Will we regret downsizing??? Help me think this through - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We currently live in a 2800 sq ft 2 story home in a suburban neighborhood. We are a homeschooling family with 4 kids - ages almost 6, almost 4, almost 2, and 3 months. The oldest is our daughter, then we have 3 boys. In our current house we have dd in one room and had planned on the other 3 boys sharing another (the youngest is cosleeping). We do have the room to eventually put them in the daylight basement when they are older if the current setup didn't work. We don't even really use the daylight basement, except for storing nonsense (which we are slowly trying to get rid of) and for the washer/dryer.

We have the opportunity to move to an adorable Craftsman style farmhouse on 5 acres - absolutely our DREAM. We've been looking for 4 years and really wanting to downsize and live simply. This place is literally everything we've been looking for. We've made a huge amount of lifestyle changes in the past few years, so we really feel like we could easily live at this place for the rest of our lives and would be a great place to raise our kids. But now that this dream is right in front of us, we've had family members telling us we are totally nuts for it because this house is way too small for 4 kids.

Even DH's parents think we need literally double the space so the kids can all have their own bedrooms. We do have the option to add on to it during the renovation which will be starting soon, but I'm not sure if we'd be able to add on in the future (a long story). In the farmhouse, the attic/loft has a great big open bedroom (which we'd use for the boys) and then a tiny little bedroom that has a door (for dd). So the kids would all be on the upper floor, but dd would have her own space. There is a master bedroom on the main floor and then a basement which we plan on finishing that could technically be set up for bedrooms. We thought it was perfect for our family until we've had so many naysayers. We are totally willing to part with any of our possessions as we downsize. We've already gotten rid of probably half of our "stuff" so far.

Everyone is telling us that with a smaller house and with that bedroom set up that we will go nuts when the kids are teenagers. If we get this place, it is unlikely we would want to move when they are teenagers because of how incredibly hard it is to find something like this in this specific area that we want to live in and how much work it is to set up all the things we want to do. DH and I were totally opposed to adding on to the house to add more bedrooms when we first heard that idea because we don't want a huge big house. I'm just making sure we aren't totally crazy for purposely choosing a small, cozy home for a family with 4 kids. I suppose our family would have thought we were really insane if we had built a tiny cob house or bought an RV to travel in, huh?

Constructive criticism to our plan welcome. We'd actually hoped to have a small, well laid out home instead of something bigger. Now I'm wondering if this is a short sighted plan. Is dd going to hate us for making her have a tiny bedroom? Its an adorable room, just small, but I don't think I as a teenager would have cared. And will the boys hate having to share the big room? I never shared a room so I have no clue. Are we going to hate having a smaller home when they are older?

~Rebecca~
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#2 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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I think it sounds wonderful. Do the kids need space to run around inside in the winter? Do they have that available? That's the only thing I can think of. Other than that I think you should go for it!

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#3 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it sounds wonderful. Do the kids need space to run around inside in the winter? Do they have that available? That's the only thing I can think of. Other than that I think you should go for it!
The main floor has a great big open living/dining room that they could do schoolwork or play in, plus the bedroom for the boys is plenty big enough in our minds for it to double as a "playroom" while they are young. They aren't HUGE rooms, but definitely big enough. We live where it rains a good part of the year, so we definitely kept that in mind.

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#4 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 02:07 PM
 
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I think if they grow up living simply then they won't mind small rooms as teenagers. It sounds like a great place to move to!

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#5 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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I think the new place sounds lovely and it sounds like you've already thought a lot of this through...nay sayers will always nay say...it's not their home or their kids or their life!

That being said, it's not a bad thing that these comments are making you truly evaluate your new space. If it were me, and we had the funds, I'd probably go ahead and put an extra bedroom in the basement, since you're planning on finishing it anyway. You could initially call it a "guest room" or it could go to DD if you find that she needs more separation from her brothers, then the "tiny" bedroom next to the boy's shared space could, in turn, go to the oldest boy or be turned into a quiet study room/library for them to have alone time since they'll be sharing one room. I don't think that sharing rooms is bad for kids, but I do feel that there should be a place in the house where all can go find some alone time, especially since you homeschool and are together all the time and especially since it rains often and maybe finding solitude outside won't be able to happen every day .

I totally want to see pictures of this place as it sounds like a dream! How's your kitchen space? In my list of priorities I'd want a large kitchen and the bedrooms could be postage stamp size for all I'd care! But then again, I love cooking and spend too much time in our kitchen I'm sure...

Let us know what you decide...what an exciting adventure for you!

