Once again, after a week of great meetings with people who are exploring their timber frame home design opportunities, I come back to a basic truth. Timber frames provide more living space per square foot than other building methods. Timber frame homes, with open spaces and volume, just feel larger than their actual footprint. I talked about this same concept in an earlier article and I’d like to carry that idea a little further (http://www.timberframemag.com/blog/2010/04/27/building-a-smaller-timber-frame-home/).
I believe that maybe our new, smaller space deserves to be treated as new space and not burdened with all of our treasures. If you are planning a retirement home (or a retreat), it might be time to rethink your priorities and the “stuff” that has followed you through life (I don’t mean your spouse). Do you need to take everything that you’ve loved (and dusted, polished, moved, etc) with you as you move forward or is it time to pass it on to the younger generation or to someone who can love (and dust, polish, move) it? Wouldn’t your son or daughter enjoy the bedroom set that you inherited from Grandma today even more than waiting to inherit it from you? Couldn’t you choose a few pieces that bring the past into your home and share the rest? If the kids aren’t interested, there is someone out there who would love it. Donate or sell what you don’t love and need.
Timber frames have their own beauty. The heavy timbers and their craftsmanship carry their own history. So as you design your timber frame home, think about what would enhance your life and what you’d just move because you’ve always moved it into your new home. Step into your retirement home with memories and a new uncluttered space. Plan your space to allow you to live long and well, thinking more about pieces that will give you extra storage so you can plan a smaller home.
Think about how you really live and don’t add extra space, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, etc, just because you’ve always had them. It is important to think about resell in designing any home, but don’t sacrifice your comfort (or pocketbook) today for something someone else may want in a new home. If you are leaving corporate world and won’t wear suits every day will you really need as much closet space? If you love showers and hate baths, do you need a bathtub that takes space and requires cleaning in your master bathroom? Or could it be relegated to a guest bathroom? In this process remember that a timber frame has no bearing walls. If someone wants to remodel after you’ve left the home, they have far fewer problems than remodeling a stick-framed home. So plan your home for your life, not someone else’s.
Smaller homes do live as well as larger homes. They just live differently. Spend time thinking about how you will live in your timber frame and bring those thoughts to the table as you plan your new home. Enjoy it because it provides shelter for the body and soul and not because you made it large enough to accommodate everything from your past.
And however you build, whatever you build, just Build Boldly.