This is one of those posts that is focused on the “… and beyond” part of Greater Gotham. It’s been a busier year of moving, bedding in and – not unsurprisingly decorating. Moving from an apartment into a house usually means you don’t have NEARLY enough furniture from the former to fill the latter. But in this case, because I moved from the US to the UK, space didn’t work out that way. Why? UK houses are smaller than your average American expects. A few years ago, the BBC had an article on JUST this point. In brief, average home sizes around the world work out something like this:
- US: 2,300sf
- Australia: 2,217sf
- Denmark: 1,475sf
- France: 1,216sf
- Spain: 1,044sf
- Ireland: 947sf
- UK: 818sf
So if I’d been moving from a New York City apartment into a house and if both of those places were in the US, I might well have found myself wandering around in empty, furniture-less rooms. Even if, as was the case, my apartment was a pretty good sized two bed for Manhattan (approx 1190 sq ft). But I wasn’t moving within the US. I moved to the UK and the furniture from my two bedroom, 1190 sq ft apartment filled my 4 bed (they called it a 5 bed but we’ll debate that later) up quite nicely.
Other things that I had to wrap my head around (and which watching years of decorating shows prepared me for) – the closet issue. Now, my apartment in New York had closets, having been built only 20 some odd years ago but I knew plenty of people who lived in older, mostly pre-war apartments who struggled with one closet or no closets. The creativity displayed in the face of the adversity was tremendous and I salute everyone who carved a closet out of a niche, organized entire wardrobes into under bed bins or found ways to make their clothing part of the decor.
Closets in the UK? Not so much. I was told this was because back in the days of yore, no one used them and the more recent lack of closets was down to square footage. “Closets,” I was told, “made the rooms smaller.” This is true. You know what else makes rooms smaller? HUGE WARDROBES. Don’t get me wrong – I knew exactly what to expect so I didn’t actually say that. I kept it to myself. But I know a lot of the real estate agents got very nervous when they heard the American accent and thought “Oh here we go – it’s gonna be an afternoon of size complaints.” But I assured them I knew the score and all proceeded well. As it happened, I lucked out and settled on a house described as a 5 bed but which any sane person would call a 4 bed with an odd shaped room that could only theoretically have a bed of any kind in it. That room (to stretch the boundaries of the word) became my closet. I have generously given over the enormous closet IN the master bedroom to my husband.
But wait – I hear you cry. What enormous closet in the master bedroom? Weren’t you just complaining about a lack of closets? Yes I was. But not in the extension the previous owners put in. Lots of storage in the master bedroom (now master suite after a handy dandy door move). But the other 3 bedrooms? Sans closet. Well, OK – one has an airing cupboard so the linens have a home and I have a guest room with no enclosed hanging space. But never mind – guests are made comfortable (IKEA hacked some hanging space and embraced over-door hooks) but not TOO comfortable thus ensuring that they depart before taking root. 🙂
One more thing. This whole single/double bedroom business. It’s a bedroom or it isn’t. It might be a small bedroom but as most of these “single bedrooms” also lack a closet and require some sort of storage furniture as a result, these rooms would be more accurately labeled closets. Try turning this bug into a feature (as my software developer friends would say). You might find people LIKE houses with closets.