1200 sq. ft house = simplified life or nightmare? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I are about to put an offer on a 1200 sq. ft. house that we really like, except it is smaller than what we are used to. We have a lot of stuff and both would like to declutter/simplify our lives. We have 2 children, dd is 3 and ds is 1. We have finally sold a house we own out-of-state (been on market almost 3 years) and currently live with my passive-aggressive, controlling MIL -- driving me slowly insane. This house is within our means, has LR, DR, small kitchen with virtually no cabinet/counter space and 3 small bedrooms. It does have an unfinished basement that we'll need to use for furniture storage.

My family has expressed concern that our children won't have space to "grow into". What is that? We aren't giants! And anyway, it's likely that we'll be moving in about 5 years because of DH's career. Both MIL and DH are concerned that I won't be "able to operate in such a small kitchen". I think that I welcome a smaller space because I'll be forced to declutter, but I'm afraid I'm being unrealistic about myself. Or just desperate to be out of this unsatisifactory living situation.

To me 1200 sq. ft. is sufficient for a young family of 4. Anybody disagree?
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#2 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:20 PM
 
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You will be fine. I currently live in about 850 sq feet and it works (2 bd, no dR and no basement for storage). I like the fact that I can always hear what is going on all over the house. I like that everything has to have a place to live because it has to. The "room to grow" line is just entitlement speaking...ignore, ignore, ignore.
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#3 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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Our family of 6 lives in 1040sq ft. You'll be fine, and so will your kids.
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#4 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:31 PM
 
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Hmmm, I think we 1200 is the biggest we've had, and we have three kids. So, we're a family of 5 and I felt that house was actually more than we needed. Since our three are boys, they shared a room, so we had a whole extra bedroom.

Granted, two things made it work:
1. We live an uncluttered life. I could go for downright spartan, but I do want to make things homey and comfy.

2. We spent a lot of time outdoors.


Our kitchen was small but laid out well, so totally workable. The *only* thing I wished was bigger was our dining room, because that was the center of our activities, between homeschooling and eating. The boys shared a bedroom easily, and I just kept clothes and a few books up there. They did their playing in the living room, which was decently sized.

If you will have a basement, that helps with storage. Our laundry room was in the basement and dh kept his work shoes and jackets down there as well. He'd leave and enter there and that way I didn't his many pairs of large shoes clutting our front door entry. In winter, the kids also went in and out that way, so that boots and jackets could be left there and not by the front door.
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#5 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:35 PM
 
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We're a family of 5 in 650 sq ft and feel like we have plenty of space

I think you'd be fine We have an extremely skewed perspective in this part of the world about how much space and stuff we "need".
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#6 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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You really need to decide this for yourself. I personally like my space, but I have a lot of hobbies and we love to have people over. My DS has friends over all the time and 1200 square feet would feel very tight to me. Other people live in less space and love it.

If you are open to really decluttering, you could make it work and you may love it. Think about what you could get rid of and what you could do to make the kitchen more workable. The kitchen would be the hardest part for me.

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#7 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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sounds great! i hope your offer is accepted and you can get away from mil asap

as a couple, we bought a 720 sq ft house with an unfinished basement and one-car garage. we had a baby there, then another. then we moved to a 1350 sq ft house that feels ginormous. then the two kids and i moved back into our old house to get away from stbx. the tiny 720 sq ft house turned out to be awesome for a mom and two kids with not a lot of stuff. however, we are super psyched to be back in our "big" house (now that stbx has moved out) and have tons of play space.

i have a nice kitchen in our larger house, but the one in our tiny house was TINY! i have a couple of suggestions for coping with that. can you create an "overflow" shelf in the basement? even cheap garage/basement type shelves can be great for less-used appliances that you can't part with, as well as things you only use for parties or holidays. if you like to stock up on food, this is a good place for pantry overflow too. in your dining room, is there space for a hutch or buffet to store dishes? i suggest keeping your every day dishes in there, and "special" stuff in the basement! that way it's quick and easy to set the table. i'd still want my cereal bowls and water glasses in the kitchen (point of use) unless it's literally right around the corner.

for work space, can you install another countertop, even if it's narrow? or a baker's rack or a rolling little cart with a butcher block top . . . any additional work surface is super handy! if you don't want to eat up floor space, a good way to gain work surface is by placing an oversized cutting board over the sink or stove when those are not in use.

do you have photos? or better yet, a link to the listing?!

oh yeah, i was going to suggest that you reconsider storing furniture in your basement. sell it!
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#8 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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It sounds awesome to me. We are looking to buy a home next summer. It is hard to find a nice home with one family/living room. We want to live in a nice neighborhood and spend about 300k, but don't want the huge house with too many windows and all that extra space to heat and cool.

