July 2, 2015

Thinking About Wants

It is a strange feeling to start considering wants over needs. I have spent the past 30 years focused only on "needs." This didn't mean, of course, that I didn't day dream about what I hoped would happen, it just meant that I was fixated on the needs at hand, and that meant that all other thinking was simply "wishful." Lately, though, I have been thinking about 'what if' scenarios like what if I move to Alabama, and what if I do get a job teaching at Auburn University. Furthermore, what if I get that job and I am able to purchase a home for myself. Thinking along these lines has made me start to identify what I would want in a home, what kind of home (age, style), and whether I would be willing to purchase a fixer-upper or renovate a historic home. My mind has been traveling back through memories of when I wanted nothing more than to purchase a home that could have been featured on the ever popular "This Old House." Yes, I grew up with Norm, Steve, and the guys. I watched all the episodes on how to repair plumbing, sand and refinish floors, and paint properly. At heart, I am a "This Old House" girl.

The funny thing is that I lived in a mid-century home for 12 years (built in 1970). Okay, so not antique by any measure, but still a home needing significant repairs. Unfortunately, I was never able to make those repairs or even keep up with them. It seemed it was always something, always something breaking or rotting or mildewing. I hated living this way, but because of a lack of funds, it was all I could do to keep the roof from leaking (in the end, it did just that). Still, I tried my best to make that home comfortable, livable, and in my modest attempts, I created a very nice home on the inside and the outside. I covered up a lot of the issues -- paint works well -- but still there were big issues that needed a good handyman, and my ex-husband wasn't born with the "handy gene." My Dad helped often but he wasn't able to do major work anymore, so a lot of the repair problems that started as minor were left untouched and ended up being major problems down the road.

Now I am thinking about the kind of house I want, whether I want to live in town or in the country. I have spent a lot of time online, looking at communities in and around the area, and frankly I am drawn to living outside the city in one of the small towns that are 20 miles or so away. I figure I can drive the distance, and I don't mind really, so long as I am not stuck in traffic. Furthermore, I am thinking of the type of house I would want to purchase, and the more I look at new homes or even homes built in the latter 1980s-2000s, my heart sinks. No, I really don't want to live in a new home. I like old homes, and I have always wanted an older home.

This is a sample of a home I would love to own someday. This house was built in 1840 and it sits on 2.5 acres. Unfortunately, the previous owners did a poor job renovating it and they removed all the historic character from the home. It looks good on the outside, but the inside is all chopped up, and that is not what I want. I want a period home that looks like the period it was built.

The price is right for this home, though. It is for sale for $50k, and that is music to my ears. Yes, I could do a lot of fixing up in a home that costs that much, and if it was to be my forever home, then I could take my time doing it. I did the math, and a mortgage on a home like this would only be $200 per month. I know, taxes and all, would add in to that but compared to the fact that I pay rent in Phoenix for a 4br home, and it costs my family, $1500 per month. This doesn't include utilities. So even with taxes and insurance, I bet I could get by with mortgage, insurance, tax, and utilities for less than what we currently pay in rent. Plus, if I get hired full-time as an instructor, I am assuming that my annual salary would be somewhere in the $45-60K range. I should be able to live very, very comfortably in a historic home.

My wish list right now looks a bit like this:
  • Older home (90 plus years)
  • Needs TLC (cosmetic mostly)
  • On a good lot or acre (1-2 acres)
  • In a small town or outside a small town
  • 4-5 bedrooms
  • Hardwood floors, crown molding, and panel doors
  • Funky kitchen (yes, I like funky kitchens!)
  • Bathroom with a claw foot tub (or tubs)
  • 9-10ft ceilings
  • Porch
  • Room for a large garden plus flower beds (lots of flowers)
  • Fireplaces (can be non-working)
Other items that would make me smile would be a pool (I know, lots of work), and some outbuildings like garage, shop, or small barn. I like places where I can store things, so outdoor space is a must. I also don't want to look into my neighbors windows so some screening trees and shrubs or just space is good. I am friendly, don't get me wrong, but I don't want to see my neighbors every move.

Living in the Past

I am all about authentic, so I have decided that while I like the granite and stainless steel, I really do not want to live in a modern or contemporary home. I like funky rooms, rooms that open into other rooms. I like the way old homes were connected, the way the family lived together, and not in one big space. I love butler's pantries, and funky little closets. I like carved mantels with mirrors over them. I want to feel like I just stepped back in time, and I want to enjoy the privilege of living in an older or historic home.

My decorating style is a mix of English and Farmhouse, so I plan on decorating my old home this way. First of all, everything gets painted. All the wood trim needs to be white. The walls need to be a creamy beige. Neutral is best to set off the pretty hardwood floors.

For floors, I prefer this color. It is pretty, and I think it looks nice with the color combination above. I love scrubbed pine floors, so if the floors are in bad shape, I would probably paint them a color instead of replacing them. It would just depend on how bad they are and if I could cover them up. I also plan to put down large area rugs so most of the damage could be covered with rugs and furniture. Besides, damaged flooring, so long as it is safe, is really just a testimony to a life lived in the home. I have no issue with marks, scrapes, and other signs of life.

For windows, I am thinking of hanging plain white linen or cotton panels. I like the idea of rod iron so I would use black rods to hang the curtains. The goal is to create a neutral backdrop so that I can have the things I like around me. I love books, lots of books, and comfy reading chairs and sofas. My goal is to make my home a place where you can put your feet up, have a cup of coffee, and read a good book. The following images are samples I saved through Pinterest. I like the style (the color is not always my choice) and the type of architecture and furniture.


