Dream House Versus Dream Home? {Guest post by Jeff Gonyea}

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Hi friends! It is fun to welcome my friend Jeff Gonyea to share his family’s story with you today. Jeff and I met when I was a barista at Starbucks several years ago. He came in every morning and started his day with an extra hot mocha. We would chat over the bar while he tapped away on a laptop in the corner. In recent years he and his wife have been taking steps to minimize their home and lifestyle. So without further ado… please welcome Jeff to Smallish. 🙂

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My wife and I sold our dream house. When we bought it five years earlier, it was absolutely our dream house. For me, it was nearly five times as large as the apartment I grew up in as a family of 5. This house had large bedrooms. It had a huge living/dining/kitchen connection. It had a huge empty basement for a ‘separate’ room (for me to work or for the eventual kids to play.)
So, if it was your dream house, why did you sell it?” you may ask.

When we posted this house for sale, it was because we had learned something. It took years and many conversations most families are unwilling to have.  It even took running from a wildfire (the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012) to learn — but we learned that this isn’t our dream.

Our dream isn’t the house.

Our dream is the family we want inside that house. Our dream is the HOME — not the house. Our “dream home” is different than our dream house. As we got closer to posting our house for sale, we watched friends follow the “American Dream” of upgrading (i.e. buying a bigger house) because their family was growing or getting older and they each ‘needed their space.’

While we listened to other families moving in this direction, we chose to move the other way. Our new house has exactly HALF the square footage of the house we sold. We have since had a daughter. She is our precious angel, and we realized we don’t want to move our daughter ‘away from everything.’ We want to cherish every moment we have with her because the years, months, weeks and days we know will pass all too quickly.

We can’t cherish every moment if most of those moments are in separate square footage. We’ve been in the new, smaller house for a year now and we have loved every moment it has allowed us to have with our daughter, our family.




Our family’s dream is not the house, our dream is the HOME. The close, peaceful atmosphere inside the actual walls. The relationships dwelling inside the physical house. Those things are more important to us than square footage. Those are the things that make up the dream home.

This post isn’t a manifesto to say that we know better than others. This isn’t to say that everyone should downsize or go minimal or make any changes at all.

The purpose of this post is just to ask you one question:
Have you decided what your dream really is? What does your dream home look like?

Have you decided what your dream really is?


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After serving eleven years as an active duty Air Force finance officer and civil servant, Jeff stepped away from two successful and lucrative careers eight years ago to pursue his life’s mission of helping people achieve their dreams through Impact (www.jeffgonyea.com).

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  • Kariane
    August 21, 2015

    This is wonderfully put. We also want a dream home, not a dream house. As such, we’re simplifying to make living in our small house work for our family, as well as for so many other reasons). I’m writing about our simplifying efforts every week here: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/simplify-saturday/ . So far, each step makes life feel a little bit lighter.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Casey G.
    August 21, 2015

    So much fun to see two people that I love collaborate in this post! HI Jeff!! I love your story, and have always loved your passion! 🙂

    • Evelyn
      August 21, 2015

      😀 *group hug*

    • minimalistbaker.com
      October 7, 2016

      Spero ci sara’ una forte adesione, ma per la prima data con annuncio online con una settimana di preavviso non sara’ facile reperire la disponibilita’ di molti.Lo dico da residente oltreoceano, quindi impossibilitata a beccare qualunque data per esserci di persona: non restate mortificati se non siete tantissimi alla prima data, non c’e’ stato tempo realistico perche’ i piu’ si potessero organizzare per partecipare.E fateci sapere che cosa emerge dalle vostre conversazioni!

  • Cheryl Smith
    August 21, 2015

    Wow, I LOVE this mindset! Such a blessing to read this tonight. And, Evelyn, you look great! I love the new picture. You look like you lost weight….something I need desperately to do. It is so hard for me to get motivated! Thanks for sharing, and God bless you and Jeff and his family, too!

    • Evelyn
      August 24, 2015

      Thanks, Cheryl. I’m glad you liked Jeff’s post.

      Also, thanks for your sweet compliment. 🙂

  • Naomi Alexander
    August 22, 2015

    A lovely story.
    And (same as last commenter) I also like Evelyn’s new pic. Makes her look cheeky. (Do Americans use the word ‘cheeky’ or just us Brits? Means like a naughty little imp !) :o)

    • Evelyn
      August 24, 2015

      Hi Naomi,
      No we don’t use “cheeky” over here, but I am familiar with it from my years living near Leeds. 😉 And What?! It makes me look cheeky! Haha… that amuses me. 😉

  • Katie B.
    September 12, 2015

    This makes such a powerful point. When we bought our home it, too, was our “Dream House” for the exact reason Jeff alludes to: it was larger than the home either of us had grown up in, it was within our budget, and it had spaces for all the things we saw ourselves doing. But over the past 10 years it’s become an obligation: it’s too large to clean in one day; it’s now crammed with stuff we don’t particularly need but purchased because we had the room for it; and the cost of maintaining the thing is draining. I’m looking to downsize our living space now, but not our dreams. We can still have as much joy — maybe even more — in a smaller space once we’re not encumbered by the weight of all that room.

    • Evelyn
      September 13, 2015

      Thanks so much for commenting, Katie, and well said! It’s fun to see that many, many people out there are experiencing a revolution of what their dreams really are and if huge homes factor into that picture. Best of luck in your downsize!

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