Lee Pitts: A House Is Not A Home
I read somewhere that people move every seven years; I think mostly to show their friends that they’re moving up in the world. We’ve lived in our home for 35 years now and I’m not going anywhere because I finally know where everything is. We’ve just now got the kinks worked out. Indians would say “I’m drunk on chimney smoke” because all I want to do is stay home.
Ours is not a house that Architectual Digest will ever feature, but it’s ours. It may be a bit dusty but at least it’s our dust. No bank owns it. By no stretch of the imagination can it be called a “trophy home.” We have no granite countertops, Wolf Range, media room, wine cellar or even a wine shelf, but we’re happy in our home, and make no mistake, ours is a home and not merely a house.
A house is a commodity. It’s a structure made from bricks and sticks that doesn’t become a home until someone has lived in it long enough to know its eccentricities. Whereas a house is merely a building, a home is a residence, retreat, resort and refuge all rolled into one. You turn a house into a home by filling it with your own stuff, by recording the height of your kids on the door molding, spilling some beer or beans on the carpet and by turning the rocks on the fireplace black with your own smoke.
Over the years our home has become what real estate agents call “dated”. When guests enter they don’t know if they’ve walked into a home or a dusty museum. Whereas some folks are minimalists, my wife and I are maximamalists. There’s not a piece of furniture in our home under 50 years old and old calendars, western art, spurs, rusty barb wire and branding irons are everywhere. There’s so much rust hanging on the walls my wife doesn’t know if she should dust or sandblast. Every item tells its own story. Some folks say that “stuff” doesn’t bring happiness but if that’s the case why am I smiling as I sit at my great-grandma’s desk while looking at Grandpas’s old saddle?
Having said all that, I must admit when our house hit 30 it started falling apart, so we embarked on a total remodel, which to us meant adding more antique spurs, miniature anvils and my friend Phil’s cowboy etchings. If I seem a little bit cranky lately it’s because we’ve also been painting our house.
We’re doing our best to spur the economy and we’ve got blisters on our VISA card to prove it. We’ve re-roofed, re-carpeted and re-wallpapered. We’ve repaired cracks, replaced linoleum with wood, changed curtains and washed some windows for the first time.
We haven’t gone crazy by any means but let me tell you, stylishness sure does cost a lot. We still don’t have a widescreen HD TV, or hot tub, but we have purchased several new “smart” appliances, so now I’m not even the second smartest in my home. We bought most of our appliances from Sears when we built our house and many of them have never been replaced. When we told the salesman at Sear’s that our refrigerator was 30 years old he nearly fainted and said our new one would self-destruct in eight. He looked lost when we told him we DIDN’T want an ice maker. Out of 50 floor models he found two that fit that description. But he said they’d cost more. I wonder, why should it cost more for less?
I felt like a traitor when I drifted into the appliance section in Home Depot recently where I was met by an inferior decorator who wanted me to do a complete major makeover. I told her I was just looking for a refrigerator but she tried to sell me one of everything in the store, including a garbage disposal. I explained that I was of the belief that as long as something is working it shouldn’t be replaced. And my wife said she didn’t need a new garbage disposal because her’s was efficient and cheap.
“What brand is it?” the astonished salesman asked.
“Duroc,” my wife replied.
From the quizzical look on the lady’s face I could tell she wasn’t familiar with the brand.