Spaces for Life: How a new space changes you

By Lance McCarthy ***Warning*** If you read this, you should know I’m going to ask you to respond at the end. If you decide not to, and just continue eating


By Lance McCarthy

Lance McCarthy
Lance McCarthy

***Warning*** If you read this, you should know I’m going to ask you to respond at the end. If you decide not to, and just continue eating your cereal or Facebooking or driving to work (hey! you’re not supposed to do that!), then the bad karma of unresponsiveness will give you bad luck for, like, five minutes or something…did that work? We’ll see.

“Spaces change people profoundly.” That’s one of my mantras. It’s a catchy phrase, and seems to be something people really like hearing, but is it really true?

Of course we are physically changed. Like if the a/c wasn’t working yesterday, you were really hot. Or if the roof wasn’t working last weekend, you were wet. But deeply changed? Like mentally or emotionally or relationally? Could the wrong house contribute to a rocky marriage? Could the right office space make a job more successful?

I believe so absolutely. I’m going to ask you for a “Yes” or a “Not Really” vote at the end, but just to help bias the vote a bit, I want to share some ways my own life has been impacted. We have now been in our “new” old house for 4 weeks.

You should know, our house was working just fine before some idiot lit it on fire (back story). We loved it the way it was. We reconfigured the kitchen and bathrooms and added some built-ins here and there, but didn’t add on to the house at all. Nothing dramatic. This is no Extreme Home Makeover. There was no bus moving.

And yet, my life is profoundly different in some very important ways. Here are some examples:

  • Using the same sized kitchen, we were able to actually double the usable storage and countertop space. This has completely changed our meal time. The kids help set the table, and breakfast happens effortlessly since everything has a place.
  • We added some really cool built-in closet/bookcases and made an entry and intimate library room where there was just a front room. Now we have a family reading time before bed that allows us to be close to each other, and the kids actually somehow stay quiet long enough to hear the story (usually).
  • For the first time, Jamie and I have a real closet that you can stand in. Remember, we didn’t add space, just changed the way it was used. This means that my early morning happens without me tripping on my shoes in the dark and waking my wife up. I actually like dressing (which is new for me).
  • The rental house we were in had a really bad bathroom. It was so tight you could use the sink while standing in the shower! It was horrible in ways that will haunt me. With just slightly more space, our now-bathroom has clean large tiles and a simple shower faucet that I love. I now shower daily (which will only shock people who really know me…awkward!).
  • My wife wouldn’t refer to herself as “outdoorsy”. However, we changed what was an old screened porch into a breezy open-sided lanai with exposed cedar rafters. I find her sitting out there on her chaise more than I could have predicted, especially for August.

There’s lots more, but much of it is harder to articulate, especially without walking with you through the space. (Which I would happily do by the way if you don’t mind bringing a bottle of wine!) The point is, every part of our lives has noticeably changed because our house has changed. Our conversations are different. Our kids’ habits are different. Our daily patterns are different.

Now it’s your turn. Do you agree? Does it really matter? I mean REALLY? I want to know what you think. Has a house changed you for better or worse? Or is it just me? It could just be me. I mean you already know I have bathing issues…

This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.