At the end of 2019, minimalism was trending. Books like Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye, Things, and television shows such as Tidying Up with Marie Kondo were immensely popular, prompting people around the country to clear out their clutter so as to find greater happiness.
Part of the appeal purported by minimalists like Fumio Sasaki is that with fewer belongings a person can live in a smaller space. Then, by living in a smaller space, a person can save money on their rent or property costs. Sasaki himself lives in a tiny apartment with little ability to accommodate friends or family, not even owning enough cutlery to eat with a group. His preference is, instead, to save money on a home’s cost and spend it elsewhere. In this example, spending less on rent allows him to spend more eating at restaurants with friends.
The benefits of minimalism and downsizing were clear. Only keep what makes you happy. However, what the minimalists could not have predicted was the COVID-19 pandemic. As the UK entered its lockdown, the problems of smaller living spaces, especially those with few belongs, could potentially bring about.
As gyms, restaurants, and cinemas shut their doors, people turned to recreate these experiences at home. The sales of fitness equipment, cookbooks, and projectors increased suddenly. Residents wanted to continue their fitness regimes, diets, and hobbies at home. Those without space, however, struggled.
Denied the ability to spend as much time outside, those without gardens found themselves increasingly jealous of people able to step outside and enjoy green space, especially during the brief heatwaves during springtime. Those with gardens were able to enjoy the sunshine freely. And, interestingly, many gardens became spaces for extra rooms to be built. The sales of log cabins rose and more people began establishing bars, gyms, offices, and entertainment rooms in their own gardens. Now, as lockdown gradually comes to an end, these assets are being enjoyed within communities as businesses struggle to reopen.
Having a home with space isn’t solely beneficial during or because of a lockdown. Spacious homes, in general, tend to feel much larger and open designs can even improve a property’s market value. They not only allow a greater capacity for belongings, which is significant as more people establish their home as a centre for developing hobbies, but they can also give a person a greater sense of wellbeing. They do this by allowing larger amounts of natural light to enter the home, a feature that is incredibly important for both our circadian rhythm and mood.
Greater amounts of space within the home also supports a sense of separation. This can be incredibly useful, sometimes necessary, between people and professional lives alike. When working from home, for example, it can be difficult for the mind to switch off and leave professional mindsets in the “office”. More space between a home office and areas to relax make this much easier, hence why more people are looking to build offices in their gardens since they retain the sense of separation from the home.
What we are seeing now, only a year after the coming of minimalism, are more enquiries for larger properties, rural homes, and houses with gardens. Downsizing and modest living spaces are already over and it seems that our homes need more space to help us feel good.