How Much Space Do We Really Need?
When my parents were kids, their parents slept in the dining room. These were not poor people. They just figured the dining room was so seldom used, why not put it to use?
Fast forward 60 years and for many Americans it’s unimaginable for parents to be without their own room (or in many cases, a child). Suburban sprawl and cheap construction has changed our view of what constitutes an acceptable amount of square footage. The above figure shows the average new home size in the US near its peak in 2006, as well as sizes for several other modernized countries. Keep in mind that these other countries aren’t slumming it; many (if not most) of them are believed to have higher standard of living standards than the US. It’s clear that the space we need is as much cultural as functional.
What if we started fresh and looked at what we actually need from our homes? We would probably end up with much smaller homes, which have the advantage of being less expensive, consuming less energy and being easier to upkeep. Also, by incorporating smart architectural and product design, we can pack amazing utility in small footprints. See this gorgeous 620 sq ft apartment that houses a family of 4 for a perfect example of this new/old way of living (via Dwell).