Size of Homes : Is bigger always better?
The Dream of Homeownership.
We’ve heard versions of the Dream Home one way or another - as homeownership has become and remains the pinnacle of adulthood to many.
Running in parallel with cultural expectations and societal obsession with size, this union of the Homeowning Dream and social pressures has produced excessively large houses that are underutilized.
When it comes to our homes, is bigger always better?
As it turns out, the perception of space has a greater impact over its actual physical properties - according to results of a study carried out by researchers at Brigham Young University.
While the feeling of being too cramped in a house may cause friction between family members; being too spread out in an excessively large house creates its own forms of negative impacts.
An overabundance of space reduces communication between family members - whether that be from intentional or spontaneous interactions. This forms a disconnect, creating the feeling of isolation.
And so it appears..
A bigger house isn’t necessarily a better home.
Besides the social dynamics and relationships within a family unit, an important consideration before we decide to go big is the higher miscellaneous costs that comes along with it.
Following more hefty upfront costs, many of us underestimate the amount of time, money and energy needed to not only run but upkeep a larger house. This includes higher utility bills to heat or cool the larger area, furnishing expenses and maintenance costs.
Parts of a house tend to also become underutilized when it is larger than the needs of its users. These underused spaces are prone to neglect and gradually become disassociated with feelings of comfort. This ‘wasteful’ way of living nullifies the perceived appeal of living in a large house.
(We hope by this point, it’s clear that size is relative to needs. What is ‘large’ to family of two may be small to a three-generational household of seven.)
Have We Went Too Far?
Being aware of some of the downsides above, how do we know if we have went a step (or ten) too far? Here are a few tell-tale signs your home might be bigger than you need:
Rooms not actively used / Rooms you can’t find a use for.
If there are rooms that nobody has spent any time in for weeks or can’t even find a use for, that extra space is redundant and is not something the household really needs.
Too many specialty rooms.
Sure, it makes us feel good to say we have a game room, a party room, a tea room or a home gym; better yet, if we had all of the above. But if these rooms are infrequently used, would it then be wise to dedicate prime real estate exclusively for their individual purposes? It could be time to consider multifunctional or flexible spaces. [Read more about flexible living in this post]
Feeling overwhelmed in your own home.
Do not be surprised that excess space in conjunction with having too many items is a common source of stress for many families. This has given rise to the Marie Kondo movement with its KonMari Method, as an effort to reduce physical possessions in order to reduce mental clutter. This sign often follows the next indicator of having a house that is too large for our needs.
Rooms to store rather than to be lived in.
When the rooms in our home have gradually become spaces for objects rather than people, it is time to evaluate the compatibility of its size to our needs. More often than not, the excess stuff in our storage are not things we absolutely need but just buy anyway because we have the extra space.
House feels like a burden.
Homeownership is a big deal. And it doesn’t come cheap. But at the end of the day, shouldn’t owning a home add to our overall quality of life? Otherwise, what is the point? So when your house seemingly becomes only a cause of financial burden, it could be time to look into downsizing.
The Bottom Line
No other building is as personal as a house.
We need to be honest with ourselves.
Bigger is not always better; bigger is most certainly not always happier.
The first step is to understand our needs against our wants. And be truthful about the reason or reasons we want a house that size - it could be big or small. This exercise is to just test the compatibility of house size with our actual needs. We may realize that sometimes more space is not what we need; but rather, it was just a matter of making better use of the space we have.