Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small is a very beautiful

Remember the studio apartment you had in college? That one room apartment served as bedroom, living room, Dining hall, kitchen and den; it probably held a daybed, a television, a coffee table, and maybe even the stove and refrigerator along one wall. Moving into a real home after experiencing such a cramped way of living can be a huge relief. So it comes as a surprise to some that homeowners today are deliberately building smaller. If you've got the cash, some think, why not slap on as much square footage as possible.

But sometimes building smaller means building smarter. It's a fact: small is more efficient than large. Building a large house requires a lot of building materials and manpower, and consequently, a higher cost. That's why many larger homes are built with lower qualities of wood and other materials- if the builders used the best materials, they would price themselves right out of the market. A smaller home, on the other hand, can be built with high-quality materials and attention to detail, and still not fall into an impossible price range. If you're not particularly in need of floor space but you love the idea of oak trim and vintage cabinetry, then it might be in your best interests to build small.

No matter how much you spend to build the house initially, a smaller house will save you money in the years to come. Heating and cooling costs of a smaller-sized home will be a fraction of what they are in larger properties, and repairs on a one-story roof run much cheaper than those on a three-story mansion. Painting or siding the exterior of a house that doesn't have as much exterior is an easy job and well within most home owner's budgets.

Of course, there is the space factor. But unless you have a large family or another reason why you need lots of square footage, don't rule out small homes as being too cramped and claustrophobic. In the hands of the right designers, smaller spaces can be given wonderful, wide-open feelings that rival those of larger houses. Smart designers know the tricks of opening up a small space and giving it the flow it needs to feel larger. Rooms that open into each other, a lack of hallways and narrow entryways, and large windows can all help a small home feel gigantic. A light style of furniture and simple, bold pieces on the walls complement a small space perfectly and give it a clean, contemporary feel. Imagine living without the compulsion to fill your space with "stuff." Imagine a home where one or two quality chairs and a sofa can make a room come alive.

So if you're considering building or buying, consider going small. It's the new, budget-conscious wave in home design.

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