Based on the US Census Bureau, the average home size peaked in 2007. Since then, builders are in step and responding with eliminating formal living rooms and creating more open concept living. For those in metropolitan cities, this is nothing new. Small spaces are simply a part of life and are the norm rather than an exception.
However, this trend is obviously on the minds of many as evidenced by a recent issue of House Beautiful (July 2010) entitled "Is Small the New Big?"
Just so you know, this issue is, to date, my all time favorite issue of House Beautiful. This was the first issue released under their new editor, Newell Turner, who coincidently is a fellow Mississippian (which is where I was born and lived most of my life and still return to for family holidays). I would encourage you to read the article in it's entirety, but here are my favorite highlights from the feature.
The article showcased five very different, yet small, spaces in different areas of the country. The styles were extremely varied from home to home.
Of the five, one of Birmingham's very own interior designer, Melanie Pounds, was featured for her personal cottage. The thing I loved most about Melanie's space was that she did not sacrifice style. Below is a picture of the only gathering room in her home. She selected furnishings and fabrics that had a high end feel, yet still comfortable. It is such a wonderful blend of formal and casual.
You can easily see having cocktails in this space prior to a dinner party or curling up for a movie with the family.
Another view of her family room. A perfect blend.
This is Melanie's one and only dining space. It can be used for a late morning breakfast with the paper or for those dinner party gatherings after cocktails in her fabulous family room.
Gramery Park Studio
A tiny (and I do mean tiny at 450 square feet) studio in Gramery Park, NY did not have a dedicated bedroom, living room or even kitchen! I was all one small room. Here is an overall shot of literally the entire space!
That daybed to the left is the bedroom. Here's a closer look of the bed by day.
And by night, it is her bedroom!
East Village One Bedroom
OK, I have already admitted, I don't love purple, but I do love this home. Interior designer David Kaihoi did not allow a single piece of furniture to come into this space that did not serve double (or even triple) duty. Here is a shot of the main living space.
Do you see that banquette (I know purple velvet is not my thing), but look what it can do!
This is where they store their bath towels and extra linens.
It is also where they eat their meals! Where did the table come from you ask? On the entry way wall (about five steps) across from the banquette. Here is a picture of it.
The key message - you can live smaller and more practically without sacrificing style. And we are talking high style! Plain and simple - clever design for using the space you have and not fretting over lack of formal rooms that no one uses.