A leading architect has claimed millennials don’t need living rooms, suggesting smaller living spaces would help us get on the property ladder.
According to The Telegraph, Patrik Schumacher, who worked on the London Aquatics Centre built for the Olympics, said: “For many young professionals who are out and about networking 24/7, a small, clean, private hotel-room sized central patch serves their needs perfectly well.”
But with landlords turning living rooms into extra bedrooms (for extra profit), many millennials are already renting places without shared living spaces and, shock horror, it hasn’t helped many of them buy a property.
HuffPost UK spoke to five millennials who have lived in this situation to find out why they want living rooms to stay.
Living rooms provide space to unwind
Student Georgie Luckhurst lives in Cardiff with six housemates. The house has two bedrooms on the ground floor she believes would have originally been used as a living room, and says the current set-up means there’s no communal calm space.
“It rids the house of a proper spot to wind down and relax, as the kitchen certainly isn’t a relaxing place and one gets cabin fever when in your bedroom too long,” she says. “These things might seem trivial but as university students, third years in particular, having space to disassociate yourself from studying, cooking, cleaning and other responsibilities is really valued.”
They stave off loneliness
Fabianne Farahi, 25, from Northampton, previously lived in several houses without living rooms when she moved to London seven years ago. Recent research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found people who rent are among the loneliest in the UK, and the PR executive says lack of shared living space is a contributing factor.
“It made it difficult to be social and to actually feel like I was living in a home, rather than a room like a hotel or Airbnb,” she says. “It then makes you feel a bit disconnected and recluse, especially if you are living with people you don’t know too, whereas a living room would help you get to be social and know each other better.”
They allow you to compartmentalise your home life
Sophie Green, 30, previously lived in a bedsit in London for six years, which she originally found advertised on Gumtree. The room included a bed, table and kitchenette in one space and was “all [Sophie] could afford on her starting salary”.
“The worst thing was having no separation between where I slept and lived. I found I was constantly tired because I associated the room with sleeping. I barely cooked because there just wasn’t space,” she says.
They keep kitchen smells at bay
Claudia Wright, 25, from Preston, previously lived in a renovated old people’s home in Wakefield with nine other people, because it was a cheap location in commutable distance to her job in Leeds.
The blogger, who now lives in London, says the only communal space was a kitchen with a TV on the wall, which wasn’t the least bit homely. “The kitchen was freezing so I never wanted to sit in there, the table was tiny, the chairs were not comfortable, and one of my housemates fried fish almost every day so the whole downstairs absolutely reeked,” she says.
They provide opportunities to be social
Chiara Fiorillo, originally from Italy, is in her final year of university. The 21-year-old is studying in London and lives in a four bedroom house. The housemates are close and spend time together in each other’s rooms, but the lack of living room makes inviting others over impossible.
“When we want to organise parties or to invite other people over, we all have to squish in the kitchen which, even though it is a good size for the four of us, is not the best spot to host a large number of people,” she says.