About ten years ago I decided I needed a new ‘everyday’ purse (because the one I had was literally falling apart). A friend who loves to shop (I do not) offered to help me find the perfect purse. My requirements were:

  • small enough to not be bulky
  • convertible to carry on my shoulder or across my body (for when I needed to run to catch the bus)
  • professional looking
  • cute enough to use on a date

She seemed to be processing all those requirements well until I threw in the clencher: “and big enough to hold 8.5×11 in. paper flat. Like a briefcase.” I was kidding, of course… sorta.

Recently, I was on a mission to replace my car. The minivan I was basically forced into purchasing before our twins were born had run out its usefulness and the excessive gas consumption (though better than a ginormous SUV which had been our only other option five years ago) was no longer warranted.

Distracted by the “ooo, shiny…” cars, I decided to identify the traits I need/want in a motorized vehicle — then I realized they were the same traits as I needed/wanted in that purse ten plus years ago:

  • As small as I can get to fit the essentials – including my 6’3″ tall husband and two growing kids
  • big enough to fit a little gear for going on a big day adventure or a quick overnight jaunt with our two dogs (though they can squish)
  • sleek enough to feel sexy on a night on the town
  • ‘chill’ enough to take to a trailhead without concern about a little rock chip here and there
  • front wheel drive with good pickup on these Seattle hills
  • as über gas conservative — ideally a hybrid or bio-diesel if we can afford it.

I had dreams of a car with an expandable chastity that would be big when I needed the space and itsy when I didn’t… I was kidding of course, sorta.

The similarity between these diverse purchases was in finding the sweet spot in what I ultimately purchased. By asking questions about my ‘needs’ in comparison to my ‘wants’ I found choosing appropriate comprises easier.

The same process happens in a sustainable home renovation. Sure, having all the coolest-kid-on-the-block green building features in a home is ideal, but isn’t realistic for the ninety-nine percent. So we identify what we need; what we want; what makes us feel marvelous or simply comfortable. Then we look at budgets and consider what is necessary, practical, and what is going to fulfill your original mission and still feel comfortable, if not  marvelous!