Unit Size [was Private home dishwasher: 18 vs 24 inch
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 06:54:59 -0700 (PDT)
On Oct 24, 2013, at 9:49 AM, Tracy Gayton <tracygayton [at] gmail.com> wrote:

> At last! Cohousing that truly embraces the idea that with common space,
> private space can be smaller.

The question is "smaller for what"? in my experience, smaller for purposes of 
hosting guests, entertaining large groups, and sharing an exercise and kids 
playroom works very well. 

People still want to entertain small groups privately. Many people use the 
guest rooms, but others don't. No one has a large workshop at home but many 
have their own tools, even if minimal. Everyone one has an "office" with a 
computer, etc. A couple of people use the CH printer exclusively, otherwise it 
is back up. The people who don't have a television generally don't watch it in 
the CH either. People don't have exercise machines at home but some have 
weights and small equipment. Others still go to a "real" gym.

I find it uncomfortable to have one or a few of the same people in the CH all 
the time. It becomes "theirs" and dampens other activities. We've had a couple 
of people who wanted to "work at home" full time and use the CH. Each one put 
it out to the community, got responses, and never did it.

The playroom is very useful and an incredible resource, particularly in the 
winter. Parents still wish they have private yards where they could allow their 
children out alone and not have to watch them. An interesting thing happens 
when there are so many children around -- they fight. Or there maybe one or two 
who are abusive to others. If more than just your own children are out there, a 
parent needs to be there too. Parents have other things to do besides supervise 
groups of children and parents don't always work well together in sharing these 

Sometimes people just don't want to collaborate on another activity. 24/7 gets 

Same with pets. People want yards for their dogs, not just a dog run. A dog run 
is nice but a yard is nicer.

> Personally, I'd like to see the studio and one bedrooms units smaller. We've 
> (two of us) lived in studios of about 300 sq ft. for a cumulative total of 
> several years and found it perfectly adequate. 

I think it depends on age and activities. In college, I lived in 500 SF with 4 
people. Then with 2 people and two cats.

Now 50 years later, I couldn't fit my books in to 300 SF. Add crafts and arts 
supplies and writing and computer paraphernalia and that is a studio apt. 
People who are doing professional level work can rarely share resources except 
with other professionals with whom they have developed working relationships 
and agreements on the use and maintenance of equipment and supplies. 

Having someone walk in and randomly start using equipment, messing with 
expensive paints, etc., is a distraction and lowers productivity. I go nuts 
seeing how people maintain the workshop. I could never work in there on a 
serious project that took days to complete. I couldn't sleep nights, for one 
thing, out of fear that someone would move it without calling me so I could 
move it myself. I would have to be constantly cleaning up in order to find the 
tools I needed fast enough to feel I was accomplishing my own work.

So it's age and level of expectations that determine how much space one needs. 
And how much time you spend at the office and away on weekends. Some people 
actually do just need a hotel room.

The space that all of us could probably do without is storing things because 
"someday they might be useful" or "I bought so I can't just get rid of it."

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.