House size mini-rant - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I love my house. I love living in a small house. I love owning a house with a mortgage payment so low it would make you weep. I know that, worldwide, it's very common for families larger than ours to live in spaces smaller than ours and think nothing of it.

The problem is that, IRL, I don't know anyone who lives in a house as small as mine. All of the books about small houses feature houses bigger than mine--often more than twice as big! The articles about closet organization assume a closet the size of my living room. It's so frustrating when my frame of reference continually reminds me that my house is freakishly tiny!

FTR, our house is 680 s.f., 2 bedroom, 1 bath, with 3 people (and 1 cat) living in it. Most of the rooms are medium-sized but the living room is VERY small and there is very little closet space.

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#2 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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Hugs mama, I love having a smaller house when it comes time to clean, but I feel like I would do less cleaning if I had a bigger house because I could get it organized so I totally understand!
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#3 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 01:51 PM
 
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Juliacat, I hear you. Our house is small too (though not as small as yours, we have ~1000 s.f.). It's great that you love your house! I like our house a lot, especially the remodels that we have done. I doubt that I would've chosen this house; DH already owned it. DH is constantly saying that it's too small (there are 2 adults, 1 babe, 2 cats and we have 3 bedrooms/1 bath). My reply is usually that most people in the world live in a much smaller space. One plus is that we have a large detached garage.
Do you have a garage/basement/attic? I've been storing stuff in the garage, as well as getting rid of things. Our small rooms are filled. And DH has "collections" and is sentimental about everything. To his credit he usually gets on board with what I'm doing, including decluttering. But there is too much stuff "on display". I would also like to get rid of some of our furniture.
The key to a small space is less stuff...
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#4 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 02:11 PM
 
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Have you seen this blog by MDC member Delight?

http://walkslowlylivewildly.blogspot.com/

They recently downsized to an apartment that is 382 sq ft. I think their previous place was 800 or so. I (and lots of other MDC members) have been really inspired by Delight because she is so thoughtful and stylish in her quest to leave a lighter footprint on the earth. If you haven't checked it out, I really recommend it!

Make sure you check out the flickr pictures of the new place too- they haven't yet uploaded the decorated pictures so this is just of the space itself.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyja...7594536779330/
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#5 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you have a garage/basement/attic?
No. We do have a storage shed, which is really for the lawn mower and bicycles, but it works well as purgatory for things we don't want in the house but don't want to get rid of just yet.

I have been working on decluttering for three years now and I have definitely made some progress but I am frustrated some days anyway! I am a reformed packrat (we're talking 180 degree personality transplant here) and dh is just "normal" in his keeping vs. getting rid of habits.

FiddleMama, yes, I saw that blog and I think it is awesome! I only wish I lived closer so I could see it in person.

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#6 of 36 Old 03-22-2007, 06:27 PM
 
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I know exactly how you feel. There are 3 of us and a big dog in 720sq ft and I feel like I keep getting rid of stuff and its never enough. There is still clutter and we have a garage that we can store some things in. We will be here a couple more years at the minimum. Luckily summer is around the corner and never feels nearly as small then!

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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#7 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 01:02 AM
 
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Maybe off-topic, but I love coming here and hearing about the smaller houses. Ours is ~800 sq ft for the three of us, and I don't think of it as incredibly tiny, though it is compared to my family's. (Almost everyone seems to have a new McMansion, even those that earn less than we do.)

There's me, DH, and the little guy (8/05). Expecting another little one 10/10! Hoping for a .
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#8 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 10:21 AM
 
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I thought my house was small at 1200sq. ft Now I feel like it's spacioius.

All joking aside, I can relate. Even 1200sq ft. is a lot smaller than most "small house" books talk about.

I also am the only person in my social circle (well, not that I really have one) but at least in our playgroup etc. that has a small house. I feel stupid saying that because there are plenty of small houses around and people do of course live in them but in our playgroup everyone has huge (renovated) or new houses and they all carrry on about how they could NEVER live in a small or not fancy house etc.

I feel stupid for feeling uncomfortable. I love my house and I know I'm very fortunate to live there. Heck, we lived in an appartment when dh was on sabbbatical and I LOVED it. It didn't feel cramped at all. Of course we didn't have all our crap, but it was great. I'd do it again.

It's just hard being different from everyone else.
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#9 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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See, but part of that is what I mean. "Oh, my house is small too, it's TWICE THE SIZE OF YOURS." Not meaning any offense or anything it's just that if I had 1000 square feet I would feel like I was living in a mansion.

I wish I could get dh to agree to go TV-free; that would free up a lot of space in the living room.

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#10 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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Although not specifically about small houses, I really recommend http://www.amazon.com/Organizing-Ins...4659377&sr=8-1

Lots of tips about how to get systems orginizaed and work with the space you have.

Mom to:

Three big girls  twins.gif (10) + joy.gif (almost 9!); 

One little boy ROTFLMAO.gif(6) and a full on toddler diaper.gif  (8/12) born with TAPVR heartbeat.gif (repaired at 6 days old).

