Wanted: Smaller, cozier houses
Get this: Americans are getting sick of McMansions.
So says The Wall Street Journal in a recent report. Americans are favoring more historic designs, such as the arts-and-crafts houses their grandparents once lived in, over gargantuan suburban houses.
A new style of housing developer is emerging to serve this demand. These developers are designing and building more modest size homes — in the 2,500-square-foot range — that look historic on the outside, but that have modern amenities on the inside, such as custom kitchens and walk-in closets, that the original homes did not have.
I never did understand the allure of the giant boxes. You need a bicycle to go from the couch to the fridge to get a beer.
They are drafty and impersonal inside — big just for the sake of being big. They may be homes, but they certainly are not homey.
And so a longing for smaller, saner housing stock is growing. Part of this is the result of the stumbling economy — though, the article points out, the average size of a U.S. home has rebounded to 2,642 square feet.
Part of it is the result of people who are tired of living in big houses — people who are nostalgic for the Sunday dinners they enjoyed at Grandma's many years ago, when the average American family lived happily in a much smaller home. The average size of a U.S. home was 1,660 square feet in 1973.
Heck, when I was born in 1962, the third child in our clan, my family was living in an 850-square-foot ranch, one probably built with GI Bill money after World War II. Needless to say, the house was a little tight.
When my mother became pregnant with my sister Lisa, a bigger house was essential. My parents found that house in a new housing plan that my father drove by every day on his way to work.
It was a rectangular “cookie cutter” design typical of 1964. It had red brick on the bottom and white aluminum siding on the top. It had four bedrooms, one full bathroom and one half-bathroom. And it was all of 1,400 square feet.
My parents would raise six children in that house. I still remember my poor father, sitting on the edge of his bed in his robe, waiting to get into the shower. As soon as he heard the bathroom door open, he'd rush down the hall, but someone else would always beat him to it — and back to his room he went to wait some more.
By 1974, he'd had enough, so he and my mother hired a contractor to build an addition onto the first floor — their new bedroom with their own bathroom! They were in heaven. And our house had been expanded to a whopping 1,662 square feet!
My parents lived in that house happily for 34 years. It served us well and none of us ever realized how small it was until my parents moved into a bigger house. Now, when we drive by the old place, we say, “How did all of us fit in there?”
But it sure was cozy and is still the place of many grand memories. I suppose the modest size of the house forced us to live together — particularly during holiday gatherings in which people were cheerfully piled atop people.
I think this is what more Americans are longing for these days. Sure, we want to add “great rooms” on the back and three or four full baths, but I still think the trend is positive and reflects America's desire to get back to the basics.
Cozier and saner is better than massive and wasteful, but that doesn't mean dads should have to wait hours to gain access to the shower.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tomlin: Taylor back, Polamalu probable for return vs. Saints
- IUP student dies from injuries after he was pinned beneath car
- KitchenWise: Make better mashed potatoes with a small change
- Car crashes into Cranberry store, no one injured
- Brentwood police chief to get nearly $200,000 as part of settlement agreement with borough
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Fire destroys Armstrong County tavern
- Jeannette man pleads guilty to attempting to entice child in Louisiana
- Brown family blasts prosecutor’s handling of case
- Trusted, beloved stars lose luster amid allegations of bad behavior
- Attorneys say Leon Ford putting off needed surgery because of prospect of second trial