When I first began this job a year ago, one of my first editorial assignments was to interview Michaela Mahady, architect, author and all-around happy-home expert. Although we covered a lot of ground in that hour-long conversation (Michaela had just come out with her new book, Welcoming Home, and it’s safe to say I had more than a few questions to ask), there was one bit of advice that really stuck with me long after we said our goodbyes.
“When designing a house, people should learn from their own experiences and really trust in that,” Michaela said. “Understanding what spaces have made us feel most comfortable and alive in the past is a really crucial tool that we don’t rely on enough when planning our future homes.”
A novel concept, right? When it comes time to design our dream home, why not put a little trust in ourselves — and our most beloved memories — for inspiration? As Michaela explained, everyone wants to know how their future home will feel, so if it’s molded around your own past experiences and perceptions, you can feel confident knowing that it will feel right to you in the end.
When I apply this idea to myself, and start to think about past places that have made me feel especially at home, I find myself reading a book on the daybed in my grandparents’ tiny cabin in southeastern Montana, with the warm afternoon light streaming in from the living room windows. Or dozing off on my parents’ screened-in porch on a hot summer day with the ceiling fan whirling overhead. Even my first 800-square-foot apartment in Baltimore, with its dripping bathroom faucet and creaky floorboards, had its charming qualities. It was cozy, welcoming — you guessed it — “just right.”
Fortunately, if you’re like me and drawn to these smaller, more intimate spaces, you’re in luck because our special "Small Homes" Issue hits newsstands today. For expert advice on designing a smart layout for your smaller home, check out our Tips to Small-Home Success, which provides tips from industry leaders for living spaces, bathrooms, bedrooms and storage. We complement this advice with our three inspiring — yet surprisingly intimate —home tours, including a stock-to-custom Colorado cabin and a low-maintenance family retreat. And for something a little out of the ordinary, take a look inside a timber-accent condominium project (right) in western Montana. Complete with three buildings and a total of nine units, ranging in size from 2,200 to 4,000 square feet, there’s something for everyone.
No matter the size home you decide to build, we hope our new issue will provide you with the ideas, inspiration and expert advice to help turn your timber home dreams to reality. And remember, when it comes to creating a home that speaks to you, no voice should be louder than your own. So, enjoy — and start listening.
Download a digital copy of the April "Small Homes" issue here.