Designing Spaces

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Last night husband and I started to put our future-home ideas down on paper. FUN! And surprisingly challenging! I can describe in words how I want my ideal home to look, but when I sit down with paper and try to sketch it things get weird quickly. The one plan I started had a long hallway down one side of the building … yeah. Not ideal. We’re scoping things out online, looking for tips, and continuing to dream.

One author who inspires me design-wise is Sarah Susanka, of the “Not so big house” fame (thanks to my sister’s mother-in-law for the suggestion!). She emphasizes right-scaling our homes, and concentrating on details and quality rather than size. There are lots of great ideas in her books – I’ve read 2 so far. I have to say, though, looking at the plans on her website, that we are thinking smaller than she is. Our goal size is still about 1000 sq ft on one level. To my mind, that gives us enough space to work with.

The challenge, of course, is what we let go to keep that size. Go back 60 years and 1000 would be generous. Since then we’ve been repeatedly super-sizing our homes and the logic says that another few hundred (or thousand) sq ft just makes sense. Of course you’ll want it and can use it! And I feel that logic on lots of levels. I do like space. I like large, well-built homes. I like lots of rooms. I like a big, open bathroom. I want a library. On and on. Space, though, comes with costs, and these are what we want to avoid. The basic aspect is building costs, though when you add our hopes for super-green, super-insulated, super-super construction, these do rise. Then comes utilities: heat and water costs grow as your space grows. In a global warming world, with an uncertain economy, I want my costs for these essentials as low as possible. Next comes time. More space = more time. Simply walking around and using the space! Buying things to fill the space. cleaning and organizing the space. More places to put things = more places to lose things. Bigger size = less control, more chaos. By so many measures, adding size decreases manageability and increases time demands. I want to simplify my life. I want our home to make life joyful and easy, not consume our lives. I try to keep this in mind when I crave another story or another spare bedroom or a separate sewing room.

We have agreed on a central living area for the home: kitchen, dining, living area connected. We want a wood stove on a central wall to heat the space. Lots of well-designed storage in all areas of the house. A proper entrance where you can pause and take stock, put down your coat and boots, and be in a space, not half-way into the living area. So far, the ideas are exciting. Looking forward to seeing how they develop.

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