Published in October 2015, Katie Hutchinson’s book The New Small House, is a delight. The book’s 200+ pages feature stunning photography, beautifully detailed descriptions, and illustrated floorplans – all of which made me want to immediately buy a piece of property and start the process of building one of her designs.
Alas, the time is not quite right for that – as my husband and I are still renting an apartment deep in an urban landscape, waiting for our next move in a few years. But I will keep this book on hand and refer to it frequently as we start the planning process.
While I’m not a big fan of so-called “tiny” houses (The New Small House doesn’t devote too much ink to what I consider the too-tiny options), I do wholeheartedly advocate that people consider houses of 1400 square feet or fewer. I won’t go into the many reasons; I’m sure you’ve heard most of them before. Suffice it to say that Ms. Hutchinson’s book provides inspiration and motivation for finding the right size and best design – for you – and presents a few of what I consider most-perfect houses (at least most perfect for how I want to live for the next 20 years of my life).
Consider this description of the book found on a bookseller’s website:
The ingenious and attractive designs of these 24 small houses (ranging in size from 500 square feet to 1640 square feet) suit young families, independent couples, single folks and those entering retirement. The houses are categorized by their location, from waterside gems to city dwellings and include new construction and renovations featured in 275 beautiful color photographs and 30 illustrations.
Ms. Hutchinson’s detailed floor plans will be helpful as you start assessing your current furniture and accessories and begin deciding which of your best/favorite pieces will fit where in your new smaller house.
In addition to Katie Hutchinson’s design inspiration, I found in the pages of The New Small House one of my favorite new downsizing phrases: “Simplify smartly.”
Now is the time to re-present fundamental small-house design strategies – complete with whole-house case studies – for homeowners eager to simplify smartly.”
As a baby boomer who has observed my own generation and the ones before and after, and knows a bit about demographics, economic cycles, and business and political environments, I realize that facilities to house many of us baby boomers will be few and far between in the coming years. Instead of leaving it to chance as to where you’re going to end up in 20 years (maybe leaving your kids a big house full of stuff no one wants), why not find a spot of land in an area near family or friends you love – or near beaches, mountains, rivers, town squares, universities, or urban areas with plenty of shopping and dining options – and build a house like one of those featured in the book?
If you’re of remotely sound mind and healthy-enough body, think about downsizing. And do it before you think you need to! Once you know you need to downsize, it can be too late: You’ll be older, and perhaps you’ll be exhausted, injured or unwell. It will be too overwhelming and you’ll be stuck.
Some people will hesitate starting the downsizing process for such a long time, that by the time they want to sell their 5-bedroom house, demand for that type of property will have fallen and prices will have plummeted. (It’s currently a red-hot sellers’ market in the U.S. and your house will likely bring top dollar.)
Flip through the pages of The New Small House and picture yourself in one of the beautiful small-home settings she describes. No worries if it’s just not YOU. You may be accustomed to having a lot more space, and you may be okay with all the kids’ stuff and Grandma’s stuff shoved in closets and drawers and the attic, and you may think you need two guest rooms because twice a year you use them. That’s okay. It’s just not your time.
It’s long been common for people to want to “stay put.” Change is difficult and fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. Many people (my parents included) say, “I’ll go feet first out of this old house and I don’t care that I’m leaving a mess for my kids to deal with.” But for many others, it’s a wise decision to start thinking about a new way to live. Katie Hutchinson’s The New Small House will show you how elegant and stylish it can be to “live smaller.”
Downsize today. Enjoy a simpler life for a change.