WUI (Writing under the influence)

Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.

I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.

This old house Grovenet Wal*Mart Visiting Poland American wine better than French.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Big houses

I'm a big fun of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses. But, as many old things, they are appreciated by many but don't attract a lot interest when put up for sale. What I like best about them -- little space wasted for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms -- is what makes them today rather unattractive. Wright believed that living spaces should be vast with a lot of windows to let plenty of light in. Everything else was small.

In Poland, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a very small bathroom and a very small kitchen. I didn't live there alone, of course. I had to share it with my parents and my sister. One might say, it was very cozy. Actually, saying that my apartment had two bedrooms could be somewhat misleading because there were no other rooms. The larger bedroom served as a living room during the day. Needless to say, even the smallest house in the US seems big to me. Our first house had 1,300 sq. ft. and a partially finished basement with its own bathroom. When we added a deck and a screened porch (a must in mosquito-infested Madison, WI), the house seemed huge. But there were only 4 of us.

My house in Forest Grove, although bigger, is still small by (today's) American standards. There are 5 of us now with the 6th coming in April and my house has slightly under 2,000 sq. ft. plus unfinished basement (i.e., laundry, storage, small woodworking shop, etc.) I think it should be bigger and I will most likely make it bigger next year. It needs a big family/4-season room with a wood-burning stove and big windows with a view of our evergreen backyard. What it needs is a Frank Lloyd Wright space, something I never experienced in Poland.

I visited some friends last week and two of them have brand new houses. They are big. Both well over 3,000 sq. ft. One is a standard house in a new development where all the houses are almost identical; almost predictable. The other is completely custom-built. It has a two-level garage that could easily accommodate two RVs; there is a small bathroom and a kitchen on the first floor and a small apartment on the second floor. The whole thing seems bigger than my whole house. One thing that I found very curious in this house was that the kitchen seemed bigger than the living room. I hope my friend's wife doesn't get tired when cooking from walking between the refrigerator, the stove and the sink. Maybe this was also meant as an exercise room. Also, the guest bathroom was bigger than the guest bedroom. It was the total opposite to what Wright would have designed.

I don't believe in conspiracies but I wonder why new houses have these huge wasted areas. No matter how big your house is, if your kitchen, bathrooms, parlor, mud room, etc., take most of the space, you will need an addition as soon as your first child is born (not to mention your 4th.) And whom will you call to do the job? Wouldn't you call the original builder? Maybe not. Or not necessarily. But maybe all builders, even if competitors, help each other by building houses this way. Also, finishing kitchens and bathrooms with marble tiles, granite countertops and premium fixtures is much more expensive than finishing living or family rooms with hardwoods or wall-to-wall carpets. So there is also an incentive for the builders to insist on propose those vast, limited-use spaces.

So if I ever design a house for myself, I make sure that I can cook sitting down and play football with my sons in a living room.

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