Model Home Syndrome

The beautiful uncluttered master bedroom in the high rise where we stayed part of the first season



After returning home our first snowbird season, I realized something was off, it didn't feel the same. Months went by...

After having spent a fair amount of time away, being home just felt different. I couldn't identify what I was feeling. It turns out, I was subconsciously comparing our primary home with our snowbird condo. What was it about the two places? Aside from the obvious fantastic ocean views vs. vistas of our typical suburban yard, what was going on back at our Midwestern home?

I finally processed what my mind had already energized. Our primary home doesn't feel uncluttered like our snowbird rental. Our Northern home was furnished over a very long time. Years of "yours, mine and ours." It isn't that nothing matches, nor should everything match. But once aware of it, I couldn't shake it. It had never really bothered me that much before.

I readily admit I am frugal by choice and do not easily part with anything. Now I noticed, years of accumulating things had resulted in a varied assortment and too much of just about everything. As an example, at home we have casserole dishes that are various colors, shapes and sizes. Not only are they non-harmonious, there are simply too many. The closets and storage room at home are stuffed with items that long ago should have been discarded or donated. And the garage is no doubt the very worst case of overload.

Functional, beautiful and uncluttered snowbird bathroom/linen closet

Our snowbird home is refreshing because it is devoid of clutter that lingers around for years. As an example, our snowbird closet is entirely empty except for the clothes we bring with us and a few extra blankets/pillows. There's no need for items that aren't necessary and because of that, space is plentiful in the dressers and closets. It is a wonderful feeling to have leftover space. The linen closet contains only matching white towels, wash cloths, hand towels and nothing more. Our kitchen is stocked with 12 sets of matching white plates, salad plates, coffee cups and flatware. Of course, all of the drink ware is organized in 12 sets. I found that three casserole dishes is more than adequate.

Our snowbird home was remodeled and furnished all at once not long before we first stayed there. Everything coordinates and was designed around one central color theme. It is much like a model home is set up: only hard-working, coordinating, functional pieces in good shape would make the cut. Because no one permanently lives in our snowbird rental, there's no extra “stuff” filling up spaces.

I created my own name for what I was experiencing, “Model Home Syndrome. Now that I recognize it, I'm working on finding balance. I've spent much time working on donating items at home that no longer are truly needed. I bought more plastic tubs in many sizes to group, seal and store items I just can't part with. I've organized sentimental items in albums, such as old photos and greeting cards. Cosmetic changes such as new tile kitchen flooring and a contrasting cabinet color emulate our Southern home, but in our own unique Northern style. And I've channeled our snowbird home by making my favorite photos into canvas wall art. There's much more to be done, but I'm moving towards the goal of streamlining and coordinating our Northern home. I'm also realistic that a model snowbird home is only that, a model. It isn't reality and never will be.

"Fantasy and reality often overlap."

--Walt Disney

1 thought on “Model Home Syndrome”

  • You are so right about a cluttered primary home! We have a lakehouse a 4 hour drive away from home. I will be retiring in 4 months & everyone asks if we are moving to the lake. To incorporate our everyday possessions such as computers, mail, winter clothes, etc. would transform our getaway into the gotta get this done mode of daily life. Maybe in the long-term we will eventually move … after we do a whole lot of purging!

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