Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Small House Living

It happens all the time. I get excited about an article entitled something like "How We do X with a Small House" or "Maximize Your Space in a Small Kitchen". Living small is one of my pet topics. I click on the link. Maybe it has some useful tips.

Then, I see that the house in question has a basement for storage, the small kitchen is three times the size of mine, and the house has two, yes, TWO bathrooms. I get indignant. No, no, you do not have a small house. Get out of here, you can't even play this game, you are unqualified. 

We live in a tiny old tenant farm house which suffered a few random additions over the years, ultimately concluding with less than 1,000 square feet of total space. Far from a micro-home, it probably was closer to average just fifty years ago. We do not have a basement. We do not have a garage. My laundry room is a stacked washer and dryer in a corner of the kitchen. I know people with homes like ours who do it with six times as many children, and I pray they are richly blessed with creative storage solutions.

Do you want to know if your house is small? Here is a quiz I created to find out:

If someone gives you something you would really like to own, do you immediately have to consider where it will be stored in your home and what you may need to get rid of in order to keep it?

When you get chilly, is it viable to heat up a couple rooms by baking something in the oven or putting a load of laundry in the dryer?

Is your food preservation strategy to place an empty jar everywhere you can fit one, in all kinds of crazy places, and then fill as many as you can?

When it comes to family planning, are you concerned about the possible legal implications of a one child per square foot ratio?

If you answered yes to all four, then you are in the big little-house leagues. If you got two or three out of four, you are in the game. If you answered no to all three, then you are a spectator. Enjoy your indoor swimming pool.

No great honor comes with living in tight quarters. I am not more spiritual or virtuous because I live in a smaller than average one-story doll house. There are a few hidden blessings, which I've mentioned here in the past. In general, less cleaning, less clutter, smaller bills.

I also have no magical formula for living small with great ease. 

Well, okay. I've picked up a few reliable tips:

For instance, try to make the most out of storage space underneath large furniture. For instance, here are some things we store under the couch:


Likewise, you should try to utilize overhead space above doors and windows. For example, I hung an organic insect control device on the kitchen ceiling. No one but me has noticed it, and I hope it will help with the late summer fruit fly problem.

Alright. It's a spider, and it moved there on its own. Who can blame it? It must enjoy a cozy habitat where every room smells of a freshly baked pie, a warm fire heats even the farthest nook on the coldest day, and the family living space is always full of life.

Even though we'll likely build a modest addition in the future, I'm choosing contentment for now. You can never have too much of it, and it's a good fit for any home. Sometimes I lose it, grow discontent, and have to find it again. When that happens next time I'll just look under the couch. 

16 comments:

  1. When we owned our home, it was a whopping 761 sq. feet and we were quite content! Took no time to clean!

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    1. Wow! I'm sure that gave you time to do plenty of other things. Thanks for sharing that!

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  2. Love your sense of humor! You are very gifted with words.

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  3. You've done it again! You made me smile; you made me laugh out loud; you made me ask myself, "I keep a giant stainless steel bowl that is big enough (and has done) to bathe babies in my foyer coat closet (next to the umbrellas) - does that count? (I decided no); AND you got me misty-eyed - all before 8 AM! Thank you, our dear friend! We love you!

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    1. I love you, BAT Mom! Hold on to that giant stainless steel bowl. I can think of a million uses for it, and sometimes it's all about being prepared.

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  4. It's always a delight to see a new post on your blog. I think we'd fit into the criteria for small space dwellers. We've lived in a camper for the past 8 years and I'm sure when we move into our mobile home it will feel like a mansion. We've become very creative in our use of space as well. Our washer is in the well house which we keep heated due to the pressure tank and the dryer is inside the unheated mobile home, so that's a trek for doing laundry in the winter... in summer clothes are hung out. I refuse to complain though because I realize there are those who have much less. I liked your start where you look at articles talking about maximizing small spaces... I too have looked at those articles. Every once in a while they have some good ideas, but mostly not. Hope you are enjoying the fall season. God Bless!

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    1. Hi Mrs.Doug! I'm kind of impressed that you've managed to live so comfortably in a camper. and maybe even a little inspired by that. I always thought a camper would make a great vacation home. I've seen some nice ones that are very inch as spacious as a small house. Yes, once in a while I do see something new or a helpful trick that helps me get more out of our home, so it's worth it to read those articles. I'm just sometimes caught off guard by the "small" houses that look pretty average to me. Thanks for sharing your home story!