Dining Room with Leaded Glass

Nice Sofa

Funky kitchen any style is good

Iron bed is a nice touch

Outside Gardens

I definitely want some outdoor space. I love to plant flowers and shrubs, and I love to garden (vegetable). I would like to be able to create pretty spaces where I can watch birds, bunnies, butterflies, bees (all B' words) along with other wildlife. I am not too picky because I can do a lot with space, even just to grow wildflowers. Some thing like this is nice, though.

I think what I want most is the "look" I remember when visiting my cousins in Indiana. My aunts live near Amish farms, so I have this picture in my head of what I want my house to look like. While I don't necessarily want the hassle of a farm, I like the look of a farm house. I will take any kind of old home, so gothic, federal, colonial, craftsman -- it doesn't really matter to me. I just want a white house with lots of flowers all around it. Some trees, shrubs, and general privacy is best too.

Is It Wrong to Dream About Such Things?

Sometimes I feel guilty for dreaming about such things. I mean, shouldn't a Christian forsake worldly desires and concentrate on seeking the lost? I think moderation is always important, so for me, this means that I think if it is possible to live modestly, it doesn't matter the type of home. In fact, a modest home can be any style. So if I can find a modest priced home that is old, so be it. I personally favor flea-market finds anyway, so I am not going to be spending a lot of money to decorate my home. Just homey. Comfortable. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer. The rest is really not important.

As I think about my life today, I can imagine this as a possibility. It is not outside the realm of reasonable, given the fact that I can earn a decent income, and I am willing to live in Small Town, USA. Yes, I want to live in a little town. Yes, I want to live in a modest home. I have no beans to beg, and I am not into showing off to anyone. I just want a little place to call my own, to put down roots, to retire comfortably, and to live out my days doing the Lord's work as plainly as possible. No frills, no show. Just plain and simple and modest.

Modest is defined as "unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities or achievements." It also means "(of an amount, rate, or level of something) relatively moderate, limited, or small." I believe the Lord has called me to live modestly. I have always believed this to be true. When I started to study modesty, I spent a bit of time reviewing plain living. Plain is defined differently, and for those who are unfamiliar with plain living, it simply means without adornment. Your plain people are people who are Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, and others who forsake all outward adornment as a sign of humility. I asked the Lord if this was His desire for me, and I always felt He wanted me to live modestly instead. Modest living is similar to plain living, but it doesn't go as far into outward appearance. It simply means that you live comfortably, but with limited frill. So for example, a modest home would be a home that is safe to live in (no lead paint, for instance), and that is clean and free from mold and mildew (see the OT on why we need to be careful about these pathogens in our homes). It is practical so that means that it has enough space for a family, enough bathrooms, a functional kitchen, etc. It is well-ordered, cared for, and for the most part, simply decorated. You won't find a modest home on the cover of Home Beautiful or Southern Living. But you will find a modest home pretty much any where in Small Town, USA.

Modesty in dress is vital in my view. Too many women dress immodestly, and men are not far behind (with pants hanging down, bellies exposed, etc.) The Lord imposed dress regulations for the Israelites to help them be different from the surrounding culture. I am not advocating we return to Leviticus' rules on dress, but I am saying that most American Christians, men and women, do not appear to look any different than their cultural counterparts. This is something we need to think about and pray about to make sure that we are not becoming conformed to the world when we would be conformed to Biblical standards.

Modesty, in my view, is a heart issue, an attitude that recognizes that everything we have is from the Lord. All my wealth, provision, etc., come from His hand. Therefore, how I use what He gives to me is important. I want to be a good steward, and to live modestly recognizes that what I need to live on is relatively small. I don't need the flash, the bells and the whistles. This lifestyle is not pleasing to the Lord, and it smacks of pride, so unless the Lord specifically calls a person to live this way, I believe that it is better to live carefully, modestly, and with understanding of what the Lord has given to each one. Yes, I know some Christians will take issue, but I am just saying that sometimes God does call people to minister to the rich rather than the poor. If the Lord has called you this way, so be it. If the Lord has not called you this way, be content with what you have, and be wise in how you use the Lord's gracious gifts.

Modest Inside and Out

I want to live in modest home. I think the Lord has put this on my heart because whenever I look for homes, I will naturally go for the small one, the one that needs some work, the one that is priced fairly. To me, I struggle to comprehend paying $200K for a house when a good $50K will net you a better deal. I don't think it is wise to give all your money (the Lord's provision) to money lenders. I have no issue with a mortgage because most folks have to have one these days to buy a home. But my plan is to buy a modest home, at a modest price, so that it is paid for by the time I retire. I want to live comfortably in my old age, and that means not having a mortgage payment hanging over my head. Plus, I want to live my days out in my home. I don't want to go to a nursing home, but rather, I want to stay in my home, to die in my home. I know that sounds morbid, but I believe it is proper in many ways. Often, we send our older relatives off to nursing care when they could be cared for at home. In extreme cases, where dementia or other conditions require medical supervision, I think nursing care is needed. But for most older folks, they simply need help caring for themselves. They need meals, bathing help, and general comfort. Most families can provide this -- but only if they are willing. I believe it is honoring to the Lord to care for our relatives, but many people are too selfish to consider that at all. They want to travel when they retire, to live their dreams. Taking care of grandparents or loved ones is not in their game plan. I digress.

Anyway, as I think about what the Lord is putting on my heart today, I feel pretty confident that He intends for me to purchase a modest home. He knows I have a "thing" for antique homes, so I have to trust His leading to make sure that the home He guides me to is safe and can be renovated without much expense. I don't see myself tackling a complete reno, just a clean up with paint and some modest improvements. The rest will be me spending time making my home look the way I like it to look -- clean, white, fresh, and filled with warm scents. I just love this kind of home, and that is my intention, Lord willing, to create.

The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:8-9 NIV)

May God be praised for He is generous and kind and good to me. Selah!

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