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#11 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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See, but part of that is what I mean. "Oh, my house is small too, it's TWICE THE SIZE OF YOURS." Not meaning any offense or anything it's just that if I had 1000 square feet I would feel like I was living in a mansion.l
I'm sorry

I know I am very lucky but my house is way smaller than most people I know so it feels small. You are right though, it is a perfectly good size.
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#12 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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The problem is that, IRL, I don't know anyone who lives in a house as small as mine. All of the books about small houses feature houses bigger than mine--often more than twice as big! The articles about closet organization assume a closet the size of my living room.
It's like the article I read once on decorating smaller bathrooms and the smallest one they were talking about was 100 sq ft.:

I mean my house is a *huge* 1190sqft, but some of these authors have *no* concept of small.
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#13 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 01:35 PM
 
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I'm living in about 850 sq feet (that's a generous estimate, actually) with two adults and 3 children (and it's an apartment - so no yard, garage, and no closets except in the bedrooms). It's very tight.
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#14 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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I am happy to find this thread! We have a 950 sq foot apartment (and a patio slab with small storage shed). We love it! We have a 3-year-old and 18-month-old that share a room. Anyway, our families and some friends think we are crazy and always talking about how "the kids need more room", "when aare you going to get a house", etc. To me, this place is big and airy. We don't have a lot in here, which makes it seem bigger and brighter. It is better than what I grew up in, so I am happy. It was brand new construction when we moved in too, so in a way, I think of it as my "new house".

In America, we all live in mansions compared to what most of the world lives in (huts, tents, other shacks), so it drives me nuts when people always have to have the biggest and best.
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#15 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 06:50 PM
 
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Look to apartments and you'll probably find that size is really common for families. I'm in NYC, and that's about what size our apartment is. (540 square feet with a 100ish square foot short-ceilinged loft) We have one nearly 3 year old and another coming in October. I had a co-worker who was in a 750 square foot house on Long Island (also a family of 4), and I remember telling her that if I could find a house as well laid out and comfortable as hers, I might not mind moving to the suburbs. But those are few and far between. She's sandwiched in between giant McMansions.

Happy with my DH, 2 kids, dog, fish, and frogs
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#16 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, you're probably right about that, although I've been in more apartments of this size that were one-bedroom and thus a lot more spacious than our two-bedroom house. But we have a nice big yard, which is a huge plus.

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#17 of 36 Old 03-23-2007, 11:52 PM
 
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When we lived in England, we lived in a 550 square foot house. There were 3 of us then. We moved away when our second child was 9 months old. It was a beautiful home, and when we sold it, it sold on the first day for the asking price. We spent some of our happiest years in that small house. I learned a lot of lessons living there, too. Things I still use today. You really had to live consciously, and just could not accumulate too much stuff. If you came in with something new, you often had to relinquish something to accomodate it. I think that's healthy. I *loved* the fact that I could whip through that place and have it really tidy in less than half an hour. All of it! Now that we live in a larger house, there never seems to be a time when it's all neat and clean. And garages and attics? A recipe for clutter. Take it from me!

We're now a homeschooling family of five, and I've been thinking that I'd like to move into a larger house on our upcoming move. We currently have 1600 square feet. But this post has me rethinking that.

Smaller is actually better in many ways!
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#18 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 01:42 AM
 
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I totally understand! I just got a few books out from the library about small space living, and they are all quite large spaces, plus totally redesigned layouts, etc.

I'd love to see some stuff about *real* small space living! And something for us renters who don't have the option to paint and redesign :P

It doesn't help that our friends and family all live in quite a bit larger homes with way less people, and often comment about how small our home is and how we won't be able to live here long.
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#19 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 04:15 AM
 
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My house is 758 sq. ft with 4 people living here. And I love it. But I know what you're saying. . . .if I had 758 feet to design however I wanted, it would seem a lot bigger, I think. But it's kind of awkwardly laid out and there's not a lot of storage. So it seems smaller. But I applaud you for sticking it out in a small space rather than 'upsizing' like most people seem to do!
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#20 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The last two posts are interesting because we spent several months looking at larger houses before deciding not to move, and to refinance this house on a 15-year note instead. So it looks like we will, in fact, be here for a while.

Our friends and family have been reasonably supportive, though. MIL was furious because she desperately wants us to move closer to her (because our current distance of 8 blocks is much too far away : ), but not because of house size or anything. And everybody else is like, "If you like your house that much, you should stay there." I guess they figure they aren't the ones who have to get along without so much stuff.

I do wish we could invite people over. The layout of our house is fine for just us, but the living room is too narrow for people to be able to hang out in it. I think with the same square footage you could design a house with a bigger living room and kitchen that open on to each other to make an entertaining space, eliminate the dining room and have smaller bedrooms. But I'm not the designer here.

