Magazine article E Magazine

The House That Ruth Didn't Build

Magazine article E Magazine

The House That Ruth Didn't Build

Article excerpt

Months ago, I attended a local green event at a newly built, fairly state-of-the-art eco-home here in town. It had all the green-friendly bells and whistles, from a geothermal heating and cooling system, to ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances, to nontoxic paints and other features that promote healthy indoor air quality. But the place was so huge that when I asked to use the bathroom I almost had to write down the directions!

My own home is starting to feel this way, too. Fifteen years ago we took it from the rundown one story "pad" I bought in 1984 prior to getting married to a two-story to accommodate a family that had recently grown from two to four.

Part of the renovation involved bringing some of the outside in: What had been a narrow terrace running across the front of the house became a long hallway inside the house. I wonder now how much I've spent to heat that space--essentially still a walkway--in the years since. The extra 200 square feet has provided an indoor expansion great for our big once-a-year holiday party, but it is almost dead space the other 364 days a year. If another renovation were in order, I'd put it back outside and let Mother Nature heat and cool it. But as we now approach being empty nesters, we're looking seriously to pick up and just find a much smaller place.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Apparently we're not alone. Between rising energy prices and a growing recognition that we'd probably be a lot happier not having to manage all our accumulated "stuff," many Americans are opting to simplify, and small-house advocates are growing in numbers. …

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