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Wartime Homes | Manolo for the Home

The Wartime Home

It seems that today, being Memorial Day, is an appropriate day to post about how wartime homes can positively influence the evolution of small and/or affordable housing, at least in terms of interior space utilization. You see, once upon a time in the post-WWII era, the family home tended to be smaller, forcing the people who lived therein to make the most of all available space.

“In the same way that the proud new householders of wartime homes made numerous accommodations and undertook several modifications as a means of coping with the small size of their residences, so too can designers of contemporary affordable housing devise methods of living comfortably in a space no larger than 1,000 square feet,” state [Avi Friedman and Maria Pantalopoulos’s in “The Wartime Home as a Paradigm for Today’s Affordable Housing Design” (1996)]

I have a personal interest in this sort of thing, because my own home (which measures in at 1,100 square foot) was built just after WWII. While it’s not quite affordable housing, it is on the smallish side, so The Beard and I do what we can to keep our little cottage tidy and clutter free. We do a good job, too, though I can’t say we are quite so thorough as the homeowner in this wartime home case study:

wartime homes

One Affordable Housing Research Project drew the following conclusions from Friedman and Pantelopoulos’ article:

There are numerous ways a space can be designed so that it feels more comfortable and inviting. The relationship of rooms whether they are adjacent or removed can interrupt or guide the circulation patterns in a home. The amount of natural light that enters a room is also important. Usually, a space will feel larger when there is a plentiful source of natural light entering the room. Floor space is extremely valuable in today’s compact houses. Built in furniture is an excellent way to maintain maximum floor space, especially in bedrooms where built in furniture eliminates the need for dressers and desks.

Abundant storage is necessary in the design of today’s compact houses. Storage is a key selling point, because families accumulate more and more belongings the longer they live in one home. Therefore, the designer must be receptive to the demands for ample storage when designing a small, compact house (Friedman and Pantelopoulos, 1996, 191). There are many ways unused spaces should be used for storage, such as in the corners of rooms, and areas near the ceiling. Attics and basements are also ideal areas for adequate storage space.

Yes, yes, and yes. Then again, is it just me, or does this all seem like common sense?

2 Responses to “The Wartime Home”

  1. class factotum May 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    I loved my little 1200 sf 1922 Memphis bungalow. It had 3 bedrooms, one bath and a 1/4 unfinished basement. It was more than enough room for me and would have been enough room for my husband and me except he has different standards. And he does work from home, so maybe not. Entire families lived in houses that size and were just fine. I see these mega houses now with entire wings for the kids and wonder why people bother to have kids if they are never going to see them.

    PS The key to storage? Don’t accumulate a lot of stuff.

  2. Will Larsen May 22, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    A whole family could live in a wartime home, sure, but do you want to? Is it comfortable? Theres something to be said for everyone having their own space and being able to relax in private, epseciallu now with kids having so many of their own activities, homework, etc. to do.