My husband and I recently went for a walk on a trail that runs through one of the wealthier neighborhoods in our area and we couldn’t help but notice the scary hugeness of some of the houses. While I don’t begrudge anyone a big house, even if it is on the super size side, the weird thing was that most of these already enormous homes had new and glaringly bad additions. We couldn’t help but wonder what would warrant such a bizarre expansion but I’m sad to say that we came up short. It’s obvious that we’re just living in a time of more bigger.
First let me say that this is not an attack on the wealthy. It’s really an observation and a reminder that having restraint, and knowing what is “enough,” is a critical concept when it comes to tackling a home renovation. Adding for the sake of adding is almost never a good idea and it can really throw a house off balance. Tragically, I see many additions that were just taken to the max because the space was there, rather than carefully considered for what was really needed. This is a crucial part of space planning and where my ability to hear the whispers of a house comes in handy. There is always what the client wants, what the architect says can be done, and what the house actually needs. Respecting the soul of a house and its intended footprint, as well as the property line, are pretty important when trying to achieve more space and still feel that sense of right.
More bigger isn’t always a good thing. I’ve seen some modest renovations where restraint was clearly exercised, and the end result is a home that feels super yummy and sublimely comfortable. It’s almost like you don’t notice it, in a good way, because the addition has been designed to flow into the main house in such a seamless way. When you pay your house the respect it deserves, it pays you back with delicious ease, and let’s face it, we can all live with less space than we think.
Needless to say our little walk led to a bigger discussion of the wish list for our own house and the funny thing is that we didn’t have more bigger thoughts. We were definitely focused on functionality and solving our space pain points even though we have a sizable piece of property on which to grow. I think this is because our house actually does work for our small family and there’s something about the integrity of that that’s sacred to me. Bigger isn’t always better, balance is a true blessing, and restraint is definitely the mother of all good design.