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Single-story home lives larger

“The art of architecture studies not structure in itself, but the effect of architecture on the human spirit.” Geoffrey Scott (1884-1929), English scholar and poet, “The Architecture of Humanism” (1914)

So, I’ve just moved. Moved house. Everything. All of my worldly possessions, and Sasha the cat.

It’s been almost a year-long process. Thinking about it. Deciding to do it. Looking, looking, looking; finding it; no, wrong one; looking more and finding the perfect place. Then, the process begins. It sounds pretty simple, but there were a lot of steps in there.

My new house is just about two miles from my old one, but worlds apart. In my old community young kids rode scooters; in this community older “kids” scoot around in golf carts. I moved from a two-story townhouse to a one-story townhouse; three bedrooms to two and about 300 square feet smaller.

Everything about these changes makes me happy, especially the one-story bit.

The decision to do this column was based on sharing some things I knew before the move, and some I learned during the move. So, if a move is in your future or if you’re just curious, here goes.

When the first inkling of a move appeared, I realized that I had so much stuff that I didn’t use, or need, and decided I should go through it just in case.

Why move things you may discard later, right? Even though I’m pretty attached to my things, I made a lot of keep, donate, sell decisions.

A couple of things to be aware of here. I was fortunate to have friends who will do a yard sale for you – pick up all your stuff, take it to another location, and conduct the sale. If you live in a gated community where you can’t do it yourself, this is a great option. They take a portion of the proceeds and write you a check for the rest. Another option is to donate. There are many charities with empty closets and lots of need.

The next step was to begin packing. Try to be as organized as possible, and don’t pack just by room. If you have time, label your boxes. You will be very grateful on moving day.

Boxes and packing materials can be very costly. After pricing boxes at local moving stores, I discovered the easiest and cheapest option was to buy online. You can estimate how many you need, but these online sites also offer boxes by room, i.e., two bedroom package, three bedroom. My site shipped for free the next day. Handling flat boxes is very awkward. Having them delivered to your door is a huge help.

We’re going to skip the next piece, which involves trauma, anxiety and money, and go to moving.

Shop for movers and get recommendations and referrals when possible. I was amazed at the disparity in prices and services. One great thing about the company I chose was that it provided three men rather than two. It makes the move go so much faster. I was very fortunate – great, experienced movers with a good attitude. Very important. By the way, multistory moves cost more, too.

OK, now let’s talk about living on one level. This new space, even though it is about 300 square feet smaller than my old one, it reads (meaning it appears) and functions larger. Think about it. The stairwell and landings definitely take up space, but the appearance and functionality of one level are astounding. The space flows better, there’s no spacial interruptions, furniture placement is easier, and the visual impact is huge.

Single-story houses have always had an appeal to certain buyers and, for the most part, single-story houses cost more. In an area such as Las Vegas, where land has been at a premium, the footprint of a single story is larger and consequently costs the builder more land. If a builder has 10 acres on which to build, he can generally build twice as many multistory homes as single ones. The math makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact, in recent years here in the valley, builders were building three- and four-level homes with tiny footprints in an effort to cram as many dollars as possible in small acreage. It’s the same in any high-density urban area, such as New York City or Tokyo.

One of the biggest benefits of living on one level is not having to deal with stairs. Stairs have been romanticized at times and made people want to “go upstairs” to bed; parents envision young brides sweeping down the stairs with a long bridal train; and families like hanging greens on staircases at Christmas. Using steps as exercise is also a line you hear a lot – it’s good for you.

Well, I’m over all of it. I had boys, not girls – so no brides. When I’m really tired, the last thing I want to do is drag myself up steps to go to bed. And as far as exercise goes, there are plenty of other torturous things you can do.

Sasha has overcome her trauma of the move. Most of the boxes are unpacked and we love roaming around on one level. I can’t help you with a decision about upstairs/downstairs, but if you are interested in any of the sources I used for my move, send me a quick e-mail.

So, from our single-story inside space to your inside space, we send holiday greetings and much happiness, regardless of how many steps you have to maneuver.

Carolyn Muse Grant is a design consultant, expert home stager and creator of beautiful spaces. Questions can be sent to her at creativemuse@cox.net.

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