By Trish Holder
“We’re going to die,” I pronounced.
We were in the third hour of our drive to Folly Beach, SC for our family summer vacation and going through a brief but intense thunderstorm. The lightening strikes were so close I swear I could feel their heat.
Until that point it had been a perfectly lovely drive. I was delighting in the fact that I had my husband, son and daughter all within arms reach and everyone was making me laugh. Within the confines of our densely packed Honda Pilot, I felt about as happy as I had in months.
“Mom isn’t one to stay calm for the sake of the kids,” my twelve-year-old daughter quipped casually from the backseat. No one can deliver a perfectly timed one-liner like she can. And just like that, I was laughing again.
It is from this rainy, cramped perspective that I choose to talk about a very controversial topic in the home building industry: SIZE.
Few subjects elicit such emotional reaction from builders who are already sick-to-death of all this “green living” talk now that making a living as a builder is so difficult. The builders who either make (or once made) a lot of money building large homes (often referred to as “McMansions”) really get annoyed with the “less is more” crowd. After all, for a while they did quite well with a market that believed “more is more”.
Some of these builders are bitter; and it shows. Then again, I live in a 3200 sq. ft. home and some environmentalists would frown on that. Some of these folks are judgmental; and it shows.
I know that home size, like the measure of most anything else in the world, is relative. What is large to one person is small to another. But because I’m often caught in the crossfire of these conversations (or shall I say debates) I find myself reflecting on the size of my current home, as well as my past homes, the first of which was 1500 sq. ft. and the second 2700 sq. ft. In each of these homes I have been happy, miserable, or somewhere in between. That part has remained pretty consistent throughout my years of homeownership. In other words, it has never been the size of the home that made me feel the way I did.
Looking back, I really can’t see that the size of my home has had any impact on my happiness whatsoever. I can say that the stress I feel from home ownership has most definitely increased with the square footage. Large homes are more expensive and require more upkeep. Big surprise. (Aren’t you glad I don’t charge for these pearls?)
My ability to state the obvious notwithstanding, I have a point here and it is directed at both current and would-be homeowners. Admittedly, the market is lousy now and for many it’s not a question of how large a home to build or buy, but whether or not to own at all. But for others, homeownership is a part of your future and at one time or another you will weigh the pros and cons of “space” versus other things.
Here’s my advice: Before you pay for….space….take inventory of the things that you already have or do that make you happy. To the extent that you must forfeit any of these in order to have a larger home–that is the extent to which your home is too large. Because I promise you that square footage of a home does not spontaneously generate happiness. It does, however, spontaneously generate clutter and expense, as well as siphon away precious time that might otherwise be spent with friends or family or whatever else helps get you through the storm. I’m just sayin’.
Finally (and this bit of wisdom I really should charge for) remember this: No matter how large your home is, your laundry room can never ever be too big.