During the course of our renovation a number of people have questioned the size of our house, suggesting that it is too small for our family of six. But how much room do you need? Yes, the kids will be sharing bedrooms, and no, we don't have a formal dining room or a media room for that matter - but that's not how we live. For us, it was more important to retain adequate outdoor space rather that building a 'McMansion' on a small site. And this has become even more apparent having lived in an apartment for the past two years.
The average new dwelling in Australia is the biggest in the world, while at the same time the number of people living in these houses has fallen. If we were to measure how much space each person has, it averages at 100 square metres each. Does that seem like too much? Do we really want the additional cleaning, maintenance, and utility costs of running a large home? I know I don't.
So how much space do we really need to live comfortably? I was listening to a program recently where Stuart Harrison (a Melbourne-based architect and the author of Forty Six Square Metres of Land Doesn't Normally Become a House) suggested that 40 square metres per person should be sufficient, provided that there is adequate outdoor space as well.
So if I take this advice into context, we would need a house of about 240 square metres. The total internal living space of our house is well under 200 square metres, which falls somewhat short of the Staurt's suggested amount. Does this mean our house will be inadequate to meet our needs?
Certainly the one thing I have discovered over the past few years is that open-plan living is not the ideal style of home for our family. The main problem with it for me is the noise - and believe me there is an awful lot of it at my place. Sure we enjoy living and sharing our lives together, but it's also important for me to be able to retreat into a space where I can do my own thing (e.g. listen to music, watch TV, cook and a quiet place to read.) Our rooms are modest in size but they are somewhat separated - which means I will never have to listen to another children's TV program while I'm preparing dinner or attempting to have an adult conversation with my partner.