The real estate section of today’s New York Times talks about the popularity of enormous apartments–say 7,000 square feet–among luxury buyers. One uber-rich, young couple told their real estate agent that a four-floor penthouse was too small since they like to live large. Wealthy people who can afford whatever they want are, of course, entitled to live however they want, but I have always been perplexed by other’s desires to live in spaces far bigger than they really need. I know couples with living rooms they sit in three times a year; multiple guest bedrooms, but infrequent guests; big dens and little dens, 8 bathrooms, and kitchens with multiple sinks and dishwashers. They have more sofas, chairs, tables and lamps than a small-town furniture store.
I have been prone to excess in more than one area of my life, but the desire to live in massive spaces has never been one of them. I grew up in a modest, semi-detached house, sharing 1.5 bathrooms (the half bath was a 5 by 5 foot cubicle) with my two sisters and parents. When the dining room table was extended, there was barely enough space to fit the chairs. My bedroom desk, dresser and trundle bed were so close together, I could literally fall into bed after a long night studying for a big test.
When I married and left home, at 21, my husband and I moved into a studio apartment. “Luxury” was the three-bedroom, two bath-apartment where we lived with our two kids, which was about 1,300 square feet. I never craved owning a summer house in the Hamptons, or any traditional home, for that matter. I’ve lived in Manhattan for 44 years, and although I enjoy visiting big homes out of the city, I’m always glad to leave.
I love the apartment where David and I just moved. It has a den and small home office so I can change my surroundings when the mood strikes. There’s also an outside space, itsy-bitsy by a homeowner’s standards, but a real treat for Manhattanites. I think the nicest thing about owning an oversize home would be to entertain extended family and loads of close friends. Big spaces let you have togetherness, but not an excess of it. And there are no waiting lines for the bathrooms.