We are living in 1000 square feet right now with absolutely no storage space. That is all I want. A place to put the Christmas decorations. But, I still want to live as simplified as possible.

ETA: A small kitchen would make me go nuts. The kitchen will probably be the most important element to me when we look.
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#9 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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I'm sure you'll all fit fine. Especially since you are planning on de-cluttering and getting rid of a lot of stuff. Plus with the basement - you could not only use it for storage, but you could end up finishing it for additional space down the road. Also, if you do feel you are outgrowing your home as your kids get older, you can always sell it and move on.

We have had a family of 6 (with four small children) living in under 1k sq ft. It wasn't that bad, and if it had been a house and not an apartment it would have been much nicer (yard, no walls connecting to neighbors, etc). We now live in almost 3k sq ft but when we first moved we had so much empty space and not near enough stuff and furniture to fill it. I'll be honest and say that the thought of downsizing at this point makes me uneasy, but it's not b/c of the kids needing extra room. Even as they have gotten slightly older (aged 3-9 now), they prefer to be together, and would do fine with less bedrooms/space. It's me organizing all of the stuff we have accumulated and keeping it clean in a smaller home that makes me nervous. But less house is also less to clean - as far as surface cleaning. you just have to be on top of the clutter and find a home for everything.

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#10 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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Oooh, simplified life!

My house is so fast and easy to clean!
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#11 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 06:10 PM
 
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We have three boys in a 1500 square foot house. The kitchen is on the small side, but it's an eat-in kitchen which makes it feel bigger. We have no dining room though, so it's hard to seat more than 6 people at our table.

The rest of the rooms are great. The only thing I don't like about my house is that my kids share a bedroom. Right now it's great. But I would rather them have their own spaces when they're teenagers. I really wish we had four bedrooms. If I could make our three bedrooms into four without enlarging the house, I would. I don't mind very small bedrooms - I just think they'll each need their own small space.

So we are looking for a 4 bedroom house, in the range of 1500 to 1700 square feet. This would be our "forever" house.

I would be fine with 2 kids in a 1200 square foot house. I'd be fine with 2 kids in our house. I think you should go for it!
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#12 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thriftyqueen View Post
You really need to decide this for yourself. I personally like my space, but I have a lot of hobbies and we love to have people over. My DS has friends over all the time and 1200 square feet would feel very tight to me. Other people live in less space and love it.

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#13 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 06:26 PM
 
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I live in a 1000 sqft home with a family of 3, about to be 5 people. We plan to stay here long term. We are considering a 4th child in the future, as well (I'm guessing we won't do that, but not because of house space). Honestly I think it's fine! I love my house. I have 2 small bedrooms and 1 tiny bedroom. Right now all 3 of us sleep in 1 room so we have two spare bedrooms. Eventually the kids will all share a room or two of them will go in one small room and one in the tiny room. Bedrooms are for sleeping and clothing storage here, they don't need space to play in their bedrooms. We've finished of half of our basement to make a "play room" for now. Also we have a small/mid sized kitchen (which is well laid out and has lots of cabinets, so works fine for me) and a smallish living room and a big dining room. I'd love the living room to be a bit bigger, or the 1st floor to be more open-concept, but otherwiise it's perfect for us. I think I would be comfortable with up to 6 people in this house, but 7 would start to feel tight.

Oh and everyone on my block (mostly families) has a similar or smaller sized house. Some of the houses on my block can't possibly be more than 700sqft, but families have been raised in them. The homes are older, from a time when the "required" space per person was less.

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#14 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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We have 1000 sq ft, finished basement but no garage, for a family of 5 and I run a home child care as well. You can do this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
can you create an "overflow" shelf in the basement? even cheap garage/basement type shelves can be great for less-used appliances that you can't part with, as well as things you only use for parties or holidays. if you like to stock up on food, this is a good place for pantry overflow too. in your dining room, is there space for a hutch or buffet to store dishes? i suggest keeping your every day dishes in there, and "special" stuff in the basement! that way it's quick and easy to set the table. i'd still want my cereal bowls and water glasses in the kitchen (point of use) unless it's literally right around the corner.

