I used to love watching home renovation shows. It started way back in the early nineties with Bob Vila’s Home Again series. The last show I was addicted to was Trading Spaces before we discontinued our cable service. I loved getting ideas on how to decorate a home, seeing what I liked and disliked, and imagining what my future house would look like when I had it done up just the way I wanted.
In fact, it was only recently that I was entertaining the idea of being in a brand new home. There was the condo fiasco, and then the chance to purchase bare land that would require a house to be built upon it. The first didn’t pan out because, you know, I was temporarily insane and all. And the second didn’t pan out because we would have been house/land poor, living on a shoestring, with no chance of paying off our mortgage before we died. And so we ended up here, on glorious Vancouver Island, with 4 beautiful acres to call our own for less than half the price (and half that much land) on the Mainland.
It did come with a home. Well, a mobile home to be precise. Otherwise known as a trailer. Renovating these things is not quite the same process as doing renos on a stick house. These puppies are metal framed, with metal roofs and walls made of something – I haven’t quite figured out what – but they don’t have studs you can hammer nails into and the walls are thinner than standard drywall. Old trailers generally aren’t worth very much and therefore renovations don’t tend to produce enough value increase to make up for the cost. So there’s no real incentive for us to either add on to the place, or redecorate to bring it into the new century. The 80’s country-style wallpaper and cabinets are going to stay, and there is therefore little incentive for me to shop at Ikea or Home Sense for funky trinkets, carpeting, or cheap modern furnishings. So little point, in fact, that it has pretty much robbed me of even the effort of thinking about what might look good in that corner, or whether I should try to match the bathroom towels to the wallpaper.
And do you know, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and this brings me great surprise on a regular basis. I wander around doing my laundry and picking up toys and find myself happy and content with our little trailer home. It’s warm and dry and therefore serves its purpose adequately. It’s also in good condition, which means that even though the wallpaper and cabinets are dated, they are all in good shape and there isn’t that decrepit, falling-apart look that does more to make a home look unattractive then a lack of fashion sense, IMHO. And I can’t deny that cleaning a 1000 sq ft house takes considerably less time than cleaning one much larger.
I regularly ask myself how I came to this point. How did I, who used to spend considerable time daydreaming about whether my future mud room should have wainscotting, or whether I want the exterior to be shingles or hardiplank, get to the point where I am happy living in a mobile home with wallpaper in every room (and every room a different pattern)?
I suppose part of it is that I don’t think of this as a permanent house. It won’t last forever and there will come a time when it will make more sense to get rid of it and start over again. We might replace it with a newer model, build something more permanent, or just sell the place and move on to a bigger acreage. Who knows? But this isn’t THE house in which we will see our children grow up and ourselves grow old. So perhaps I have just put off my inner Martha for a time, and am therefore able to be patient and content because in the back of my mind I will yet, one day, get to design my own home.
On the other hand, it may well be that I have managed to truly internalize some of the values of Living Simply to which I aspire. Perhaps I am not just learning, but feeling, that Stuff really isn’t necessary for happiness. And it may also be that when I can look outside my window and see this:
…instead of this:
…that suddenly what my house looks like isn’t of much concern.