Start with porches and patios. Properly situated, they can make an otherwise smallish space feel just right.2 Drag a cafe table and a couple of chairs out there. Or perhaps a hammock and a little side table for your iced tea. Or a yoga mat and a hummingbird feeder—whatever makes you happy. Aside from the spatial benefits (and the fact that it costs a lot less to build exterior square footage than interior), the physiological and social benefits are compelling.3
And don’t be afraid to expand beyond your Good Small Space. Actively embrace the world outside your walls. Odds are, there are plenty of great public and semipublic spaces out there just waiting for you to expand into them. Parks, libraries, cafes—politely borrow their square footage for a couple of hours on days when you’re feeling large. Then get back to your box.
Dan Maginn is an AIA-member architect who lives and carpools to work with his wife, Keri, in Kansas City. Although he and his partners at El Dorado Inc. are extremely interested in promoting sustainable design on all scales, he does not consider himself to be an "eco-warrior." Instead he prefers the term "eco-tainment specialist"
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