This photo of our house, done for a school project by Elle, made me realize that I have been remiss in telling you about where we live.
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Just a few miles from the Dallas suburbia, down a winding road and past a big pond, take a left at the first dirt drive and come on up the dusty road to my Barn House. Set back from the road and surrounded by ancient cedars and burr oak trees, this home is our funky oasis in a busy world.
I say "funky," because it defies all sense of modern style and panache. Built in the 1970's, its orange and brown sculptured shag carpet was the first thing to go when we moved in. We slathered new paint on the high-gloss white walls, disguising the oddly textured walls with color. The loud blue and gray linoleum kitchen floor got a coat of paint and sealer in a frenzied afternoon of a "Stop the 70's Madness" rampage. We changed out some bathroom fixtures and Tom tamed the jungle that was the yard.
And that's about where our time and money ran out. So we shrug and laugh at our postage-stamp sized kitchen, with its tiny passageway in and out. The dark paneling in certain areas of the house is ALMOST back in style and we accept this blast from the past as "retro." We have outdated plumbing, odd bathrooms and peculiar features, but somehow the idiosyncracies of this barn have endeared it to us.
Someday, our kitchen will receive the overhaul it is crying out for. But until then, it plays host to parties of high school and college students, holiday dinners for 25, and everyday suppers for our family. What it lacks in size is more than made up for in counter space (faux-wood, of course) and ample cupboards.
The "Back Room," as we call it, is a large, spacious room that is home to comfy couches, the piano and keyboard, the family computer and the TV. It is sort of an all-purpose room where most of the activity takes place. We love it. A lot of living has happened in this room.
Overlooking the Back Room is a loft, accessible by spiral staircase. The loft is my own space, a priceless jewel for which I waited almost 24 years to have. I wish I could do more dreaming and writing in this tucked-away cubby, but alas, I have to spend most of my time working up here.
All the bedrooms and closets are upstairs under the eaves, which offer sloped ceilings to complicate furniture arrangements. Still, there is something rather sweet about laying in bed and feeling cradled by the eaves and walls of this funny house.
The irony of working in incredibly magnificent homes each day and then coming home to a quirky, outdated Barn House has caused us to chuckle many times. While we appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that go into those multi-million dollar mansions, there is something to be said for the simple life. The pond and the pasture, the creek bed and the woods, they make us forget about the laminate counter tops and linoleum floors. True, the septic system only works MOST of the time, and the hot and cold faucets are backwards. But the songbirds that wake us at ungodly hours remind us that we enjoy a unique slice of disappearing life in America. We can sit in our breezeway, enjoy a glass of iced tea and look out onto a field of wildflowers and native grasses. The spring leaves will soon obscure our nearest neighbor's floodlight, and a walk to the mailbox feels like you really went somewhere.
We had always dreamed of being far out in the country, living a rural life and doing things like baking our own bread from scratch. Instead, we found this Barn House, just a few miles down the road from the city, yet a whole world away. It has charmed us with its lack of pretense and understated style. It will never be a trophy house, and will never grace the cover of a magazine. No one will ever walk in and be impressed with its architectural design.
But here you will always be welcomed in, always be allowed to Be Yourself. When you live in a Barn House you cannot possibly put on airs, and when you visit us you must leave yours behind as well. Somehow, something strange and wonderful happens when you come up the drive. As you emerge from the tunnel of trees by the pond and see the yellow house standing there in all its humble glory, there is a sense of belonging that comes over you. You know instinctively that there is no need to wear a facade, no need to pretend to be something you're not. The house is what it is, and there's something mighty refreshing about that. This place says something to your soul. That you will be accepted, just the way you are.
I guess that's why we love our old Barn House. And I hope you'll stop in often for a visit. I welcome your company.