Why I didn’t want a big house

No architect troubled to design houses that suited people who were to live in them, because that would have meant building a whole range of different houses. It was far cheaper and, above all, timesaving to make them identical.
~Michael Ende

At 1,200 square feet, my house (one-half of a duplex) is not exactly a McMansion. But for a single person accustomed to half the square footage, this place is luxuriously large. A bit too luxuriously large, as a matter of fact.

It takes more energy to heat and cool this place, and with the thermostat upstairs, temperatures from one end of the house to the other vary widely. Luckily, I have a small space heater I can use when I’m feeling chilly, so the main thermostat remains at a fairly low temperature in the winter. In the summer, I just deal with it. I prefer lower temperatures when I sleep, so the upstairs thermostat (where the bedrooms are) works out better for most of the year.

The bigger problem is that there is a lot of room, especially the useless empty space of bedrooms and dining room. This duplex was designed in the late seventies, and whoever did the layout was on some serious drugs. Mine is the better half…my unfortunate neighbors ended up with an even worse layout in a bigger space. I’d hate to see what idiocy would have occurred with only half the square footage. Large bedrooms and dining rooms are, for me, wasted space. They’re single-purpose rooms that need to be only as large as will comfortably house the furniture.

And contrary to what everyone tells me, cleaning a bigger space has to be done just as often. But now there’s twice as much to clean. And I have discovered that the stairs are magnets for the cat hair dust bunnies that appear swiftly after a cleaning session.

However, I knew going into the nightmare that was home buying that I probably wouldn’t find a house that met my needs and was under a thousand square feet. It seems that 1200 is the smallest house considered “acceptable.” Those older homes that were once smaller had been added to or converted or needed far more work than I could afford to pump into them.

Someone visiting my house lamented the lack of a guest bathroom. I would have been more shocked if I wasn’t so accustomed to the way people seem to demand far more than they could ever need in a house. The fact that I have a dedicated guest bedroom should be enough, I think (especially since it wasn’t exactly a hot item on my “needs” list). If you want more than that, get a hotel room. A guest bathroom would be nice for fifteen minutes twice a year…meaning I’d spend far more time paying for it, cleaning it, and stocking it than I would receive benefit from having it. But few people take the time to examine the reality of their life in order to know what they need. I don’t really need a dining room. I’ve spent years without one, and I rarely use the one I have now. A large dining room and a guest bathroom make no sense to someone who does not entertain. I’m not going to pretend that I entertain, or that I ever will. It’s not my style, and I won’t apologize for it. I don’t need a reading nook in my bedroom either. I read at work or on the couch.

I would like more garage, though. I’m abnormally fond of the one I have, and the ability to both store my car and work on projects at the same time would be handy.


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