Tracing the American Dream.
Up-sizing to accommodate new family members, upscaling the social status quo—towards the trappings of ambitious dreams.
What ever the reason to go bigger and better. Fast forward, twenty years or so into the future. The kids have over grown the nest, spreading their wings, looking for a chance to leap out.
Either furthering education as young adults, or hone their individual identities—become independent. For some families, like ours, a few of the kids—already kick started their own families with dogs and babies. Next thing you know, your seeing them out the door. They leave behind their bedroom, bathroom…you, and your fridge.
Throughout the last transition of adolescent; the flapping and perhaps some ruffling of feathers—you just became an empty nester! All of your parenting responsibilities and survival skills are now lifted—you’ve also gained some extra space within your house. Like many large North American families with fancy big houses, the rooms are transformed into something else; a guest room, rental unit, perhaps a room to store more stuff that they probably don’t need.
The question to ask yourself “should I stay-and-pay to keep the house maintained, heated, grounds groomed—in case the kids come back? or…move in with the kids?”.
Our 115 year old century house in Toronto was too large for the three of us—3500 sq feet—mostly waisted space—bedrooms we kept staged for family visits and possible guest sleepovers. We were also down to our last kid—prepping for university life.
We decided to downsize…in fact, we moved directly into our 198 square foot, 1973 vintage Airstream travel trailer. The trailer was parked at my best friends house north of Toronto. Totally gutted, no furniture, fixtures or fittings—just an empty shell.
As our house hit the market, I went north to work on the restoration of our Airstream—affectionally named “ModPod 1” (meaning: modern “funky” dwelling). The housing market in Toronto was very hot—we sold quickly. With a early closing date fast approaching, the trailer was far from being livable. We moved in anyway!
Bespoke dwelling—a house that perfectly fits your measurements.
Our “twice purged” stuff in storage, living with few key essentials, we weathered the trailer build. A month had passed, kid planted in university, the trailer was ready for launch. I hooked up ModPod 1 and we took our first road trip into the United States—fist stop, my sister-in-law’s driveway. Once unhooked, I tweaked some of the things in the trailer, added a Bosch direct water heater, bought a small induction stove, window blinds and towel hooks from IKEA.
Trailer life is a fantastic way to live, if it weren’t for our artistic hobbies, we could live happily ever after in our trailer—much better than condo life…for us anyway. Fátima is a fibre artist, she needs her wool stash, spinning wheels and looms. I make pictures; photography and painting. My paintings are huge—they couldn’t fit through the trailer door. Make smaller paintings? that’s a completely different story, but, I can still take photographs and write articles on the web.
Right sizing plans for our new dwelling—ModPod 2
I drafted our requirements for the new living and working environment—artist residents that converts into a gallery, and into a art studio—a hybrid dwelling. Using the Toronto house measurements as our sizing model, the value was set at 100%. I broke down the rooms and areas of the house that were used full-time and cutout the rooms we never, or seldom used.
My math went like this:
Kitchen = 30%
bathroom 1 = 10%, bathroom 2 = 2%, bathroom 3 = 3%,
bedroom 1 = 15% , bedroom 2 = 10%, bedroom 3 = 0%, bedroom 4 = 0%, bedroom 5 = 0%
dinning room = 5%, family/living/TV room = 15%, lounge = 5%,
basement = 0%, wine cellar = 0%, porch = 5%
ModPod 2: The HyGrid/Hybrid House Project
The end result of my math was a space of 26 feet by 40 feet—about the size of a two car garage.
Criteria for ModPod 2: open and flexible work and living environment, modern or contemporary styling, easy to heat and keep cool, accessibility for large paintings, wheel chair or walker access for special needs visitors, no doors (all sliders), panoramic view of our backyard, forest valley with lots of “northern” natural daylight coming in, separate laundry area, compact kitchen with a large pantry and eat-in island, Murphy bed wall storage system to disguise our sleeping area, compost toilet, gray water system, water filtration…all things green, applied technologies from ModPod 1, minimal environmental footprint, renewable energy!!
As a bonus—not part of the design and building model, ModPod 2 is classified as a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom house, even though there is no bedroom designation—meaning; lower property taxes! However, being different and unique, selling will be harder to do—but, we don’t plan to sell, it’s our new base camp for our adventures.
The term “Right Sizing” was coined by Maureen “Glamper Girl”. A new friend we made who lives close to our new home. She came up with term when I was explaining what we were planning to do. Thank you Glamper Girl. Let’s do a road trip together—two trailers—when we’re ready to hit the road again.