How Much Square Footage Do We Need For Living?

By Sandy Sims / December 16, 2017

Frank LLoyd Wright’s Loveness cottage

In making decisions in our lives and using a bit of creative thinking one of the issues that we face as we scale down is how much space do we need to fully enjoy ourselves.

Years ago I had a chance to go into probably forty or more Frank Lloyd Wright Structures while working on an architectural project you can see on one of my blog pages.. Of all of the designs the one that I could have moved into in a heart beat was the Loveness Cottage, in Stillwater,  Minnesota. A kissing cousin of the Seth Peterson Cottage they both are attributed with more architecture per square foot than any other of Wright’s designs. The Loveness’s hosted me and  were partially instrumental in helping me get a chance to build the Wright hemicycle design constructed on the Island of Hawaii.


The Seth Peterson cottage is available to stay in and for architectural buffs it should be on one’s “bucket list.” Why, because of the variation of experiences you get from moving from one short distance ( a matter of feet) to another, and that is the exact experience you get in the Loveness cottage. So what is the experience and in what size space?

The entrance into the Loveness cottage takes one  through a side glass door. Directly in front of you is a long open space with a beautiful banquet table and regal chairs. directly to the left is a view of the lake through a massive glass running from the ceiling to the credenza level  of  built in cabinetry. off to the right, a small kitchen space like you might encounter on a boat. You can also see the lake from this work space. Directly above you is what feels like a 20 foot sloping shed roof. So as you enter and walk down towards the dining table or sit at the dining table you have the feeling you are in a grand room.

Patio of Loveness cottage

As you turn the corner to the right there is a massive fire place about twelve feet or so from the dining table. Moving into the living space the shed roof drops down to a  eight foot ceiling . Built in L shape seating then provides  views of the fire place, the dining table and the lake beyond through the massive wall of glass while feeling cosy and protected by the low ceiling. By the living space there is an entrance to a cave like bedroom with clearstory windows across the wall to the left. No need for curtains as the glass is at shoulder/head level. A sliding door to the right takes one into a small bathroom. Another sliding door on the other side of the bathroom takes one up a secret staircase to a little loft that appears to be invisible from above.

On the other side of the cottage is raised stone patio which could hold large numbers of  people for a party. So here we have an exqusite jewel of a living space with a variety of emotional experiences all in approximately 800 square feet. It is at the same time cosy and expansive. It feels intimate for two and yet could easily host over a 100 people.

I have lived in all sizes of spaces and am now being drawn to smaller intimate structures with no wasted space. 1,000 square feet with varied ceiling heights seems ideal to me for one person or a couple. As the year’s pass the appeal of voluntary simplicity through smaller but imaginative spaces is attractive.

What has been your experience? It would be great to hear.

I have written and recently released my own journey of self-discovery which involved having the Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank LLoyd Wright Foundation master plan seventy-five of Wright’s unbuilt designs for the island of Hawaii and then my building of one of Wright’s last designs. The book is available through Amazon.

What To Do If A Big Idea Is Tugging At You: The Two Edged Sword.

What to do if A Big Idea Is Tugging At You

Peter French photo of Wright house in Hawaii

This is often one of the biggest decisions we have to make from time to time. It calls for all of our creative and intuitive decision making courage.

Often it is a very powerful urge to go and do something like be a teacher in a foreign country or pursue a  compelling idea that you have no idea how to pull off. You know deep down inside that this is important  and if you let it go you know you will feel empty for not having tried.

This is what some refer to as a “Calling” or in Joseph Campbell’s terms “The Hero’s Journey.”  This is a pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives in one sense meaning that it is a deep seated archetypal pattern that repeats itself in many cultures.

The elements of the call are set forth in the diagram above. Basically there is the compelling idea and draw, the fear of  the unknown, the willingness to jump into the void, the challenges as you move forward, helpers who show up, some kind of transformational experience and the return with some boon of knowledge and wisdom.

But why do I call this the two edged sword?Because if you hear the call then there is the equally important flip side referred to as “refusal of the call.” Mythology is rife with examples of what happens to those who refuse the call too long or do not take it seriously.  According to Campbell refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative-walled in boredom, hard work,  disappointments etc. The subject loses the power of significant affirmative action, becomes a victim and his world becomes a wasteland and meaninglessness.

I am writing about this  because it has happened to me several times in life and  was triggered by the recent blog by life coach Tora Mohr entitled “7 Ways to Discover the calling Oprah Told You To Find.”

In other words if you respond to Oprah’s inducement and search for the call then you must also be willing to answer it.

So in one sense there is a reward for venturing out even if you have no idea how it will all come together, but  there is a penalty for refusing the call once you hear it.

Sometimes we receive a number of calls. Not all big, but nevertheless still meaningful and rewarding. For example I knew from the moment I got off the plane in Honolulu, having been sent there by the military that I would move heaven and earth to make that my future home.  It was my idea of paradise, one that most people only thought about as that once in a life time vacation spots. I knew that if I could gain a foothold there I would feel eminently successful no matter what I did. I bought a one way ticket after grad school and did exactly that.

