Close quarters

Almost as long as I’ve been in this little house, I’ve made reference to “the palatial estate at Surlywood,” though pretty much everyone knows I live in a little thousand-square-foot house on a quarter of an acre. I’ve never had any particular desire to live in a really huge house — not alone, anyway — and apparently, with the housing market so soft you could impale it on a stick and roast it over a campfire, the demand for humongous faux châteaux is retreating a bit for all the reasons you might imagine.

Although I hadn’t thought of this one:

Dwellers of small homes know each other. They are more likely, in my unprofessional opinion, to learn to manage the petty slights and annoyances that are part of communal living.

Certainly my own neighborhood seems pretty cohesive. Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the image it conveys: you don’t live here because you have to, or because you think you ought to, but because you want to.

And there’s this:

The bloating of the American house at a time when family size has declined is a cause and result of spiritual shrinkage.

Well, yeah; if we buy lots of stuff to fill whatever emptiness we think we feel, we need a bigger place to put it. (For the first 50 years of my life, I plead guilty.) Eventually, some of us figure out that there are treasures that don’t require storage space.


  1. fillyjonk »

    8 January 2012 · 1:22 pm

    Another benefit to a smaller house: faster and easier to clean it.

    Though I suppose many of those in minimansions don’t worry about that, they probably have help to take care of that.

  2. Tatyana »

    8 January 2012 · 1:42 pm

    I found that ease of cleaning is directly proportional to amount of STUFF homeowners accumulate and display.
    A big space with vast stretches of empty surfaces is much easier to mop, wash, dust and wipe than a small (“cozy”, in R.E.agents’ parlance) living room with pictures, frames, little porcelain figurines and other sentimental momentos in every nook and cranny. Incidentally, just read this post; imagine how mach work it takes to clean all the crap on its walls!

    I don’t think dwellers of small houses “learn to manage the petty slights and annoyances”. The size of the house is not what matters; the amount of space around it is. The shrubbery and stone walls serve as a bumper between you and Peeping Tom next door. The lawn and a patio protect your BBQ methods from criticism from your neighbor; the fence allows your pets to ruin your own flower beds and not the old lady’s one number down the street.

  3. McGehee »

    8 January 2012 · 4:07 pm

    Having lived with star stuff-accumulaters in homes large and small, I have to agree with Tat on this one. People who accumulate stuff will do so regardless of how little space they have for it, and every constriction of space between items is a reduction of access for cleaning purposes.

  4. miriam »

    8 January 2012 · 8:31 pm

    Speaking of neighbors, I don’t have any disagreements with any of mine. Far from it. For some reason they have chosen to clear the snow off my driveway and sidewalks. I love them all.

  5. Things Change – Even Houses | Daily Pundit »

    8 January 2012 · 11:30 pm

    […] But the truth is that people need – or want – different sizes and types of housing at different stages of their lives. […]

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