Tolpin has built and lived in cottages his whole life, and understands why people love them. “[Cottages] are more human in scale and proportion, which to me means that they elicit in us an acknowledgement that these spaces are made for us,” he says.
“I think people long for a home environment that ‘holds’ them. If you come home to a cavernous box, with acres of drywall and furniture that has to be outscaled to fit the space, it’s not cozy. It doesn’t hold what a person needs to recharge, to feel rejuvenated.
“Cottages satisfy on a gut level,” says Tolpin. “Sometimes a house seems intellectually right -- it has all the elements going for it that are intellectually satisfying -- but it doesn’t mean you want to live there. That’s why you find people living in funky cabins on beaches, with sand coming in the door every day. They’re nuts, right? And they love where they live. They’re smiling.”
Tolpin sees the trend toward moderate houses as one driven by people who are reevaluating what’s important to them on a gut level, rather than an intellectual or status-seeking level. And for him, it’s a work in progress, one that is shifting the cultural focus from the individual to community life.
“And as for the economic aspect, a smaller, well-crafted house will likely cost the same as a larger, boxier house that lacks detail. Quality of space is the thing -- one’s rapport with the house. It’s not about square footage, it’s about livable square feet.”
By all indications, the shift toward more moderately sized homes is here to stay. The myriad reasons include economic, social and a simple return to reason: Human beings simply aren’t designed to thrive in built environments that are out of scale to their general proportions. We may not articulate this fact often, but we know it. We feel it.
Conover Commons neighborhood: www.cottagecompany.com
New Urban Builders: www.newurbanbuilders.com
Sarah Susanka’s books and services: www.notsobig.com