharing a room. If I ever get to have kids, they won't each have their own room. You can't be best friends/best enemies with your sister if you don't share a room with her. You miss out on so many of the joys of childhood.

    I don't understand why small families insist on having such huge houses. You only need a really big house if you have more than 6-7 kids. And even then, historically many families have done without a big house.

  18. this article made me happy! we bought a house that was built in 1940 and its pretty small. 1200 square is pretty cute, it has a corner china hutch that was built with the house and even an ironing board built into the wall. aside from that, my husband and i have 7 kids and it can be pretty tough fitting everyone in there..we have 2 kids in one room, 2 in another room, 2 in a room that used to be a utility room but my oldest loves it so its now his and his brothers room, and the baby sleeps in our room. we only have one bathroom also. we make it work though! its the simple things that count..sitting on the porch in the evenings, listening to the kids sing, cooking together, building the first fire of the winter season.etc etc.

  19. I've never been fond of the trend towards huge homes. Smaller homes have always captured my heart, especially ones that have personality and charm to them. I love the coziness that I feel when I'm in them. Although pretty, huge houses have always felt like museums to me. I enjoy visiting a museum for a day, but I never have the feeling that I want to curl up and stay there. The huge houses that I've been in leave me feeling the same way - pretty to look at, but I'm ready to go back to cozy and welcoming feeling.

  20. When I visited the US, I was stunned by the size of houses, beds, cars etc and was frankly worried about the waste. Some is plenty and enough is often too much. You are right though, some of those houses are just distasteful! I live in a 1960's house and by UK standards it's considered enormous by US standards it would be considered modest.

  21. I have to mention how enormous US houses are compared to Danish, again bigger is better “over there”. What you would consider a small house, we Danes would consider a very large house. Not that we live in teeny-tiny house, but I think we have the square metres we need and not much more. E.g. my own house, we are three persons, you know, and we have 120 sqm, which is hall, combined dining and living room, kitchen, office and bathroom at first floor. At second floor is a tiny “stair-room” with only a vintage drawer (for my lingerie), son’s room and our bedroom. Add to this a basement of 55 sqm in which we have a combined wine cellar, drum room, and guest room. And also my beloved washing room with washing machine, dryer and also lines for drying. The last room is just for storage. And a tiny toilet, not bathroom, just toilet. I think the basement saves us, since we can store away things we don’t have space for in the main house. We also have a garage, a wood shed (we have a fireplace in the living room), a shed for garden tools and another shed for garden furniture and DH’s expensive lawn mover. DH loves building sheds. ;) And the only one not having her own room – is me! I dreamed of a combined library, sewing, drawing, computer and office room, but alas, we got a shared office which is not as romantic and girly as I’ve wanted it. But DH has promised me to renovate it very soon and built a special desk for me, which I’ve drawn myself. I can hardly wait! :) It is going to be fabulous.

    And we do repair everything, we thrift and renovate and make things out of discarded things, so this post is exactly how we already live. :) But I know not everybody has the skills to do so, and many cannot get away from the TV and take the time to do it.

    The screaming-story is odd, I hope he was making fun!

    Great post as always! :)

  22. "When one has less to build more can be done to it to make it special and livable." YES! I don't own a home of my own yet, but I always say I want my dream home to be small, and when people ask why, this is the reason! If you build a small home you can use nicer brick, not cheap siding, and all around better materials, and there's less room to fill with furniture so you can focus on better quality stuff, even if it's more expensive. And less to clean!

    Also, more space for a garden outside. Several years ago, before the housing bubble burst, I would go looking at freshly built homes in new, still forming neighborhoods, and the thing that always got me was the small size of the backyards. Walking out the back door, it might only be six feet or so to the fence. No room for a garden, or even to safely entertain friends outside while barbecuing. And the tall privacy fences make them feel so closed in and cramped. In older neighborhoods with chain link fence, even the smallest yards feel much more open, and there's enough light for a vegetable garden.

  23. This post is so well researched! This also is the first place I have heard the truth that what you would see in a 1950's magazine was not what you would actually see in an actual family home. Just like today our homes are not like the homes in the newest decorating magazine, Yes yes! Our homes were a mix of a few new things when the old wore out completely and lots of hand me downs and such. The many facets of this article are well worth reading and remembering as fact. Thank you for this keeping this blog. I lived the 1950's life when it was the 1950's and today live in one of those 1950's small homes. That is what it is a home. You have no place to as a family you know and interact with each other! :) //sarah

  24. My only issue with small houses is that I wouldn't want my children to hear me having sex. I have a huge privacy issue with that. I don't know how people used to manage. And let's face it, your kids don't want to hear you going at it, either. I heard my parents once and it still freaks me out.

  25. I've got to disagree about the screaming kids a bit -- when my three boys are screaming in their room, it's usually because they're playing something that requires (in their minds) a lot of noise. Games they would never carry over into the grocery store or library or other public building, big or small. Games that will wind down before Daddy gets home from work and we sit down to dinner. Sometimes I can understand the appeal of being a little farther from the action...


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