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The Too Big, Too Hard, Too Sad House

By Sherry Bronson March 11, 2024 Lifestyle

I bought a new throw pillow with the words, “It’s so good to be home.” Because it is. So good. To Be Home.

I bought other decorative pillows, too, but more about that later.

Aging brings many surprises. Sometimes, it’s a slow advance. It creeps up; a twinge, almost imperceptible the first time. Then a creak. We start slowing down to accommodate new aches, encroaching weariness, and shorter energy bursts.

Children leave to go to college, travel, marry. Suddenly, there’s a lot of extra space in a home that was once filled with the sounds of family. Now, it’s quiet. Empty.

The Stairs Seem Steeper

But you stay busy, tending to the house, maybe a spouse, distracting yourself until one day – you’re alone. The one who shared this space with you has passed on. The place you called home for all those years now feels too big, too hard, too sad.

The scenario is different for everyone, but often there comes a time when we need to let go of what has passed and move on. I’ve done it so many times that after the 43rd move, I stopped counting. But one thing never changed. Each place was home. I made certain of it. Whether it was my three daughters and a husband, or just me, I created a sanctuary of safety and peace.

Final Move? Perhaps – And I’m Making the Most of It

At 74, I’m doing it again. I tell myself this is it, this is the last time. And this time it’s for the older, solitary me. This time, it’s a creation of everything that gives me the most joy…

Light in abundance through many windows.

A color scheme of whites, creams, and grays with black and pops of color.

The Muramasa Kudo poster, Rain

A loft bedroom-slash-sitting room with a fireplace.

The dining, kitchen, and living room open and flowing together.

An oversized, cushy, L-shaped couch for long, comfy, conversations.

I could go on and on. But the point is, I’ve created a space that I love to be in. It’s tiny, only 800 square feet, but it has everything I need and want. It’s a low-maintenance, happy place.

Accessorizing Is My Playtime

I’m in the process, now, of adding the final touches which means accessorizing. I enjoy the entire design process from drawing building plans to choosing paint colors. 

But when the major decisions have been made, and the big pieces have come together, accessorizing is total Sherry’s playtime

My loft will soon have a dark gray, industrial-grade carpet and a black, metal daybed. When I found the It’s-so-good-to-be-home pillow, I was shopping at a Salvation Army Store, specifically looking for fun home accents. An employee pulled up with a cart full of merchandise and I spotted two rectangular pillows in creams and grays.

“Are these for sale?” I asked, trying to restrain myself from grabbing them.

“Sure are,” he said.

“Well, let me take them off your hands!” I crowed delightedly and transferred them to my own cart. There was something special about those pillows. It wasn’t just their color, they had line, and texture, and exquisite craftsmanship. 

When I got them home and took a closer look, I found a green label stitched to the corner of each one with the words: Celerie Kemble. I Googled Celerie Kemble Pillows and discovered that they’re sold by Eastern Accents. Then I gasped. The price tags… $322. $276. $449. WHAT???!!! These weren’t just ANY pillows. These were brand new, high-end designer pillows that I had picked up for 8 dollars and 99 cents each. 

My Pillows Needed a Bedspread

In the ecstasy of this discovery, I texted my sister. “I need to look at your stash of fabrics for a bedcover. Are you busy NOW?!”

Everyone knows that Gwen sews. Over the years, she’s been the beneficiary of yards upon yards of fabrics that are no longer wanted or needed by their original owners. She’s made it clear that I can ‘shop’ her bins anytime I want and use anything I find. All free. 

I hurried over, she lives next door, told her the pillow story, and we dove in. Thirty minutes later, I carried home four possibilities. One had organic taupe lines between black chenille tufts. Another was almost satin-smooth, a greige color. Then there were two that I adored equally, but they were at complete opposite ends of the fabric spectrum.

One was heavy with a large woven herringbone design. The other was semi-transparent embroidered gauze. Both were the identical, delicious cream color that would be the perfect backdrop for my new pillows. But there wasn’t enough of the herringbone to make a bedspread. There was plenty of the gauze but it would be a terrible choice for a daybed that would double as a couch. 

I Stewed, Mulled, Paced… How Could I Incorporate Both Fabrics? 

It came to me in a flash. The heavy cloth would cover the top of the bed. The gauzy cream could be gathered and attached to make a skirt. Magnificent! The two patterns weren’t a typical complement, but the feminine, gathered skirt on the severe geometry of the herringbone would be KNOCKOUT! The outrageously expensive accent pillows would ice the cake. 

Here’s What I’m Saying, My Dear, Elderly, Friends

There may come a time when it’s necessary to leave a home you have loved. Whatever the next step is, a smaller, single-family house, an apartment, or a room, get creative. Make it yours in such a way that whenever you walk through the door you’ll smile in gratitude because: “It’s So Good to Be Home.”


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you facing a transition to a different living situation? What would be on your list of things that bring you joy? Which part of the transition process is the most fun for you? What item(s) in your living space make it “so good to be home”?

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Denise K

I am struggling with making a move to downsize although I KNOW it is time!
Any suggestions out there?


In your mind, ask yourself, What would I grab if my house were burning down? Not a comfortable feeling, but it will show you what means the most.


Hi! Enjoyed reading your piece about moving and making every place a place of warmth and love. After 37 years of living in my home, I had to downsize and it was freeing but at the same time, bittersweet:(. But I had to remind myself that I took ALL THE HAPPY MEMORIES with me and left four walls, mould and loads of work and updating needed in that house!!! I moved into a small one bedroom 600 square foot apartment and for the first time lived by myself! What new found freedoms and QUIETNESS that was unexpected; however, I am about to move again back to my old neighbourhood into a two bedroom basement suite with my 25 year old son. It will be an adjustment but I am looking forward to it with some nervousness and excitement:). Thank you again for your writing.

Sherry Bronson

Another adventure, Sara. You’ve had a few! This could be the best yet. But transitions require energy, and it’s important to pay attention to what we need to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically ok during times of big change. I wish you the very best.

Joyce Ramsay

I run a 22 room guest house and at 77 am planning to build my LAST house. I am soooo looking forward to the quiet and being alone. My house has been shared by hundreds of people over the past 14 years so the prospect of being free to move around at any time, wearing anything I want seems delicious beyond measure.

The Author

Sherry Bronson is a writer and traveler. After downsizing, she spent ten thrilling years in Bali, then a year exploring Mexico. Now, she's in northern Minnesota rehabbing a derelict hunting cabin on the family farm. On her blog, Sherry encourages readers to fearlessly and fully live their own authentic lives.

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