I am currently reading Small House on a Small Planet and it's not a new idea for me. In fact, I've drawn plans of my "dream home" ever since I was a child. I believe they started off as a castle with a big round tower, that then turned into a slightly smaller, but no less extravagant house with streams running through the middle and a large courtyard a la Roman architecture. Lately I've tried to reevaluate what we really need in a house, where do we spend most of our time, how that might change once we have kids, etc. And then how small of a space I can comfortably fit those things into.
I haven't quite managed to fit everything into a space as small as say these Tumbleweed Homes, some of which can fit on the back of a 7'x15' trailer. But I have considered several other small options, and I'm happy to say that we don't need as much space as I once envisioned.
I also been watching Extreme Makeover: Home Addition on ABC.com. It's been really frustrating to watch because a lot of those families don't need a house quite so big. Obviously there are some that do, like families with wheelchairs that just need that turning space and ramps and other things that tend to take up a lot of space. Or families with large numbers of children, generally adopted. These families are all inspiring, and I love seeing them get a new home. But I'm not sure saddling them with these monsters to show off what the builders can do, is the right approach to the situation. For the most part, these families were unable to keep up maintenance on the houses they had, so what makes the ABC producers think that they'll be able to maintain an even bigger house? Also, I cannot imagine the heating/cooling and electricity bills on those houses.
A smaller house is more cozy, "forces" you to be close to one another (and how can that possibly be bad for a family), requires less maintenance and care (can you imagine trying to keep one of those houses clean? I'm pretty sure they won't be able to afford a maid), and less money for utilities. Not to mention that it teaches children a valuable lesson in the finite nature of our resources and about sustainability.
Some of the best memories I have of my childhood, is hearing my parents voices through the floor or from down the hall. It's reassuring to know that they are there. If you have this huge house, I think there's a great chance at a disconnect. Maybe it's time for a study on the impact of large houses on the psychology of a child. What do you think about this trend towards bigger, bigger, bigger?