Future Trends: Small Spaces

 
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As people’s lives get busier, finding a housing solution that fits such a lifestyle can be tricky. People who wish to create a balance between the two have begun to search for innovative solutions. Between 2007 and 2012, millennials accounted for over 43% of all movers in the United States. Millennials are moving to places that can provide them with these innovative solutions, places like Oakland, Brooklyn, Arington, Wicker Park, and Austin.

Innovative solutions that have gained popularity among these millennials include:

  • Tiny Homes
  • Buses
  • Airstreams
  • Vans
  • Micro apartments
  • Yurts
  • 3D Printed Homes

These types of transient spaces are especially appealing to the younger generation, a generation that is constantly on the go and socially oriented. Small spaces allow individuals to redirect their focus to what is especially important in their lives. A home is a place in which people want to feel secure and not overwhelmed. The bigger the space, the more money is being spent to fill that space and dealing with its constant upkeep. Young people are focused on building their careers and having exciting social lives. These priorities can often be interrupted by the responsibility that comes with owning large homes.

In a small poll taken recently, almost 20% of people ages 18 to 34 said they would seriously consider living in a tiny home. This response is probably related to the fact that more than 50% of people in this age range rent homes because they cannot afford a down payment. In addition, over 60% of millennials have admitted that they prefer living in mixed-use communities in urban centers where they can be close to restaurants, shops, and entertainment. This percentage reflects their overarching desire to live in socially conscious and creative environments.

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‘Micro apartments’ have also been trending among young people recently. Their popularity has significantly increased in large, heavily populated cities such as New York and San Francisco. This style of apartment consists of:

  • One open space (ranging from 200 square feet to about 400 square feet).
  • Space for sleeping and sitting, a kitchenette, a bathroom and a limited amount of storage.

These small spaces can even run as much as 15% less than a typical studio apartment. Young people who intend to plant themselves in a specific location but still wish to live simply are often drawn to this solution.

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A lesser known solution, but one that is gaining popularity with millenials and even retirees, is Yurts! Yurts are small round structures that were first used by Mongolian nomads and are now being reintroduced by companies such as the Colorado Yurt Company. A typical yurt will often include accordion lattice walls, a tension band, rafters that connect to a central compression ring and fabric to cover the structure. People have started to buy pieces of property and, to avoid a big mortgage, they will set up a yurt. These small-scale living quarters allow for a more sustainable and ‘off-the-grid’ lifestyle.

Tiny homes have taken the world by storm over the past few years. This is because, simply put, they are practical and cheap. Living ‘tiny’ forces one to pare down on their belongings and to adopt an effortless way of living. Tiny homes are not only easy to take care of, but they allow people to spend their hard-earned money on experiences rather than expensive house payments. The same can be said about other ‘on-the-go’ solutions like buses, vans and airstreams. All of these options allow people to spend their free time traveling without leaving any of their possessions behind. These are the choices many younger people are making - and it is being met with this plethora of creative housing options.

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One of the most off-the-wall small space solutions is the 3D printed home. This is a very new concept but one that could have a profound impact on the way people live. Recently, a group of engineers and scientists in France 3D-printed a 1,022-square-foot house in a matter of just two days. In the future, the company hopes to print in as little as 33 hours! The model they have already produced utilizes curved walls that weave around the site’s lush environment. These small spaces are yet another ingenious solution for young people searching for quick and environmentally friendly living arrangements.

Small spaces are extremely customizable. Due to their open floor plans, small space can integrate moveable walls, modular furniture, and clever storage solutions. With the decrease in overall square footage, comes the need for conscious elimination tactics. This means excluding products that do not bring positivity and meaning into your life.

Choosing humane, vegan products is another option that, by design, makes paring down a whole lot easier! When living in a compact space, the effect that your home goods play on your physical and mental health becomes even more apparent.

 

Humane design entails a few things, including:

  • Selecting products that do not originate from a living creature (i.e. leather, silk, suede, wool or fur).
  • No animal byproducts.
  • Zero animal testing.

Many non-vegan products are treated with harsh chemicals that can affect our state of well-being, so why not swap those for non-toxic, clean, vegan alternatives? Inhumane products are the result of ending the lives of beautiful and innocent creatures, which is sad, unnatural and frankly, unnecessary.

Surrounding yourself with materials that aren’t derived from the cruel treatment of an animals will keep your mind and body feeling clean. Non-toxic, vegan products such as woven straw floor cushions, a cotton hammock chair or a linen sisal area rug can keep a small space adaptable and humane!

Vegan home goods and small spaces are the future of design. Both concepts revolve around the idea of creating a world in which simplicity and respect for ourselves, our surroundings and other beings are prioritized. Small spaces are the ideal environment for humane, vegan products!

Jane Mercer is an interior design student who is currently studying at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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