I live and work in a seventy square-foot (seven square meter), ten-foot (three meter) tall, round cob house with a loft for sleeping. Bathroom facilities are in a separate green house. When people ask how I can live in something so small, I like to tell them that my house is actually 40 acres (0.16 square kilometers), it just happens that only parts of it are enclosed.
Perhaps we have to narrow a view of the concept of "house". Sure we need a covered, enclosed area for shelter and to protect our "stuff" from the weather, but do we really need such a large space and to spend so much time indoors? Most people think of houses in terms of square feet, but in reality we occupy cubic feet.
Look around the room you are sitting in. Are there empty spaces around the perimeter? How about overhead? Anywhere there is furniture or appliances leaves potential storage space both above, and in some cases below, such as under a seat. How often do you stand on your washing machine or easy chair?
My house was designed to maximize space efficiency. I thought about all the tricks I had seen in motor home and boat design and applied them where I could. Looking for other ways to maximize space efficiency, I attached boards to the bottoms of the loft joists and use them as shelves for canned goods and other items. I dropped the ceiling down over the desk and chair to provide bookshelves and storage between the two levels.
To give the house a larger feel and improve air flow, there are three opening windows, positioned to provide maximum light and long views from where I spend most of my time. The door window is directly across from the desk chair, another window is to the left of the chair, providing light for reading during the day, and the third is right next to the head of the bed in the loft. For additional lighting, glass jars are scattered around the walls as well.
After three years here, I find that I spend far more time outside than I did before, partly for obvious reasons, but also because it is closer at hand. I notice things from the window that I didn't while living in a larger house, so the outdoors has become more integral to my daily living, even when I am inside. One fascinating quirk about the modern view of house sizes is that many people dream of buying a motor home and traveling, but even though they have no problem with the idea of living in a small vehicle, it would never occur to them to try to live in a stationary house of the same size. The interior space in my house is roughly the same as that of a 20-foot (6 meter) long motor home.
NOTE: You might recognize a different exterior view of this house as the logo for this web site in the upper left corner above.
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