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.

The Media’s Small Home Split Personality

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

The world’s spotlight has shown brightly on small living since NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced the adAPT NYC program last week. Articles have been featured in nearly every major newspaper around the world. Suddenly, small living is a big topic.

But what is the nature of the discourse? It seems to oscillate between ridicule to legimacy. Just check out the NY Times, who featured a satirical editorial about micro units called “Microhome, Sweet Home.” Here are a couple passages:

Please keep your coat on. One of Gerald’s friends brought a hat, so unfortunately space is a bit tight in the closet.


I had a dream I was in my own coffin last night, but it wasn’t a nightmare so much as a fantasy about the legroom.

In the next breath, they’re publishing a decorating guide to small apartments. Which is it guys?

The Times isn’t the only one. While many publications did straight reporting, the Wall Street Journal called the adAPT units “Lilliputian.” Other publications are asking if anyone would live in such a small space?

This question of whether people can live in such small spaces assumes no on is living in such small spaces. The fact of the matter is small is not new, nor is it unusual. It’s just new to the US. Many–pretty much all–developed countries are, and have been, living in spaces a fraction of the size Americans occupy (can’t say “use”) for years.

Average Floor Space of Newly Built Homes

As the Gandhi quote alludes to, most deviations from the status quo endure several stages of resistance: ignorance, ridicule, active resistance and finally surrender. Perhaps the most important thing is that smaller, smarter living is being talked about and addressed in public policy in tangible ways.

What do you think about this shift? Will compact living remain a novelty in the US forever or can you see a time when compact living will be the standard? We’d love your thoughts.

Info graphic via Apartment Therapy

Image credit: AP/Edward Reed

  • Tina

    Efficient living space should be talked about and addressed in public policy in tangible ways because it is smarter living and I’m specifically targeting within the US. I have been downsizing over the past 5 years and each time reducing my living space and possessions. I have also learned to reduce my debt in the process. All of this has been accomplished without feeling I’ve lost something along the way but rather have gained so much more. I am very much impressed with Graham Hill’s high-end efficient apartment design. Thank you, Mr. Hill, for your innovative living space concept. I do believe this compact living concept will take hold to certain sectors but not for all. There will always be exceptions. 

  • I live in a 600 sq ft studio apartment that has no special furniture, no innovative design or compact appliances. I’ve got it fully furnished with everything that I need and it’s still too big. Most of the space just sits empty. I could easily fit another person in there. I’d much rather have a small 400sq ft studio with 200 sq ft of out door space.

  • Mike

    I believe the trend will be to downsize. Material possions and keeping up with the Jones’ will become a thing of the past. Most Americans have the illusion that these things bring happiness…The truth is that relationships bring happiness – all the rest is just a burden. Save your money, save your energy and go have a worry-free cup of coffee with a friend.