San Diego: Small Homes


small homesI am intrigued with the idea of small homes–especially in San Diego where we spend so many hours of each day outdoors–and cost per square foot for housing is so high.

Do you think that living small can really be done? I dream of an urban dwelling with easy access to cultural events, public transportation, restaurants, shopping– or just a great walk score. Then again, I love the idea of a mountain cabin or beach cottage, where I can retreat from urban noise.

But would a small home really work?

It would be easier these days now that our sons are grown and on their own. But at the same time, we’ve got a Carlsbad household full of furniture, a gazillion treasured books, some sentimental artwork and closets in need of space clearing. Oh, and more books.

Thoughtful dreaming

When designing and furnishing my hypothetical small home, I would be very cautious and so thoughtful about every item brought inside this dwelling. If a piece of furniture has only one purpose, I would have to reconsider. Could the mall sofa also serve as a guest bed? Could the small dining table double as a desk? Perhaps a small kitchen work cart could double as eating area with compact stools? I must be hungry, but the coffee table could also double as a dining space.

Forget the box spring

In small homes, we often see the bed in a loft area. I imagine a platform bed with drawers underneath for needed storage. Every square inch counts–especially when we are furnishing a 200-500 square foot space. The internets and bookstores are loaded with articles, photos,  books and magazines dedicated to small homes as well as teensy-tiny ones. There are retailers who specialize in multi-use furniture designed for small spaces. In fact, one of our clients is an architect who is redesigning rooms for a major hotel chain in an attempt to make better use of room space. Gone are large armoires housing televisions and drawers. Televisions now hang on walls and desks are the preferred replacement for those large and oversized cabinets.


Don’t ignore your lifestyle

I enjoy cooking and eating at home–especially when I am trying to stick to something like the Whole 30 diet. The kitchen would be a major consideration for me–and would require that I eliminate about two-thirds of my cooking implements. Still, a compact kitchen might still have many of the amenities of a large one—high end appliances, built-in specialty storage spaces, luxe stone surfaces, and designer backsplashes—just in a more condensed layout. I also envision the kitchen being part of a miniaturized great room, where one can both eat, relax and entertain.

Know why

Important in the choice to live small is knowing why it it might be either your or my best choice. If access (to work, shopping, transportation, culture, the beach, solitude) is most important to our perceived quality of life, paying more to live small may be a wise decision. The same thinking would likely also apply to a vacation home. Current inventory for small homes in San Diego is very thin, and we have no listings to show. However, we expect that to change in the years ahead!

–Roberta Murphy