Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

A Portrait of the Truly Modern Village

The latest video from Fair Companies gives a tour of Stan Leonard’s Sebastopol, CA home. The home is part of Florence Lofts, a 12-unit development specifically designed for people who live and work from home; homes feature separate floors and entrances for each purpose.

In Leonard’s previous life, he lived in a five bedroom Mill Valley home with his then-wife and their two children. He commuted 40 minutes each way to San Francisco for work and he and his wife regularly shuttled the kids long distances to school.

Today, he has a 30 second commute down a set of stairs. His ex-wife is now his next-door neighbor. Their two units are joined by a tiny door through the bathroom. The daughter occupies half of the downstairs in Leonard’s home. Presumably their son has a room in the downstairs unit of the mother’s home (not shown). Between the work-from-home situation and a closer school, the family’s need to drive has been slashed considerably.

Each unit’s downstairs square footage is 593 and the upstairs is 974, which includes a sleeping loft. This makes the Leonard family home hardly tiny, especially if you add in the square footage of his ex-wife’s unit. But there’s a lot going on here: There are two children, there is Leonard and his new partner, there is an ex-wife (relationship status unknown) and two offices. The complex also includes a pilates studio and a coffee shop, which allow Leonard, formerly bound to his car, to hardly ever drive. Because he and his ex live next to each other and their children live closer to school, there is no shuttling of the kids from home to home and to and from school.

Figures came out last week indicating that in 2012 the average size for a new home in the US has increased againgoing from 2480 to 2505 sq ft. These numbers don’t include those new home resident’s office space, commute times, lot size, etc. When looked at in total, Leonard and his brood are doing pretty great in terms of maximizing space and energy.

What’s also exciting about Leonard’s situation at Florence Lofts is that it shows a model for the modern village. It has a “local” economy of sorts as people work from home. The lofts are close to town and people live close to one another; similar to the Pocket Neighborhoods we looked at the other week, they have an outdoor commons (hydrated by the complex’s grey water). And yet it’s completely modern: Leonard, a strategic planner, operates his business through the use of technology; a nuclear family is not at the center of the home unit. Perhaps the most important thing is that the Florence Loft architecture is based more on the needs of the modern worker and family than tradition, allowing every bit of the space to be used to its maximum extent.

  • Steve

    I think the idea is great… but this could be applied to the public domain to the streetscape or town… I’d like to participate in my community and support businesses on my nearby streets …. vs. section myself off in some kind of small habitat….

    Smart, dense, urban planning would create vibrant areas where people would live, work, gather, and play… vs. this kind of creation… it’s novel… but how can he be connected to a larger community …. and still walk to work, or work from home… that is the goal…

    • lifeedited

      this is probably not an either/or situation. in other words, semi-self-contained complexes like these can contribute to the larger community. their businesses are not exclusive to the complex so far as we can tell. there’s also a benefit to having separate and small community quadrants like this one and pocket neighborhoods, where members have high collision rates. and those small communities can connect to others. the challenge, which might be what you’re getting at, is how do you connect when you’re living in a disconnected environment? move perhaps 😉

  • Jake

    This reminds me of Taiwan, where people who lived in townhouses would have their stores on the first floor and then live on the 2nd, 3rd (or more) floors.

    There were even townhouses built so that the 2nd floor can be reached from an alternate staircase so you could rent out the 1st floor.

    • Christina

      That was also like this even a few decades and certainly until the beginning of the 20. Century in European towns. The shoemaker, the butcher, the simple grocery seller all had their workplace on ground level and the family lived upstairs…..even the doctor worked and lived in the same large flat or smallish house…..