....oh yeah, i was going to suggest that you reconsider storing furniture in your basement. sell it!
Great suggestions here for you, OP
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#15 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 08:20 PM
 
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As long as no one in the family needs a full-sized home office, that sounds more than ample to me. We recently moved up to 1200 square feet and it feels like we're swimming in space! Of course, layout can make a difference.
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#16 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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Yup, that is plenty sufficient. I grew up in a house that was 1070 sq. feet. We were a family of 4 + 1 dog + 6-8 cats at any given time + a ferret and other various animals. I didn't notice that our house was small until someone pointed it out to me.

My husband and I now own a 1008 square foot house. We have two boys and even with a toddler riding his tricycle around we have plenty of room. We have a fantastic fenced in backyard that helps in the summer. We also have an unfinished basement that we may finish some day and a garage.

I've never lived in a bigger space so I guess I can't see why you'd need it. I can see why it would be nice, but I can't see why you'd need it. We clean as though we are moving (as in: if you haven't touched it in a year and it's not sentimental, it goes in the trash) at least once a year.

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#17 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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We are a family of 4 in 1000 sq feet and I hate it. Maybe I depends on layout? Our bedrooms are so tiny. We have two kid sized dressers for our entire family and we have to sit on the bed to open the drawers. We have a tiny kitchen table and you can barely fit the chairs. Our bathroom doesn't have space for a trash can. I feel like we're just surviving here, not enjoying life. It's claustrophobic and miserable!

We have no attic space except a few feet for like 3 boxes. No basement, no big closets, and only a laundry closet that the washer and dryer are crammed in. It's horrible.

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#18 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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We are a family of 4 (soon to be 5) in a 1000 sq ft, 3 bedroom apartment. I think its ample space personally. At times it feels a bit to big and I miss our previous (smaller-800 sq ft) apartment because I feel like we are rattling around in here. My girls are very active and we do have people over several times a month but even when we had our family of 4 and two other familes (one of 7, the other of 5) we felt like we had plenty of room to socialize comfortably. Of course it could help that the guys and boys took over the small balcony (we live in a mult-story apartment building, no back yard) and left the apartment to the girls.

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#19 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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I am a realtor -- and I can tell you that a lot depends on how the 1200 sq ft as layed out... I have seen 1200 look like 800 and I have seen it feel like 1800.

Open plans are best with this sq ft and best not too duplicate rooms -- ie
2 eating areas (kitchen and dining) and not having a living and family room makes the whole space feel larger. Also closet organizers in the bedroom closets instead of dressers makes for a more spacious feel.

I would also consider not storing furniture in your basement - instead make it more useful -- ie play area for kids, storage for out of season clothing, craft area etc.

Have fun planning out your space.

------

On the other hand - I dont think small space living is for everyone. I personally live in a very large home - and our only child is almost 20 and moved out this past summer so its just DH and I. Everyone keeps asking us if we are going to downsize -- but I really like my space and cant image living in a smaller home.
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#20 of 89 Old 10-19-2010, 09:13 PM
 
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The square footage sounds great to me, but the lack of counter space for prepping meals would drive me crazy.

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#21 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Pepper44 View Post
We are a family of 4 in 1000 sq feet and I hate it. Maybe I depends on layout? Our bedrooms are so tiny. We have two kid sized dressers for our entire family and we have to sit on the bed to open the drawers. We have a tiny kitchen table and you can barely fit the chairs. Our bathroom doesn't have space for a trash can. I feel like we're just surviving here, not enjoying life. It's claustrophobic and miserable!

We have no attic space except a few feet for like 3 boxes. No basement, no big closets, and only a laundry closet that the washer and dryer are crammed in. It's horrible.
pleeeeeease start a thread about this! with photos or a floor plan sketch or something! i'm literally salivating at the thought of problem-solving this house.
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#22 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 01:45 AM
 
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Hmm..well I think it's doable, after all in many countries people live in smaller spaces than that.

I personally would not want to do it...I find small spaces make me feel claustrophobic, even thinking about it. We have 3 kids; I used to have an approx 3000 square foot space and even with that, it felt cramped to us.

We now have an approx 6000 square foot home and I love having more space.

Fitting things into a small space doesn't always mean life is simpler, it can just be more cluttered and confined. But yes it can be heaps simpler as long as you pare down your possessions to a minimum, in which case it will work.

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#23 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 01:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Peppermint Leaf View Post
I am a realtor -- and I can tell you that a lot depends on how the 1200 sq ft as layed out... I have seen 1200 look like 800 and I have seen it feel like 1800.