I have written a recent book about my own callings and of course one is embedded in the title, “How Frank Lloyd Got Into My Head Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking.” I had a big idea with no real qualifications to consummate, but began the journey.

Perhaps in these times of significant change when all looks uncertain it is precisely the time to discover your calling and go for it.  There is magic in the process. It is the kind of decision making that promises to usher in a richer and fuller life.

I would love to hear about your opinions and experiences on this subject.

Finally, Some Real News! Think About The Implications!

By Sandy Sims / November 28, 2017

In the past UFO’s, ET’s, aliens etc. have been marginalized. At this very moment people are stepping forward with evidence that cannot be denied. But ordinary people, even those with high credibility have been discounted.

Things have just changed!!

Here is a truly profound statement. It is something that you might  have heard, but this is the first time that it is coming from such a high government official,  The Minister of  Canadian Defense. He would be in a position to not only have privileged information, but to be sure of his facts before he spoke.  He is talking about extra terrestrials, their presence, and the reasons their presence  has been kept away from us. It might take awhile for this to sink in, but here it is:

Canada’s Minister of National Defense speaks articulately and from his heart, in saying that we need full disclosure that we’re living in a cosmos teeming with life; to become spiritual beings and live by the golden rule; etc.
BREAKING!!! 2013 UFO ALIEN DISCLOSURE by Canadian Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer

More on 2012 Crop Circles

By Sandy Sims / July 11, 2012

On our way back from Oxford to Wiltshire just off the M-4, was this formation.  It took us a bit of navigating to find our way. We finally found it in a very flat field. It was quite large and on the ground almost impossible to tell what you were in. Yet walking inside spending time just being quiet was well worth it.  One school of thought is that these designs resonate with patterns deep in our psyche. So we can receive the benefit by looking at them and or walking amongst them gathering the energy.  Amazingly we were the only ones there. This image was taken from crop circle connector.

Later in the afternoon we were lucky enough to catch the sun shine and walk into this site. It had been mowed on the inside by the farmer as many of them are, but the energy is still there and as my microlight pilot showed me the ground can provide a ghost image the next year with a different crop. It seems that the new crop in the ghosted area has more vitality.  I took this shot from the air while in the microlight.    The shot on the left was also taken and right in the same area. more to come.

Frank Lloyd Wright Dejavu

Lewis “Spring” house Tallahassee by Frank Lloyd Wright

I am on the road now and visiting the town I grew up in, Tallahassee. Today with Billy Gwynn I am standing in front of the Lewis house here in Tallahassee. It is abandoned and in total disrepair. How sad. Billy  and I grew up together and had the privilege of building an original Frank Lloyd Wright designed home. We built it in Kamuela on the Island of Hawaii and it gave me a wonderful adventure, not one so much of ownership, but of the fascinating  people and experiences surrounding this process. I write about the entire process in “How Frank Lloyd Wright Got Into My Head Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking.”

Today there is a bit of sadness in seeing this great work of art in such a state. I read about now how collectable art is now selling for huge sums and yet the art form of our greatest architects sometimes just languishes. It is one of the great disconnects. Perhaps because it is an art form that requires constant attention, that requirement alone, diminishes all value beyond the utilitarian aspects.

From the ashes a “Pheonix” often rises. I ponder on what could happen here.

Seeking Pleasant Surprises

By Sandy Sims / February 21, 2012

stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral

I went on a whirlwind four day trip to leave some of my mom’s ashes in her favorite city, Paris. I am traveling a lot these days and one exercise I find extremely useful and rewarding is to seek pleasant surprises and acknowledge them as they occur. A pleasant surprise is just that. Of course I like to think that we have invisible partners that arrange them, but this is just my belief system.

You don’t think about going to Paris in the Winter, but when the sun shines it can be quite pleasant with a warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. My first pleasant surprise came when the adjacent seat in coach, which I refer to as sardine class, was the only empty seat that I could see on the entire plane. Being able to stretch out just a little bit is a god send on a 10 hour plus flight.

I was traveling with Larry Hauer and Jeannie Smiley. They had made this trip before so much of the ground work had been done.  Our boutique three star hotel, the Villa Martin, in the 10th district was another pleasant surprise. It was but a short walk from the magnificent Gare du l’Est. train station. The small room and bath was modern, clever, inviting and simply well thought out, especially the lighting. The staff of young women all spoke English and best of all the smile was a permanent condition of their faces.

On a short trip if you master the subway, you can sample a wide range of Parisian delights. Drawn to sacred geometry I had always wanted to see the Rose windows of the  Cathedral at Chartres, We did. I was not disappointed.  Hoping on the subway in minutes we were at the  mus’ee de Orsay, one of the most inviting and tasteful buildings on the planet. It is a converted train station whose architectural elements accentuate the exquisite art deco, impressionist and art noveau treasures it houses. The cafe there is a must, a feast for both the eyes and the palette.

