While sorting through some old files, I came across some notes I’d written long ago about my interest in converting commercial buildings to residential use. One such note extolled the aesthetic virtues of old church chapels. Another waxed poetic about repurposed libraries, fire stations, gas stations, and convenience stores.
I suspect my affinity for repurposing commercial buildings stems, in part, from my loathing of the cracker-box mansions that are so common in and around Dallas, where we used to live. Almost any building radically different from those temples of conspicuous consumption has enormous appeal to me; commercial buildings fit the bill.
News accounts of perfectly adequate older homes being razed and replaced by architecturally bankrupt behemoths are common, not only in Dallas but nationwide. These new mini-mansions are testament to the ugliness of greed. I look at these hideous beasts that have all the character of gaudily dressed rotting corpses and wonder how their occupants can be so blind to the raw celebration of unnecessary bling that their homes represent.
But then I consider that my homes, though modest in my view, may be considered elaborate and overly lavish in the views of someone else. And I conclude my homes, indeed, have been overly lavish. The line between adequate and extreme blurs when one looks at it without glasses of the rose-tinted variety.
So, there I’ve done it; I’ve skimmed through some old notes and succeeded in making me question my own sense of what is enough and what is too much. I think I may be among those who measure how much comfort is enough and how much is too much against our own personal yardsticks. But what other yardsticks do we have?