The smallest space I’ve ever occupied was 5′ by 10′ (a converted linen closet); I put a mattress on top of my hope coffin (sounds morbid, but we just called it that due to its size, perfect for smuggling a body or two), and built upwards for books and music.
The largest space I’ve occupied with my family in the past 14 years has been an 11-room house, and though the space was pretty nice, it was a pill to keep clean. Given a six-day “work week”, there was no way to get through it all in less than half an hour a day! I’m all for tidy, but I do have a life, and would prefer to do a great many things besides just keep up with the house. Reading, for instance. Or plucking my eyebrows. Or flossing.
My faithful minions–erm, darling children–agree. They, too, would like to do other things. Not flossing, though.
The smallest space we’ve occupied was a hotel suite, 400 square feet for living, working, and playing with six people, for six weeks. It was a revelation of order and tidiness, and really, truly, was not a bad experience for us.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I like a fairly small, well-organized home. We currently stack six people into just shy of 800 square feet (and most of that is kitchen, and a very awkwardly long living room, because only about 6 square feet of it is the bathroom. It’s seriously tiny. After the hotel, though, 777 square feet felt like a palace!)
What I love about a smaller house is the cleaning burden. Sure, it looks messy fast, but on days like today, I know that the four truly-helpful people in the family, plus the one semi-helpful person, plus the messing-it-up-as-fast-as-she-can person, can get everything spic & span in just a bit over a half-hour. Day to day, it takes less than an hour to keep up with the general household chores, including dishwashing for three meals and a snack or two (I have two automatic dishwashers, named Eldest and the Boy… they gripe, but they do run on cookies, which saves electricity. I’m very green that way.)
I’ve toured dream homes, and the first thought to strike me is always, “OH, I would not want to have to clean this place!” So far, our family has been spared that burden. If the Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal fellow I married knows what is good for him, he’ll keep up the pattern.
As a genetic heritage, I tend to draw house plans in the late winter and early spring. My mother does it, too. (I’ll bet our four-hundredth great-grandmother grabbed a stick and scratched out a new hovel plan in the ashes of the hearth around March or April of each year.)
I’ve consistently drawn plans for an 1800 square foot house, every year for the last sixteen years or so. The layouts differ, as do settings and fittings, but the square footage stays stable. I can keep up with 1800 square feet, without getting bored or going nuts. Those are both good things to avoid, in my reckoning.
So here’s to the stewardship of compact homes!
I’ll keep my 777 square feet, thanks, tiny bathroom and weird long living room included. I love plugging in the vacuum once, and doing the rugs in the entire house. I love not needing to holler to locate a loved one. I love that we can play music in one room, and dance everywhere. I love sitting at the kitchen table and reading to the Minions while they wash dishes after dinner, the kitchen window open so the Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neaderthal one can listen, too, while he works on a new project on the porch. I love that a $13 gallon of paint goes a long way in a short time. I love the cleverness that living in a small space inspires, and the self-reliance we all gain in making it work.
Three bathrooms? Echoing “living” rooms? Media and game and lounge and play rooms? Kitchens big enough to be TV sets? Two car garages with attached house?
No thanks. Too much cleaning. I’m far too busy enjoying my life.
I rebel against the Suburban Garage-Mahal.