I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much stuff I need in my life: square footage in my house, clothes in my closets, cars in my garage, china in my cupboards, etc. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how to manage the upkeep on these things, balancing the replacement of what’s worn out with how much my budget will allow and how much my vanity wants.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the size of a person’s house supposedly says a lot about them: how successful they are, how smart they are, how good they are. Yes, many people in my city believe that if you live in a $300,000 house then you are more responsible, respectable, and reliable than if you live in a $125,000 house. That fallacy is alive and well here in my suburbia.
A large part of the reason I’m fascinated with mid-century design is that was on a smaller scale than what we live in today. Aspirations and material desires were on a more human level, too – at least in the beginning.
Take a look at this: Lindsay over at Shrink that Footprint came up with a clever way of showing how much house space we need in the US compared to other countries:
And take a look at this chart I found:
Are present day Americans so much bigger that we require 1,000 more square feet in our homes than our parents or grandparents did in 1973? Were our ancestors uncomfortably cramped? No, I don’t think so. I think the only thing that has changed has been the size of our material aspirations, which I don’t believe is a good thing. In more than one place in life, I have found that more money doesn’t always mean a better life.
Perhaps some of us unthinkingly follow the path that was laid out by “mad men” advertisers and the ever-busy Joneses; some of us were just keeping up without really asking ourselves if we wanted to end up where we were headed.
I’m 53. Do I really want a mortgage in my very old age? Or a lot of stuff to clean and repair? As well as a lawn to hire someone to keep up? No, I don’t think so. Something is shifting in my attitudes about stuff and the size of my house. I think it’s shifting downward… we’ll see where this leads.