Pity the poor McMansion. It got so big and overblown that it died like a dinosaur from its own weight and number of rooms. No doubt it will have its day once again sometime in the future when young couples renovate them like they do the Queen Anne Victorians of today. But for the moment they are firmly planted in the past, when bigger was better and “carbon footprint” was an unknown phrase.

These days smaller homes get all the attention. They fit right into the zeitgeist of the moment. Use less, we are told—in building materials, energy, empty space. Experiences are more important than possessions; only keep those things that “spark joy.” Small homes offer a simpler lifestyle that has an almost spiritual connection.

It was the “tiny home” that started the smaller home trend. They are not the same thing. A tiny house is built on a flatbed trailer and can be towed around. It is usually 8 feet wide and 30 feet long. Its interiors are ingenious puzzles of storage and multiuse.

A small home is exactly that: something that follows all the principles of a regular house but on a very small scale. In some Sarasota neighborhoods a small house is anything under 3,000 square feet. But a more useful definition would be a thousand square feet or under.

The advantages are obvious. Small homes are more economical to build and require less maintenance. They are environmentally friendly. They can be sited in unusual spaces, such as infill lots and even back yards.

There are other advantages, not so obvious. Small homes offer a sense of freedom, of personal lightness. They encourage creativity—it’s a design challenge fitting everything in. They have a playful spirit, like a childhood fort or treehouse. Most important is the less-is-more philosophy they offer. By living with less we discover what is really important in life.

If you still can’t part with your McMansion, if you still believe that he who dies with the most toys wins, well, here are three small homes that may change your mind.

In This Feature:

Tour a 680-Square-Foot Home in Southside Village

It's like something out of a storybook.

01/02/2020 By Robert Plunket

Peek Inside the First Shipping Container Home in Sarasota County

Bill and Kathryn Birkholz have not just a new house but a whole new lifestyle.

01/02/2020 By Robert Plunket

Inside a Modern Cracker Cabin

Mike's Hammock combines aging-in-place requirements with sustainability, a cool modern aesthetic and more than a little Cracker house in its DNA.

01/02/2020 By Robert Plunket

Can Accessory Dwelling Units Ease the Area’s Affordable Housing Crisis?

In Sarasota County, four out of 10 households are defined as being “cost-burdened,” meaning they are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

01/02/2020 By Cooper Levey-Baker