There’s something of a jewel found in a small box, a place where there’s room only for that most treasured and nothing more.
Our jewel-box dwelling began coaching us in simplicity, even as a sketch on graph paper. It gently guided us in tailoring our possessions to include only the dearest-held and the most-loved. There would be a place for the old oak rocker that my husband remembers as a boy in the bunk house of his family’s Montana ranch; there would be a nook for a writing desk (because there surely would be writing); there would be a drafting table in the loft for the boy who cartoons, and a place for an electric guitar and amp for the boy who plays; there would be shelf space for collections, a hook for grandfather’s hat. Select pieces of full-size furniture would ground the living and dining areas. The design carefully danced the line between small and too small.
The kitchen was drawn in its most basic form, all on one wall. Only the simplest of elements needed for preparing our family’s nourishment were included: a down-draft range, a petite refrigerator, and deep double sinks. There would be no microwave, no garbage disposal, no dishwasher. There would be one drawer bank, six cabinets, open shelves, and sixty inches of counter space all together (with the open dining table just steps away). There would be a pot rack and a vintage light fixture.
Raw need cultivated innovation as the space plan took shape and every inch was ripe with potential – potential to be filled or left open, seeing as how space not filled is as important as space that is. A sense of calm permeates a room when the eye and the soul have a place to rest.
Three and four-foot traffic patterns brought breath to the open living spaces and the vaulted ceiling with its high dormer window broke the area wide open. Most rooms in this little house were to be shared, certainly, but also? There were spaces for seclusion (a bed nook with a curtain drawn, found in the loft reached by a ship’s ladder/stair, anyone?). The master bedroom at the end of the hall held a queen bed lit by vintage porcelain pull-chain sconces. The writing nook was flanked by built-in cabinets, one for a stacking washer and dryer; the other slated for shelves top to bottom.
This little house would require things of us. It would require off-loading. It would require giving away. It would require a reckoning. Needs shifted; wants changed. Perspectives were aligned along a new plane. And a certain fervor for life rose as the plans came to completion.
On an early day in the newly turned year, the design was complete, the contract was signed, and the builder began his work.
Update: You may follow the story on to Part 5 here.