Closed Floor Plans

I’d like to take a moment to speak in favor of the lesser known closed floor plan.

While the Gaineses rule the world, eliminating one non-load-bearing wall after another, we cheerfully survive in a smallish house stuffed full of walls. And what’s more, we’ve added back doors!

How can this be? We want to promote family togetherness through maximizing shared space BUT

  • J is a night owl and we are a young family
  • At least two of us are introverts

What’s more, “If Dwell Magazine ruled the world, our homes would be one big open warehouse, and then I’d have to be tidy.” (via) I’ve lived the open floor plan, most notably in a beautifully sunlit, impossible-to-keep-clean pool house, and I prefer my dim warren any day.

Cottontail Cottage is a small Craftsman built in 1940, decades before the trend of open living. Our many small rooms allow us to parcel up space more efficiently. We once had a lecture in the living room while behind two doors a half dozen small children romped. And while I was pregnant, J could often have friends over to visit in the evening while I slept undisturbed, two doors away, upstairs.

There are also concerns about open floor plans I had never considered. Apparently, open floor plans have also intensified home fires. And I have anosmia, as we’ve discussed, so I’ve never had to contend with the permeating odor of the kitchen wafting throughout an open living space, but apparently that’s a thing, too. (To be fair, we don’t currently have the door between our kitchen and dining room up, but you never know–maybe someday!)

The only time we really feel the inconvenience of this set up is when we are entertaining more people than can comfortably fit into one smallish room. But so you mingle! And that’s only a few nights out of the year–for family life, this set up suits our everyday life much better.

What is your house like? What do you prefer? Would you ever take out walls or add doors?

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Commonplace Book, 51

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

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What Is Left of a Marriage

Ten years. In a decade, those fluffy towels have migrated to the basement, faded and threadbare. The dinner plates once registered for — the ones reviewers warned were fragile — have been shattered, one by one, as if methodically, and replaced with a mishmash you hate. The slow cooker died when its insert shattered; the toaster oven was given to a friend when it wouldn’t fit in the moving van.

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Crunchy Cons and (Anti?-)Consumerist Posturing

Ok, so here’s a sincere question: If we spend more time acquiring goods locally and ethically, doesn’t this mean we are becoming more materialistic, not less? We are definitely thinking more about stuff and probably spending more money, to boot. This is a question that’s been bothering me on and off since AP Environmental Science in twelfth grade, and most especially since a Dorothy Day-inspired private lecture on distributism got me thinking about consumer ethics again in a special way.

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Commonplace Book, 50

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

We celebrated Pippin’s feast day with the Feast of St Peregrine this week. He chose breaded fish, barbecue chips, cherry tomatoes, homemade ciabatta and cinnamon rolls he helped me make. He was over the moon. Kids are so easy sometimes.

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A Literary Love of Flowers

photo via

So, I think one of the perks, if not one of the outright goals, of educating little kids yourself at home is that you get to choose what to stuff into their little brains. Maybe that sounds nefarious, but aren’t the early years mostly just about learning how to learn, and learning to love learning? That’s why I used a saint-based curriculum this year for Police Preschool and it’s why as the school year winds down we are focusing on nature and birds and most of all, flowers.

Because maybe someday Pippin will be a police officer and Scout will be something totally depressing, like a dentist, but they’ll keep these memories of the difference between a dandelion and a daffodil and the way robins dance beside the turned-up garden soil and how grape hyacinth smells like Concord grapes (and maybe a fact or two about St Thérèse, too).

And on our quest, there are plenty of books to light this love of flowers.

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Commonplace Book, 49

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

In the garden, our arugula is getting started under an old window screen to keep out the [REDACTED] neighborhood cats who like to poop in the container garden. I’m counting down the days till our inherited peony blooms and the kids and I have put in marigolds, petunias, more peonies — and some gladiolus and dahlia bulbs that are almost certainly dead. (I got them last year for Mother’s Day but was too morning sick to get ’em in the ground.)

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Dear College Student

A few years ago, I was walking on a New England college campus in spring and came upon a cherry tree in blossom which, upon closer examination, was decked out in tiny paper cranes. It was striking for its senselessness and beauty, two characteristics closely associated, in my mind at least, with college.

Now, as I drive through a college campus on a cold Tuesday morning in spring, I’m confronted by students who seem hardly present, just going through the motions. These students slump along, eyes on their phones, carelessly decked out in workout wear, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings.

And let me tell you: college is for many things, but most of all, college is for caring. Read More »