I’m no advocate of the tiny house movement, but I am becoming more and more convinced that the best homes are small.
Despite my appreciation for beautiful architecture— much of which is made grander in larger spaces– I find myself less and less desiring an eye-catching, stately home. I’m beginning to think that, at any given stage of life, one to two-thousand square feet will be more than enough. I’m no longer dreaming of anything larger.
You see, I’ve begun to realize what it is that I actually love about a home. It’s the space that home has for people to gather, laugh, encourage, and enjoy good food and drink. I want a space just large enough to fit a group of friends– and small enough that we can all still see each other and hear each other’s voices.
Are today’s homes getting bigger?
Trends seem to be headed in the mansion direction, however. I grew up in a suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area, where land was expensive and houses were on the more modest side. Rarely did I see families tearing down small homes to build monstrosities that stretched to the edges of their lots.
That appears to be changing. In the last five years, I’ve seen more and more houses in my hometown that have ballooned in size. According to realtors we know, the “big house” is now what buyers want: grand entrances, vaulted ceilings, and rooms that only a 19th-century butler would know how to use.
It saddens me that the small, cozy feel of that area is yielding to large, looming abodes. It also saddens me to think that the residents of these homes will be spending much of their time, emotion, and resources on their houses, for however long they live there.
Having lived in a large, high-maintenance home myself, I wish I could tell these prospective buyers to think more long-term. Are they committed to giving a large portion of their lives to the home ownership? Or is there something else they would prefer to devote that portion to?
8 Good Reasons to Choose A Small Home
1) You will spend less time and money on upkeep and cleaning.
The larger the square-footage– not to mention if you have a pond, pool, or other high-maintenance facility– the more often you will find yourself fixing things and cleaning up. Floors must be mopped, banisters dusted, chandeliers taken down and cleansed. Without a host of service people to help, the house can demand a lot of time on the part of the owner. Oh, and did I mention the garden?
2) You will accumulate fewer things.
I’m not just a fan of “decluttering”; I’m a fan of de-owning. Removing clutter can clear a space (and our minds) for a while, but as time passes we all find ourselves organizing everything again.
Choosing simply not to own anything that is neither useful nor lovely is better than spending time “getting organized” every season. Smaller homes put a cap on the amount of stuff we can accumulate. And that’s a good thing.
3) You will find it easier to live within your means.
What’s the first thing people do when their salary increases? They think their lifestyle has to move up ranks as well.
But what if we fought that notion? What if we chose contentment without first validating it by the “appropriate” lifestyle for our income? After all, we already know that an income above $75k, according to research, won’t make you drastically happier.
Choosing a smaller home is part of that realization: there’s less of a need to keep up, or fill our perceived deficit in social prestige, when our neighbors’ houses aren’t looming over us.
4) You will be more satisfied with your purchase.
I have a theory. The more expensive a home, the more grueling the decision to purchase it– no matter how much you have in the bank. You see, if you purchase a house that is simply what you need, then you can consider fixing it up and making it the best home it can be.
But if you purchase a house that is much more than what you need, then it becomes harder to transform that property into your ideal home. More space demands more customization, higher investment, and potentially more heartache.
5) You will actually use every room in your house.
Very few people who live in large homes actually use all of their rooms regularly. I say this from experience– perhaps this is too anecdotal– but we only really use a few rooms in the house on a regular basis.
Additional rooms might prove useful when we host guests, but we mostly find ourselves in the kitchen where we dine, in our bedroom or study where we work or relax, and occasionally in the living room.
Choosing to make the most of each room is part of using resources well. Why pay for space that won’t be useful to you?
6) You will have more face time and connection.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of the whole family spending time together in one room. I think that the interactions in those moments is valuable– whether you’re having a conversation or not.
I even noticed a difference when Aaron and I moved from graduate student housing into our condo. In our old one-bedroom apartment, we were constantly in the same room. He could be cooking and I could be working (or vise versa), and we would be in each other’s presence. Now, we don’t work in the same rooms, and the kitchen is not on the same floor as our workspace. I actually feel as though I see him less.
7) You will experience more freedom to travel and explore.
With lower upkeep demands, a small home allows you to leave it behind on short notice. There won’t be too many doors to lock, curtains to draw, and items to clean before taking off on an adventure.
Due to our love of travel, we decided to keep our house and garden low-maintenance. With the exception of a few house plants that need regular watering, our only “pets” are succulents that thrive on neglect.
8) Your home will be a place of rest, not of obligation.
Ultimately, I believe that our homes should be spaces where relationships are cherished, stress melts away , and joy is found. But that’s much harder to achieve when the house itself is a source of unending demands.
While I enjoy decorating and making fun house projects as much as anyone, I don’t desire to spend large amounts of my future improving or fixing the building in which I live. I’d much rather spend that time enriching and loving the people in my home.
Bigger is not better.
There are lots of legitimate reasons why people purchase large homes. They love that luxurious feeling of having more space than they need. They love the excitement of sharing their beautiful abode, or throwing large parties for friends and colleagues. Perhaps some people like the neighborhoods in which only large homes exist.
But ultimately, after the initial rush subsides, a house is a responsibility that we take on for a long, long time. The only thing we have to decide is how big, and how complicated, we want that responsibility to be.