Modern houses tend to be bigger than houses built in the early 1950s even though families these days are usually smaller. Some houses are twice the size of the average house built in the 1950s. The lifestyle is different and what is considered essential has changed.
My parents built a house in the early 1950s when some building materials were still in short supply after World War Two. It was a two bedroom house built of besser brick. My sister and I shared a bedroom. It was common for children to share a bedroom back then.
The furniture in our bedroom was basic, a bed each, a shared wardrobe and a toy box. These days a child’s bedroom usually needs to be big enough to also accommodate a television and a desk with a computer.
Some houses include a separate play room and children have many more toys (often expensive ones) than in my childhood. There is likely to be less contact between family members because everyone is sitting in front of their own television or computer. In the 1950s and 1960s children were often out playing somewhere in the neighbourhood during the day when they weren’t at school. However they would have spent more time together in the evenings.
Sometimes bedrooms in modern homes are small but to compensate there is a second living area or family room in addition to the living room. Some houses have a study or home office. En suite bathrooms are not unusual. All that space may seem nice but it does mean more cleaning. Even in these enlightened times it is often the mother or ‘woman of the household’ who does most of the cleaning.
It is likely the woman is also in the workforce, either part or full time. Her income is needed to help cover extra expenses incurred these days including the bigger house and higher costs to furnish, insure and maintain it. Computers, dishwashers, entertainment systems, air conditioners and such are considered essential and as well as the initial cost to buy, they add to the electricity bill. Furniture and appliances are replaced and updated more frequently in the current throw- away society.
With the pressure to earn money, it is no wonder some women find it difficult to make time to recharge their batteries.
Backyards of new houses may be quite small. Gone are the days of expecting a quarter acre block. Children spend less time playing in the backyard and with both parents (in a two parent household) holding down a job there is little time for gardening.
There may even be no backyard, just a balcony. I enjoy my backyard which is of medium size. If I had no garden and no birds to watch I would feel something was missing from my life.
It seems a bit ironical that two incomes are often seen as necessary to buy a large house and furnish it but little time is available to actually chill out and enjoy it.
In general people don’t have company over for afternoon tea or meals as often as they did a few decades ago. When I read my mother’s diaries written back in the fifties I am surprised at how often she had visitors. I am sure Mum appreciated the company as she and Dad had no car for several years and they lived a couple of miles out of town. Apparently an evening singing session was quite often enjoyed before we bought our first television in 1963. Shhh The Beverley Hillbillies is about to start…
Changes in housing reflect changes in society. Our modern lifestyle is certainly different from that of a few decades ago.