When I was a girl, I loved the castles, palaces, mansions of the rich. Every Saturday, I would go to the library and get a book on The Great Home of X, the X could be Germany, California, New York, etc.… As soon as I finished looking at the pictures and memorizing the floor layout, I would carefully draw my dream house. From where I would put 50-foot aquarium, the grand staircase, and of course the two kitchens. One for real food, and one devoted to doughnuts and fudge.
As I grew older and realized that you needed money for that sound of Great home. I decided I needed a simpler style. I decided on 6 rooms: a kitchen, a bathroom, fiction, nonfiction, reference works, and periodicals. Now as I find myself in a wheelchair, my needs of the perfect dream house have changed again. Now I want a minimalist room with nothing to run into or navigate around. Counters that I can get to easily a way to move cabinets to a point I can reach inside. And a shower with a long bench that also functions as a sauna/steam room. If something like that ever opens, I have my local mover on speed dial (it isn’t like I am doing the heavy lifting).
I guess the point is, you never get over the idea of wanting the perfect home. Yet the idea of a dream home seems elusive and ever-changing. With that being true, is it even possible to speak of dream homes in a real sense? I imagine at the end of the day, the answer is yes and no. What can be dream home do’s and don’t in a world where the “never going to get” is our probable reality.
1. Let your imagination soar. If you had a gazillion dollars what would you want? A room just for cookbooks next to the kitchen? A scaling wall in the private gym? A greenhouse? Write it down. Colors, smells, bric-a-brac like ceramic cookie jars looking like cows, put in all down.
2. Be realistic. What can you afford with what you have? What are you willing to negotiate? Certain items are non-negotiables, but others can be worked with. Go back to the first tidbit on this list when you had to write down your dream items down to scents and colors. Start putting a ! next to things you insist on (and these can be practical) and ? for not sure where you are with it, and an O for open. I don’t really need an onyx black bathroom sink, the blue one that is installed is fine. It isn’t a hill I am going to die on.
3. Keep real non-negotiable, open the rest. I have a few true non-negotiables. I need a door wide enough for a wheelchair. I can still walk and stand with assistance and for brief moments. I need a heavy push off items, if not true bars. A shower that lets me sit and stand. My husband has a different set of non-negotiable. We have an extra room. We open ours to those in need. It could be a missionary. A victim of domestic abuse with a child. Just an out of towner that needs a place to stay. Another is a place to grow medicinal herbs (no, not that one). My husband is from the Philippines. He knows many home remedies. We often use them. Now, personally with 4 pain and movement disorders, I am a supporter of Big Pharma (sorry, Tumeric ain’t cutting it) but between doctor visits, something is better than nothing we have never discussed it, but I think having 20 pillows on the bed is non-negotiable.
4. Incorporate what you can into your house/apartment now. I love libraries. I didn’t get my 6 room library, but I have a full row of bookcases that I can look at and feel as if I accomplished some of my goals. My husband doesn’t have a sewing room, but he has a corner of his bedroom reserved for his machine and piles of fabric.
5. If you are in a position to buy, look for what you can imagine, not for what is. Obviously, stay in your price range, but as it is a long-term purchase, and you are planning to settle. You have a life long project. One month it may be as simple as getting a dimmer switch. To buying that ugly couch at the flea market, but knowing with some TLC and a change of upholstery, it could look quite nice, especially now that you have that dimmer switch to hide some of the imperfections.
1. Compromise the true negotiable. Sure, we could have gotten a fifth-floor walk-up apartment. Okay, that was pretty much a no-brainer, but your non-negotiable, the true ones, not magnified fantasies should seem just as obvious. Do you need to avoid morning sun because it disturbs the vampire within? Don’t do it. You will hate yourself and landlord and the apartment or house if you compromise on a non-negotiable.
2. Don’t overspend. The poorhouse is no one’s dream house. Enough said
3. Don’t wait to have it all. It isn’t going to happen. Accept that dream homes are just that dreams. You will probably never be rich enough to have everything on your list, nor would you really want it if you could. If you save all your life for that dream house at one shot, you will give your children a nice inheritance and that is about it. If you did manage to pull off getting everything you wanted, the movers, would smile to your face, and curse you behind your pack. Perhaps not. I like my moving company, but some might.
4. Be afraid to experiment. We have all had that bad haircut that looked better in the picture, the sweater that never looked as good on you as it did your friend. Your house and your dreams will constantly need tweaking. Once you realize, for example, a cranberry wall in direct sunlight looks eerily like blood, you may decide it would do better as a trim, with a different color, and probably in a different room. Ok, so you wasted a Saturday. You lived out a dream and discovered a reality. It is never going to be perfect.
I realize I have touched the surface on dos and don’ts. There are a million dos and don’t that you have discovered. Please use the space below to throw off your ideas.