By Jeanne Rollins
From the time I read Dickens’ Oliver Twist ask, “Please Sir, I want some more,” I’ve been fascinated with our human tendency to want more… and more.
It’s not unusual to trade up as our dreams unfold, families grow, and finances permit. Muchmore Road, in our neighboring Harrison, seems to epitomize the American dream, aptly named and impeccably lined with stately homes and rolling lawns.
As the years go by, we suburbanites work on renovations, home additions, landscaping, and hopefully appreciate those things that serve our families well — acreage and expansions with swing sets and great rooms. We gather and build because it feels good and satisfying, until one day, for some of us, it begins to feel bad.
When nests empty and table settings dwindle, an argument can be made that bigger isn’t better. We look around and recognize that what once lifted our spirits now weighs us down. Greater square footage means furniture to dust, rooms to heat, and windows to wash. Property requires landscaping and attic space invites boxes. All of this amounts to more responsibility, bills and, perhaps, stress.
When our youngest child left for college, our walls began to beg and our yard began to beckon for another family, one that would romp and roam, skip and squeal. It didn’t take long for us to respond with a request of our own, “Please Sir, we want less.” We envisioned a simpler life and realized that what nurtures us is more a matter of quality than quantity: An open door, expanding table, ever-blooming garden, and patio just large enough for a grill and stack of wood. A quick look at the pros and cons led us to thoroughly embrace the upside of downsizing.
The universe conspired and presented a jewel of a house with half the headaches, half the square footage, and half the tax bill for half the price. What began as a compromise turned into an opportunity to enjoy a new experience. Homeowners who are also planning to move to a smaller home, should consider hiring experts in local removals or even piano moving services to ensure your belongings are safely handled and transported to your new place.
Advantages emerged at every turn: an annual block party, a weekly tennis game and Zen garden across the street. We traded a walk to the pool for a walk to the beach and a golf course view for a baseball field. We reframed a busy corner, as “on the beaten trail” to the deli, pizzeria, and fireworks on Saturday night. Old friends and new neighbors wasted no time welcoming us to our downsized life.
We learned that when all is said and done, size doesn’t matter. Whether 400 or 4,000 square feet, our house will accommodate whom and what really matters – food and fun with family and friends. As in my grandparents’ small apartment years ago, tables will unfold, bowls will overflow, and loved ones will embrace.
Wherever we are, there will be room for one more person, story, reason to be grateful. Coffee will perk, sauce will simmer, and traditions will endure as we celebrate and remember that whatever the size or setting, there is no place like home.