Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to family homes.

The non-profit Energy Trust of Oregon sponsored a small house design workshop Thursday in the Tamastslikt museum’s cultural classroom.

Instructor Brian D’Agostine, a design outreach specialist, said smaller homes conserve energy and use fewer materials.

In 1900, the average home was about 900 square feet. At the height of the housing bubble in 2004, homes were built at 2,400 square feet.

The era of the oversized McMansion is over, D’Agostine said, especially as customers become more environment-minded.

“It’s not going to be anymore, ‘My house is bigger than yours,’ it’s going to be, ‘My house is greener than yours,’” he said.

Some radically small homes are as tiny as nine square feet, he said, and designed to be pulled by a bicycle. He’s been dreaming of constructing a 200-square-foot dwelling, which is legally classified as a shed.

Houses that small may seem extreme, but for anyone looking to build a more conventional home, there are several ways to reduce size, increase efficiency and stay comfy. D’Agostine suggests making sure each room will have multiple uses and not installing guest rooms or bathrooms that won’t see much use.

About 12 people from Pendleton and Mission attended the workshop, including housing workers from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“This is helpful to expand our horizons,” said Marcus Luke, who counsels tribal members for the CTUIR housing authority. He said the reservation is strapped for housing and looking to build more houses.

“There were a lot of things here that are nice to know,” he said, “like how to get rid of dead space, make it more practical.”

Michelle Goad, who co-owns more than 100 acres of property recently annexed into Pendleton city limits, also attended the workshop.

Goad said construction will happen on the property, but wanted to stay mum about the details.

“It’s been interesting,”?she said of the workshop, “But we already have plans.”

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