by Niki Turner
My mom used to admonish, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!" when I overloaded my plate and couldn't finish my meal.
My husband and I recently realized our "eyes" were bigger than our ability to maintain the house we bought in 2001. It's not huge, just average, but we've decided to find a dwelling that's easier - timewise and financially - to maintain.
We're not alone in our desire to pare down, based on the growing popularity of "small house" blogs, magazines, and websites. Slowly, the housing pendulum appears to be swinging away from huge, designer "starter castles" and toward smaller houses, or even the tiniest of homes.
For many of us, that requires a paradigm shift in our thinking. I grew up watching Dynasty and Dallas, where luxurious mansions were something to be expected, not something to be earned. In the back of my mind was the idea that no one lived in a small house by choice.
But I don't believe that anymore.
House size does not equate to success or to happiness, at least not in the terms of success outlined in God's plan.
The average house size in the US has nearly tripled since the 1950s, that magical era of happy, content nuclear families living out the post-WWII American dream. A new home in the 1950s averaged 983 sq. ft. By 1970, that number had increased to 1400 sq. ft., and in 2006 the average square footage of a new home had expanded to 2,463 sq. ft. Did the size of our families grow? No. Logically, there's no reason for these larger dwellings.
Why, then, do we feel the need to own homes that sprawl across the landscape? It's not for practicality, and it's not for need. I hesitate to think it has to do with comfort and luxury alone, because it simply isn't comfortable to pay off a huge home mortgage month after month, or scramble to keep an oversized home clean, landscaped, and maintained, with or without hired help.
In discussing a move into a smaller home, the biggest concern my boys had was whether or not they would have to share a bedroom. *GASP* The horror! Their reaction clued me in to something.
I think we don't want to share our "space." We don't want to be forced to interact with each other, or make room for one another, even the members of our own immediate families. I admit it, I get annoyed when I have to wait for my husband to finish rummaging through the refrigerator so I can get what I want.
That's just plain old selfishness, and selfishness doesn't have any room in a HOME.
So, whether you live in a McMansion with a pool and a sandbox room for the grandkids, a vintage cottage with a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, or a 500 sq. ft. studio apartment, the size of your abode is not what makes it a home. And a bigger house will not guarantee a happier household.
What makes a dwelling place into a home is the absence of selfishness and the presence of love. And that's something we can all work on, no matter where we live.
Tiny House Blog
National Association of Home Builders