A while back, the LA Times ran an article about a couple that was living in a 380 sq. foot home in the LA area and I saw it passed around various online sites and communities. Check out the original article here, or Apartment Therapy’s Ohdeedoh coverage here.
The article raised a lot of questions for me.
First of all, is it really necessary that my husband, son, and I share over 2000 square feet of living space?
Second, when we finally purchase or build a home, what sort of square footage is reasonable for our family?
Third, why do we have so much STUFF!?
I have not always lived in large spaces.
Although my family home was large while I was growing up, my parents downsized drastically when I went away to college and I’ve lived in mostly small spaces since. College dorms, my first apartment, and my first Cincinnati apartment were all small and required a lot of creative organizing and storage solutions. (Unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t able to store my things at my parents’ house for the years I was at college and afteward; I had to find a way to either take everything with me or get rid of it.) The apartment I’m in now is really the first place where I can stretch out, put things away, and still have space to spare. It’s glorious!
Is it really necessary?
I’ve thought a lot before about small living spaces and have always been fascinated by the miracles that modern design can work in a small living space, even for families with multiple children. Japanese design has been doing this for centuries. And, In some ways, I covet both this simple lifestyle and its aesthetic. The absence of possessions is attractive and the use of space is brilliant. Simple, clean, and uncluttered.
– Families like the one living in LA have the availability of an outdoor living space that offers both an escape from the home and a place for their child to play. Without that space, I would presume that the indoor space would feel more restrictive.
– Well-designed small homes with multi-use spaces and creative organizing often require money and design expertise. If not, it’s hard to make a small home look anything but cluttered. Am I the only one who wonders if some of these folks have storage outside of the home, perhaps in a garage, basement, or another facility? Where do they store their Christmas ornaments!
– Okay, I know that the Christmas ornament question is silly, but it brings up a good point. Although I think purging useless junk is a great idea and something we can all learn to do, there is a certain charm to things like family keepsakes, childhood memorabilia, and heirlooms that seem absent in a lot of super-small living spaces. I’m probably one of the least sentimental people on the planet, but I still can’t imagine throwing out my high school photos. I know, I’m probably being foolish…
– In a super-small home, entertaining is often out of the question. My husband and I like having people over for dinner and I couldn’t help but notice that many families living in small spaces have teeny-tiny kitchens with no more than 4-6 tables settings. What if they want to invite another family over for dinner? Do they have to order takeout and ask their guests to bring their own flatware? I threw a 30-person dinner party for my husband’s 30th birthday this past year. Frankly, there was no way in hell I could have done that in a 38o square foot home.
– Lastly, I know that it’s really hip to have only one child (two at the most), but my husband and I hope to be more than a “family of four.” It’s easy to share a small space with an infant, but imagine doing that with four teenagers. Not so practical. A big family, to a certain extent, necessitates a bit of privacy. I’m not suggesting something extravagant, but a little space is nice. Maybe a few doors to close?
So, how small is too small for you?
For your family?
What would you have to give up to live in 380 square feet?