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#6 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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I'm having trouble picturing the top floor. Will your DD have to walk through the boys' room to get to her room? That's sort of what it sounded like to me. That could be the only major drawback that I see. I think I'd be a bit resentful if my sister not only got her own room, but had to walk through my room at all the time. I like the PP's idea of putting a bedroom in the basement to use for DD now, or at a later time, and then once DD is in the basement, using the extra room upstairs for a quiet lounge type space.

But if DD doesn't have to walk through the boys' room, then I really think it sounds great.

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#7 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I totally want to see pictures of this place as it sounds like a dream! How's your kitchen space? In my list of priorities I'd want a large kitchen and the bedrooms could be postage stamp size for all I'd care! But then again, I love cooking and spend too much time in our kitchen I'm sure...

Let us know what you decide...what an exciting adventure for you!
I definitely plan on setting up a before/after group of photos on flickr once things are in progress. I'll post a thread when we get to that point. I actually like the idea of having the small bedroom be a separate lounge space some day, I never thought of that! We will definitely be finishing off the basement with a second bathroom and one bedroom (not sure what we'd use it for at first). We could probably add a second bedroom down there eventually too. My MIL hates that idea because she thinks basements are gross, but this one is a nice dry basement and we would finish it nicely.

The kitchen is actually really decent size and I'd be able to design it from scratch to meet our needs. I love to cook too and make most everything from scratch so a great kitchen is really important. I really love the open dining/living room layout in this house, because we use the dining room table for school. There is plenty of room to have the table on one end (by the doorway to the kitchen) with our school bookshelves along the wall and the separate living room set up (leather sectional, TV/stereo) on the other end. I'm pretty sure I could set a small play area for younger kids in the middle of 2 living areas. I could really see it working great for homeschooling.

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But if DD doesn't have to walk through the boys' room, then I really think it sounds great.
Nope, she won't have to walk through the boys room. When you come up to the top of the stairs you can either take a left through the door into the room for dd or a right around a corner into the open bedroom for the boys. I call it an "open" bedroom for the boys since it doesn't have an actual door.

This house is currently owned by my ILs so we have to humor all the "suggestions", but I just wanted to make sure we weren't being unrealistic. They will leave the floorplan as is if we ask them, they are just having a hard time wrapping their brains around wanting to live small with 4 kids, plus we've had plenty of comments from other well meaning people.

We were actually discussing last night the idea of possibly looking in to building a small cob "workshop" near the house. We love cob but building a whole house out of it is really out of the question for us and we really wanted a Craftsman home anyway. We'd put a wood stove in it for heat, work tables for craft or woodworking projects and a comfy sofa/futon for reading. It would be a great place for working on projects or for solitude. Not sure if this is totally feasible, but I love the idea.

~Rebecca~
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#8 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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Sounds great!

I think it's really just what you're used to and your kids are little enough that a small place is what they will be used to by the time they are teenagers.When I was a teenager I lived in a two bedroom apartment with my mom and 2 siblings.I didn't even think about it.

Last night I was at a party at a house that was 3 floors,a finished basement and a add on off the kitchen.A childless(with no kids in the future)couple lived there.I just kept walking around thinking"what do they do with all this space?"It was driving me crazy.

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#9 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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Sounds awesome, but then, you knew you were going to find support here. My dad and his wife raised four kids in a tiny war-era bungalow. He built a small bedroom in the basement for two of my brothers, and I slept in an alcove and didn't even have a room, and then when my baby brother came along, my older brother built himself a tiny room in another corner of the basement. There was a master bedroom up, as well as an office because he ran his business from home. It was fine! I was only there part time, and did have a room at my mom's.

lexbeach, an MDC mama of four also lives in a wee house ... check out her blog.

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#10 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 06:17 PM
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what's the phrase? "opinions are like anuses--everyone has one."

here's the deal. live your dream, not anyone else's. if this is your dream house, your life dream, then live it and don't take anyone's opinion to heart.

we moved to the other side of the planet from 1300 sq ft to about 500 sq ft. from three bedrooms to one. we want to be here--living in the harbor city that we love, doing work that we love (running a holistic health center; film), and our son cosleeps for now.

if we were to stay in the same home (it's a rental, we won't for the long term) or something similar (one bedroom), then we would put a murphey bed in the lounge for our son. during the day, we would put it away; at night, he would have his own space in which to sleep. we have plans for a certain sized, designed, blah blah blah house down the line--where he would have his own room--but if we don't get to that (or our desires change), then we could live in a one bedroom.

a lot of people did not want us to go, told us it was a mistake, told us we were crazy. now that we are here and renting where we are, people are saying 'but you need more space for the baby, you need this or that!" and telling us that we should choose a subrub in which to live--we chose to live in the city! we want to live here!

so, in a sense, stick to your dream. do what you want. and everyone else can nay-say to themselves.
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#11 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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Ahh, now that I understand the layout upstairs, I say go for it! There is room to add bedrooms later if you want, so that should be enough of an insurance plan right there.

