Tenet 1 - Conscious Choice

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
Photo by Karora

I was inspired by the amount of thought some people give to their surroundings. Amish considerations for using tractors. Minimalist consideration for even the smallest things like drawers, as well as their entire lifestyle.

Size Matters

For Feydeau the biggest conscious choice has been about size. When we first got the property I planned to expand the footprint to 2,000 sq ft for no apparent reason. I did want an Adobe style home, which meant changing the hip roof to a flat roof. If I was going to do that then why not expand the footprint? I don't think I gave even one minute of real thought to this decision.

And we planned a two car garage and guesthouse. Because...well I don't know why. Sounded good?

Here's the thing about buildings, they're needful things.


When I was working in the original kitchen I was thinking how tiny it was...dollhouse tiny. Seemed like a dumb design choice. Then an epiphany, all houses in the neighborhood are small. And I'd seen many neighborhoods in Phoenix with small houses. I'd also seen many houses in other countries that were small. How can I dismiss that fact without consideration? Families had been raised in those houses. They worked fine. Why did I need 2,000 sq ft and a two car garage and a guesthouse? I'm generally dubious of common wisdom so now I questioned "bigger is better".

The question of whether bigger is better at least deserves to be asked. And not just the home's footprint, but everything: kitchen, counter, number of forks, trim, screws, etc. And that leads to questions of value and use.

Future Plans

The future plans for Feydeau have been changing toward smaller. It's been great just living in 785 sq ft after several years. So I've decided to keep the orginial 1,600 sq ft footprint, keep the roof, drop the two car garage (maybe a carport) and guesthouse.

The Not So Big House

I saw an interview with Sarah Susanka on TV many years ago, I think before her first book. Her concept of living in a smaller space seemed smart to me. Pairing it with her beautiful home made the concept aluring. It stayed with me, but I never seriously considered living in a smaller space. At Feydeau Sarah Susanka came back into my head.

I got a few of Sarah's books, very inspiring. American Craftsman reason for smaller homes was to fill the need of people with modest incomes. Smaller costs less. But Sarah makes the case of smaller improving a lifestyle. Smaller is better. By today's standards smaller does not necessarily mean cheaper.

Sarah's books do seem to swing between selling the concept of smaller and tiny details only experienced architects would understand. Not a lot in-between. But I will keep rereading the books to try and understand better.


I'm currently not hanging any art at all on the walls of Feydeau.

The endless desert of drywall in large homes require added interest. In a small home open walls provide welcomed negative space.

Caren prefers beige after a full day of teaching kindergarten. The bare walls help with calmness and has allowed me to use stronger color, albeit just browns. But still, more color than she had been willing to even consider.

Caren and I have been heading toward a minimalist lifestyle for several years and I expect that journey to continue. We are not minimalists by any stretch but do see the benefits of less. Minimalism is not our natural inclination. Our home is more of a Hoarding: Buried Alive than an empty stainless steel work surface. Studying minimalist lifestyles does give us things to try, points to consider. For example, I found clean surfaces can be a useful design element. Who'da thought?

Conscious choice cannot exist without a serious look at one's self. Horder's will often say they like their system, like a cluttered desk. But that doesn't correlate with the look of frustration on their faces. Step one was to acknowledge this frustration. Step two was to see there are other systems like Minimalism to consider.