Staying put: Making too big or too small seem just right

Gale C. Steves, home industries consultant and former editor of Home Magazine, spent some time with us recently outlining ways to make the best of the home you have rather than downsizing or upsizing. Steves calls it "right-sizing," which is also the title of her new book, "Right-Sizing Your Home."

Q: Right now the temptation is to trade up or down, with real estate prices and interest rates low. Why is that a bad idea?


A: It's psychologically hard to leave a home you have created. It's your nest. Even people thinking of downsizing are staying where they are because it's going to cost them something to move. Instead of moving, why don't you improve? Clean out your house as if you were going to move and then you'll have a lot more room. Staying with your same footprint means you're not going to increase your taxes, either.

Q. Do people generally think they need more house than they actually do?

A: Yes. We've grown up in several decades of entitlement. Children now are entitled to have their own bathroom, even though it's a great way to learn to share, right from the beginning. The master bath has gotten huge. Everyone now needs a home office, you have his office and her office, not a his-and-her office. Kids have their own play spaces, where they used to play in the family room. I think we've gone into separate lives and we need to find ways to invite all the family members back.