I used to write about green building and green homes regularly for one of my clients and living small would come up often. I’m a big advocate of small homes; or well, I suppose “enough” home not technically small. I think you need what you need, but why have more space, you know.
Oddly, when I used to write about small houses or living smaller not larger, I’d get reader comments such as, “You’re so stupid – you’re just saying live small because you’re poor and jealous of rich people with big houses.” Um, yeah I’m so jealous of the McMansion lifestyle (not) and also, what a lame issue to get hyped up over. I’m not sure why the issue of living with less in a smaller home irks some people, but it seemingly does.
I don’t actually care what other people think though because when you get down to it, living smaller is greener. I don’t care if your home is totally wind and solar run, built with sustainable wood and contains all organic textiles and composting toilets; if you’re living in a house that takes up more space than you actually need, that’s a drag on resources.
Small homes are so much better for the environment than large homes. Why?
- Fewer materials are needed overall to build the home. Even the most sustainable home building supplies require energy to manufacture and are a drain on resources. The less you can use the better.
- The smaller the home the smaller impact you’re making on the actual planet. Think about it… is it better to take up four lots of green space for a McMansion or one lot for a reasonable home?
- In my experience, people who live in a smaller house tend to bring in fewer material goods. Maybe because there’s less room for storage. Owning fewer things is one of the best ways to live green.
- In the long run, it takes less energy, water, and other resources to run a small house than a large one – unless that large house is run extremely well with renewable resources such as solar power and rainwater systems.
If you like the idea of living small but still want to feel as if you have ample room in your home try the following…
- Make one room, your largest room, your focal point – do you really need a living room, family room, and den? Most likely no.
- Design an open floor plan which will make your home look and feel larger than it is.
- Build taller walls. Building up creates less of a footprint than building outwards. Tall walls and vaulted ceilings open up a home creating a more spacious feeling.
- Use natural light whenever possible. Natural light via windows (even toward the top of walls) counters the normally darker feeling small homes often have. Skylights also work well to open up a small space.
- Paint with light colored interior paints. In a smaller space dark can make small look smaller and less inviting.
- Open up your home plan to include outdoor living. Using large wide opening doors leading to a patio space or big balcony can create a second, outside living room or bedroom space.
Do you like smaller homes or do you feel like you need a bigger house?