Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's all Relative

I'm currently living in a house in the suburbs, 12 miles from the city and my work. I don't own it and I'm not sure how much longer I'll stay. Two years ago I though it was what I wanted but the Crystal of today has changed significantly. Now I dream of a tiny apartment in the city, close to my work, the soon-to-be-built light-rail line and my favorite pizza place. With a Murphy Bed. And this guy's entire setup, actually.

But that's not really what I want to talk about today.

The house Ian and I live in is 1,250 square feet. It has three bedrooms (two of which are only 100 sqft) and 1.5 baths (both super tiny). The house is too big for us but we've managed to fill it up to the max. Not cool.

Our neighbors live in exactly the same house (they're all the same on our block) but they have...wait for it...8 people living there. Two adults, 6 kids, all in 1,250 square feet.

Ian and I each live comfortably in 625 square feet. The neighbors do it in 156.

I'm actually ashamed to have my neighbors over. It feels wrong to waste so much space on only two people. And when I go on to think about the sizes of houses people are buying (or bought but now can't afford), I feel a little sick.

Houses themselves are wasteful compared to apartment buildings but that's not all. Most new (and new-ish) houses are designed to include wasted space, on purpose! I went to school for architectural design and I can't understand why crap like that gets built. Vaulted ceilings, spaces "open to below", master bathrooms, huge bedrooms. And what about houses with living rooms and family rooms and sitting rooms and tv rooms...that's four rooms that do the same thing and you can only be in one at a time.

I understand the need for a pleasing design...but to me, efficient designs are not incompatible with pleasant. People have been talked into buying houses that are mostly filler, mostly space they'll never use. Because that's what people are "supposed" to do, that's what they're "supposed" to want. And that makes me sad and a little angry.

In the coming weeks, I'd like to take some time to focus on smaller, more efficient places to live. I hope you're as excited about this as I am. To start things off, seriously check out the link above. That guy is a genius!


  1. You live in Minnesota? That's funny. I'm in Minneapolis and I stumbled across your blog when I was looking for Castle Peeps quilt photos. That Hong Kong apartment is awesome. Have you seen these? http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

  2. I love tiny houses and love, love, love good design ... My last apartment was 800 feet and felt teeny-tiny; my current is 900 and feels *huge* (and looks beautiful). And we have way more furniture and way less storage -- it's all about the design.
    And ... I daydream about designing buildings and spaces. JEALOUS.

  3. That video was amazing!! You are totally right about completely wasted space. Which is why our former "living" room (such a dumb name--when our son still lived at home he used to say, "You mean the room we never LIVE in?) is now my sewing room. Much better use of space. It just used to sit there vacant. I feel like right now the only space we don't use efficiently is our dining room and I'm trying to figure out a good way to multipurpose it as well. Mark sells kitchen cabinets and as such has worked in some of the biggest houses in our city. I have NEVER once wished we could live in one of them. I'm happy with our smaller home. It's paid for and we have solar, so no cooling bills in the summer, which is vital here in our hot valley.

  4. That video was so cool, I had to send the link to my husband! Our house is 1100 sq ft for four of us. I've complained for years that it's just too small, but I think my real gripe is that it was just poorly designed and therefore has no storage space! If I could come up with some really efficient storage options, I know I'd love it. Of course, that begs the question... do I really need all this stuff I'm storing? =)