January 18, 2015

Ode to a Flat Pack Home.


I love tiny houses.

I think they are a wonderful idea. I love that they are little oxymorons—immobile mobile homes.

I am in awe of those who can pare down their wardrobes and belongings to such a minimum that they can live comfortably in 700 square feet. With a partner! And even a pet!

The problem is, I have too much stuff to relocate my life into one: two bookcases filled with books who I love like old friends, a piano, an organ, fish tank, two kids and their stuff, two cats and their stuff… (Okay, they don’t have much stuff other than a litter box and food, but anyone with a cat knows that litter boxes take up a lot of space. Kitties are not known to be neat). My house is full of people and animals and belongings that I love dearly. My home is filled with love.

What I long for, when I am lying awake in the middle of the night thinking about such things, is a tiny house … in my back yard.

I want a little insulated, heated Mommy Playhouse. A place where I can write, and reflect and relax and dream and be creative and drink my chai without interruption and when I have clients, conduct my massage business. Where I can “get away from it all” without having to go too far. A little place that is just mine, away from all of the distractions of everyday life, prying eyes that watch my every move and nimble fingers that eat my special treats and take my pens from my desk and drain my printer of paper for their drawings and designs. A place without toys and noise and TVs.

I want a private space where I can be just me.

While I was living in Ireland, I became very fond of a TV show called “My Flat Pack Home.” For those in the U.S., flat-pack homes are called modular or pre-fab homes. On one episode, a musician had one delivered to her back yard so that she could write and play music without interrupting the household. She had a bathroom and even a Jacuzzi out there.

I fell in love.

In his book, Private Dwelling: contemplating the Use of Housing, Peter King talks about the need for privacy, and specifically, what we need it for:

Is not the precise virtue of privacy that it allows us to do what we want?
It gets us away from those we feel would stop us doing what we want,
how we want and where we want.  So privacy is instrumental, but this
is precisely one of it’s two virtues.  The other is that it puts us in a
position where we do not have to explain ourselves to anyone else and
say what it is we want the privacy for.

I don’t want to go off the grid. I don’t want to be like Thoreau and live in the woods. I actually do love my house, and the people and animals that live in it with me. It fits my family well with its blend of family heirlooms, yard sale finds and new(er) furniture. I call my style Early American Attic and it has made for a very warm, comfortable home.

What I am longing for is a quiet space of my own.

I want a space that is dedicated exclusively to my happiness. Yes, I have my dedicated massage space, but that is set up as a massage room only. And it is my office—my place of business—but I will need to give this space up soon.

I see the looks my 10-year-old gives that room as he walks past it to enter the room he shares with his older brother. He is longing for his own space; my children need their privacy too.

I guess what I a really want is my youth back, but not to be young.

What I want back is the freedom and independence I had—when I lived in a one-bedroom apartment before mortgages and kids and responsibilities, and made fires in the fireplace nightly and took long baths whenever I wanted to, and everything was in its place because I put it there.

I don’t want to live that life again, I just want to visit—when I need to feed the soul of who I was before I became who I am.

So late at night, I will continue to dream of my little flat pack house in the back yard. Bring a bathing suit and join me in the Jacuzzi.

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Author: Kendra Hackett

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: flickr

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