Trends: Keepin’ it Simple

I surely cannot be the only person who desires to exist inside of a smaller footprint, somewhere on the edge of the grid, if not off of it entirely.

A lot of DIY-ers have jumped head-first into the craze of converting their vehicle into their very own turtle-shell home-on-the-road. Sure, a VW van would be ideal, but until they start manufacturing them for the masses again, I hear the Scion xB and the Honda Element have scores of rear cargo space that is easily transformed into an on the road bedroom-for-two. But even more exciting for the world of architecture and design – architects have started to get on board with this small-space phenomena. It may not be altogether new but it sure seems to be gaining in popularity, and it is great to see our industry getting involved in the challenge of it, especially in a time where land is becoming scarce and real estate a financial battleground (dare I mention the average house prices in Vancouver and Toronto?).

Converted bath houses or train cars, modular transitional homes, lofts, attic spaces (Paris Attic/Batiik Studio) and laneway houses – they all challenge our ideas of space: how much we think we need, what we can do with it, and how do we utilize it better? It is amazing how more often than not, these extensively planned and carefully executed 450 square foot converted apartments can feel more spacious than a 1,800 square foot cookie-cutter in a new suburb.

As experiments in living simple, and doing less with more, “tiny houses” inspire a great demonstration of intense understanding. Programmatic solutions overlap, design standards questioned, and clever storage methods become critical. Beds in drawers (Minim Micro Homes), beds that fold up into walls, beds that pull-out from under balconies, and even beds that rise up into the ceiling to reveal a living room (Yo! Home Prototype 2/Simon Woodroffe); all are creative solutions to these new concerns over space utilization. How much time do you actually spend in a bedroom? Do you need a whole room for just your bed? When you’re not in your bedroom, what are you doing, and how can those spaces interact with each other as opposites, or overlap and become synonymous with other tasks?

Every design project comes with its own plethora of unique challenges. But whether it’s a 300 or 3,000 square foot home, at the end of the day, it still needs to feel like home. The trend for home size growth has been long and strong. Here’s hoping this push for the opposite might shake things up.

Ellysa Evans, Jr. Interior Designer
Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design

Categories: Architecture, design, interior design, Trends

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