Small Home Gazette, Summer 2013
Letter From the Editor: never-ending projects
Several of us were at a Bungalow Club member’s home recently, admiring her new kitchen. The re-do was the latest in a multi-year series of projects that had brought her bungalow from “really nice” to “wow!” (In a modest, bungalow sort of way, of course.) Her home had always struck us as near perfect from top to bottom—well maintained and beautifully furnished. Even the basement was pristine—orderly, dry and freshly painted.
We were surprised, then, to hear the woman remark offhandedly, “Seems like there’s always another project. If only everything could be finished—and just right—all at once.” The rest of us mumbled agreement at the time, but later confided our astonishment at her comment. If this woman feels her house is unfinished, then what hope is there for the rest of us? By comparison, our homes are an endless to-do list—windows to be repaired; wood to be scraped and repainted; plaster to be patched; previously remuddled kitchens and baths to be restored. And that’s just the structure. What about choosing paint colors, finding the right furniture and art, and waging the never-ending battle against clutter?
It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to defer using our homes for relaxing or entertaining until they reach some vaguely defined state of perfection some day in the far-off future. Until then, apparently, our homes will serve as little more than shelter from the weather and a place to eat, sleep and bathe. And store stuff. And watch TV.
It is human nature to feel our lives are incomplete, to strive for the next achievement. It is only natural that we see our homes in that light as well. But if we wait until our homes are finished, we’ll never enjoy them. I’m sure even our friend with the “perfect” house could genuinely point out more projects that require attention. Like the rest of us, she will always see incompleteness.
Here’s an assignment for all Bungalow Club members. During the next month, identify and complete one manageable, well-defined project around your house—one that takes from a few hours to a full weekend. Then, within the same month, invite some people over for a meal, to watch a movie, or just to converse.
Yes, this will require sprucing up at least the living room, dining room and bathroom; if necessary you can declare the rest of the place off-limits. Don’t worry if there are still several patches of experimental paint colors on one wall, or if you haven’t yet saved enough to pop for that great Morris chair with the leather cushions. Relatively clean and tidy is enough.
Declare your home complete for just an evening. You might learn to like it.
This commentary originally appeared in the Spring 2005 edition of this newsletter.