Many years ago I was walking down a residential street here in Vancouver with a much younger friend of mine. We were both looking at the houses, stating our preferences. I was rather surprised to learn that she wanted a big house. Not just big, not just huge, a monster house. The kind of house that takes up most of the lot, that overwhelms the space.
Know what I mean?
She said she wasn’t planning a large family, or to live in a multi-generation situation. She just liked big houses.
I thought she was out of her mind. I still do. Smaller houses are best.
There, I’ve said it. And I am prepared to back it up.
Northern Homesteader got me started with 12 Reasons to Live in a Smaller House – other than money. Here’s her list, with my comments.
1. A small house is cozy
In a big house you have to find your cozy spots, create them with an overstuffed chair or a window seat. But a small house is all cozy corners and intimate spaces.
2. A small house is warmer in the winter
It takes less than 10 minutes for our house to get warm on a cold morning. The radiant heat works beautifully, and there are no cold corners. In fact the laneway house is so energy-efficient that we turn down the heat to 16(C) in the afternoon so it doesn’t get uncomfortably hot.
3. A small house is easier to decorate
Even if you are going for a bohemian style with every flat surface covered in pictures and knick-knacks, decorating a small house takes less time and energy. Even painting a room takes less time. And you’ll need fewer cushions, fewer paintings, and fewer area rugs. So if you want to completely change the look you can do it over a weekend.
4. A small house is faster to clean
Our former condo was only 1100 square feet, but it had two full baths and miles of carpeting. To clean it up used to take us most of Saturday. Now we can be out of here in less than an hour, with every surface sparkling and every floor damp-mopped.
5. A small house builds relationships
It’s funny, when you have a big home, how little time you spend in the same room as another person. You might drift through the kitchen while your husband makes dinner to grab a glass of wine before you go back to watching the news in the front room, but you don’t actually have that much face time. But in our laneway, I can be in the “sitting room” doing the crossword while DH is making dinner, and we are sharing and chatting, and sometimes watching the news together. Yet when we want some private time there is always a little corner where we can be alone.
6. A small house inspires ideas and creativity
In our condo we had storage space galore. Closets stuffed with clothes we didn’t need any more, an entire storage room just for stuff, 50% of which we didn’t use. But now we have to find storage in every nook and cranny. The space under the stairs. the space in the stairs. And since more of our stuff is on display we have to find ways to make it attractive. There’s a reason I keep watching those decorating shows.
7. A small house prevents clutter
We used to have a pile of papers in the kitchen. Also one in the front hall. And one in each bedroom. No more! I keep a (lovely) basket where I put all the papers that come into the house. Once a week I go through it and toss what we don’t need and file what we do. Bills and bank statements I get online so there’s less paper coming in. Clutter makes a small house look very messy. It also makes a large house look very messy, but there’s more places to hide it.
8. A small house feels securer
When DH is out I know I just have to lock the two doors and this place is a fortress. No dark corners or iffy locks.
9. A small house helps to live simple
Maybe that’s not your goal. Maybe you look for ways to complicate your life. But buying less, cleaning less, fussing less is what I want.
10. A small house is freeing
I thought it was funny when I read this — because that is exactly how I feel! Less stuff makes you feel freer. It’s part of 9., but it’s more than that, too.
11. A small house encourages more time outdoors
Last week I was feeling a bit closed-in. You can feel that in a large space, too, but I knew what I needed, a brisk walk to the store. Our small fridge means we buy less, and shop more often. So we get out every day.
12. A small house takes up less space
The blogger at Northern Homestead loves her garden space. And she’s not going to sacrifice it to gain more housing square footage. We like the garden space we share with the main house — their back yard is actually bigger than it was before we built the laneway here because there was a big concrete slab where the house sits.
Twelve good reasons to have a small house, but I’ve thought of a 13th.
13. Smaller ecological footprint
Building the house took fewer resources than building a large house. That’s a good enough reason to build small. But running it takes fewer resources, too. Heating, cooking, running the washer and dryer all take less energy than a larger house with large appliances uses. If we want to be responsible energy consumers that is one more reason to live in a small house.