Trying on for size

As mentioned in my last post, Cane and I recently stayed in the most wonderful house we found on Airbnb.

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It rekindled every fantasy I’ve ever had about living in a small, cozy, perfectly imperfect house.

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The main floor was all one room, with a tiny closet-sized bathroom. I like to think that if I lived mostly in one, unified space, I would have one, unified life.

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There was an upstairs, too…

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It was an open bedroom with skylights and slanty ceilings and a pie-slice view of the water. Lying in bed, I could hear the trains and seagulls and rain on the roof.

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There was also a wonderful bathroom, with a claw-foot tub (I swear I will live in a house with a deep, claw-foot tub before I die) and a sink carved from wood.

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Yes, a sink carved from wood. It was clear to us that much of the house was handmade, probably most of it from salvaged items. If you’ve known me long, you know how I love such things. To have a whole, perfect home like that? It made me want to move in and never leave.

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We were able to stay only two nights. I loved getting up in the morning and putting on a kettle for tea and sitting on the couch with a book. I loved studying the way its owners had crafted it, the way nothing really matched but everything seemed to go together. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a home like that? Or a life?

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I loved pretending, just for a short time, that I lived there. For two days, at least, I did. It’s really something wonderful, to try on a different sort of life in that way, kind of like when you go to a clothing store and try on something you’d normally never choose, and it surprises you how much it suits you.

The best part, of course, is that you don’t have to buy anything. Even though it all looks and feels really good on you, it might not work for the things you have to do, the choices you’ve made about how you are going to live. That’s OK, though, because it’s not about buying. It’s about the looking, the trying, the testing out that’s important. Seeing what you really like, so that when choices do need to be made, you can make good ones.

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11 thoughts on “Trying on for size

  1. Marian says:

    What a lovely house, Rita — I especially like the slanting cupboard and the bathtub, and my 11 year-old would be all over those stairs (he thinks we should install a set of circular stairs in our house 🙂 ) . We’ve stayed in a few Airbnbs ourselves, and have really enjoyed them —- it’s so nice to have a kitchen, and to have that home-y vibe (as opposed to staying in a generic hotel room).

    I too, dream of a small and cozy house, a recurring theme that’s especially strong in spring, probably because of spring cleaning and the annual urge to de-clutter. (My husband says we should pare down to only those things that will fit on a sailboat, but the thought of a space THAT confining makes me pretty nervous; I’m not sure I could do a “tiny house” either (so it’s a good thing he’s not entirely serious)). And I love the clothing analogy — if only we could try *everything* on for size before buying or buying into …

    • Rita says:

      I loved that cupboard, too! I don’t know why–probably not very practical. I like things that are tucked into unusual places, maybe. I loved those stairs, too. I just sat and stared at them for awhile, trying to understand how a person could build them, or know how to build them. I am not good with that sort of thing at all.

      I like small houses, but I’m with you on the boat and tiny house idea. That would be too small for me, too! And I love to declutter and spring clean. Too bad we don’t live closer. We could spur each other on to such good things! 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this glimpse of the house where you stayed, Rita — it’s lovely and I can see why it appealed to you. And, related to our earlier conversation about upcycling, it has that salvaged quirkiness that I think is actually done really well. A sink carved of wood! Well I never — but I love the idea.

    Small and cozy appeals to me, too, though I’m in a different phase of my life than you are. Due to the vagaries of the real estate market, Great Recession, etc., my husband and I are still living in our “starter home” after 11 years. While acknowledging the great privilege that even owning a small and builder-basic place represents, I can say that this wasn’t really the plan going into it. Lately, I’m coming around to the idea that we may well never “trade up,” and that’s just fine. No need. Instead I’m actually excited about the opportunity of fitting our stuff (not so much our lives, that’s a bit of a different thing) into this small space.

    “Pie-slice view of the water” is such a lovely turn of phrase!
    Sarah recently posted…My home this season: March 2016My Profile

    • Rita says:

      I love the idea of that sink, too. But I have to admit, I wondered how it would hold up if used all the time. And I wonder if there are any issues with germs and such. But it was so unusual and beautiful, I think if I had one I would have to love it even if not entirely practical.

      I can understand why you’d still be in a “starter” after the last 8 or so years of the economy and living in Seattle. I know one reason Bellingham appeals is that I know I will never be able to afford Seattle now. (Or Portland, either, for that matter. Ironic because I moved from Seattle to Portland just so I could afford to buy a house. If I moved to Bellingham, it would probably not be to the kind of house my grandparents had, either. It would have to be smaller.) It helps me understand, in what I know is only a very small way, what those who have been pushed out of their communities because of gentrification must feel.

      I understand being excited about your small space and making it work. There’s something in that that really appeals to me, too. The house we’re in served its purpose, but it’s really so big. I’m tired of taking care of such a large structure. And it’s one that would be hard for me to maintain on my own. I know this is all a sign of shifting into another stage of life, but I want something that requires less maintenance and money. I want to focus on other kinds of things. Like cutting out little pieces of paper and gluing them together. 🙂

    • Marian says:

      FWIW, if we hadn’t moved (three times now) for my husband’s work, we would most likely still be in our “starter house” too, Sarah. And if we were, today, to move back to our home city, we wouldn’t be able to afford that starter home we moved out of nearly 20 years ago. I really hate how houses have become so unbelievably unaffordable in so many cities in Canada (and if I’m understanding your situation correctly, this is what’s happening in Seattle as well), and that affordability now has to come at the expense of long commutes.

      And like Rita, I too, completely understand the excitement you feel about making your small space work. I love smaller spaces — IMO they tend to be cozier, plus I think that it pretty much forces one to get to the point of “enough” more quickly (which is very appealing to my minimalistic nature). We’re currently in our biggest house to date (not because we wanted a bigger house, but because there was only so much to choose from in the very small market into which we moved), and while it has served its purpose well, I have not enjoyed the renovation/maintenance issues, nor the additional time spent cleaning, and I can see that in just a few short years I will feel like we’re “rattling around”.

    • Rita says:

      This is my second experience with Airbnb, and both were great. So much nicer than a hotel, and less expensive (for size of accommodations),too. I think you need to book one in Portland. 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    What a lovely little place. It makes me think of a little fairy cottage tucked away somewhere. That wood sink and those tiles. Though my second thought after seeing the wood sink (the first being it was absolutely gorgeous) was “How WOULD you keep that from warping?!”

    Renting homes like that always makes me feel as if I’m a little kid again playing pretend and I LOVE that feeling. I love the dreaming of what kind of life I would build in the place I am staying. Tea and a book would be perfect in that little place. Thank you so much for sharing the details with us. I can see why you loved it so much!
    Kate recently posted…The Post Where I Kind of Lose My ShitMy Profile

  4. May says:

    I am swooning over that sink. I love natural woodwork anyway, but a sink?! Oh, my goodness!

    Airbnb is such a great idea. We made use of it in Europe, and it felt like a real cultural exchange. They get by on so much less stuff and space than we do. It was fun to “try on” their lifestyle.
    May recently posted…TToT: EscapeMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      Oh, I would love to do Airbnb in Europe! When my kids were young their dad and I took them there, and we stayed in the camping resorts that Europeans vacation in. We got to stay in small mobile homes, and that felt a bit like “living” there. To stay in someone’s home would be even better. I would love to find a home in small village. I’m much more interested in trying on someone else’s lifestyle than I am in seeing the big tourist sites.

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