Size Matters

I live in a small house. Well, it isn’t that small, at 1600 sf. But within the 2 stories that make up our home, we have plenty of space, with a full attic that hasn’t been finished off yet, ( Yes, dear, it is on the list of projects to be completed during the next decade ) and a somewhat water-tight basement. I like, no I love, our home. One room at a time, for the past 8 years of living there, we’ve painted, put in floors ( of reclaimed wood of course ) added trim to complement the original Chestnut, knocked out walls, put in new windows, siding…the list is long and my hands are more lovingly worn because of it. The footprint has stayed the same, but through good design decisions and some adjustments with the help of a sawzall, we have plenty of room for our family of 4, one cat, and a recent addition of a Cairn Terrier. The yard? .07 acres, and no, I didn’t mis-place the decimal. Many homes occupy a footprint at least that big, and in fact, the city of Geneva wouldn’t allow new construction on a lot like ours at 47′ wide because of setback restrictions never even thought of in 1922 when it was built. Yet we’ve managed to fit in a small patio, a grilling “deck”, and a backyard swingset for the boys. And it has a front porch offering a warm sunset in the evening and relaxing chats with neighbors over Finger Lakes Reisling and local craft beers.

Our home is indeed comfortable in size, so I was intrigued when reading a recent article in the New York Times about a home that most people would consider a shed. In fact, it was a garage! With a simple addition for a bathroom, plenty of recycled & re-purposed materials, the woman acted as her own general contractor and created a beautiful, functional, and cozy space of 250 sf for her to call home. IN A GARAGE, and for a very respectable $32,000. Look at the photos and floor plan in the article, and you’ll see very intelligent design, great attention to detail while maintaining simplicity, and the true fruits of doing things yourself. Sure, this is a single person residence – you’re not going to comfortably raise a family of 4 here. But it really makes one think – how much space do you need?

By not having huge spaces to fill with “stuff”, you’re freed to focus on the details a little more. Maybe this means spending a little more on the floor to create a great canvas for the rest of the room. Narrower floors have made a real comeback in the past couple of years, and they’re perfect for smaller rooms. Narrow planks give you more of a mosaic than a wide board when working in these smaller areas, and in turn, having more planks across the floor makes the space seem a bit larger. The best part is, they’re less expensive than a wide-plank of the same species.

In the kitchen above, the narrow boards and color variation of our Malacca Straits combine to add a great amount of interest in a relatively small space. Shrink this down to even the smallest galley-style kitchen, and it will still keep you noticing something new every day. This idea works with other species too – especially those with even more character like our Settlers’ Plank Autumn Woods.

See? Size might matter, but not necessarily in the way people usually think. bigger isn’t always better, in terms of room sizes, overall footprint, and flooring widths. Besides, with tons of space, you have to spend more time cleaning, than relaxing and joying what you’ve created.

Enjoy the nice weather – and keep in touch.

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