And, I'm not one of those MDC momas who thinks "oh, how I wish I could live in a smaller house." I wanna live in a mansion with people feeding me peeled grapes by a pool. But I still think that house sounds awesome

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#12 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 09:04 PM
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mansions are relative in size. Graceland is considered a mansion; and asheville's vanderbilt mansion is mansion; and the white house is a mansion.

so, you know, you can have small mansions.
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#13 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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Well, either way, I want someone to feed me grapes by a pool.

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#14 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 09:08 PM
 
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Are you planning to have the three boys in together the whole time they're at home? I have concerns that you may have one of the three that is a private-space loving kiddo and it's gonna drive him nuts. It's also a little unequal that your daughter gets her own room forever and the boys always and forever have to share.

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#15 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 09:52 PM
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in some cultures whole families share one room and private space loving people either are out of luck or learn to deal. it isn't the end of the world if someone shares a room growing up.
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#16 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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Yeah, but they don't live in America where feelings of "mine mine mine" seem to creep in from the air. Expectations are different here. You can buck that, but it should be done delibrately.

Separating out the girl to not have to share just because she's female is the part that is sticking for me.

My father grew up in a house with one room and one bed for all boy children and one room and one bed for all girl children. He started sleeping outside to get some space. He didn't ever complain about it, but he didn't like it. Growing up, we had space to share a bed or not, because my family was more prosperous than my grandparents' family. I think having options is better than not having options and a sign of prosperity. Those are my values and I'm responding from that place.

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#17 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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FWIW, my sisters-in-law both CHOSE the smallest bedroom in my mother-in-law's house to be their bedroom (Not together. First the oldest one, then she moved out and the second one took it). We're talking a very small (7'x7'?) and irregularly shaped room with a tiny closet that took up more of the floor space. They loved that room. They liked having a tiny little cosy space. So, OP, your daughter may be the same, and never want to leave her little nook.
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#18 of 38 Old 03-01-2010, 11:01 PM
 
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Are you planning to have the three boys in together the whole time they're at home? I have concerns that you may have one of the three that is a private-space loving kiddo and it's gonna drive him nuts. It's also a little unequal that your daughter gets her own room forever and the boys always and forever have to share.
She has plans to add a bedroom in the basement right away with the possibility of another one in the future.

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#19 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 01:24 AM
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as i see it, the OP is being pressured to live against herself.

she has values, and she has dreams. she dreams of this house, and she dreams of living in this or that way. I admit i don't know what all of those things are at all. i only know what she wrote here--that this is her dream house, and that she doesn't seem to have any inherent issue against her sons sharing a room, but believes that her daughter--due to her gender and thereby difference--does require a separate, private space.

those are her values as i read them in the OP.

those values are being challenged by others. there's nothing wrong with this. everyone has a right to their opinion on how everybody "should" live in the US of A or anywhere else for that matter.

and so she's asking, should she follow her dream or apply the values of others to her life?

in my opinion, one can only make oneself happy. the only way to do that is to live authentically--according to one's own values and dreams. this is my experience. i have tried to please others, live the "american dream" or whatever, and i found it wasn't for me. i found myself in a life that wasn't mine anymore, and i was not happy.

when i slowly began to let go of that life and began to live my life under my values and by my dreams, then happiness was there. it is true that everyone had opinions, that some disapproved or told me it couldn't be done.

but at the end of the day, i decided to live the way that i wanted to, and i found happiness. and, if i am unhappy, changes can be made that can lead to happiness. nothing is really permanent.

so, I look at the OP's post and i see her say that this is her dream. i see her say that she believes that her children can share a room, and even if a time comes when they can't, she can carve out spaces for them in the existing house---if she needs to.

i think that she can create a home and a life there. i think that doing so would bring her happiness, and that will in turn teach her children to be happy.

so, in my opinion, the OP should go for it!
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#20 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the responses. I really want to make sure we think everything out, but my gut instinct from the beginning is that this IS the right decision for our family.

To the PP mentioning it being possibly unfair that dd will have her own room, that is honestly the way it will be for us in probably any house. If we'd had 2 boys and 2 girls, then of course we would have had dd share. For us, we feel that it is better to split up boys and girls past a certain age. Our older 2 shared a room up until last fall, so I'm not totally opposed to opposite sex shared rooms in general. Honestly, the older 2 frequently still end up cosleeping together on occasion and thats totally fine with us We just like to give dd the option of having her own space because she *is* the only girl in a house full of younger brothers. I understand that it may not be that way for everyone.

