It has occurred to me, as we are beginning to look for another house to call "home", that there is probably an unconscious "blank slate" fallacy at work in the modern understanding of housing.
Let me 'splain... I think that the modern, materialist mindset holds that things are meaningless in themselves, and that we only bring meaning to them, or project meaning onto them, or lay meaning over them in a kind of grid.
People, for instance, are viewed as blank slates from birth, and the belief is that everything is learned... morality, gender roles... everything. Life in the world means nothing, except what we decide it means.
So, for further instance, sex is neutral and meaningless, and whatever meaning there is in the sex act is extrinsic to it, is something we bring into it from outside. From this perspective, the only possible answer to the question "what does sex mean?" is "Whatever it means to you".
And I believe this perspective - this materialist, blank slate mindset, has spilled over into the realm of the built environment. That is, a house, a building, has no meaning except what we bring to it. So, houses more and more come to resemble each other, and on the interior come to be only an assembly of white boxes... variations on the white box theme. They are mass produced and laid out with all the poetry and soul of an egg crate.
The assumption is, of course, that people will move into the space and "make it their own" by populating it with objects, by painting it and living in it, and this is true to an extent, but the mistake is in thinking that this is only a one-way interaction. The house is presumed to be mute, but no created thing is mute. We speak through everything we do and make. What do our modern buildings and suburban houses say about us?
If I wake up in, work in, and return home every day to a dull, prosaic, box, will I not over time begin to feel the world is dull and prosaic? Will I not tend to think in predictable boxes and right angles? If I become more and more acclimated to an indoor, artificially lit, air-conditioned life, will I begin to see nature only as something alien, inconvenient and uncomfortable... and maybe dangerous?
We are increasingly cut off from the poetry of nature by our manufactured environment. If we don't bring some of that poetry into our homes, we will find ourselves spiritually starved even as we are physically overfed. In the words of Douglas Adams, "There is another theory which states that this has already happened.".
There are houses, and there are homes. The job of "homemaker" has been denigrated and dismissed, and we have all suffered as a result. Bringing humanity and harmony and art to the home is, in our time, an extremely important and yet neglected work.