Tuesday, September 29, 2015

my ideal family home

Clear skies and sun have done wonders for the grouchy moods of late. 

One of my very favourite things to say as a mother is: "Go, go outside. Play!" Sure, there may be the occasional whine but give them five minutes in the garden and they settle into some sort of play, even if it is reading Tom Sawyer in a tree.

We've been in this house almost a year now. In that time it's become very clear what constitutes my ideal in a family home. While living so close to the beach is truly wonderful (and a definite luxury), there's something even more alluring about a flat, fenced backyard that I can see from the kitchen sink. It may be humble in its appearance and sure, there's houses and gardens on all three sides, but watching the children play while I cook or wash-up is so utterly perfect. Next to our kitchen is the back door and then it's only three steps down to the grass. There's frangipani trees, a vegetable patch sprouting cucumber and bean seedlings, an old outdoor loo and a trampoline. The grass is a little patchy and currently riddled with clover and bindis but nothing a bit of springtime tlc can't fix. There's a washing line bathed in full sun, too.

In retrospect, what has been most surprising about our time here is my shift in perspective. The salmon-coloured bathroom and rickety old (very impractical) kitchen with no dishwasher and very limited bench-space don't both me at all anymore. They definitely aren't ideal but they are very small sacrifices for what we do have. It turns out that I really can live without what I once thought was a necessity!

We're about to sign the lease again but this time, it's only for six months. As we venture into deep spring and summer, we're treating our remaining time in this beachside cottage as a bit of a holiday at home. Early mornings and late afternoons by the water, barbecues in the garden and evenings on the balcony. The little wooden oven that was once inside will stay outdoors, the perfect excuse for mud pie cooking and green baking. There's a basket by the backdoor for beach toys and garden gloves and the beach towels will rotate from the sand to the washing line and back 'round again.

What's your ideal when it comes to your family home?


  1. We built our home 7 years ago. It sits on a lovely one acre block, lots of mature trees around & space to move. The outdoor sapce is non- negotaible for me. I love my big veggie beds, our pool ( we are far from the beach & temps regularly go over 40 in Summer so a pool is a luxury but a really, really good one to have), the grass spaces & the native gardens we've planted. What has changed is my idea of the perfect inside space. As a family of six ( two teenager & two toddlers) I feel like we have too much of now, even though when we built it we were a smaller family of four. Two lounge rooms are not necessary( we rarely use the front one & live in the kitchen/diner/loung area). Two bathrooms are lovely but one would do as long as we had a second toilet.It's nice to have a study, even more so now that we don't have any spare rooms for interstate family to stay in, but I could do without it. The teenagers have their own rooms & I doubt they could share these days, but the toddlers, a boy & girl 12 months apart, share a room. It's hard because they don't sleep well during the night but otherwise it's not an issue at all. They'll grow up not knowing any different & by the time it becomes an issue maybe one of the older boys will have moved on & they will have separate rooms.
    I guess what I've learnt is that outdoor space is more important to me & that the more room you have indoors the less time you spend you together because everyone is spread out. I'd build a completely different house if I was do so now.

    1. Thank YOU so much for such an insightful comment. Much food for thought x

  2. To be able to watch the girls in the garden as I potter around the house is my dream scenario. We have to go out of our front door, into our flat's communal area and through another door to get to our garden, so it's all outside or no-one outside. Our next house (whenever that will be!) with most definitely have a back door leading from the kitchen. It's funny how such small things become so important. xxx

  3. I'm with you on the flat backyard that you can see from the kitchen. We have a one level house with the back half open plan kitchen/dining/lounge and then all glass windows which over looks our tiny, private but very flat back yard with grass. We have 3 veggie gardens, a chicken coop and a trampoline and there is enough room to run around and play. It warms my heart when I am in the kitchen baking with the kids outside playing. I have a 11 year old going on 12 and a 9 year old. She is always in the backyard and whilst the 11 year old would happily sit on the couch all day on his ipod he is not allowed to. Once he's outside he plays too and now they also ride their scooters on the front driveway as well. We also have a second lounge room which is the size of a double garage which is great but if we didn't have it, it wouldn't matter to our lives. I want to be in the kitchen overlooking the backyard with grass......that's the first thing I saw that made me want to get this house and I still love it. Enjoy you summer in the little cottage...Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  4. One of the things I miss the most about previous homes we have lived in is a one storey house with a flat yard that just extends off the back of the home. Living where we do now it is much more of a 'thing' to go DOWN outside and I cannot be just right there inside the door while the children play outside. What I am noticing more and more though is the older they get, the less I have to be right there and usually they can wander out into our secure yard and play safely with me simply listening out. I agree with Reannon above too about the smaller the home the more time you spend together as a close knit family....and also the less rooms to clean!! ;-)

  5. I just want to live in the country with lots of space, I don't feel like I belong in the city.

  6. Your home sounds like absolute perfection. I can only imagine the beautful memories your children will have of their time there xx

  7. I would just love to be near the ocean! Aside from that, I really love our home. We renovated about five years ago, put an addition on and gutted the hundred year old main house. I still love everything we did. We need new paint already, and clutter and organization will always be an issue to visit again and again with 5 kids, but other than that the house just feels right. We have an acre with enough room for a pool, play set, garden and chickens, and then we are surrounded by hills and cows. There is a lot more I'd like to do outside, as kids grow and time/money allow. I feel like we have the room we need to grow. I do wish there was a window better situated to watch the kids outside, but there are many points from which to see them. With a pool and a bobcat that got several chickens, we don't allow anybody outside alone for very long! The drawback of life in the country! Every now and again, though, I wonder what it might be like in a city :)

  8. A large yard where we can grow vegetables, plant tons of fruit trees and have our kids play....no dishwasher, no tv, no bedrooms even (just moved into a large studio space) I know we can manage without these but put us in an apartment with no outside and we'll go nuts!!! Oh and my ideal home would have a bath... :)

  9. A good view, a garden, warm, and affordable are my absolutes. I have to be able to look out the window and like what I see (fields, sheep and mountains). Our garden is over large (1/2 acre) but there's space, veggies and flowers, trampoline etc.
    The house itself. TINY. But warm. We added double glazing and top and bottom insulation which I couldn't live without (NZ South Island) and we live on the edge of a quiet, conservative but friendly little town. I have to declutter weekly to keep on top of extraneous 'stuff' that accumulates in the small space but I like that it keeps me honest. We are minimal. We can afford our little place and still travel.


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