Lately we’ve started to think more about what we want to do “next.” Our house is almost ready to go on the market. Or maybe I should say, the market is almost ready for our house. Marc has always wanted 40 acres, and I’ve always wanted to live in a barn. We can afford neither. Which made me think, “What if it was really cheap acreage, in the middle of god-forsaken nowhere, and my barn was made from scrap?” Ahha. I made plans. I have always loved austere and intimidating architecture. Like prisons, powerhouses, factories, and grain elevators. This prompted me to put the entrance to my house on the narrow side; to give it a feeling of height, dominated by a set of double doors and grand steps. All sided in concrete board. It was the best I could do under the circumstances. Boy has a background in architecture. He made a horrible architect. He thought it was all too silly and fussy. Architecture for a client base of effectual women. He didn’t need anymore wives. So for his thesis he combed junkyards and built a house on campus out of refuse. Why did this not clue me in? He has a deep seeded aversion to all things molding and sheetrock. Home Depot gives him hives. I’m starting to think he has an actual moral abhorrence for remodeling. Living with this through the years has moved me to the conclusion that anything a man has to do on a house should be manly. And anything the woman does should be pink. I can live with that. I don’t care how “masculine” a man’s taste in decor is, it’s still gay. I love how my husband only cares about the things he actually has to do. He doesn’t care what his house looks like, as long as it is comfortable, clean, and food is involved somewhere. But if I ask him to upgrade to 6-panel doors or change the cream outlets to white, then it’s the freaking end of the world. I’m sure other men are happy to drywall and paint all day long, after picking out their matching light fixtures and maxing out their credit cards, so their man-caves look “manly” enough. But fortunately, I’m not married to one of those. I’m married to Josey Wales, and Josey Wales doesn’t hang trim. The master plan. I can’t remember the exact dimensions, but I think it is somewhere around 25’x50′ and works out to 2000 sf on three levels. Which, to me, sounds kind of large for the economical shack I’m going for, but then again, I want to fit 10 people in it. I kept to a basic rectangular shape, because I like the feel of industrial utility, and second, I like being able to “see through” a house. I don’t like halls, rooms, cupboards, or more particularly, doors. (I think I have the door count down to six.) I like how a narrow rectangle showcases light and creates a sense of space without the need of interior walls. We didn’t put very many windows in the floor plan, except for where we knew we wanted them, because we will probably find the window later and go, “Where should we put this?” So you will have to imagine. I would like the front of the house to have a two-story ceiling and be able to make an “entrance,” but still be a narrow enough to be homey. I would like bookshelves all the way up one wall, because, simply, there is nothing worse than running out of places to put books. Problem solved. I would like to think it would look something like this, only taller. This will be the only really private area of the house. For cozying up and reading or finding some quiet when doing school. The rest of the space is communal. I think the library should have it’s own heat source. I like the idea of having a few tiny stoves about the house that you could light up whenever you felt like it. For when it’s too warm for a fire, but still too cold to be comfortable, and your husband tells you to put on a sweater. Plus, who doesn’t like reading by a fire? It’s a practical necessity. In the entry space there will also be the stairs to the loft. I want something with about the same level of finish as you would find in someone’s shop. Actually, I pretty much want no finish, anywhere. I don’t think any of these pictures really successfully give that impression. They have NO idea. Because of the slant of the roof line, I’m thinking the stairs will have to make a more graduated ascent than what is shown in the floor plans. I think you will walk under thm on your way into the main space. The living area is sunken to help delineate it as well as to make the ceilings higher and create sort of a “containing” area. Under the stairs will be a good place to kick toys. By the front door there will also be a large storage bench for catching shoes and coats. I find it annoying that there is no real representation of my style on Pinterest. From these pictures you might start to assume that I’m woodsy rustic, and am going to start board and batting whatever I lay my hands on. But you’re wrong. I’m glam and Hollywood regency, I’m just too poor to afford a Second Empire mansion. Besides that, I don’t mind the mix of hillbilly and chic. A healthy coexistence of masculine and feminine. Shabby chic, on the other hand, is entirely unadulterated, irrational female. The main space in the house will be dominated by a 12′ table and a chandelier. This is the south side of the house so there will be a large bank of windows and a patio . I would like this to be an indoor/outdoor work space. Where the action happens. One of the reasons I don’t like modern homes is that they feel like places where you go to relax. (My husband says this actually isn’t a dirty word.) You’ve put in your time for the man and now you’re going to enjoy a little reprieve before you have to go back tomorrow. I