Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Confessions of a Large House Addict

I'm Charlie, and I'm a large house addict.
Resident, North Shore of Chicago

Yesterday I received a Jewel Box® Home story submission from Charlie, a self confessed large house addict. I have decided not to reveal the Chicago North Shore suburb where he lives with his family, but I will disclose that it is listed by the Census Bureau as one of the wealthiest towns in the country.

Here is Charlie's story ---

I've known for some time that I'm powerless over my desire to
have a large home, and that my life has become unmanageable.

Here's my story:

My story of addiction starts like so many others - successful
and assertive parents, high expectations for achievement, some
degree of professional success and a genetic pre-disposition for
large house addiction (it runs in my mother's side of the

For nearly 11 years, my wife, 2 children and I have shared a
4,000 sq ft home in a leafy suburb north of Chicago.

- The finished basement with bath and
2nd kitchen add another 1,100 sqft.

It's a big, gorgeous, comfortable place we bought when we were
in our 30s. Our large house makes a bold statement about our
success, self confidence, place in the community...and dark

Over the years, we've spent a fortune to furnish, decorate,
landscape, improve and maintain it to perfection. The addict in
me believes it's one of the finer things in life we're entitled
to, but the good steward inside me aches for a change.

As you probably know, large home addiction is a family disease,
and in our case the consequences of addiction have included:

- Physical separation

- Watching television alone

- Large amounts of time spent in large
house related activates such as
decorating and accessory shopping

- Impaired judgement and control over
family finances.

Our large home is expensive to heat, cool, maintain and taxes
have become awkwardly high.

Of course, the downturn in the economy makes me more anxious
about my addiction.

I have fear. Fear of change, fear of moving down, fear of
simplifying, fear of losing personal space, fear of sharing a
bathroom, fear of sharing a closet, fear of losing my den. Fear
of upsetting my children.

Fear that my wife may be a co-dependent big house addict.

Yet there is so much to gain - intimacy with the family, lighter
financial burden, less environmental impact, more time for the
really important things in life - like our children, sports,
fitness, church activities and civic engagement.

There's a tired cliché that the first step on the road to
recovery is recognizing there's a problem.

I've taken the first step, and it's uncomfortable.

Stay tuned.

Charlie Anonymous

I have thanked Charlie for writing and am honored he has given me permission to share his story.

Until next time!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Open House! The Jewel Box® Home has Overnight Guests

Jewel Box® Home gets ready for overnight guests.

This past weekend I had overnight guests from Friday evening until Sunday at noon. Not one, not two, not three..., but five overnight guests. This was not a get together planned at the beginning of summer, but a spur of the moment visit. On Wednesday evening my sister called wondering if she might come for a quick Chicago visit with my nephew, niece and her boyfriend. Of course I said yes.

Successfully hosting an overnight stay has nothing to do with fancy accomodations or a big house. Give guests a comfortable place to sleep and make them feel genuinely welcome. If you do that honestly, the rest will take care of itself.

So how did I manage this in an 1800 square foot house? For all my overnighters, I like to put together a little guest 'goody' bag. I reuse gift bags - men are fine with a paper lunch bag - and fill them with sample size toiletries saved from hotels. Shampoos, lotions, anything a guest might need for an overnight stay. For men, I slip in a disposable razor. I also throw in a few chocolates and a bottle of water. With their goody bag, each guest also gets a few magazines from my current subscriptions. In the photo above is the goody bag for my sister, along with her bedding and towel set.

Now let's talk about logistics. I certainly don't have enough pillows and towels for five overnight guests. So I went to T.J. Maxx and bought inexpensive bedding and bath sets. Two pillows were $8 for the pair and towels were $5 each. After spending a little over $50 and 20 minutes of my time, I was all set for my sister's stay.

Where did everyone sleep? My two nephews slept in sleeping bags in the basement with my younger son. My neice's boyfriend shared a bedroom with my oldest son, my niece slept on the downstairs sofa and my sister used the couch in the study. Sheets, blankets and pillows were used as bedding on the sofas. These were rolled up and stored in a bedroom during the day.

My guests have now left and I'm off to take a nap - one of the most important 'to-dos' for successfully hosting overnight stays!

The beautiful sunflowers my sister gave me as a hostess gift!

May all your overnight guests be as gracious and fun as my sister!



Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Jewel Box® Fourth of July

Happy July 4th! I'm running out the door to the neighborhood parade and festivities, but first I had to share photos of this 1900 square foot Federal-era house decked out in red, white and blue for 'The Fourth'. Originally built in 1853, the house was bought in 1998 by Ashleigh Blake and Joel Bruzinski and completely rehabbed. Didn't they do a great job? And I'm stealing the 'flag on the front door' idea for my entry-way. It will look great with my red geraniums.

The article and photos about this patriotic Jewel Box home can be found in the July issue of Country Living magazine. Enjoy!

Notice the simple window treatments, the light gray-blue paint color with molding and trim in a bright white and the natural hard wood floors. Perfect choices for a small entryway.

The furniture selection and placement is ideal for this cozy living area. A slender sofa and two arm chairs with a perfectly proportioned coffee table. And the wooden legs on all pieces are in full view, adding to the visual appeal. This is the traditional style done right.

Not the original kitchen, this is an addition. But the the white cabinets and stainless steel appliances would work well in any small kitchen area.

The folding french doors are a good looking solution to closing off a pantry area.

This is casual entertaining at its best. The table set with 'goodies' is the focal point and a natural place for guests to sit and relax together. The best parties always have a central focus which is the main area for people to talk, eat and mingle. I haven't done anything on entertaining lately, I'll have to do that soon. But for the basics, go to the website and click on Entertaining.

Until next time!