Freshome is always intrigued with small places and learning how to love them is always a challenge. When we find designers or architects who specialize in working with homeowner’s to design their homes, we love to hear what there is to love about our small homes! Architect, Richard Taylor, A.I.A. shares with us the great advantages of not living in an oversized, impersonal space.
Boy how things have changed. One moment you had a house full of kids – yours and all their friends – and the next they’re off to make their own way in the world, leaving you alone in the nest.
A house once full of life and family now seems empty, and well, huge. In fact as you think back, the house has always been huge. Why did you think you needed so much space back then? You vaguely remember the real estate agent (or was it the builder?) raving about the virtues of a huge new home, how you’d have all these rooms to decorate, how you’d have plenty of space for entertaining, how valuable it would be someday.
But with three kids you never got around to buying all new furniture, and when you did entertain, it was either in the kitchen (no one ever seemed to be comfortable in the dining room) or in the TV room. There’s a lot of space in this house you just didn’t need, and oddly, not enough space in the places you needed it.
You hate the word “downsize” (it sounds like you’re lowering your quality of life), but you can’t fathom one more day of heating, cooling, cleaning, and rearranging furniture in all these empty, useless, echoing rooms.
Could you be happy in a smaller home – maybe even a much smaller home?
Imagine a home with everything you’ve always wanted, and none of the things you don’t. Let go of the “resale” mentality; picture a home without a formal dining room; without a two-story “great room”; without an Olympic-size whirlpool tub (that you never use) in the “Master Retreat”.
Get rid of all the real estate and builder clichés of “luxury”. Your home should be your most personalized of possessions – it shouldn’t have anything that exists only to satisfy some imagined future owner.
That custom, personal home is the home you’re going to love more than any other, because the money you spend to design and build it will go towards quality and detail rather than area and volume.
That home is going to be smaller than the home you’re living in now; the useless rooms and hallways are gone and the spaces you keep are just the right size for how you live. You’re going to love making each room do more than one thing (the guest bedroom doubles as a great home office) and how to carefully plan each space around your furnishings.
You’ve always had an inkling of what “scale” means (your old house must have been designed for a race of giants), but in your smaller home you’ll find out how proper human scale makes a room cozy and comfortable – for you and three friends, or just you. No more “family room in an airplane hangar” feeling.
The kitchen, eating area, and living area will have great “flow”; you’ll find yourself using these spaces as if they were one, chatting with friends in the kitchen and not feeling disconnected from the rest of the house. For once, this part of the house will actually make sense to you.
And all of these spaces are going to be properly detailed with all of the finishes and fixtures that bring them alive. No more twenty-foot tall slabs of dreary drywall that you have no idea how to decorate (your big framed family portrait looked like a postage stamp on that wall!).
Instead, you’ll have a cozy built-in window seat in a sunny corner – a place to read and relax, sip tea. You’ll have bookshelves that help define space but don’t close off the rooms. You’ll actually be able to warm yourself by the fire, because the fireplace will be designed to be used, not just as a feature to fill up an otherwise empty wall.
You’ll love that your home is filled with light, with warmth, with color, and with comfort.
Inside and out, your smaller, cozier, more comfortable home will connect – to the past, when neighbors chatted on sidewalks, when the front porch was the living room; and to the future, when grandkids look fondly back on weekends at “Grandma and Grandpa’s house” and appreciate its feeling of “home” just as you do.
And you’ll love the look of your smaller home, properly proportioned and scaled (this is SO much easier to accomplish with a smaller home!) and definitely unlike your old huge house, which was designed only to impress your neighbors (you’re so over that, right?).
Feeling better? Great – you’re going to love a smaller home!
Richard Taylor, A.I.A. owns Richard Taylor Architects in Dublin, Ohio where he helps homeowners get great design in their new home and remodeling projects. He also acts as his clients’ “eyes and ears” during the construction process, directing them around obstacles and pitfalls. Rich lives in Dublin, Ohio, and loves blogging about residential design, and plays a little golf now and then.