don’t think life should be so boring and mercenary. I think there is a little more satisfaction to be found than in what your paper money can pick up for you at Wal-Mart. Life is something you make, something you do. For me, I like homeschooling, writing, cooking, or, in short, I like shaping. I want to run my grubby little hands over everything. The thought of sitting on my shiny RC Wiley couch in front of my flat screen TV, in my climate controlled, dry-walled shell, makes me slightly mad. Life requires art, and art needs a studio. I also like houses that let you see past them. Even if I’m inside, I want to feel like I’m out. I think you should see the sky, and the trees, and breathe air. I could never afford these exact windows/doors. But I do like the sliding barn doors for controlling temperature and passive solar aspect of large windows on the southern exposure. I want to be able to fling my house open to the outdoors on a nice day. This is something I didn’t realize until I lived in an 18′ camper for a few years. We ate outside, did our homework on a blanket in the yard, and read books on the patio, simply because the Airstream was too small. And while we loved being out, I noticed that the minute we were in a real house we never left the living room. The simple design of house has the ability to box you in, or draw you out. Anyways, while I like the concept of huge windows, they will probably look more like this. This isn’t going to be something glamorous on the pages of Architectural Digest. It’s going to be unfortunately real. It took me time to adjust to this; but the windows are not going to match. It’s amazing what you can pick up on Craigslist. Windows can actually be dirt, dirt cheap. Providing that you can’t afford to care. Check. The living space is under the lower ceiling of the loft, so it will be more intimate. Behind the piano I would like to have some type of cube storage for craft supplies and various projects. There is another shelving unit by the table for homeschool bins. But no cupboards. Anywhere. Ever. I do have my prejudices.From what I can see, the big expenses are going to go into roofing, siding, sheathing, electrical, plumbing, and concrete. Lumber is something my father might be able to mill for me. I plan on saving on flooring by doing plain OSB. I would like to plane down reclaimed wood for the walls. Perhaps even using cardboard in the interim. But I am sick and tired of painting walls. I feel like my house is the Golden Gate Bridge. I start at one end, and when I am finished I go back and start over. Little children and their dirty hands and matchbox cars and boogers. Maybe if the walls give them splinters, they’ll learn not to touch them. That, and I’m pretty sure nothing worse could happen to the walls pictured above than has already been demonstrated. And I will never wash another baseboard. In fact, I’m tired of cleaning all together. Not that I don’t like “clean,” but I don’t have time to bustle about fussing all day. As I was telling one of my friends, I want to clean work surfaces, after I have worked on them. Not Every Single Surface, just because. Right now I am working through washing my kitchen ceiling. Making small goes of it here and there. But guess what? You don’t have to wash exposed raw lumber. Amen. The favorite part of my house plan is the kitchen. It’s my quarter deck, from which I rule the world. From my kitchen I have a good view of the house and the yard. It will also be my private reserve since it’s a dead end road. I don’t like kitchen traffic. I also like that since it’s raised, I can see out, but they can’t see in. To me, the “entertaining” kitchen is idiotic. “Let’s parade all my dirty dishes out here for everyone to see, with no where to hide.” Granite counter-tops aren’t that cool if you can’t even see them. That’s what I’ve found anyways. I want to be able to make a huge mess, throw it in the scullery sink, plate my food in the butler’s pantry, and serve it on a table with flowers and mismatched china, like nothing ever happened.I have also come to eschew upper cabinets. Well, just cabinets period. I don’t like washing them down, I don’t like cleaning them out, I don’t like hunting through them for stuff, and more importantly, I don’t like buying them. I love kitchen formats where the upper cabinets have been replaced by windows. Duh. I have also positioned my kitchen to be on the east side of the house catching both southern and eastern light. Which is my very favorite and I totally called it. Mine.I also like the concept behind a commercial, galley kitchen. This is a place where stuff gets done. I want the emphasis to be what on comes out of the kitchen, not on the kitchen itself. When food is actually a job, you become more interested in the tools that get the job done and less interested in “the feel of old Tuscany.” Sometimes I look at those fancy kitchens and am like, “Holy heck, I think I would have to walk a quarter mile just to get a ladle.” If you scroll back up the floor plan you will see that at one end of the kitchen is a walk in pantry, then you step out into a galley kitchen, while along the south wall there is the equivalent of a butler’s pantry and scullery, plus menu planning desk I’m all about having a clear and devoted work space with open views. Food is all on open shelves at the ready. In the kitchen there is one prep sink with a huge, deep sink in the scullery for containing messes. When I finish with something I want to be able to chuck it out of the way and not look at it again. Because, guess what? I have scullery wenches for that.
