Simplify 6 – Downsize

This weekend our family spent four days at Estes Park YMCA in a cabin which was all of about 560 square feet. Though it was five or six times smaller than our house, it seemed just the right size. The two giant picture windows with mountain views combined with the vaulted ceiling helped it feel plenty large for the four of us. It also helped that there was plenty to occupy the kids’ curiosity right outside the front door. One afternoon we watched deer graze within a few feet of the cabin. The bucks kept a close eye on our kids as they watched.

Inside, we enjoyed building fires, reading, playing games, eating and talking. The large table was at times an “artist” space (as much as one can call paint-by-numbers art), a place to cut cookies, a storage spot, and a dining table. Upon departure, total vacuum and tidy-up time was a matter of minutes. Despite being much smaller than they are used to, even one of the kids mentioned “this is really all the space we need”.

And for a few days away, it is. As a practical matter, we would modify the floor plan. Add a third bedroom, enlarge the bath, add a second bathroom, find room for a stackable laundry. With those additions such a cabin would come to 800 square feet, give or take.

When you’re choosing or designing your house, think about what you really need. Take some trips and instead of hotel rooms, stay in homes of various sizes, of a range of ages, with various features and in different surroundings. It’s easy to get caught up in imagining all the things you would do with extra room, with dedicated rooms for each activity. But, it’s better to start small and then your real needs will become evident when it becomes a hassle, a pain, or simply no fun to not have the room you want. That’s when you know you really will use the space and that it doesn’t just become a burden itself in cleaning, maintaining, heating/cooling and paying for.

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