Beds and the houses we put them in …
My son and daughter-in-law came to our house Saturday to pick up a bed we were giving them. They had been using a “full” size bed, no head board or foot board or frame, just placed on the floor. We’ve all been there. As a matter of fact, while we’re waiting on a new bed to arrive this week, it’s flashback to inflatable mattresses days.
Anyway, the bed the kids were inheriting from us was a “California King.” The mammoth mattress is prodigiously heavy and mostly necessitated as a result our several dogs insisting upon occupying the choicest spots.
I fondly remember my “twin” bed from my childhood. It was perfectly adequate for a growing boy. It was adorned with a striped red and blue bedspread with alternating stripes of bold white stars; very patriotic. The headboard was wooden, painted in bright blue, with big red wooden balls on all the corner posts. I had a matching dresser, and curtains. I was about 7 years old in 1976 and it was the Bicentennial of our nation. I was definitely in the “Spirit of ‘76.”
Another bed that comes to mind is the one I inherited from my mother. It was a “full” sized mattress and the wooden head board and foot board were of an era-defining blonde stain.
We later upgraded to a queen (inherited); then moved up a couple of rungs to that aforementioned California King (purchased used, but nice).
As recently-weds, the inherited monstrosity my son and daughter-in-law now own will give them more room; maybe too much room. I am of the opinion that if I can’t touch my spouse by extending an arm at any given point in the evening, there’s too much real estate in the bed.
It’s interesting, and a bit revealing of our American culture, how beds, and the houses we put them in, tend to increase in proportions as we enter different stages of life. I’ve lived in everything from an 8-foot wide camp trailer to our palatial (in comparison) home on Cleveland Street, coming in at 1,485 square feet.
Speaking of too much real estate, I did some brief research about average home sizes in different decades. Fielding Homes, a home-building company, recently published the following facts:
1950s: The average new home had 983 square feet of floor space and a household size of 3.37 people, or 292 square feet per person.
1960s: The average new-home size grew to 1,200 square feet, giving its 3.33 residents a spacious 360 square feet of room apiece.
1970s: Homes continued to get bigger — an average of 1,500 square feet. With the household size shrinking to 3.14, each person luxuriated in 478 square feet of personal space.
1980s: The average amount of space per household resident more than doubled in a generation, to 630 square feet (a total of 1,740 square feet for a household of 2.76 people).
1990s: The average new home had 2,080 square feet of floor space and a household size of 2.63 people, or 791 square feet per person.
2000s: The amount of square feet per person continued its inexorable climb, now at 865 (2,266 total square feet for a household of 2.62 people).
2010s: The average new home offered 924 square feet per person (2.59 people per household, 2,392 total square feet).
While our home of the last 13 years was built in the early 1930s, our expanded version comes in at a modest, average 1970s size. It may, still, be a bit too large for our “empty nest” situation. However, that allows me to begin filling it with all sorts of cool things, a veritable cabinet of curiosities!
Although, as alluded to earlier, our beloved dogs and cats negated whatever gain we enjoyed in “square feet per living being” in the household when the kids left.
More important than passing on beds or the houses we put them in, is the inheritance of wisdom and knowledge and humanity we leave the next generation.
I suppose, if we think about it, we start out life in pretty cramped quarters, landing on a utilitarian hospital bed. We then “make our beds and lie in them” throughout our lives. Finally, we are laid to rest in a bed just big enough for our eternal sleep.
It’s really all the real estate we need.