One of the things I have always wanted is an Aga. I thought it would be incredibly convenient to always have your burners and oven pre-heated. But I think what lured me even more was the thought of having a warm kitchen. Like the English, I run a little frigid. My low-end substitute will be one of these old trash burners. My parents have a wood cook stove to heat their living room and they end up using for cooking anyways, just because of the convenience of it being on. The other thing they use it for is burning trash, they just pop it in the top. They incinerate everything. Which would prove very handy if you lived off the beaten garbage truck path. Back in the day, after composting, burning, and junking, there really wasn’t much waste left.
The bar in the kitchen overlooks a desk area. Instead of a high counter with bar stools, I opted for a low desk with room for a shelf above it. I think this will be where we keep the sewing machines, so they are always at the ready. But it can also be where the kids do school, or grab a quick breakfast if the table is occupied. It also keeps everyone close to the kitchen and my “desk” so I can be there when they need help.
I tried to keep all of my living space on one floor. The upstairs is designed for sleeping only, but it’s still open and accessible for busy feet. I don’t plan on keeping any toys or clothes upstairs, and there isn’t a reason for anyone to really be up there. But I still wanted to keep it in circulation. Because who doesn’t love hanging over balconies and climbing rafters? I think a fire pole is in order.
The upstairs is an open loft with rows of bunks. I didn’t want to have to deal with bunk beds ever again, but I don’t think you can get around the efficiency of them. At least the bunks can eventually be broken down and replaced with twins. That way, when 8 kids move out, I’m not left with a giant shell of a house. And there is still room for them all to come back. I think wall tents on platforms make perfect guest quarters, if I ever felt the need for more space.
Originally, I tried to think of ways to separate the boys and girls, and then realized I didn’t care enough to add the necessary square footage. If it does become an issue I’m open to some kind of slat partition. But really, I don’t plan on my kids sleeping in the house that much to begin with. I don’t know what was wrong y’alls childhoods, but I didn’t even sleep inside during the summer. In fact, our favorite thing was to sleep outside in the winter. In an IGLOO. I kid you not. It drove my mother crazy. We didn’t seem to have sleeping bags either. Just a roving pallet of blankets and contraband Waverly comforters that migrated around her yard, killing the grass. I remember an old horselogger who lived up in northern, northern Idaho – in a camper. I think he had three kids. Anyways, the kids all seemed to have built their own houses around the proverbial homestead. There was a little rustic log cabin, a teepee, and some other odd construction. Anyways, I don’t want to be artificially incubating children in their own rooms, with their own stuff, going to their own schools, with their own friends, playing their own sports. All the while generating enough income to provide them with the right degree of cool. I want to kick them outside with a gun, no shoes, and a copy of Herman Melville. I feel like people are more and more factory produced these days. Between government schools, omnipresent media, and peer cloning it’s almost impossible to find people who are truly original, or anything more than an entertainment driven consumer. But that’s just me, I have a hard time taking things easy.
