“Real luxury means living in a house which perfectly suits your habits and way of life.” by Johan van Lengen in The Barefoot Architect
When my home was built in the early sixties, it was considered large by the standards of the fifties. The square footage of our homes has been increasing over the years, which now makes my 1750 sq ft home seem quite small. When the housing bubble burst in 2007, many industry observers were of the opinion that home sizes would decrease. First, smaller homes fit in with the green concerns of home buyers (or simply for the reduced cost of operating the home which comes from green technologies). Secondly, these larger homes were what we perceived as luxurious, but they increased the cost of the home (buyers purchasing more home than needed, because it was the standard). In my experience, there are buyers who are looking at smaller homes; however, there are buyers looking for the ever larger home.
I think that we have not latched onto the idea of looking at our possible or current homes in a way to discover how they can suit our habits. I wrote about multi-tasking rooms back in 2007, and it is a theme that I come back to every so often. My idea is that a room can serve various purposes during the course of a day. With this concept, a room is not thought of as the bedroom alone. It is where you sleep at night, where you watch television in the evening, where bills are paid in the morning, and where you read in the afternoon. Maybe this sequence is not to your need; it is meant to show you how one room can change over the day. Here are some questions to think about when looking at a home:
1) What activities will be happening in the home for each family member and at will these activities overlap? For example, I need an office, but if my children are at home, they need to be in my view (the three year old and the baby). They want an area for entertainment.
2) Are there special conditions associated with these activities? If I am working in the office, I may need quite or I may need to be able to see the children. I have to look at how the conditions can be met that satisfy each family member.
3)Where can I layer my activities that do not overlap? This would be like the bedroom example above. My wife used the dining room as her study area while she was in school, and we were still able to eat our meals in that room. She could have done this in the bedroom, but there were times where she was up past everyone else.
4) How will these activities change? Hobbies may not last. The family grows with more children. You may not know the future, but you may give some thought to new pets or family coming to live with you may change the activities.
5) What will be the costs of operation? Alright, this may seem an odd question. The larger home and property sizes cause greater expenses. Can you afford these charges? I have read on several occasions that the majority of arguments between husband and wife have to do with finances. A home can be a big drain, so consider what you will need to pay the utilities, insurance, and other items that arise with the home. Would a slightly smaller home be better? Then how can it meet those activities? Creating a budget is the first step. When buying a home, ask about these costs to see if they meet your budget. If you have a home, how can you change it to meet your budget?
6) Can you expand the home? There are times when an extra room might be the solution. Many people look at the garage; others look at going out into the yard. I would not plan on expanding right away. Purchase a home that fits your life. The expand option may be needed later, so check to see if it is possible.
7)What are other aspects of your life where your home comes into play? My home is not close to my wife’s work, but we can drive there quickly, and the bus is convenient. I also need to consider the schools, stores, and parks. Do the children have somewhere safe to play? If I like going out to eat, are the restaurants close enough so that the drive to them will not be bad?
I have found that I was able to make my small home fit my family’s lifestyle over the years. Planning was needed. My son might not be happy that he has to give his room over to my daughter at times, but he does not fight it. He knows that if he wants access to one space, that it means that another family member may use his room. Another aspect to multi-tasking is thinking about storage. In my condition, I have to consider toys and books. These can be all over the floor, so I look for storage spaces that meet the decor of the room. I teach the kids that if we play with one thing, then the last thing needs to be cleaned up first.As for the financial issue, I work at my green home conversion.