Open plans are best with this sq ft and best not too duplicate rooms -- ie
2 eating areas (kitchen and dining) and not having a living and family room makes the whole space feel larger.
I haven't read all the replies, but I totally agree with the above. We're in our second <1200 sq. ft. home, and it really is all in the layout. The main floor in our old home had such a weird layout, and it was never really comfortable, no matter how we rearranged furniture. (The bedrooms were nice and big, though...) In this space, the main floor is all open, and it is wonderful. We sacrificed a bit in bedroom space (due to adding an extra bathroom on the top level), but we do most of our LIVING on the main floor anyhow.

We have two little ones and a third on the way. Our home has three bedrooms, all of them fairly smallish. Right now the girls share a sleeping room and the third bedroom is a playroom, but we'll adjust as they grow depending on their needs.

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#24 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 02:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post
Hmm..well I think it's doable, after all in many countries people live in smaller spaces than that.

I personally would not want to do it...I find small spaces make me feel claustrophobic, even thinking about it. We have 3 kids; I used to have an approx 3000 square foot space and even with that, it felt cramped to us.

We now have an approx 6000 square foot home and I love having more space.

Fitting things into a small space doesn't always mean life is simpler, it can just be more cluttered and confined. But yes it can be heaps simpler as long as you pare down your possessions to a minimum, in which case it will work.
----------

we are in 4000 sq ft - and it feels just right --- but dh is pushing to downsize -- but once again it would depend on the layout. For me its about having some personal space or I also get claustrophobic !

We rented a cottage this summer that was about 550 sq ft and I couldnt stand it -- it just felt like we were on top of each other all the time.
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#25 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 03:54 AM
 
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I agree its totally how its laid out. Suprisingly our apartment is well laid out (I love the kitchen area, even if the washer/dryer is there too!) and it seems a LOT bigger than it is. I was very suprised to learn the actual square footage of the apartment.

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#26 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 08:38 AM
 
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pleeeeeease start a thread about this! with photos or a floor plan sketch or something! i'm literally salivating at the thought of problem-solving this house.
Oh I would love to! Do you live far from Kentucky? Please come over!

I'm not sure the best way to convey how awkwardly laid out it is. Pictures don't do it justice. It seemed ok until we tried to put furniture in it. In the living room we have a couch, a piano, and the tv and I rearrange it all the time trying to find a better space maximizing arrangement...

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#27 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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You really need to decide this for yourself. I personally like my space, but I have a lot of hobbies and we love to have people over. My DS has friends over all the time and 1200 square feet would feel very tight to me. Other people live in less space and love it.
This. 1200 sq ft is just too small for us. I like having a formal dining room (we do use it quite often!) with an eat-in kitchen, and I use the formal living room as my music room. But I applaud anyone who can live in small square footage!

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#28 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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Small kitchen suggestions:

We have a very tiny nyc apartment with little countertop space. After living in this space for a couple years I figured out it really helps to store nothing on the counter tops. All appliances, cutting boards, etc. are in the cabinets and we limited how many appliances we kept. We also limited the number of glasses, mugs, dishes and bowls to just one meal's worth for our family. We don't have any drawers so utensils are kept in two stainless steel caddies on top of the fridge. Limiting tupperware type items helps too as it seems lots of kitchens are stockpiled with these things. We invested in a few collapsable tupperware bowls. I store spices in the freezer and we probably take more trips to the grocery than most because we don't have any pantry space. I added steel basket/shelf type things that slide into the cupboards but hang beneath them to store odds and ends.

It's a little tight for more than one person to be using the kitchen at once, but hubby and I take turns prepping meals. I actually like my small space --it's a quick clean!
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#29 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 11:57 AM
 
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This is a timely thread for me right now. We are moving from a suburban home (1400 sq. ft. plus basement, so really more like 2000)--it has 3 bedrooms plus a basement guest bedroom, 3 bathrooms etc. Very comfy for the 4 of us. But we are moving back to the big city and will be renting a much smaller home (1000 sq. ft--2 bdrms plus an attic, with basement only good for storage). We are super excited about the location and have been decluttering like crazy, which feels great. But I am a little (or more than a little) stressed about making everything fit! And we will have a small kitchen which I do not love. I can really see both sides of the equation. I LOVE our current house for entertaining, and we have had a number of big kids parties which has been fun. But I do find that a) it takes a long time to keep it clean, b) it lets us store a LOT of crap that we don't really need.
So it will be interesting...I have actually started a blog about it
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#30 of 89 Old 10-20-2010, 03:46 PM
 
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We have five kids and live in 1200 sq ft. I don't have a problem with it, neither do the kids. I think if we had a garage, my husband would be cool with it too.

We use every room of the house, but not in a traditional manner. And I am pretty much minimalistic.

I'm sure you can do it!
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