Since we’re moving in the next 8 months or so, I’ve been perusing the real estate section of the newspaper more often. Unfortunately, many of the homes that get the highlight treatment are ridiculously expensive “dream” homes. But the details of many of these homes reveal something about our society and culture.
Take this 1880 farmhouse in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. I’m taking a guess that for at least the first three-quarters of its existence, this was a home for families, a place that held more than the current “ideal” of 2.2 kids. In fact, it was probably mainly bedrooms, kitchen, and eating space. Not anymore as this $849,000 house has 1,962 square feet of living space but now only has two bedrooms. Check out this description of the current renovated splendor and the uses to which the rooms have been put.
Entering the blue-clapboard house from the street, you’ll come to a covered front porch that leads into an 8-by-6-foot cherry-wood foyer outfitted with a window seat and coat closet.
To the right, a 13-by-13-foot home office boasts recessed lighting, two windows and a floor-to-ceiling built-in with 20 shelves.
Nearby, a 6-by-5-foot half-bathroom features cherry-wood floors and a pedestal sink.
The home’s 21-by-13-foot living room offers cherry-wood floors and a wood fireplace with a new marble border. Built-ins can accommodate a flat-panel TV and a stereo system.
This elegantly designed room segues into a U-shaped, 16-by-13-foot architect designed kitchen. [Description of the kitchen’s top-of-the-line appointments snipped.]
The home’s 15-by-12-foot dining room features cherry-wood floors, cathedral ceilings, built-in cabinets, a contemporary designer fixture and three skylights.
A restored staircase leads to the second floor, which hosts the home’s two bedrooms.
The master suite includes a 14-by-13-foot bedroom with wall-to-wall carpeting and even a shoe closet.
An en-suite 8-by-8-foot master bathroom […].
An adjacent 9-by-6-foot vanity/laundry room […].
The suite also includes a 10-by-9-foot walk-in closet […].
Down the hallway, the home’s 13-by-13-foot second bedroom features […] a deep closet […].
A nearby 9-by-8-foot guest bathroom boasts […].
I count room for at least six bedrooms on the second floor, five if you want a bathroom up there. What does it say about our society when we put so much stock in material goods? Our investment is in stuff, instead of kids. Shoot, the closet is almost as big as the master bedroom!
This is not a home designed for a family that welcomes as many children as God may send them. (Insert obligatory apologia that God does not choose to bless every couple open to life with many—or even any—children. I’ll stipulate that.) But if you check out the old homes, at least in the Boston area, the ones that originally had six or seven bedrooms, most have either been subdivided in condos and apartments or had extreme makeovers that create more room for our excessive capitalist consumption than for children. The new homes are hardly any better, with giant McMansions sporting massive great rooms, dens, and TV rooms, but hardly any space for bedrooms. The assumption these days is that sane, responsible parents don’t have more than two children, and soon it will be even less.