Would You Rather Have Less House, More Yard?
About the author Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab. More

The man who's famous for designing a tiny, efficient apartment in the city environment, has now designed an option for people who still want a lawn and relative peace and quiet but don't want a big house.

Should your home be huge just because it can be? This is the question that Graham Hill, founder of the minimalist design firm LifeEdited, implores people to consider. It's an especially relevant question to ask yourself when your children have left the nest and you're left with space you just don't need.

With an interest in sustainable design and green living, Hill set up a 420 square foot apartment in New York City in 2012 to show that if designed well, a small space can be functional and comfortable at the same time, and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Smaller homes are common and necessary in the city, where space is limited, so this concept makes sense for cities.

But what about the suburbs and rural areas, where space doesn't limit people? Often people build huge houses just because they have the space, even if they don't need it. The average home across America measures almost 2,700 square feet, yet 28% of the population lives alone - those demographics just don't make sense. And these bigger houses cost more to heat and cool, take more time to clean, and require more maintenance - factors that could take a toll and should be considered during retirement planning. Even knowing these issues sometimes isn't enough, because many people just don't want to leave the suburbs.

To address this issue, Hill built a small house on a large property to show that homes don't need to be large just because they can be. With sliding walls and adjustable furniture, the house functions as twice its size. It's also completely off-grid. This sounds great, but it cost $1 million to build. So, while it's inspirational, it's not very affordable for the masses. Hill hopes as sustainable amenities become more mainstream and affordable, the trend will catch on.

What do you think? Could you live in a small space? If you've ever seen the show Tiny House, Big Living on HGTV, you may be envious of the small homes people build and take on the road. It gives people the freedom to live basically anywhere - a nice perk when perhaps you're retired and free to roam and explore. (If this mobile lifestyle interests you, check out our previous article). If that's a bit extreme for you, then the idea of living smaller could translate to simply moving to a smaller space and being creative in how you furnish it. Something to think about!

Click Read More to be taken to the Fast Company article and learn more about Hill and his designs.


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