[Editor’s Note: Written two years ago. In the interest of verifying “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” one cannot help but notice the author and his family moved into a somewhat larger version of this shed one year ago. Reposted with comments intact, as they are so trenchant.]
[Author’s Note: There is no editor, and there are a lot more squirrels and bees in my house than in that shed.]
Here it comes: I would rather live in this shed than in your house.
Click on the picture. It’s a very high resolution shot. Look at it. It’s beautiful.
I’m generalizing, of course. It’s possible that I’m not referring to you. But there are so few of you that are exceptions to my impertinence that I simply say it matter-of-fact-like: Your house has no soul. It’s got no anima. It’s a misshapen plastic lump dedicated to the exaltation of your car and your television. It is the bastid love child of a realtor with the taste of a vegas hooker and a contractor with a prominent eyebrow ridge.
It makes you unhappy. You don’t know that, because many of the ways it does that are subtle. Paying for the damn thing, though it brings you little pleasure, is not so subtle.
I do listen to people a little in these matters. I watch them a lot. And what they do about their house cancels out what they say about their house every time.
You tell me that absolute neatness is paramount. Then I see you camping out in one little corner of your house in a midden of messy but prized possessions.
You tell me you want to luxuriate in a whirlpool while reading poetry with candles next to an open window. Then I see you showering in a hurry in a room with all the shades drawn. The spiders like your jacuzzi, so it’s not going to waste, exactly.
You tell me that you like your television over the mantel in the living room. I see you turning one room after another into a “den”, then eventually building additional rooms, trying to make a comfortable place to look at a screen. I call your living room the “Furniture Mausoleum” when you’re not around. Sorry.
You tell me how much money and effort you’ve spent to make your home perfect. Then I watch you leave it, gladly, on any provocation. You can’t wait to escape your homemade Colditz.
You’ve explained to me in some detail that under no circumstances should you be expected to pay any attention to the maintenance of your house. If a material can deteriorate in any way, and so require the touch of a hand, it’s verboten. So you flee your vinyl house for a vacation in Tuscany and wish your house had soul like the one with grime from the 17th century still visible in its stucco.
You spent $35,000 on windows, and then boarded them up with blinds and drapes because they don’t look at anything.
No stranger can ever find anything in your kitchen without asking, or find a bathroom.
The sun doesn’t shine in your windows, except in your eye when you’re trying to sleep.
It’s impossible for guests to sleep comfortably at your house, though it covers 3500 square feet and is two stories high.
You can’t prepare actual meals from raw materials in your kitchen.
You feel isolated but have no privacy.
You exit and enter your house every day by bumping into a trash can in an unlit warehouse for your car. Your dog wouldn’t.
There are birds in your yard and you’ve never seen them.
You tell me all the live-long day you adore your house, but when your mortgage is ten cents more than your Zillow estimate you mail the keys back to the bank.
It may just be that my idea of what a house should be is dead. I have to respect other people’s opinions, after all, especially about their own affairs. I might tell people they shouldn’t do things, but I’m not interesting in telling people they can’t do things. I mostly try to dwell on the positive in these matters, but if my opinions about housing were unleashed, I’d make Gordon Ramsey look circumspect in comparison. In a way, my cottage furniture business is a rearguard attack in this regard. I’m trying to save the entire stock of housing in America one end table at a time. Big job. It would be unwise to bet on me. But it’s always unwise to bet against me, too. I sense that many are dissatisfied with their abodes now but are confused about the genesis of the feeling.
I’ve watched the “Let’s Wander the Earth with a Floozy Realtor and Choose Between Three Tawdry Split-Level Houses” show with my wife, and my advice to all the prospective homebuyers is the same. I yell at the screen: nuke all of them from orbit, and maybe you can make something pleasant out of the hole.