Microsize Me

All of us have at one point or another dreamt of one day having a home of our own.  However, we often don’t include in this dream the side effects of owning a home that is larger than we should be.  This applies especially to large homes a.k.a. McMansions, where some families end up purchasing homes with too many rooms and too much space.

At first, there is excitement at the prospect of moving into the brand new house and enjoying all its vastness. But after a while,  they realize that the very thing that was supposed to bring them comfort and enjoyment was becoming more of a burden. Large homes come at a price, and in exchange for the extra square footage, the burden of cleaning and managing the house becomes greater.

What is more, the extra space leaves room for us to overindulge in things we would not have bought or kept without it.  A Japanese architect once said that the house has become the “trigger” consumer product, where its purchase can lead to a series of other purchases. In other words, when we see empty spaces in our homes, we feel tempted to fill them up, resulting in an extra chair that was never needed, or an extra coffee table that just ends up collecting dust.

A few months ago, there was an article in the NY Times about a couple who chose to build their own home at what to the neighbors was a shockingly small size: 704 square feet. However, despite the relative shortage of space, the owners actually got more out of it than their counterparts do out of their own homes.

By downsizing, the couple’s time spent on managing and cleaning their home was reduced, and they could dedicate their time for other activities that they actually enjoy. Not only that, the construction and mortgage fee for the property is significantly lower than that of the owners’ neighbors; while others pay thousands of dollars to keep their place in their homes, the owners of the tiny house are able to get by with paying less than $500 a month for taxes, utilities, and other services.

This topic is worth paying attention to as Christians because it reveals to us the ways in which our homes can become chains  (i.e. financial strain, maintenance fees and responsibilities) rather than just comfortable and harmless possessions, and challenges us to really think about why we purchase certain homes over others.

For instance, pride tells us to buy bigger homes to display our wealth to others. Insecurity tells us to own homes that we can’t  afford, because being able to show others a big home brings more comfort than not having a lengthy credit card bill. Greed tells us to buy more things and in larger sizes, just because we can. Pride, insecurity, and greed are just a few things that could be  manifested in the way we view and purchase homes, and they reveal to us the ways in which homes can become idols.

So if you’re sitting in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, or whatever other room, take a moment to walk around your house and ask yourself: how does my home glorify God and reflect my spiritual life?

Link to the article on the 704 sq. ft. home: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/garden/freedom-in-704-

Cover photo credit: Alek Lisefski 

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2 thoughts on “Microsize Me”

  1. Good stuff –
    Some other conversations off the top of my head that I’d like to tune in on: how we make our choices about *where* we live, how we show hospitality with our living spaces…

  2. I was thinking today about how similarly we err in commanding our possessions of space and time. As if, our homes representing of our desires to grow, to fill, by literally expanding and filling the space with goods; our schedules representing the same desires to grow, to fill, by being efficient, filing the time with things to do.

    Perhaps these are just side effects of how we allocate our attention; how being attentive to others and how making time for others and how making room for others come down to the same thing, how our wills and actions are connected; how our commitments and behaviors are one.

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