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LINDSEY VONN
CNBC.com web-only interview
Downhill skier Lindsay Vonn

Home Slice: Bigger Isn't Better

I'm so glad the heady days of big builders building big McMansions are waning. Thank goodness nobody is buying into those over-sized, over-priced, over-the-top entry foyers that lead to oh-so-great great rooms that nobody can possibly fill with enough friends or furniture. Thank goodness, because Shlomi Gal-On now has the model business to build on, now that minimal is mod.

I'm reading about Shlomi in the NY Times House & Home section this morning. He's making a mint sawing New Yorkers' sofas in half. Sorry, it's a "disassembly service." I've lived in a shoebox in New York, so I'm well acquainted with the problem. You buy a lovely piece of furniture that doesn't fit in the doorway of the apartment, or simply doesn't fit in the apartment. What do you do? Call Shlomi.

Quick story: when I was about 9 years old, I lived in an apartment in Manhattan with my parents and two brothers. We were on the fifth floor, looking out over the ever-popular urban airshaft. One breezy spring morning, the folks on the seventh floor (a second marriage of a real estate magnate and a former flight attendant) faced a common New York conundrum. They'd bought a large painting that didn't fit into the elevator. With no other options, the superintendent of the building suggested they rig a pulley to the outside of the building and hoist the thing up through the airshaft. You can see where I'm going with this.

So with the painting rigged up to a strong set of ropes, the image of Mary kneeling by the crucifix began its climb, floor by floor, up the side of the co-op. And then my mother gets the phone call in her office. It's the cleaning lady, in hysterics, babbling through broken English tears something about Jesus Christ and a crash and very bad luck for the family and our souls. Yes, the second coming had come, right through our kitchen window.

But have no fear because there are now plenty of business opportunities for people to cash in on cramped spaces. Just look at the author of "The Not-So-Big House" line of books. I have the series. Sarah Susanka is making a fortune by telling people to get built-ins and put their crap away.

And despite the rash of remodeling going on across America, driven by the hoards of homeowners who are unable to afford the bigger home, there is just so much space the lots and the setbacks allow. I'm meeting decorator after decorator that specializes in small spaces. Just take a look at the de-cluttering industry, yes industry. Whether it's Garage Tek or Clutterbusters or the Container Store, it's all about getting your crap out of your way because you need more space.

I say good on! Thank goodness affordability really hasn't moved, prices are still too high, sales are sluggish and most people can't afford to get the space they really want. Because now when I try to cram a dinner party into my "eat-in" kitchen, since I've turned the dining room into the family room that I don't have, I know that I am entertaining the very height of home fashion.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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