Do we shape our dwellings or do they shape us?

Winston Churchill once said:

We shape our dwellings and afterwards our dwellings shape us.

Moving is hard work

I spent the weekend with my son and wife getting the children’s rooms painted and ready for them to move their things in.  I started to think about how the new home will change the way they live now.

They moved from a 500 square foot cottage, they rented, to a 1400 square foot tri-level home they now own.  When they first  moved in to the cottage (2 bedroom) the children weren’t even a year old.  They, a boy and girl, shared one room.  It had a large closet and two built-in floor to ceiling shelves for storage on either side.  The bedroom consisted at first of two cribs.  Later it became a twin and toddler bed (two twins wouldn’t fit) with the addition of a small shelf for books.

The bedroom was a strange mix of personalities as the children neared 4 years old, there was her side with princesses and girly things and his side with super  heroes and toy story decals.

Their new home has three bedrooms, a lower family room where most of the toys can live.  The bedrooms truly reflect each child now.

Who says nearly 4 is too young to paint? She covered ever square inch she could reach on her own with no spills or drips!

Her bedroom is done in pastel pink and green and is being filled with  her princesses, barbies, and other girly things.

The existing green in person was almost neon, the walls are pink and the closet and back of the door are now a pastel green, much more to her liking.

His bedroom is done in a soft shade of blue on 3 walls, one wall a deeper blue, and the closet done in Spiderman red.  He has Spiderman bedding, Spiderman and Hulk wall decorations.

With the walls now painted it’s time to add some coordination to the accessories for brother.

The children are already claiming their space and demanding  the right to deny entrance to their private space, and they only moved in Thursday night.

Waiting to be hung on the wall is a 3 foot Spiderman I had commissioned for my grand son. Sister has Ariel as a mermaid to be hung on her wall.

Laundry is another big change.  In the cottage they had to go outside and around the house to enter the basement where the laundry was. Now they only have to go to the lower level to take on this chore.  The new home has a laundry chute in the upper bathroom which the kids find exciting.  So far they can’t wait to toss in dirty clothes, then run down the stairs to check that the clothes made it to the basement.

The floor in the main living space has soft padded carpeting versus the indoor outdoor carpeting without padding the cottage had.  Now the family, (mom and dad included) can be found spending time on the floor in the bigger space interacting with each other. Before mom and dad rarely sat on the floor.

The children seem to enjoy having a little space to spread out, craft projects can be tackled that would have been too big to tackle on the table in the kitchen, which was the largest bare spot in the cottage. And mom and dad seem to enjoy being able to walk around when the kids have large roads built out of books for their cars and characters to drive on.

They were used to having a large outdoor space, but here the majority of the back property is wooded.  A good friend who does landscaping and hardscaping offered to come over Sunday to see what he could do to take advantage of the space.  He found a good deal of dead trees and began the process of selectively clearing the yard.

Finding more room to play and planning a true living space to be created next year.

They have also been pleasantly surprised by the welcome they got from new neighbors. Living for 3 years in their rented cottage, they never really got to know any of the neighbors.  So far they have met 3 families, one family has  a boy and girl close in age to their children.  This family delivered a large bag of corn for them the night after they moved in, (which I will be helping to freeze and dehydrate for them as my dil has never put up food before) .  My son says it’s weird, he always wanted to live in the burbs with friendly neighbors, but wasn’t prepared for the warm welcome they have gotten so far.

In thinking about my son’s move I began to reflect back on mine, yet again.  My move to a smaller home and purging most of my belongings has been such an exciting time in my life.  I have met fantastic people and have more social contact than I’ve had in years.  But when I look at just the space I am living in now I see more of the new me being reflected back at me.  I am including more color in my space than I have in more than 20 years, I think in this case the change in environment changed me (I’m happier), now I am changing the indoor space to reflect the new me (bold happy colors).

So to reword the quote by Winston Churchill, can our dwellings (homes) shape us and do we shape our dwellings?  How has changing something about your home affected you, changed you?

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5 thoughts on “Do we shape our dwellings or do they shape us?

  1. As I grow older I find I don’t need as many things as I used to. So I suppose my home reflects that. I have very few “knick knacks” or things just needing dusting. The few things I do have mean more to me.

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    1. I am the same way. I do think there was a time when I lived with things that weren’t me (family heirlooms specifically) and I wasn’t as happy with my home. I wasn’t as cheerful in the space or feel that it fit me. Our homes should always be where we feel most comfortable, just my opinion.

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      1. It does doesn’t it? When I moved with my saved belongings after my huge purge, I was busy enjoying the outdoors so didn’t realize to what extent I didn’t have to clean. Then the cold weather arrived and pushed me indoors for most of the day, I at first was lost trying to figure out how to fill my hours with so little to do. Turns out I can have a good time doing things that I am interested in doing and even have the freedom to try things I had only thought about “when I have some free time”. Yes, I got rid of the knick knacks too!

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