January 25th, 2008 10:23 AM by Lisa Carey
The local paper, the Tallahassee Democrat, ran a few interesting articles regarding real estate and home trends this week. While they were separate articles on home size and home style, they really go hand-in-hand.
According to Daniel McGinn, author of "House Lust: America's Obsession with Our Homes", the average U.S. home measured 983 square feet in 1950. By 2006, the size of the average newly built house had risen nearly 150 percent to 2434 square feet. Why the growth? Certainly Americans are having less children than in past centuries. According to McGinn, houses are becoming bigger partly of of necessity, as Americans started owning more cars and more posessions. We are competitive mega shoppers. It seems the only thing getting smaller are the lot sizes!
A friend I respect a great deal is raising 4 children (with her husband) in a modestly sized, but very tasteful and well-located, home. She noted the other day that Americans seem to require more space per person in their homes than any other country. If other world citizens are raising their families in smaller homes, well . . . she could too. And, do it well. In fact, she noted that she liked having her children close, within earshot, and being able to easily watch over their activities. It made them a family. The kids aren't all spread out in their own rooms watching their own televisions. Not to mention the benefit of lower utility bills, easier cleaning tasks, and having a well-organized, well-appointed and streamlined house.
I read recently this philosophy is called the Luxury of Enough. Living extremely well with just what you need, but not overdoing it. Spending your money on family activities, trips and adventures - not more stuff to fill your home. My friend and her family live in a smaller home loaded with architectural charm and fantastic appointments, in a highly desirable and conveniently located neighborhood. They are careful with how they've filled their home, using limited multi-functional furniture pieces of the highest quality. Often these are re-purposed antiques that add even more unique charm to the home. I like this friend's style!
This does not in any way, however, mean that I don't want to sell you your 5,000 dream house (LOL)!
Funny that on the same day, the Democrat also ran a style update noting that home design has evolved in terms of the layout of that growing space. Design in the past century usually meant walls are built around a room's function. A dining room has a dining table and 4 walls, a family room has a couch and 4 walls. To change functions, you changed rooms. Now it seem that great cavernous rooms are the trend, with multiple functions and uses happening within the same room. This trend allows family members to be together, even while doing something different. This design also allows smaller homes to live bigger.
My point in all this: Buyers considering a new home should look hard at three things: square footage, layout, and personal lifestyle. Sometimes a small house lives big. But, wide open spaces are not for everyone. I like to ask my buyers about their lifestyle, how they enjoy living, what is the focus of their weekend. Do you enjoy hosting Super Bowl parties - let's find a big room? Or, is one spouse a reader while the other watches TV each night. How do you live?
My family has gone through several moves in the last 10 years, much to my friends' amusement. We are messy & chaotic, I'd rather talk to friends or read (alone) than watch TV, and you do no want to see my kitchen without giving me an hour's notice. My husband hates yard work and I'm no fan of house work. So, our house is modest and managable in size. The kitchen is in the back of the house and not an entertainment hub. Our dining room features an old farmhouse table to encourage daily use of the space for meals & projects. We have a nicely-sized living room outfitted with comfortable furniture for casual entertaining & reading, and a smaller den for TV watching. And, we have a small yard just 1 block from a big park. We aren't living grandly, but living happily and well in a good, good fit for our needs.
I'd love to hear how you live & if your house fits your needs - drop me a line if you feel like sharing! Have a great weekend - Lisa Carey, Realtor