how much room to you really need to be happy!?

I was prompted by an article in Treehugger recently about the size of American homes, do you know that they have increased in size by about 140% since the 1950's. Even from the late 1970's homes grew from just over 1,600 square feet to an excess of 2,500 square feet. Trading up for a larger home has become the norm, even if it's not really necessary. Size has become a representation of ones success, but all of that is changing! (hooray!) According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) a new trend is developing, almost 60% of home buyers today are looking to downsize their home, rather than upgrade to more square footage. Apparently the housing crisis has taught us a very painful lesson. Bigger is not always better!

I have to say that I noticed this very fact when I was young, I lived in San Francisco and worked for Esprit. Once in a while we were invited to the home of Susie and Doug Tompkins, the owners and founders of Esprit at the time. They had a small home in the middle of San Francisco's Russian Hill area. It was small in square footage but every bit of the home was perfectly executed, down to the moldings. I will never forget it and I have always aspired to this kind of living rather than a large home that is shoddily built, with poor fixtures, and usually not much care is put into the insulation and efficiency of the home. If your home is smaller you are able to spend more on the details, efficiency and maybe even add some solar panels if you can squeeze it into your budget!

Examples of small homes are creeping up everywhere and Dwell magazine just devoted an entire issue to the Small Home movement. There are also quite a few books out there on remodeling a small home or even building a small home. Personally, I also feel that it's good for the family unit. If you are tripping over your family you all know what each other is doing... if you have a large home, you can't even find your kids let alone oversee their playtime and projects (I won't even get into the computer thing.. that's another story!).

So take a look at the size of your home and ask yourself... how much square footage do I really need!? Maybe it's time to downsize your family home? It's good to keep asking yourself these kinds of questions.


stayseemakedo said...

Ever seen the book "The Not So Big House" by Sarah Susanka?

Becky said...

So... my husband and I are both architects and we live in a tiny house. With only 1180 sq. ft. holding five people and a dog we have to really limit our stuff consumption. I think this is an added benefit to living small. Before I bring any item into the home something else probably has to go. Also, this assures that we must really love or need an item to bring it into the house. I actually think we might be living just a bit too small. We are considering adding a carriage house style garage. It is a big move for us!
Living this tiny only works because of the quality over quantity mindset we have. Well, I'm off to clean the tiny house!

mespetites said...

I have always thought a small home, perfectly decorated with fine fixtures is far better. I'm shocked when I enter some of the 4000-6000 sq ft homes where the only thing striking is the cavernous space and then...nothing else! There is no craftsmanship to some of these homes. Speaking of tiny homes - how sweet are these? http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com

lynne said...

i so believe in the smaller home. for years, i've walked into these newly built, cavernous homes with endless beige carpeting and wondered why? the homes are unappealing, but they are (were?) taking over the landscape here in the suburbs of seattle.