Elegant Homes for an Energy Depleted Planet
A walk through any historic district in America will reveal that the homes so revered from a bygone era were not only distinguished by their architectural detailing and resulting elegance, but that many were also scaled down in size compared to today's homes. It is an interesting dichotomy that as family size diminished over the centuries, homes grew in size, so that many present day homes have two and three times the square footage per inhabitant than homes of our forebears. Were our ancestors leading lives in domestic proximity that is no longer tolerable by today's living standards, and if so, is the admiration and appreciation that we hold for these venerable domiciles now limited to an artistic appreciation of their exquisite architecture that is devoid of practical usage by today's standards?
There are numerous examples of old homes under 2,000 square feet that were regarded as examples of wealth and prosperity in the communities in which they were built. There are even more examples of smaller homes whose size may have delineated them as the property of the more common but successful owners, but these homes were still built with an architectural attention that spoke of a sophisticated elegance that belied their size.
Homes of 2,000 square feet or less built today are usually relegated to the less desirable building lots and are often built with even poorer and less durable materials than their behemoth counterparts being built on the "better" side of town, while both examples share the common attributes of design inefficiency and architectural vacancy. These are precisely the characteristics that have necessitated the ever-increasing size of today's new homes because first, the poor livability of an inefficient layout can be somewhat overcome by more square footage, and second, in the absence of well-executed architectural detail, size is mistakenly viewed by many architects and developers as a reasonable substitute for that which they have neither the inspiration or skill to accomplish.
Perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at the way homes were built centuries ago, for a new era is upon us marked by ever-decreasing and more costly energy resources that sharply conflict with the current thinking of big footprint home design. Our ancestors were not constrained by either a shortage of energy or natural building material resources as both were satisfied by the abundance of forest available to them. They were constrained by the difficulty encountered in harvesting this abundance, as hand labor and time were precious resources they had to balance in the execution of their daily tasks. And so efficient layout, and common sense simple configuration guided the design of most homes. But the soul of efficiency was tempered by an artistic yearning that was satisfied by the architectural enhancements and detailing passed from generation to generation, that was first learned thousands of years ago and shaped and nurtured by the great classical architects of succeeding generations, so that simple house configurations and efficient layouts boasted an artistry that survived through the centuries, but became a casualty in the present generation of "bigger is better" thinking.
While today's energy resource issues are different from the labor resource issues of earlier times, it might well be that we can look to the past for a solution to our present situation. Building smaller makes sense on so many levels, and it can be done without sacrifice to the enjoyment of our living space, as good design can easily accomplish livability in a smaller home. Adding proper scale and proportion further enhanced by well executed architectural detailing both inside and outside the home is an artistic bonus not offered by most new homes. And this detailing is made possible by the cost savings that are realized by overall downsizing. But the benefits continue: a lower monthly mortgage payment, a lower insurance cost, reduced maintenance, and perhaps most importantly a lower impact on the planet's resources that is done without the gimmicks and gadgetry that are often offered to assuage the overwhelming impact made by most of today's "big footprint" new homes.
Connor Homes has long been a proponent of the New Old home concept for its timeless beauty and elegance. But now there is another compelling reason to look to the past for a solution to today's energy resource issue. Our company has long excelled in the design and execution of historically accurate architecture that we also make affordable by our modern manufacturing expertise coupled with our skilled craftsmen who have for many years focused on and created the details that so distinguish early American Homes. That design discipline can now be further celebrated for what it can achieve in the conservation of our precious natural and energy resources.
We are passionate in the vision we hold about how homes should be designed and built in America today.