Apart from the bunk room, the upstairs will house the only bathroom. The girl bathroom/master bath/tooth brushing station combo. Bathrooms are expensive, and frankly, I only want to have to clean one. Ever. “But where is everyone going to poop?!” you say. Outside, where the good Lord intended. I don’t need that kind of business going on in here. Goodness.
Next there is the master bedroom. I still like sleeping outside, but I’m going to take my mattress with me.
My only other goal for my ideal master bedroom is that is has absolutely nothing in it. I hate walking into my bedroom at night to find laundry that still needs put away, or make-up that has gotten into by toddlers, or mail that still needs replied to. I think walking into a room with nothing but a bed gets right to the point. A point that is entirely negated by the presence of a TV. Who does that?
On the floor plan there is a closet with a low ceiling on the south side of the bedroom for a nursery/nap-room. Which can eventually be upgraded to a gift-wrapping closet where children are never allowed to go. The last bit of the house is a little quarter basement accessed by the spiral stairs. It’s become a bit of a moot point since my brother tells me I can’t have a quarter basement, but I dream on. One of my biggest dreams is having my entire clothing storage readily accessible, in a place that has light and does not involve a ladder. It’s not too much to ask.
The other thing I go weak in the knees over is the idea of a family closet. I’m tired of dressers, closets, and folding clothes. I want to take things out of the dryer and put them WHERE THEY GO, the first time. My plan involves a 15′ double clothes rack, with boys on one side, girls on the other, sized biggest to smallest, with almost everything on hangers. Odds are, you wouldn’t even have to change out sizes, the kid would just move up a rank. The laundry room would also house boy and girl fitting rooms and cube storage for socks/underwear/jammies.
It would also have an indoor clothesline along the side with the windows. Because the other option is running the dryer literally all day long, in the winter time.
But this is where I really get cutthroat. Originally I thought of making the basement bigger so it could house a locker style bathroom for the boys. But then I thought: I don’t like basements, I don’t like bathrooms, and I can’t afford either anyways. How about I just stick a spigot in the wall outside and call it good? And since I love you, I’ll even give you a heat lamp. I would also like to have a second shower, detached from the house, that uses solar heated water in the summertime. This is just the winter version. Both are self-cleaning. All you need to know.
And now we really get down to business. I grew up with outhouses. I like them. I especially liked them as a little kid. But even as an adult, I like how an outhouse makes you venture outside. For instance, it’s a good thing my house doesn’t have one of those mail slots in the door, otherwise I would probably never get fresh air.
I think an outhouse is even do-able in the wintertime. I have plenty of boys to keep a path shoveled. There are such thing as solar lights to mark the way and they even make these tiny pot-bellied stoves to keep things cozy. Odds are no one will want to leave and I’ll have to make it a two-seater. It may sound a bit far-fetched to some people, but this doesn’t even ping my “roughing it” radar. On the other hand, just try taking my dishwasher out of my cold, dead fingers. Just try it. End of story.
That is pretty much my exhaustive dream house, hence the very long post. I tried to make it as affordable as I could. My husband still needs to run a materials estimate on it. One of the things I wanted to look into was packed clay insulation. I would like to think that I could afford a house with $10 cement board siding, clay insulation, cardboard walls, recycled windows, a tin roof, one bathroom, an absolutely no finishes. But I’m not sure I make the grade. I want to hit the $40,000 mark. If push comes to shove my brother says it’s cheaper for me to divide my living space between the main floor and a daylight basement. And if I ditch the loft and put a support wall all the way up the middle I wouldn’t have to use any trusses and could get away with the $2 a foot floor joists. Not to mention, square plans are more cost efficient than rectangular ones. I drew up a secondary plan to meet his communist demands, but it didn’t feel right. I may sacrifice indoor bathrooms, matching windows, and molding, but don’t even think about messing with my feng shui.