You might say C and I have made a New Year’s Decision this year rather than a Resolution. We have decided not to replace our home here at Windy Hill, but rather keep the one we have and rehab it.
For some time now, The Plan was to replace our 1100 sq. ft. manufactured home with a nicer, spiffier one. Our current home was a temporary fix just so we could move onto our land while we planned and saved for our “real” home.
As we studied and schemed about the next step, two issues kept looming large – money and disruption. Most nicer, spiffier homes were well over $100K, even here in the Ozarks, and construction would disrupt our life for months. Modular/prefab homes would shorten the construction time, but the cost was still quite steep.
Then one day we ran across a home featured in Dwell Magazine. It was a modern-design cottage with many windows, outdoor decks, and clean lines throughout. It was nearly perfect. “Wouldn’t that be lovely sitting here at the top of Windy Hill!” we sighed.
Imagine our surprise when we discovered in the article that it was, in fact, an 1100 sq. ft. manufactured home.
Called “Forest Lodge” by the architect, it is a home designed and constructed to manufactured-home spec’s in the UK. It was installed in one day at its site near the edge of a national forest in Britain. It is beautiful, and the floor plan is a near-perfect replica of our current home.
We realized we are, for all intents and purposes, living in our nicer, spiffier home right now – it just needs a serious facelift. A bit more research showed that this facelift would cost a fraction of the price of a new home, and disrupt our lives for a handful of weekends, not months on end.
The savings in money and headaches are considerable, no doubt, but I admit that this decision resonates with our recent decision to practice a more minimalist lifestyle. C and I have been following the writings of Joshua Becker in his blog “Becoming Minimalist”, and his thoughts about the burdens in the accumulation of things. With post titles like “10 Reasons to Escape Excessive Consumerism”, “Owing Less is Good. Wanting Less is Better”, and “Don’t Just Declutter. De-own,” Joshua and his guest contributors explore the real human costs in the accumulation of “stuff”, and the real human benefits of rejecting it all.
This concept has spoken to me my entire life, ever since middle school when my class read sections of Thoreau’s “Walden”. His declaration “Simplify, simplify, simplify!” was like a bugle call to me, even back then when I was a tween.
I confess that I have not always been true to The Cause. As a young man, I fell for the canard of conformity and achievement, where a man’s self-worth is judged by his net-worth, and the award plaques on the office wall become one’s own, personal “Wall of Fame”.
Yes, I had a family to support, and together C and I made our children a decent home by dint of constant effort…but Thoreau’s insight was never too far out of mind that I forgot it totally – that most of us lead lives of quiet desperation. Many know that saying, but do they know he was writing about his neighbors in their rapacious pursuit in the accumulation of wealth?
Having grown up in the States, where consumerism is king, simplicity and minimalism do not come naturally to us. Consciously living an intentional life takes some thought and awareness. Our home is a perfect example: we are living already in the kind of home we wanted and did not even realize it. Day by day, we now are working towards the simplicity and sanity of quality, not the toxicity of quantity.
There is great beauty in simplicity, and it gives us the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the grace of living. I will, from time to time, update you here on our progress in rehabbing our homestead here at Windy Hill, though it may violate our unwritten rule of personal privacy and solitude. I think we may learn some things to share with others. And please look into Joshua’s blog, <becomingminimalist.com>. He is a good guy with some insightful things to say.
Pax! And Happy New Year!