Because of the ages and sexes of the children, it makes sense at this point for the boys to share a room. With the layout of the attic, it really doesn't feel like dd would be getting preferential treatment to me. I very much want my children to have the ability to have privacy when they are older when they need it. It does feel like this home has the ability to grow with our family in the way we may need it to after more thought, but also gives us the ability to live in a cozier space now. I do really like the attic bedroom setup for now, I've honestly been so surprised at the negative responses we've had in real life.

Zoebird, thank you very much for your insightful comments. This really IS our dream and it isn't something we decided lightly. We've been planning and researching since 2006. This place holds special meaning to us for some woo-woo out there reasons (I'll spare you the details)and it feels like it is just meant to be. I agree - I'm not interested in doing what society says, just because it says it anymore ;-) I read about your move on this forum and I have to say that sounds amazing.

~Rebecca~
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#21 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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just another BTDT, i have 4 brothers and i shared a room with one of them until i was 15. we always shared spaces and grew up in little houses, never more than 4 rooms. when i was 15 i hated sahring a room, which was why i finally got my own room, but up until then, we didn't care. my dh grew up sharing his room with his two brothers, and they didn't care. if you are used ot it, then it doesn't bother you. i think that it helps foster closeness and also teaches kids good habits/manners about considering others. if i wanted to stay up later than my brother, i HAD to use a flashlight to read in bed. we didn't fight much and we have always been really close. no matter how many bedrooms we have in my own family, we planno on our dds sharing a room until they are much older.
i don't think it is helathy or realistic for kids to grow up with so much space available to them. really- how are you teachiing your kids to be thankful for what they have and to live a simple green life when you have so much unnecessary space?i say go for it!
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#22 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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I think it sounds wonderful! Don't let the doubters get to you! We are planning to move to a much smaller place (we have three kids, with a hope for a fourth) and every time I have doubts I remember that my grandparents raised my mom and her two siblings in a two bedroom house with one bathroom. And they were not poor or crazy or pioneer folks. They just had a tiny house in what is now an outrageously expensive section of LA. And my mom had a great childhood and never felt deprived or squished in her house.

Oh, and I grew up with four siblings and shared a room with one of my sisters until I went to college. I loved it.

I think sharing space in a smaller house teaches kids to be better "citizens" - not the "my space, my stuff" kind of kids.

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#23 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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Do what feels right!
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#24 of 38 Old 03-02-2010, 10:39 PM
 
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i don't think it is helathy or realistic for kids to grow up with so much space available to them. really- how are you teachiing your kids to be thankful for what they have and to live a simple green life when you have so much unnecessary space?i say go for it!
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I think sharing space in a smaller house teaches kids to be better "citizens" - not the "my space, my stuff" kind of kids.
So,I'm sure you aren't trying to be insulting but as the mother of an only child I have to believe that children can grow up healthy and good citizens even though they have their own room.

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#25 of 38 Old 03-03-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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Wow, it sounds ideal. It's hard to imagine anyone naysaying that! Maybe you should share some studies on the psychological benefits of roomsharing. It's much healthier for kids to share rooms w/ siblings when possible. And w/ your dd having a smaller room, it's likely to feel cozier. We know some families with enormous homes and they feel so hollow. Our birth class teacher actually bought a 4 bedroom home to give each of her 3 sons a separate room...but they wanted a triple bunk bed instead!

I say GO FOR IT!
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#26 of 38 Old 03-03-2010, 12:29 AM
 
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#27 of 38 Old 03-03-2010, 02:35 AM
 
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I think it's great to hear all the downsides so when you jump in, you don't have surprises later on that you might have seen! Life is too short to not take some chances.

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#28 of 38 Old 03-04-2010, 07:30 PM
 
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I think it sounds like a great solution for your family. If I were you, I would:

1. Definitely add the bedroom and bath in the basement. When you have 4 teenagers you'll want a second bathroom.

2. Can you add a door to the boy area of the attic? I'm thinking the noise level in that room could get a tad loud as they age.
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#29 of 38 Old 03-04-2010, 10:00 PM
 
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I love craftsman style houses!
It sounds fabulous!!!!

I also think you should follow your dream-

and also that there are trade-offs no matter what decisions we make,
nothing is perfect~

but a craftsman house on 5 acres is awful darn close LOL

And if it is your dream, you can always make it work...you'll be inspired and light hearted!

Good luck!!!!!!
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#30 of 38 Old 03-04-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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Do it! We went from 3300 sq. ft to 2600 to 2150 and we're very happy. Sometimes I miss all the sprawling space but this "sacrifice" is enabling us to reach our goals and get us a few steps closer to our dream, which is also to get some property.

Shellie
Declutter - 789/2010 (counting the stuff on my porch waiting for a Freecycler to pick it up! )
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