For a country that’s so used to spacious automobiles, big-box stores, and roomy homes, how is it that living smaller has started to take hold? America is an economy of abundance—and we’re proud of it. Extra-tall cups of coffee, huge sports stadiums—it’s what we’re all about. We’re used to living large, and expect capaciousness. After all, isn’t that what was promised by our forefathers? A new land where we could stake our claim, where milk and honey flowed in the streets?
But what has brought about the current desire to live with less? The reasons are many, but among them are decreasing one’s footprint, living without clutter, freeing oneself aesthetically, and reducing the general cost of maintaining all that stuff. Witness the movement toward eating small—6 meals a day as a more direct route to weight loss rather than starvation corner, smaller plates and smaller portions, the rise of professional organizers and their cry for decluttering, which equates to a cleaner house and a clearer mind. The Zen of Spartan spaces, as shown in magazines like Interior Design and dwell, took hold with fengshui a little over a decade and a half ago, where living in harmony with one’s environment seemed like the most novel of ideas. Americans, so used to their creature comforts, embraced the idea of taking things off the floor to increase the flow of energy through a room, and pushing the life force of qi into overdrive in order to magically achieve a new state of domestic bliss, have now transitioned into the Tiny House Movement, a major cultural shift in the way many are economizing that environment and their thoughts around consumption in general. Tiny houses have sprouted up all over the United States, most coming in around a whopping 100 to 400 square feet, well below that of an average studio apartment. People are finding less space means more efficiency, less impact on the environment, far less cost, and, well, just way less maintenance. It makes sense for those who want to move out of metropolitan areas already bursting at the seams. Why not have the same, or less, square footage and have the place all to yourself?
And inside those homes, many are veering toward housewares and appliances that serve their newfound petite purposes. Haier has been ahead of the curve in this regard for years, widely known for Small Space Living products that offer alternatives to bigger and more costly machines. Combination washer/dryers do the same job as their bigger brethren but all in one simple unit. Compact refrigerators may hold only a few days’ worth of groceries, but the more frequent need to restock equates to fresher food in the short run. Beverage centers and wine coolers are much-needed appliances that easily fit under the counter. Call them user-friendly in a domicile that’s got that going for it already.
As both the younger and older generations see the logic in living with less, they’ve started to put their energy toward what really matters: Eliminating waste and upping efficiency. In an era where helping the environment has become second nature and recycling is customary, people see the value of reducing. Our nation of prosperity has embraced the notion that even in a smaller space, you can live just as large.