‘Bigger is Better’ Culture – Learnings from a Californian Design Tour

One of the biggest issues we are seeing in renovating and renovating for profit is the culture of more is more – we are looking on Instagram, we are looking at images of the biggest and fanciest homes.

I have recently come back from a landscape design tour around the coast of California, looking at the landscapes and homes, often second homes which were incredible, both in scale and in form.  Stepping off the tour and reflecting on the homes that we collectively as a group were drawn to, they all had a few things in common.

  1. Scale – there was an intimacy about the scale, they were not the largest homes, but rather homes with proportions that worked to create a homeliness and felt like they people belonged, you could feel the life.
  2. Settings – they are off their settings. Now let me be completely clear – all of these homes were in amazing locations, they had incredible views and were on wonderful and unique pieces of land, but again the ones we were drawn to referenced their settings, they had a relationship in scale and position to the environment, the trees and the locations.
  3. Personality – Finally the homes and landscapes, which were varied and diverse all spoke to the person who lived in them, the family and the design. They weren’t the biggest or the ones with the most fancy features, rather they told a story of the people the family and life that lived there and this created warmth and love that we were immediately drawn to.


This culture of bigger is better is causing so many issues for us. We are being shown massive white houses, homes with vast spaces and rooms that are many times the size that they need to be. These homes are wasteful, in resources to build, ongoing energy to heat and cool and in the money they take to build and heat. The increasing need to want more and more and more has become a culture a culture that is being perpetuated.

Through our years renovating and building we have lived in some larger homes and more modest homes, a the thing that has remained always true homes that feel amazing are of an appropriate proportion and scale, they have a personality unto their own which doesn’t mean that they have used the most expensive materials or the biggest and fanciest appliances, rather that there is love, planning and scale which ties the people to the place. The expression of the inhabitants love and interests which stretch beyond creating a white ‘timeless’ kitchen and speaks to how they live and entertain.


In this time of economic adjustment, perhaps we need to adjust our expectations to be more personal and of a scale more sympathetic to our environment and not over leverage every aspect of our lives.  I feel like it is time to talk about realistic needs, wants and budgets. Finding ways to stage our builds so they are within our means and to also be more respectful the environment and fast fashion that has also extended to our homes.

Rebeka xx

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