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 I even watch them here in Spain dubbed into Spanish and several years out of date.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?