Don't Try THis on Home: I made my bed wrong, and then I had to sleep in it
I made my bed wrong, and then I had to sleep in it
The list of folks who inspired me to start designing efficient, little houses includes the names of existentialists, like Thoreau and Emerson, and the names of architects and writers, like Les Walker and Witold Rybczynski. I recently added Barbara Mandrell to the list. Her 1978 rendition of Sleeping Single In a Double Bed is, after all, what first got me to thinking about how well unused space serves to remind us of our loneliness and the great abyss. I remember first hearing it on the radio when I was in the 8th-grade. Sprawling suburbs, vacant buildings and unused rooms have been giving me the creeps ever since.
Sleeping single in a double bed
While I don’t remember any direct correlation between the song and my decision to make my first house no bigger than I, alone, would need, it should probably be given some credit— if only for first bringing the source of some long-standing anxiety to full consciousness. Inasmuch as it deserves credit, I’d also like to blame some way-too-literal, subconscious interpretation of the song for the excessively narrow bed I built for my first little home.
Its 30”-width ensured that all the time I spent in it would, indeed, be spent alone. On those few occasions when a girlfriend did spend the night, we’d always begin by trying to sleep together on the 36”-wide, plywood floor. After a bit of forced-intimacy down there, she would, invariably, move up to the padded bed and leave me on the floor where, at least, I could roll over without fear of falling.
Downward-Doggie twice, build bed once
The ideal answer to this problem would have been to figure out how much mattress I would need to be happy before making my bed. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours hanging out in public bathroom stalls, closets and under tables with tape measure in hand. It’s hard for me to get a real sense of how much space I really need to feel comfortable in a very small kitchen, bathroom, living room or sleeping loft without, first, spending a little time in comparably-sized spaces. It’s important that every activity intended for any given space be tested for. I get a strong sense that my restroom acrobatics and occasional need to assume Kama Sutra positions with an invisible partner under one type of table or another has probably caused embarrassment to more than one passerby, but this seems a very small price to pay for getting a home’s design right before building it. In the industry, this kind of empirical planning would be referred to as something like, “Downward-Doggie twice, build bed once.”