Saturday, February 25, 2012

Building our Homes with Little Money

Lumber Yard

I grew up in the same house my mother grew up in. It was a beach cottage that Grandpa spent years rebuilding, while Mother was a small child. By the time I arrived, it was a large 2 story house with enclosed porches and an efficiency apartment in the basement. It had charming french doors and windows in the living room, which led out to one of the porches. There were stone steps and a small decorative fence on part of the property, close to the lilac bushes.  Not only did Grandpa rebuild the house, he also cultivated the land, creating a garden, and encouraging the growth of lovely plants.

Part of the foundation of the house was on a mine of rocks. These rocks were in a section of our basement, piled high, with the house built on, and around it.  The rocks were also on the great hill beside the house. This hill has been covered with dirt and grass and was a wonderful place for children to play in both summer and winter. We sled down the snowy hill, or rolled down the grass in the nice seasons.

I used to watch Grandpa working on that hill with his tools. He was covering the rocks, or working the land in some way. This was when I was a very small child. (We children lived with our parents and grandparents in the same house, just as my parents now live with my family.)

Years later, I learned that much of the supplies and lumber Grandpa used to rebuild the cottage was from salvaged items found on the shore of the nearby beach. This was typical for a generation of hard working Americans who knew how to find necessary items and create things with very little money.  But this wasn't just the Depression-era Americans.

Remember when Pa Ingalls would build an entire cabin out of the woods? He would cut down trees and work with the land to coax it, and to create, with his own labor and skills, to make a Home for his family. In these days that would be called "scavenging," But it was the normal way.

Now we buy everything at the local hardware store or lumber yard. I was thinking the other day how much I want a glass, French door for one of our rooms. I had thought for months about going to the store and buying one. But where is the fun in that? I would rather wait and search for such a treasure, scavenging it just like my ancestors did a few generations ago.

I remember when we lived in Massachusetts and I had gone into this thrift store, when my children were very young. I found a white wicker shelf unit that was faded and worn. I brought it home, set it up on the porch, and spray painted it a glossy sage green. It looked beautiful! It dried on that porch in the lovely sea air, since we lived near the ocean. Later, when I set it up in the house, it brought something artistic to our home, something amazing, because I had taken special care with it. It probably cost me around $4, including the paint, and I loved it.

If we can only look back at our American History and understand how homes were built using labor and local resources, rather than spending thousands of dollars at the local shops, we could have a stronger sense of appreciation and pride. We would gain a tremendous ability to survive. The money we could save, over the course of a few decades, and the example we set, would create a precious inheritance for the next generation.

Mrs. White

What We've Done - Building a Strong Work Ethic in our Children.

When we had no Money - To Encourage the Downcast Housewife.

A Joyful Day blessing my Family - Spending the Day in the Kitchen.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book - For The Love of Christian Homemaking.  Paperback, 274 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 



Unknown said...

This is good! I agree that we take more pride in joy in something that we've taken the time to either find or create. I want my home to be filled with things that show off the fruit of the labors of my family and friends. We've got art work from several different loved ones and lots of things handmade by me. I love our home...these things are part of what makes it homey! :)

Have a great weekend!

Mrs. Sarah Coller

Cindi said...

Most people now days don't know how to use a hammer let alone build a home. Thanks for the reminder of joys from yester year. :)

momma-lana said...

Our house came with alot of lovely French doors and I have to say that my favorite thing about them now, after 19 years, is how enchanted my grandchildren are with them. They can go into the foyer and close the door and still see Nana. After they have gone home I often find a whole sticky handprint which I carefully clean around for weeks and smile remembering their visit from 5 hours away.

Rebecca Knox said...

I wish you lived closer. I've got a set of French doors in my shed that we picked up for free from someone's trash pile. There are a couple of panes of glass that need replaced and they need painting, but, I would love to be able to pass them on to you. We picked them up hoping to someday use them in a house of our own, but I would gladly give them to you if we only lived closer! :)

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

I love reading some of your earlier writings. Your website is a goldmine of encouragement for wives. I have lived throught tight times, and am doing it again. My husband has been unemployed since before Christmas. God is helping me to be content with little. I know he is a God of suddenly. I know that God will take care of us, but I must also work in my home and in my own heart to do my part.

Thank you for your letter today and your past letters.
Please drop by and say hello!
Harvest Lane Cottage
...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
on a short shoestring budget!