I lived in Japan from 1980-1983. Small spaces, sliding doors and tatami mats, but very efficient, with beautiful plants and gardens. I have memories of: zoos, tea with friends, amazing bicycles trails, cherry blossom festivals, with amazing picnic places. I even visited a traditional bath house. In "American Village" (temporary housing until could get on base) they had these big, 3 foot deep bathtubs, with very hot water. I plan to have a bathtub like that one day! Growing up with a big family, in base housing (military enlisted), I watched my mom get really creative with space. Once we had one bedroom with dressers in the closet to fit one more bed in the room. The closet in next room over had the dresses for all the girls. I visited two houses (only about 900 square feet), where my ancestors raised 5 kids. It didn't feel crowded. Downstairs you entered the house into a living room. Then you went through the living room for the bathroom and master bedroom. Kitchen was off to the side. Upstairs, where the dormer windows were, the children all slept. A divider went up. Girls on one side, boys on the other. Sometimes an actual wall was built. Sometimes during the summer kids slept on screened porches.
Families started getting a TV in the late 1940's. But they didn't have entertainment centers, video consoles, DVD stands, computers etc. Homes weren't the entertainment. You ate, slept, washed clothes, worked in the garden, cooked, read, wrote letters, and mended. You worked outside in the fields, in the barns or at factories. Visiting with friends and family was important and enjoyed. During frontier days, a visit to town to get supplies and mail was a big deal. Communities came together to build schools and churches. A much slower and simpler time. I'm sure they had much less debt than we do today too, yet had richer lives. Maybe harder labor, smaller spaces, and less to do, but there were meaningful relationships, self sufficiency and more sustainable living.
|old writing accessories: stamps, ink well, blotter, wax seals, pens with nibs|
So what do we really need to do in our houses? Does our house reflect that? If we could have more free time, what would we do? How can our house reflect that? What function do you want each room in your house to be? I have one large room that functions as library, office, sewing room, school room and archives room. But my kitchen is only used as a kitchen. My bedroom is just a bedroom, no electronics or work in there.
I decided I would like to write handwritten letters, play violin and do sewing. Over the last year, I adjusted things so that my space is ready for those 3 things that I feel are important for me to do. My music stand stays up, in my parlor, with the violin right beside it, ready for practice. (I'd just move it if company came over.) I have a little writing desk set up with old writing accessories and a fountain pen. I also made it so that my sewing table stays clear, with my sewing machine ready to go, whenever I get some time. I have a rolling basket under my sewing table that holds my current mending. Also my cut out and pinned projects. I love to be outdoors and in a garden. Physically that's been very hard the last few years. So for plan B, to hold me over for awhile, I grew herbs and some flowers in big pots on my deck. I've been in my new house 3 years now. With physical limitations, I value my time and energy. I don't want to spend time cleaning stuff if I don't have to. I realized if I haven't used something since I've been in this house, its not worth my time or efforts. It gets donated, so I have more space and energy for the stuff I do enjoy, that feels meaningful in my life.