A house comes to life when it speaks of the people who dwell there; when it becomes a narrative of personalities and interests, a reflection of character, a creative collective. A house has room for life when everything has a place to belong, with plenty of openness between. Either visually or literally, either horizontally, vertically, or cubically, open space is a powerful force greatly influencing the livability of a room. When designing our house, I took these seemingly ethereal elements and applied them to the entire process.
Thinking in black and white, from a bird’s eye perspective, I drew out the spatial designation for every room according to the comfortable minimum of space required, and then built each room around the main pieces of furniture that would ground it. In other words, I designed our house from the inside out. Although my training in interior design and past experience in the home construction world certainly aided in the technical aspects of this, I have to say that many streams of influence and study over the years joined together to form what you see in the photos now. A life-long affinity for small spaces has caused me to be a perpetual student of architects, designers, and builders who work their craft well.
But, before the planning and drawing could even begin, the design really started with many questions. What were the minimum living requirements for our family, realistically? This question lead to more questions, such as: What were the fewest necessary items that we needed in order to have a well-functioning kitchen (keeping in mind that I often prepare for a crowd and enjoy having a beautifully laid table). What was the minimum amount of seating we needed in the living and dining areas, considering our family and friends? How much storage did we actually need in the bathroom? Do we have to have extra sets of sheets and towels? What hobbies or crafts are most important to us, and what was the minimum amount of space they would take? Do we really need that many books? Where will overnight guests sleep? So many questions.
The process of responding didn’t happen overnight or in a sit-up-straight conference session and give neat, tidy answers in numerical order, checking off the boxes as you go sort of way, either. No, it was organic and unfolding with each step that we took, as each consideration was before us. And as we worked through, we came to the understanding that we weren’t paring down to nothing, we were paring down to what really mattered.