Monday, April 22, 2024

The Unhomely House

I’ve got a slightly idiosyncratic sense of what the ideal home looks like. I know that American homes have, over my lifetime, grown considerably in size, as Americans themselves have grown considerably in size.

Back in 1969, when I was birthed, the average American home was roughly 1500 square feet of living space. As of 2022, that number was around 2300 square feet, down from a peak of just about 2500 in 2015.

One can, of course, get larger, sometimes absurdly larger, like a home that's on the market nearby.  It's in McLean, a wealthy Northern Virginia suburb, one bounded by the Potomac.  The closer to the river you get, the more expensive things get, and this is right on the river, all five acres, eight bedrooms, fifteen bathrooms, and thirty three thousand square feet of it. Yours for only thirty two million dollars, discounted from the original thirty nine million!  Such a bargain.

It’s the sort of house that realtors sell by commissioning bespoke videos to stir our champagne dreams. Shooting hoops alone in the indoor basketball court.  Wandering alone down staircases.  Standing alone in walk in closets larger than most New York apartments.  Drifting around richly in empty, immaculate room after room, none of which look lived in.

Honestly, this behemoth gives me the heebie jeebies.  It doesn't feel like a home. It feels like an abandoned museum. It feels as sterile as a mortuary, an anxiety-dream residence one wanders lost in.  

It'd feel...lonely.  It's faintly inhuman.

My general feeling about housing space is simple: I don’t ever want more home than I can clean and keep at least semi-presentable myself.  My understanding of presentable is rather more liberal than most other adults, I'll admit, but it's still a good metric.  

Can you imagine trying to clean 33,000 square feet of home?  Of course not. It'd be insane.  It is insane.

If it's more than you can manage yourself, it's more than you need.