With so much attention being placed on the “rightsizing” of the American home — a movement generally associated with simplified and more efficient living in smaller spaces — I’ve often wondered how homeowners rightsized big-sized spaces. Can one live a rightsized life in a home of considerable square footage? Is it possible for a homeowner to rightsize a new dwelling if it’s a couple of thousand square feet larger than their previous digs?

After reading a profile on the remarkable Beacon, New York home of Naomi Sachs, a landscape designer, and James Westwater, an artist, in ReadyMade it occurred to me that rightsizing doesn’t necessary always correspond with square footage. Sure, it helps if you move from a leaky, four-bedroom McMansion to a super-efficient, two-bedroom prefab but there are exceptions.

In the case of Sachs and Westwater, rightsizing involved the three-year long gut renovation of a 5,000-square foot brick building — more than twice the size of the average American home, 2,152.78 square feet, as according to the Small House Society — that was built in 1900 as a boarding school gymnasium/drill hall and later used as electric motor factory during World War II.

For Sachs and Westwater, rightsizing this plus-sized new living space required patience, creative thinking, and reading up on small-space living and making it applicable to their unique situation. 

Sachs tells ReadyMade:

People always think it’s funny that we’ve ended up in this huge space when we own at least 10 books on living in small spaces. The books did inform what we wanted to do with this house, which was to create smaller, more intimate spaces within this big open structure.
Aside from the careful renovation of a historic building, Sachs and Westwater’s mission to make dauntingly “big” seem comfortably “right” involved outfitting the space with vintage furnishings sourced from antique and thrift stores along with salvaged fixtures and building materials acquired from local organizations like Hudson Valley Materials Exchange and Green Demolitions. And according to Westwater, paring down isn't just for small-space living: "I have no problem getting rid of things. The key to minimalist living is an eBay account in good standing.”

Read more about and see additional photos of this inspiring transformation of a big gym into a rightsized home over at ReadyMade. And while we're on the topic of the eco-friendly renovations of seemingly impossible spaces, check on my recent post on Matt Grocoff's amazing 'Mission Zero' project in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  

What are your thoughts on rightsizing? Does downsized square-footage always have to play a part of it?

Images: Brady Fontenot/ReadyMade 

Via [ReadyMade]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Beacon's gym-turned-house: When a big size is the right size
Influenced by small-space living, a landscape designer and artist transform a building of significant square footage -- a former gymnasium -- into a 'rightsized