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February 07, 2009

Temporary? Put a Date On It . . .


When we moved in to Gypsy Rose in November of 2007 she looked very much like a finished home on the outside, but the interior was still a collection of roughed in electrical and plumbing fixtures. We didn’t have any kitchen cabinets (or any other cabinets, for that matter). We didn’t have a place to sit and eat or work (on this laptop computer). We didn’t even have the toilet installed when we moved in full-time.

Living Room

We have designs for all of the interior finish work, but the construction itself will take place slowly over time. In the interim, I’ve installed a number of partially finished or temporary pieces. Each time that I add something with plans to replace it later with a permanent version, Marion comments, “Temporary? Put a date on it. We’ll see.”

I always shrug it off with a laugh and admit, “She’s probably right. It may be a while before this gets finished.”

Little Cod

Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that there is much to be gained by living with the temporary. This may be a bit of rationalization with regard to my slow progress on the finish work, but I can’t help but think of something that I learned years ago in landscape design.

Have you ever walked along constructed pathways in, say, parks or on college campuses? Did you notice that quite often you’ll find well-worn alternate pathways that were not part of the original hard-surfaced layout? (Another example can be found in dirt paths cutting across lawns near the intersection of sidewalks.)

Landscape architects refer to these ad hoc pathways as “desire lines.” They represent the way that people interact with a space – the course that they prefer to follow, rather than the one that looked nice and symmetrical on the site plan. Sometimes the permanent walkways are not installed until there has been enough use to establish desire lines. Once they become evident, the permanent walkways are installed in their place.


Over the past year of living in Gypsy Rose, Marion and I have made a number of refinements, or, in some cases, complete rethinking of the interior design. Some things that looked good on paper, or were originally seen as “gotta have” items have ended up being completely rethought.

A year and a half ago I’d wished that I could have completely finished our home before moving in, fearing that I’d never complete things while living in the space. I now realize that the circumstances that led us to move in before completion did not result in any discomfort. Instead, we benefited by learning about the way we live in a small space. In retrospect, considering the knowledge we’ve gained while living with the “temporary,” I wouldn’t have it any other way.


For now, we’ve got a plywood kitchen counter that we plan to replace with paperstone once I build the cabinets. We eat on a very rudimentary MDF tabletop that will ultimately be replaced with a diner style booth (already in the works). Our couch is lacking its cherry trim, bolsters, and futon cushion – for now blankets soften the seat. A curtain hangs in place of the bathroom wall/pocket door. I have yet to trim the windows or build the main door. We’ll get it all done eventually, but for now, as you can see in this collection of photos, we have a very livable, albeit unfinished and “temporary” interior to our home.