The Master Bedroom is the New Living Room

Glen and I bought our first house more years ago than I care to remember.  It was a VERY tiny, VERY old house.  There was an adequate kitchen and living room, but only 1 small bedroom and another closet-sized space.  We very quickly out grew this home and a year later moved into a larger one in the suburbs.  I never liked the new house, but it had the right number of rooms, a big backyard for the growing family, was close to Glen's work and the local elementary school was in the subdivision. Houses were selling quickly at the time, so we made the decision to move in despite our lack of enthusiasm.

Over the years, I never did come to love anything about this house with one exception, the big living room/dining room area.  Why?   An adequate living room/dining room area was always considered the most important space in the house as I was growing up.  The rest of the house could be minuscule as long as we had one comfortably larger area.  It's where family and friends all congregated.  Within this area we all broke up into smaller groups to play cards, chat on various subjects or sometimes just sat and listened to the camaraderie. Last summer visiting family in South Dakota, 30 of us managed to sit comfortably in a smaller home with a well laid out living room/dining room space, have lunch and chat.  Glen and I invited the Vancouver Tall Club to our house in January for a games night and I think we managed to entertain over 22.  Most of the night they were scattered between the kitchen, dining room and living room playing games and talking, but at one point all congregated in the living room. The rest of the house is not great, but that space is a god-send.

Over the years we spent very little money fixing up or remodelling because the area is in transition.  Every house sold is knocked down, so money spent on renovations is pretty much just money thrown away.  We chose instead to pay off the mortgage quickly.  A few years without a mortgage put us in a position to look at buying a newer house that would have the features we wanted - a 2 car garage, a modern kitchen and more storage were definite musts.  While we did want to down-size a bit, I still wanted a great living space to entertain family and friends. That means the designer must make great use of the square footage and be innovative.  We've only looked at 3 so far.  While there have been some really great things about each, for some reason the living/dining room has become a side thought in most of them.

Sadly, modern house designers have chosen to convince us we really MUST have a gigantic bedroom with en suite to survive. Why should the Master Bedroom have more square footage and be better laid out for entertaining than the Living Room?  I don't know about you, but I spend very few of my waking hours in my bedroom. Then they give us inadequate entertaining areas where you can comfortably entertain only 4 (or 6 who are REALLY friendly).  Gone is the small well-designed home where the square footage is used to best advantage. To get a proper living room/dining room lay-out, they force to you buy a home much bigger than you actually need and that takes the price a lot higher.  Probably the biggest mistake I have seen time and time again in both small homes and condos is the long skinny living room with a fireplace on one of the long walls and the couch on the other.  The short ends are usually a kitchen at one side and a window or patio door at the other.  All you can do is sit in a row facing the fireplace.  I can't think of anything less conducive to conversation.

This space is probably 10 times nicer than the living room - I could make this an living room easily!
I have a few theories as to why this is happening.  One I have already mentioned - they want to force us to buy a larger house.  A small paranoid part of me also wonders if the restaurant/entertainment industry had a hand in this trend.  Who would benefit the most if we were forced out of our homes every time we wanted to get together with friends and family and who would lose the most if we decided to have people to our homes more often.  Perhaps the adult industry had some influence. Why else would our gigantic master bedroom be a better laid out space for entertaining than the living room?  Last is a sexist comment, but here goes.  Perhaps too many men are designing these spaces.  While Glen knows we spend 90% of our time in our living room and is aware how well our living room/dining room works when we entertain, he still doesn't notice when we look at a house that is a disaster in this area.  Sad, but true.

I understand now why people like to build their own homes.  I don't think that's in the cards for us, but how great it would be to sit with someone innovative and really lay out a home that WORKS!!!  Maybe it's time to buy that lottery ticket?