How Much Square Footage Do We Need For Living?

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?

Floor plan of Seth Peterson Cottag

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.

Seth Peterson cottage front

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.

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