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Buyers Have Love-Hate Relationship with ‘Right-Sizing’

It’s not just retirees – millennials also like the idea of smaller spaces. But even those who think it’s a wise move fear their loss of storage space might be a mistake.

CHICAGO – Moving to a smaller space isn’t just for empty nesters and retirees anymore, says Sheri Koones, author of Downsize: Living Large in a Small House (2019, The Taunton Press). Younger people are embracing a smaller footprint as well.

Younger couples who are both working and having children later “want to be active and they don’t want to be doing maintenance on the weekends,” Koones told the Associated Press. “They don’t want to be tied down to mowing lawns and doing all the other chores that come with living in a big house.”

A recent article at BUILDER called “smaller, more efficient designs” a rising trend that will continue through this year.

To downsize living spaces, certain home areas are getting nixed to accommodate the lower square footage. For example, more builders are removing the front room off the entryway that rarely gets used.

“Right-sized homes have been trending upward for a few years now,” Richard Less, owner of custom builder Lee Brothers Construction in Huntsville, Texas, told BUILDER. “Families are becoming increasingly aware of wasted square footage in their home.”

But the idea of moving to a smaller space can scare people at first, Koones acknowledges. Once they do, “time and again, people used the word ‘liberated’ to describe their move to a smaller space, with homes requiring far less time and money to maintain,” she says.

Plus, small homes can be made to feel more spacious, she says. Koones points to several architectural features that can open up a smaller home, such as raised ceilings, fewer hallways and well-positioned windows that let more natural light flow in. Also, flexible rooms can take on other uses, whether it’s a home office, bedroom or hobby room.

The growth of multifunctional furniture can also help maximize space in smaller homes, she adds. For example, a tiny kitchen table might be expandable to accommodate dinner guests.

“The key is to have a home that is efficiently designed, both in terms of energy use and in terms of space,” she says. “I refer to it as ‘downsizing,’ but a better word for it might be ‘right-sizing.’ For most of history, houses were more modestly proportioned, and we lived quite comfortably in those smaller homes. Over time, houses got too big. Now the trend is heading toward smaller again.”

Source: “Small Home Living: Not ‘Downsizing’ But ‘Right-Sizing,’” The Associated Press (Jan. 28, 2020) and “Six Industry Trends That Will Shape 2020 and the New Decade,” BUILDER (Feb. 13, 2020)

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