The space issue
City living teaches you something about tight quarters — and my experience living in downtown Baltimore was no exception. Married just a few years at the time, my husband and I moved into our 700-square-foot, street-level apartment with not much more than a few boxes of dishes, a beat-up sleeper sofa and our 70-pound labradoodle, Winnie. Looking back, it’s a good thing we showed up with next to nothing. The apartment was located on the first level of a three-story rowhouse, one of the thousands built in the late 1800s so that Baltimore residents of average means could afford to live in the style of the times. And while it oozed with character, quirks and charm, it was a little short on space — a fact not particularly important to a couple of newlyweds, but a fact nonetheless.
Fortunately, we quickly got creative with the place, turning the front sidewalk into an outdoor seating area and the long shotgun hallway into a makeshift dog run for Winnie who turned out to be most certainly not a city dog. We even used the kitchen peninsula for a counter-turned-laundry folding station. (Our stacked washer and dryer was tucked in next to the fridge so, in a way, this setup worked out perfectly.) “One day we’ll think about this place and smile,” we used to say. And we were right.
That apartment was our home for one short but very special year, and we still take our three young children to see it every now and then. What we figured out — and what you’ll figure out, too, as you plan your dream house — is that details and a healthy dose of design smarts can lead to a home that suits you and your lifestyle perfectly — no matter the size. That’s why I think you’ll love “Small-House Design Strategies” (page 56), where we share expert tips for designing a not-so-big house that lives large. From creating diagonal views in your interior spaces (the increased distance between two focal points will make a room feel much larger) to incorporating spacious walkways and lots of natural light, there are plenty of simple tricks to make even the smallest home feel more spacious.
You’ll also find inspiration in our home tours, specifically “Haven in a Hayfield” (page 34). Showcasing a simple yet stunning 2,100-square-foot timber home in Ohio, this story shows the benefits of not over-designing and keeping things simple.
So, if building small or just building smart sounds appealing, this issue has something for you. And remember: When it comes to your timber home, it’s the memories that will matter most. In fact, while writing this editor’s note, I asked my husband about that tiny apartment on Bank Street from all those years ago and we both smiled, just like we said we would. Something tells me your timber home will be even more meaningful and memorable, whether big, small or anywhere in between.