Think huge, but Use Little Space

By: shushou | 24 Jan 2012

The general consensus is that building design has to change in today’s market.  More than ever before, people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.  One basic way to do this, without falling into a dependency on expensive, trendy, high-tech gadgets that will hopefully monitor your house performance, is to simply modify the design to achieve the same effect with less square footage.  If you make houses smaller, then you will save money in construction, reduce your carbon footprint, and save money heating and cooling your house. With all the savings, you can still get that expensive, trendy, high-tech gadget to monitor your house.

There are many ways the design can meet your needs without using a lot of square footage. Leaving more open volume, and letting the different functions of the house share space reduces the need substantially.  This is an old concept that is best illustrated by the Great Room concept.  The kitchen, living area, and dining area all share the same volume, which gives the sense of a large, open space.  But the reality is that if you separated those functions with walls, you would find that the spaces are very small individually.

You can go a step further, and actually build in different functions within the great room area.  For instance, a built-in desk off the kitchen, or living space, adds a minimal office to the house.  Make it a roll-top desk, and you can shut the mess of the office off from the rest of the space; just like closing a door.

Transitional space eats up square footage without really gaining anything.  Transitional space is defined as “space needed to get from point A to point B”.  Hallways are a prime example of transitional space.  If you can eliminate halls, then you can  eliminate a lot of area.  If you can overlap transitional space, you can also save a lot of square footage.  Grouping bedrooms around only a small vestibule eliminates a lot of useless footage.  Or, instead of using a separate hall, use a portion of the living room to move to another space.



By using less square footage, possibilities open up for using simple structures in new and creative ways.  A simple shed roof allows sunlight where the roof and ceiling are the highest.  The interest to that space is enhanced dramatically without increasing the budget substantially.  More emphasis can now be put into the finishes, both exterior and interior, giving the house a personality that is fitting with the owner.

Now, I am not saying that you cannot design a large house anymore.  But just keeping in mind the benefits of a smaller house will affect your perspective of how to spend your money.

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