So I live in New York City, which in general means living in relatively small amounts of space. Kids share bedrooms and bathrooms, and no one thinks it’s weird. We occasionally look at stuff and say “that’s something we’d buy if we had a big suburban house,” but the only thing I think we’re really missing is a guest bedroom (my mother-in-law, who is a very good sport, recently spent about a week sleeping on an air mattress which would inevitably be deflated by 4AM). And a closet in the master bedroom, which is a kind of a long story, but is one of the reasons we will likely move in July.
Where to? Probably a house somewhere outside the city. Which means we will have more space. I guess that means we can spread out, but one of the things I like about having 4 people in 1500 square feet is that we interact with each other. The kids don’t have the option of shutting themselves in their rooms. When we watch TV (which we usually don’t) choices must be debated, because there’s only one place to watch TV. I read an NPR report recently about mega-houses, which mentioned some being built with 3 playrooms for 2 children. Because heaven forbid you ever have to share your toys…. Though it’s actually an interesting article — the homeowner profiled at the beginning notes that his wife grew up in the projects in New Haven, and it’s really an American Dream to be able to afford an 11,000 square foot house. Which is true. But…
That article got me wondering: what do you put in a 10,000 square foot mansion? Most houses don’t advertise more than 5-6 bedrooms, so the builders have to get creative. I went over to DreamHomeSource.com, and found different plans in the 10,000 sq ft plus category, like this one, which has a separate study, office, library, video library and computer loft (all things I manage to incorporate into one half of my bedroom!) or this one, whose basement has a separate billiards room, game room and rec room.
There’s been a lot in the news lately about the return to smaller houses. This is typical of the way media coverage works, in that whenever a huge trend (toward bigger houses — we’ve gone from 1000 square feet in 1950 to just shy of 2500 now) reverses slightly, we like to make a big deal about it. But I find it hard to believe that a 10,000 square foot house would make a person twice as happy as a 5000 square foot house. And given that social ties are one of the things that make people happiest, if a house succeeds in cutting family members off from each other, then it would actually have a negative effect. What do you think?
In other 168 Hours news:
- Hank describes how I called in to talk with his office book club about 168 Hours. I can do this for your office too. Email me.
- The blogger at Bearing Blog actually turned her 168 Hours time log into a pie chart. Definitely an extra-credit project!
- I have a column in today’s USA Today called “This isn’t Grandpa’s retirement.” I’ll run it here later this week.