Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Smaller The Better!

Hey, I live in North America. I know the drill. The bigger the better. The bigger the better.

The bigger the better.

The bigger the better.

The bigger the better.

But this post is not going to argue whether bigger is better or not. Nope, today I'm talking about making smaller better instead.

One of the things that really bug me every day is: wasted space. Like, it really, really BUGS me!

Okay, confession time...I too live in a build-a-box! The second picture up there? Yeah, that's my neighbourhood. Well, not my exact neighbourhood (not even my exact continent...) but what difference does it make? They all LOOK THE SAME!

And since all these "homes" are mass produced, they are far from suiting the individuals who inhabit them and therefore, each and every one of these shells are shells, not homes. Because homes FIT the people who live within them. A home is an extension of one's self. Your home tells stories about your past. Your future. Your lifestyle.

A house simply doesn't. Of course, I'm sure there are happy examples of people who have transformed cookie cutter houses into homes that actually fit their lives and make them happy and stuff...I'm sure they are out there...somewhere... (this is coming after a futile google search) but in the meantime, I must  content myself with educating myself on how to make my own home smaller and better.

So, as I sai before, my home is a classic build-a-box in the suburbs. Very typical, very impersonal, very annoying. Of course, my parents have bought into the Canadian/American dream of having these kinds of houses so, yeah, here we are now. And it's really freaky how I can probably walk into any house on any street within a 10 kilometre radius and find my way through the house as if it is my own....because it certainly looks like mine! Look:


Fab, aren't they? And here's a typical floor plan too. There's often a living room, a family room (or den...), a kitchen, a linen closet, a pantry (if you're lucky), a couple of bedrooms, an ensuite for the master bedroom, a powder room, a laundry room, a dining room, a breakfast room, blah, blah, blahhhhh!

Did you catch that? There is a dining room AND a breakfast room. Now, I'm not sure about you but in my home and all the other homes that I've been to, everyone uses the breakfast room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room? Yeah....I can count on one hand the number of times that is used in a year (Christmas, birthdays, the odd dinner party). 

So why do we still insist on buying into these McMansion schemes? Surely, someone must have realized that buying all that House is not a one-time cost either. First you pay for the house, probably taking out a mortgage that'll keep you slaving for the next thirty, fifty, ninety odd years trying to pay it off, then you spend hours of your time cleaning all that extraneous space and to top it all off, you even pay taxes for every square inch you "own"--whether you use it or not! Point is, never, ever, EVER fool yourself thinking that space not used isn't continuously costing you.

So, if like me, you are sick and tired of all the SPACE people are wasting, let's celebrate a future where (hopefully) we can all ditch the more is more and bigger is better mentality and we can all make the most of every inch we have.

A story I find really inspiring is called The Mayonnaise Jar. It's about a professor that defies conventional modes of thinking to demonstrate to his students that there is always so much more you can fit into something that seems small at first sight. Along this mentality, IKEA (my lifelong love <3)
created the following Small Spaces, Small Ideas advertisement. In fact, I find IKEA truly motivating as they are always defying conventions to fit more and more into spaces the rest of us would it's all so pretty and fun!

IKEA Small Spaces, Small Ideas:

By the way, I think loft beds are the most amazing things in the world! Perfect for creating a specific sleeping zone in an area otherwise cluttered with life and work!

Another video I find amazing is a tour of Graham Hill's 420 square foot SoHo apartment (he's the founder of!) It's amazing to the point of ridiculousness that he fit soooo much into his tiny little apartment...if you can call it that:

Graham Hill's Amaaazing Home!

My heart failed when he pulled out that ginormous dining table! And that guest room--love the beds! Both of these videos definitely show small spaces at a bit of an extreme so I'm definitely not advocating that it's for everyone (especially not if you're claustrophobic) but why not apply some of that amazing small-space thinking to your home so that you don't have a dining room you use twice a year but also a library/study you use everyday. Or how about ditching that stuffy second living room for a highly functional space where everyone can be comfortable.

(I don't know about you, but when I think of second living rooms--"for guests only"--I think:

In general, I think people think they need way more space than they actually do. I remember Candice Olson (interior designer) once visited a food truck to see how a small team of chefs could work so efficiently in such a small space. It was quite enlightening as these people are able to whip up gourmet dishes in minutes for a line of customers without interfering with each other's work!

And there are so many other places to take inspiration from:

airplane bathrooms...
airplane galleys...
car interiors...

Overall, the benefits of smaller (or smarter) living just seem to make more sense:
-less space to pay for
-less space to clean after
-less harm to the environment
-more space to live in
-more money in your pocket
-and, oh yeah, you get the coolest home on the block!

So, all this is why I find that small spaces are so much more interesting than big ol' draughty, impersonal build-a-boxes. There is no need to toss out the build-a-box you may already have though! Just take a look around your home and note the places you haven't actually sat and enjoyed yourself in days, maybe weeks. Ask yourself why? Do you really need that room? Can't it serve multiple purposes? My one piece of advice to myself and everyone else is to just think outside of the box (outside the build-a-box!). Don't be trapped by the idea that you have to have a room solely dedicated to eating or doing laundry. See what else you could use a room for. Maybe you can have a laundry/crafting/sewing room whereas someone else might have a bathroom/laundry room and yet another person might have a dressing/laundry/bill-paying room. 

There really is no limit and no template because if it works for you, that's all that matter. Really. Just take charge of your home and make it work for you (not the other way around, please!) because smaller can be really, really much better!


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