Guest Blogger: Katie McGuire, Intern
Bigger is better. Does that sound right? This is the general philosophy here in Colorado when it comes to design. We want big houses for our huge furniture on lots of land. In the Midwest where acres of land are generally affordable, this philosophy has always worked, until now.
In our collection of sprawling furniture stores near Denver, we have recently added the only IKEA for states around. It was a massive sensation, and the opening was anticipated by people as far away as Arizona. The store itself is huge and houses an overwhelming amount of case goods, fabrics, and anything else you can think of. But wait, this isn’t our typical boxed furniture store, how can something so different from the Denver usual generate so much excitement? The designs are outlandishly different from the mountain cabin and ranch traditional we see throughout the state. All the products are smaller and more compact. But everything is inexpensive, and one way to get the average person out of habitual behavior is to offer them good deals. The Swedish juggernaut is popular throughout the world, but this idea of minimalist design is fairly uncommon in the Midwest where we treasure our space.
However, valuing space does not necessarily mean using as much as possible. In fact, value could be determined by how well one uses the space. In addition, considering what is left behind for future generations has become vital to the economy. In light of recent economic stress, many people are scaling down their homes to conserve finances, and turning to what Europe has been implementing for years: Space economy.
Many Americans consider space saving as adding an extra bookshelf or rack within the space, but a designer looks at the problem much differently. Instead of editing a space after the fact to try to squeeze some functionality out of it, we do extensive planning and carefully study how the space is constructed to create an area which is inherently space efficient, utilizing not only storage components, but the architecture itself to work for the client’s needs. That means an intimate knowledge of ergonomics, how a person interacts with the space, and the need for comfort. A well designed small space will feel large, despite the lack of square footage. With the rush of suburban expansion, most of these skills are sacrificed for production volume. But now that we are faced with economic hardship, it is time to stop living bigger and start living better.
If you are thinking about expanding or moving to a larger residence, consider redesign instead. In most cases it will be much more cost effective, and the result is just as gratifying, if not more. If you are considering scaling down, look for a home that fits you exactly right, and then use what money is left over to customize your refuge to your exact personality. You don’t need a large home to be happy, you only need good design.
Here is some additional reading if you are interested in the space saving movement:
1. Small Spaces: Stylish Ideas for Making More of Less in the Home“