January 19, 2022

House Space: A Fascinating and Unsurprising Map

Where American families spend more of their time in big houses:

Yes, the kitchen and television room, not the dining room and porch.  More here (the author travels the country in a 200-square-foot Airstream):

Does the American dream require a big American home?

 

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  1. I think this confirms what I think we’ve known for a long time, that the wealthy have excessive amounts of private space that they don’t use, often compounded with multiple homes, while the poor don’t have enough. The car dependency created by these houses on large under-used lots in turn creates patterns that debases our public realm.

  2. I hope that the image shown isn’t meant to be representative of a big house. I would call it modest. Something that most people ought to be able to aspire to. The allocation of space isn’t always logical – the unused living room that lies in state comes to mind – but the overall size isn’t unreasonable. And I don’t see any double or triple car garage. The barely used dining room is a shame, but the red dots might not fully represent the room’s significance. True, meals are obviously not often eaten there, but the meals that are, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, might have special enjoyment.

    But I suppose my real purpose here is to rail against the idea that we ought to be going smaller in our part of the world. Apartments here have become so small that they are unlivable to all except ascetics and students. If you reach an age where you might inherit a piece of furniture, forget it. There is no space for it. There is no space for sporting or camping equipment. There is hardly space for a hoover. In fact, there is so little space, there really isn’t room for one of the primary cultural artifacts of our age: the flat screen TV. Developers and reals estate agents show it hanging above a fireplace, an absolutely terrible place for it, because there is no other place for it to go. And I see that some poor saps actually do it. Staring up at the TV like they are in an airport waiting room.

    And my broader point is that this supply of silly suites isn’t doing much to sate our desire for real estate. Those that buy them do so out of a need to be on the real estate ladder, not as a decent place to live. They will always want something that is comfortable and reasonably sized, so they stay in the market as continued demand.

    What we need to do to is better accommodate reasonable expectations. In our time and place that is unlikely to mean detached homes and must mean townhouses and apartments. So we ought to get better and building reasonable townhouses and apartments that people actually want to live in at an affordable cost. Because apartments use less land and less material to enclose the space, they actually ought to face less economic and environmental pressure to be wee. They really ought to be the reasonable choice where people can live their lives, have children, inherit furniture, camp, have a hobby, and not have to stare at the ceiling to watch TV.

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