A cruise on the Seine, expressos at the myriad of  sidewalk bistros, and a stroll through Monmarte. I could go on, but you get the drift.  Few cities can give you day for day what Paris can. It is one big pleasant surprise.

Where in the World Are We Going?

Dresden VW Phaeton Plant

We are living in such sensational times whether  political, economic, social or environmental that it is difficult to grasp the consequences. One thing for sure that will be happening is that our creative thinking will look for ways to make it more palatable and force us to become more open minded about where it is all going.

According to the Futurist Magazine, “The average American consumes about 34 gigabytes of data and information every day… and that amount of data will rise 44-fold in the next decade. The Economist Magazine predicts, “that by 2017 there could be as many as 7 trillion wirelessly connected devices and objects, which translates to approximately 1,000 per person. Personally I can’t grasp that yet.

I maintain that one must let “technology be your friend.” It doesn’t mean that I have to gobble down every new device, but that I actually find applications which make daily life easier. The more I do this the more I get into the flow of life at this ever increasing pace.

While there is a backlash at some level of how technology is taking over our lives there is also the positive side.

Here is an example of what a future factory looks like now. It is not only aesthetically beautiful but creates an interface between customer and producer. It is the Dresden Volkswagon plant where they  make the Phaeton.  The real creative thinking  was to get the city fathers to allow the plant to be built in the heart of the city. See how they did it.

The Other Taliesin at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winter Home

If one is invited back of the main buildings at Taliesin West in Scottsdale Arizona,  you will find yourself  walking a road or trails through the dessert landscape as it has existed for thousands of years. The entire Taliesin compound sits on 600 acres.  Out here one  will find the homes of long time members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship such as David Dodge.  But most interesting to me were the sites built by students. Take a look.

As part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the architectural school takes in a number of students annually where the motto has been “Learning by doing.”

Part of this philosophy is carried out by having students build their own sleeping quarters in  the dessert. Some of the quarters have been passed on from students in the past and then remodeled. Students shower and eat in the main complex.

The great thing about this endeavor is that aspiring architects find out first hand how good their ideas really are. If they don’t work well or are not comfortable, they can make the necessary changes.  This process, early in life, is very rewarding. There is a combination of working with one’s mind and hands to create and get feedback. After all what good is a design for living if it looks good on paper, but doesn’t actually work. And what better experience than to find out first hand how this process works.

This idea may have had its’ roots in Frank Lloyd Wright’s own background starting with his exposure to the Frobel Gifts. These were educational materials developed by Friedrich Frobel , the founder of kindergarten, which required the children to work with their hands to create. The gifts have been referred to as perhaps the worlds most intricately conceived playthings, deceptively simple in appearance but representing a sophisticated approach to child development.  Frank Lloyd Wright , Buckminster Fuller and many other notable architects and artists were educated with the Frobel Gifts. As I walked through the area I found a full range of small, and in many cases, quite elaborate creations.

Today more than ever knowing how to build, repair, and in general make things,  not only instills confidence but may in itself be useful in the rapidly changing world we are experiencing. What are your thoughts on this?



How Art Stimulates Creative Thinking

In a seminal article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “America’s Looming Creativity Crisis” by Richard Florida Oct 01, 2004 his opening remark was, “The strength of the American economy does not rest on its manufacturing prowess, its natural resources, or the size of its market. It turns on one factor–the country’s openness to new ideas.” Skip forward to 2010 and the Looming Creative Crisis is now here. This situation memorialized in a Newsweek article rates creative thinking as the number one leadership competency needed in the future.

So are the music  and art education  classes  as essential  as math and science?

I like to think that the great benefit of art is that it stops me, takes my breath away, perhaps leaves me in a state of wonder, and a resonate feeling of well-being.  In this appreciative state the “in box” of my brain is open .  By this measure there is much that doesn’t qualify for me, but that is what makes art such a personal thing.  Great art, probably has this effect on more people than lesser art.  But if it stops you, turns the chattering of your mind to the “off” position for a few moments, then I believe it is doing the job. For it is in those moments,  that our unconscious slips us the answer pressing  questions or simply sends us a completely novel idea from the other side.

For this reason alone  surrounding  one’s self with art is more useful than just a fancy.  Frank Lloyd Wright felt that architecture was the highest form of art and it is perhaps from this perspective that if one were immersed in the art as you would be living in an inspired  architectural design your own creative channels would be open more of the time.

From this viewpoint it doesn’t matter what form the art takes, whether music or the visual arts giving it more priority in one’s life  is what is at stake.

The last time I went to Taliesin West,  Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home  in the latter part of his life, there was  a sculpture setting displaying the works of Heloise Crista.

Her works put me in that state of awe and deep appreciation.

I have included some here.  Maybe if we spend less time at the office and more time with the arts, our creativity will improve and ultimately our decision making. Food for thought.

What are your thoughts?