Cherie Goff, a Colorado native with a passion for the outdoors and a proclivity for modern architecture, is managing partner at HMH Architecture + Interiors. As a LEED Green Associate, she specializes in energy-efficient buildings with refined modern details. Goff believes that the root of any sustainable solution is not oversizing homes. Rather, smaller, well-designed homes are better for the environment and shape more comfortable spaces.
She explains that since the 1950’s, single-family homes have become larger while the average size of the family living there has become smaller. A misconception is that “bigger is better,” which Goff feels is not the case.
“Most of the time larger dwellings don’t increase the livability or enjoyment of our homes.” Goff says, “In fact, I’d argue that they isolate us from our families and community.”
She notes some improvements have occurred with increases in home size, like kitchens. In the 1950’s they were small, closed off spaces designed for use by one person at a time. Today, they are open, centrally located and better reflect how families use the space.
Bedrooms are an example of where bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. According to Goff, oversized master suites feel vast and uncomfortable. She believes bedrooms don’t need to be big when most of your time is spent elsewhere in a home.
Likewise, oversized homes often feature single-purpose rooms. Think craft rooms, home gyms and movie theaters. Routinely underused, Goff says these rooms separate us from each other within the house. Further, when we don’t leave the house to see a movie or exercise, we disconnect from our communities.
“In my opinion, the real estate market is driving increases in home size—the idea that you always get a good return on your house as an investment,” Goff says. “Sadly though, rising home values, coupled with reality TV hits like ‘House Hunters,’ have encouraged people to stop thinking of homes as dwellings and instead as assets.”
Goff feels that in the same way that smaller homes compel us to be conscious of clutter, they also encourage smart design. Thus, Goff creates multifunctional spaces that serve the specific needs of those living there. By incorporating principles of modern design like open floor plans, high ceilings and windows and doors that open to outdoor spaces, she can craft homes that live larger without increasing square footage.