When it comes to an organized home, does size matter?

I’m a longtime fan of TV home design shows, especially the Love or List franchises. I even watch them here in Spain dubbed into Spanish and several years out of date. As much as I love seeing the transformations, my main reason for watching the shows has nothing to do with the home makeovers at all.

I watch the shows because I love seeing the reactions of Spanish friends and family as the homeowners complain about their lack of space.

Having lived in both cultures, I understand both points of view. I grew up in a 14-room (four bedroom) house on a third of an acre lot. My parents retired to a 5000 square foot home with a separate guest house. My own house in downtown Toronto was over a 1000 square feet with 50×50 ft gardens in front and in back of the house. And half the time, I thought my house was too small for just me!

When I moved to Spain and came upon a completely different mindset.

My first apartment (which I shared with my now-husband) was 270 square feet and we lived there quite happily for over five years (after living there for two years and not killing each other, we decided that marriage was a definite possibility).

The flat we live in now is about 600 square feet and, to be quite honest, is more than large enough for the two of us (and whatever guests might be visiting). In fact, I’m now so accustomed to the size of living spaces here that I have no desire for a large place. When buying a second place for weekends and vacations, we looked at a narrow three-story house in the center of a village, but decided that it was too big, and I’m pretty certain it was under 1000 square feet.

In 2013, the website Shrink the Footprint published an article about average home size around the world and it seems to show that countries with lots of space tend to have larger homes (Canada, USA, Australia).

My Spanish friends and family ask me all the time why North Americans need so much space. “Doesn’t it just generate more clutter?” they ask.

Judging by the majority of houses featured in the typical home makeover programs, the answer seems to be yes, more space equals more clutter.

But, I’m not sure how true that really is. I’ve mentioned before the TV show Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, and the majority of the people on the show who live in cluttered spaces have small homes in comparison with a typical North American house.

When asked that question, therefore, I explain that it’s all a matter of mindset and attitude. Yes, more space could encourage more clutter, but only if you let it. Just as a small space might cause someone to cram what he owns into every nook and cranny.

In other words, in my opinion, when it comes to being organized, size does not matter in the least. But that could just be me.

What about you? Is there a link between house size and disorganization?

7 Comments for “When it comes to an organized home, does size matter?”

  1. posted by Dorothy on

    Am I the only one horribly embarrassed by the people on House Hnters International?

    The Americans and Canadians routinely gripe about the lack of things they’re used to in their home countries, like multiple bathrooms, larger rooms and dishwashers.

    And they look at the offered houses, making comments, like “This has to go!” And “This is completely unacceptable!”

    And they always, always want guest rooms. They’re willing to pay 365 days per year for a guest room that MAY be used a week or two each year. I always wish the TV show would go back three years later and poll these people to see how many guests actually materialized.

  2. posted by Eileen on

    I have just one thing to say: junk expands to fill space.

  3. posted by Andi on

    Funny thing is that I’m living in the largest house I have ever lived in before (14 rooms) and I’m the most organized and clutter free I have ever been. I do admit I have made more of an effort to organize and my children are older so that helps a bit. I think because I have more space, I have rooms that only serve one purpose. This singular purpose of each room has made it easier to purge for me.

  4. posted by Marion on

    We downgraded from an 1800 sq ft home to a 360 sq ft motorhome. I’ve never been happier than I am. And it’s not just our traveling. Everything has a place, which is great for my OCD and it’s easy to keep clean and neat. I would never live in a house again.

  5. posted by Joni on

    For me it isn’t the amount of square feet that matters, but rather the amount of storage space. Our current house was a square footage increase with more living space but much less storage. As a result we have fewer items we don’t use in display.

  6. posted by Her from There on

    I don’t think its the size of a home, but the amount of available surfaces within that space. I’ve found that by simply removing the coffee table from our lounge room, the clutter has instantly gone. The people in my house will just put things down on any available surface rather than putting them away, so by minimising places that can be dumped on, our house is less cluttered and there’s more incentive to put things where they belong.

  7. posted by Raquel on

    As spaniard I allways feel that in the homes that apperar in those shows there is tooooo much space and tooooo many things.
    In Spain the room to store things that are not used (at home, in the underground of the building or outside) it is called “trastero” which means the place for “trastos” and “trastos” means (see google) “junk”.
    Have a nice week-end.

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