Monday, October 3, 2005

Infra-Size Me!

The size of new American homes has apparently leveled off after rapid growth in the 90's, with the average house coming in at about 2,400 square feet.

The NY Times reports that, when asked the question, "For the same amount of money, which of the following would you choose: a bigger house with fewer amenities, or a smaller house with high quality products and amenities?" 63% of respondents in 2004 said they'd take the smaller house.

That's a huge shift from 2001, when 51% said they'd take the bigger house.

Lots of reasons for the shift are offered: rising heating & cooling costs, the high cost of furnishing a very large house, a growing perception that very big houses are evidence of greed and/or lack of taste (they're sometimes derisively called "plywood palazzos"), and a realization that unused space is just . . . space.

The idea of the "not so big house" has always appealed to me; I guess I'm fascinated with technologies and ways of doing things that are minimalist and efficient-- it's not a political stance so much as it is an aesthetic temperament in my case.

One other interesting bit from the article: apparently some of the new, smaller houses are reaching back to modernist sensibilities, using lots of glass and integrating them into their settings. Hah! Can't wait to hear a new house described as "modernist revival."

Read the whole article, and don't forget to watch the audio slide show.


Anonymous said...

Check out my new employer:

We sell these all over the world. Experts on space efficientcy.

Does it bug you that you teach a dead language AND are obsessed with old houses and dying neighborhoods?

David Wharton said...

I used to live in a 150-year-old post-and-beam house in Chatham county. It's an old technology, Chip -- much older than the frame house. Greek temples were built with it. Maybe your company is a bit old-fashioned?

Chip, you need to get your facts straight. I teach two dead languages, not one. Does it bug you that the New Testament is written in one of them? Or that a huge store of Christian theology, both Catholic and Protestant, is written in the other? Perhaps I'm naive to assume that someone whose blog is titled "Christspeak" would have an interest in such things.

As to dying neighborhoods and old houses, a recent N&R real estate study showed that property values are rising faster in my neighborhood than they are in the suburbs. So no, my "obsessions" don't bug me; I enjoy my house and my neighborhood very much.

I'll tell you what does bug me, though. The fact that you use the name of Christ in your blog's title. Because I have yet to figure out what one has to do with the other.

jhs said...


I can't believe a salesman would hurl an attempted "dead language" insult at a linguistics professor.

What a hoot.

I grew up in WS, admiring the older homes in the Ardmore and West End sections of town. I have long thought a comfortable home in a good neighborhood would be more appealing than a sprawling cookie cutter home as what dominates the Clemmons and Lewisville areas of Forsyth.

Kudos on the return volley to Chipper's broadside.



Anonymous said...

Jeff- i was joking! And David, please tell me if you missed my humor.

Prof- Touche'... Of course I have a great admiration for both languages and their continuing contribution to society. As for Christspeak- You know its origin, but I am to ADHD to stay on subject. Having said that, I am persuaded that I represent Christ in all things- good and bad.