While I marked this book as “read”, in reality I skimmed it. It’s interesting enough and well-written enough that it could be a cover-to-cover read. I set out to read it that way, but since we just bought a house in the suburbs three months ago, I could’t bring myself to do any more than skim it.
Things I liked:
–The approach. The book got me thinking about what “home” means to me and the way in which I use the spaces in my home.
–The profiles. Seeing the variety of people who choose small houses and the variety of living situations of those living in smaller houses gave me a sense of the possibilities for my family at different stages in our lives. I also found it comforting when people moved from a small house into a larger one until their kids moved out and then moved back to a smaller house. It helped me feel a little better about our “bigger” house (our house isn’t huge, but I was hoping to keep it closer to 1000 square feet. We’re closer to 2000. *sigh* I know…horrible problem to have, whine, whine).
–The floorplans. I am a sucker for floorplans. I wonder sometimes if I ought to have been an architect. Or perhaps just a person who does architectural drawing. I loved that class in junior high. The good old T square and I were good buddies.
–The history. I knew houses were smaller back in the day, but I didn’t really understand how that worked in real life. How do you raise four children in 850 square feet? This book helped me get a better sense of that. (Less bathing, more time outside, family bed.)
Things I didn’t like:
-The author seems to assume a baseline level of practical ability and home building/improvement practices. Small house living doesn’t seem to be for the all-thumbs neophyte. Even if you’ve got a pre-built home and you don’t plan to mold it from mud and straw yourself, you still need to have some level of know-how to, you know, put in a loft or rig a system for elevating your dehydrated apple slices. The suggestion to “go vertical” requires some knowledge of how to build a stable structure that goes upwards. Between my husband and me, even choosing paint colors is beyond our combined abilities. When we move into a house, the walls stay just the way they were when we moved in. In fact, everything stays just the way it was. I even base where I hang photos on where there are already nails in the walls. If something—anything—breaks, we have to hire someone to fix it. We even had to hire someone to get an interior door to stop sticking. We have one here that won’t even close all the way, but since we’ve not yet found a handy-person in our new town, we just leave it ajar all the time. We are seriously inept.
-The majority of the small houses were in areas where the climate allows for at least some level of year-round outdoor living. A small house in New England would mean something different than a small house in southern Arizona. (No outdoor shower, for one thing.)
I guess that’s all I didn’t like about the book. It really was quite good, and I can see myself using some of the insights as I choose how to use the space we have in our current home. I can also see myself picking it back up next time we go to move into a new home. Who knows…maybe by then my husband or I will have acquired some practical skills. It could happen.