On our early-morning walk through the
neighbourhood the other day, I found myself asking the dog, “Why do we
need bigger houses these days than we used to?” I don’t mean to sound
preachy on this — I’m the first one to want more space — but I do wonder
why we seem to need so much more room than we did in the past.
We’ve all seen a little early-20th-century cottage and heard some crazy
story about how a family of 12 lived in it with only one bathroom. But
now we sometimes even view 1950s and ’60s bungalows with the same
sense of puzzlement. When those houses were built only a few decades
ago, they held all the modern conveniences of a well-planned home —
two bathrooms, a finished basement, three or four bedrooms — but now
they too seem far too small to be called “dream homes.” In fact, when
people buy them, they often end up adding a big family room off the
back, enlarging the kitchen, transforming the old 10-by-10-foot bedroom
into a bathroom or closet and adding a master suite over the garage …
and then still wish they were bigger!
Is it because we are bigger? Surely as a species we aren’t growing that
fast (although I have to say the size of my kids’ feet is truly shocking). Is
it because our economy has been so healthy that we have developed an “I
can and therefore I will” mentality? Or is it because we have so much
stuff? The stores are bulging with products and customers buying them,
16 H&H FEBRUARY ’08
loading them into their SUVs and
driving them home to their big houses.
I’m sure that’s the most logical answer.
And if that’s the case, I wonder if we’ve
maxed out? Or will the houses we live
in today seem small by our kids’
standards when they grow up?
Lately, we’re hearing more talk of
downsizing, the quest for efficiency in
our homes, making a smaller footprint
on the environment — certainly all
things we know to be smart choices.
And yet we continue to build. I guess
what we know and what we want are
often two different things.
I have to say though, while I’d kill for
a lovely, big master ensuite, I don’t envy
the owners of monster homes. Big
empty rooms that seldom get used are
depressing. Then again, being squished
in one bedroom with six siblings isn’t
always happy either. I guess we each
have our own vision of the perfect-sized
home. Hopefully we can make wise
choices in finding and making homes
that fulfill our deepest desires for
comfort and happiness, rather than our
shallowest worries about the impression
we make on others.
I guess that is kind of preachy. Oh
well, the dog seemed to enjoy our talk.
Photography by Gabor Jurina/Art direction by Barb Woolley/Hair and makeup by Gregory Graveline/Styling by Joan Bald