/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » all form & no function

Getting a little philosophical here today, and it started with the bathroom cabinets in our apartment.

There’s no secret around here that I’m a country girl who’s stuck in the city right now.  I honestly thought the apartment wouldn’t be hard to adapt to (naivete gets me every time), and that it would be at least 6 months before I started going stir crazy.

Yeah.  It’s was three months before I started trying to figure out if I could break the lease and how much of a penalty we’d get for doing so.

Ahem.

All in all though, I think I’ve done relatively well adapting to a new home, a new culture, a new climate, living in a city, and having to make new friends.  So really, I’m giving myself a pass on the apartment-stir-crazy-thing, because we were homeowners for almost 15 years before this and it really IS a big adjustment going from a house in the country to an apartment in the city where the complex manager and her lab puppy live above you.  Just saying.

But what got to me the other day was the lack of storage space and the bare-bones aspect of apartment life.  We pared down tons to move from Kentucky to Michigan and again when we moved from Michigan to Arizona.  I don’t keep extraneous stuff – my personal motto is when in doubt, throw it out! It drives both of my beloved packrats a little crazy.  But the bathroom was the perfect way to frame this discussion:  there are no linen closets in either bathroom and the front of the cabinets look like there are drawers to put things (hairbrushes, hair clips, etc.) in, but they are false fronts. Seriously.  There isn’t a single drawer in either bathroom.  There are 2 cabinet doors under each sink, but that’s it.  It makes me crazy.

And that’s when I realized:  apartments are built for having a place to lay your head at night and on the weekends.  They’re designed for those who work outside the house all day and don’t try to create a home inside during the day.  The lack of cabinet drawers reminded me that although the apartment shows well, it doesn’t live well, because it lacks the necessary places for people to put things like towels, linens, and hairbrushes.

This realization got me thinking a bit more:  how often in my life do I accept form over function?  When we look at homes in the next town over, do I consider livable space and storage space as much as I consider the tile on the floor or paint on the walls?  Tile and paint will not help me make a functional home for my family, but they do add ambiance.  Usable space is key and storage is a necessary fact of life.  It’s not like I’m the Imelda Marcos of towels, just two per person.  If I want to do laundry less often, I need a place to store those towels.

What about other areas of my life?  Have I bought in to marketing and packaging?  Do I listen to those who write slick copy and say the right things in the right soundbites and skip over the function of whatever it is they’re trying to sell me?  Is a pretty package or funky cool container swaying me, versus the not-so-pretty but very-functional bag of [insert item here]?

All of this waxing philosophic comes at a time when political distrust and discontent is at an all-time high and I had to seriously consider these things before casting my absentee ballot.  As one who loves the idea of doing things the old-fashioned way, the ability to do things “the old fashioned way” might be perilously close to over if our basic freedoms aren’t preserved.  I don’t place a lot of hope in politicians – I think the system is severely twisted and even the straightest of backbones get bent in the climate that is current politics.  But my pondering came full-circle when I asked myself why I was voting for my chosen candidates and needed to make sure that I wasn’t being swayed by form rather than function.

I don’t really know where this question ends or if it just hangs out in my head forevermore.  Right now, it’s a good “check” when I’m tempted to buy something or look at a house that might not be the best for us but shows really well.  I suspect I’m going to live with the tension of asking myself about form vs. function for years to come – I hope I’m content with my answers.

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  • Heather Fischbach

    I so felt like a Walmart girl in a Dillard’s world when we first moved here… this is the first time I have ever lived in the Burbs. I loved your insight and yes you (we) will continue to come back to the reminder to hold people dear and that home is a place to dwell.

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com sue

    I love that, Heather! a Walmart girl in a Dillard’s world… :)

    Truth be told, I’m a Little House on the Prairie girl stuck in the city right now… 😉