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  5. I got a good chuckle out of your qualifying list for small homes. Found myself on your list. We do have a basement, and after more than 35 years of living here, it is stuffed full. It's like an archeology dig site down there. That oven heating up the rooms things works great when the weather is cool, but isn't too much fun in warm weather, is it? My kitchen is so small that the crock pot makes it hot in there. There are very few kitchen cabinets, so I use the oven for storing my main pots and pans. Problem is, when it's time to cook, I struggle to find a place for them.

    We have only one bathroom. Our two kids are grown, and on their own now, but I don't remember having that many problems with having one bathroom, I guess it's all in the timing. I always wonder at the House Hunters shows when the young couples go ballistic when there is only one sink in the master suite bathroom. Of course there are two other bathrooms, but they demand two sinks in the master bathroom. Is synchronized tooth brushing a new thing. Actually, I guess the women feel they need a separate vanity and sink for doing their makeup.

    Despite the little aggravations of living in this small place, I love our little house. It's Home Sweet Home to me. At this point In life, I have no desire to live in a bigger home.

    I'm glad I discovered your blog over at Simply Shelley's site and am your newest follower.

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    1. Oh Susie, your comment really speaks to me! Yes, I can tell we're in the same league. I'm not sure when it became mandatory to have double sinks in the master bath, or even when a master bath became a standard. It's fascinating to see necessities evolve as time goes by. Your remark about the crock pot heating up the kitchen made me smile. Yes, truth be told, we eat a lot of salads and sandwiches in the summer. It's too hot for even the slow cooker. Thanks for following, I look forward to checking out your blog. :)

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  6. This was GREAT! Brought back some memories :-) I have a big house, now, but everyone says it's little; funny how people's perceptions can be so different.

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    1. Thanks, Peggy. yes, perceptions are very different. There are some enormous homes that would consider mine a garden shed, and probably compare yours to a small guest house. It is very relative!

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  7. I just stumbled across this post by accident. (It all started with a link to your pumpkin roll recipe...which looks positively sinful by the way. I might have to sin very soon because of it). Thanks for the chuckle. I live in a "big" house I guess...a whopping 1400 square feet. It's all relative I guess. I have a basement...but does it count when your house is 160 years old and you can't really store anything of value down there because of dampness? I stand 5'6" and can just stand up straight down there. Most men could not. No garage here...or attic either.

    On storage under furniture...yes, I've stored similar objects. Another tip: many of these same items can be stored IN the sofa rather than under. If I'm looking for spare change or a working pen or pencil in my home, it's one of the first places I look. I left an organic hanging insect catcher in the corner of my kitchen recently since I noticed it busily wrapping up a stink bug for a later lunch. We have been infested with these stink bugs lately and I appreciated the help. My washer and dryer are in my kitchen too...but they don't stack.

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    1. Oh Priscilla, I just love everything you said and can tell you really get this. We also live in an area with a high water table and our neighbors start baling out their basements after more than two days of rain. I can't say that's a problem I need, though I would like some extra space someday.

      Do you think the couch can also double as a root cellar? Because I found a potato in it one day. My hunch is yes. We also have a terrible stink bug epidemic at a certain point in the year. They get into the linens and everything. I would set up a guest room for anything that wants to eat them.
      As long as it doesn't want any pumpkin roll. The pumpkin roll is all mine.

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    2. Absolutely! A couch can definitely double as a root cellar. Although I must say that I'm usually seeing my potatoes ON the couch.

      Hey., I figured out that you are a librarian and so am I! How cool is that? Right now I am between jobs, but in a couple of weeks I become the librarian at a middle school for a couple of months due to a maternity leave. Last year I was a librarian at an elementary school.

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    3. That's great Priscilla, school librarianship is a high calling! Yes, I was a librarian in a large public library for nine years before my son was born. Then I switched to stay-at-home mom. I still miss my fellow librarians all the time, and some of the perks of working in such a unique field.

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    4. I did it the opposite way. I was a stay at home mom with my kids for many years. When my youngest was in third grade, I decided to get a masters in library science. It took about two and a half years to complete. I finished in 2011 and I still haven't gotten a permanent position. I am about to start my 4th long term sub position. Three of those positions have only been a couple of months, but one was for an entire school year.

      I am so glad I stayed home with my kids. You will be too. I really miss them being little. I actually miss finding matchbox cars under the couch. I have two in high school now and one is college age.

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