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#21 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 11:57 AM
 
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I do wish we could invite people over. The layout of our house is fine for just us, but the living room is too narrow for people to be able to hang out in it. I think with the same square footage you could design a house with a bigger living room and kitchen that open on to each other to make an entertaining space, eliminate the dining room and have smaller bedrooms. But I'm not the designer here.


This is my big issue with our house. I would love to knock down the wall between the living room and the kitchen and have one big open space so I felt we could have people over and they would be comfortable.

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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#22 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is my big issue with our house. I would love to knock down the wall between the living room and the kitchen and have one big open space so I felt we could have people over and they would be comfortable.
Why don't you do it? Or are you renting?

Our living room and dining room are VERY narrow. Actually, the whole house is very narrow. Actually, the whole LOT is very narrow. I once saw a book on narrow lot floor plans where most of the lots were twice as wide as ours.

I would LOVE to knock down the wall between the living room and the front bedroom, which would make an absolutely gorgeous living room...but, it would turn the house into a 1-bedroom, which is going the wrong direction now that we have a baby.

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#23 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 01:19 PM
 
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Do any of you mamas have pics of your small places?
I would love to see small living spaces!
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#24 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 03:40 PM
 
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We are 5 people, two cats, and a Rottweiler in 900sq feet (at least- we like to think it's 900...it may be less)

I am CONSTANTLY having freak outs that this place is unlivable- then I get inspired to downsize some more, and chill out.

It's not easy though. Nothing has anywhere to go- and I often feel we are piled up on each other in here.

But for our family- it's kind of a discipline. I've grown up in a household that was constantly playing the "I'd be happy if..." game. So, we moved every 3 years. onward and upward, always. To this day my parents are complaining about the size of their house for just the two of them- at 2100 sq feet. They think we're nuts.

So- we're sticking to it- if only to beat the bad genes of discontentment.

Look at yourself- if this is something that will never stop - if you'll always want bigger- I'd say try to make this work- but if this is truly impractical and you just hate it- find something that works.
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#25 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 03:43 PM
 
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Heres a couple of pix of my entire downstair....in case everyone hasnt seen these a million times..
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f3...e/DSC02738.jpg
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f3...e/DSC02736.jpg
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#26 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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I know what you mean. Ours is about 700 sq feet also (we do have a one car garage as well)
When Better homes and gardens does a feature on a house this size it is usually for one person maybe two in the family. Not the same issues as our family of four have.
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#27 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 04:13 PM
 
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cdmaze- I LOVE your kitchen cabinets and your whole house!
Can I ask where you got the cabinets and kitchen table?
Or how about everything!?

Is your couch from IKEA? If so, have you liked it? We are going to have a 800sf house and I was thinking of a couch just like that but I was afraid it would take up too much room, any input?

Thanks!
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#28 of 36 Old 03-24-2007, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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cdmaze, your downstairs looks like the downstairs of a house we saw recently that we thought was wonderful.

Mommy to eyesroll.gif (age 7) and mischievous.gif (age 3)

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#29 of 36 Old 03-25-2007, 12:45 PM
 
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I'm not actually in a small house, but I dream of living in one with an open floor plan.

One problem with small spaces is all the new furniture is freakishly large, made to not look tiny in McMansions. I've gotten used furniture at thrift stores which take up so much less space. One chair I have is actually a youth sized upholstered chair which is fine for me and my shortness. We got rid of our couch and replaced it with a loveseat. It's just the right size for our family of three.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#30 of 36 Old 03-25-2007, 01:48 PM
 
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I also am the only person in my social circle (well, not that I really have one) but at least in our playgroup etc. that has a small house. I feel stupid saying that because there are plenty of small houses around and people do of course live in them but in our playgroup everyone has huge (renovated) or new houses...

I feel stupid for feeling uncomfortable.

It's just hard being different from everyone else.
THANK YOU for saying that! I feel the same way. Most people I know have 2000+ square feet, and sometimes I feel embarassed about our house. I feel guilty for being embarassed though, because material things aren't important, it's not a competition, and I need to be grateful for what I have and that we can make it on one salary.

Our house is 913 square feet, plus a sunroom that is 178 square feet. So according to our most recent appraisal, we have about 1092 square feet of livable space. This would be ok if the sunroom space was more space IN our house rather than one that is attached on. Because it gets hot and cold and the window ac/heater doesn't keep up and the roof leaks and bugs get in there, etc...

We just don't have a lot of room for guests. Our living room is very narrow and our dining "nook" is a poorly organized space, so we can't seat more than 4 people (and even that's tight.) Also, if people sit at the table, you can't open the pantry door to throw things away in the trash, and you can't get up to get something from the kitchen unless you're sitting in a certain seat.

We're a homeschooling family of 3 with a medium-sized dog, and I'm finding that with homeschooling, it's good to have more space, or at least have a very good organizing system.

We are trying to decide whether to move in the next year or if we should focus on making changes to this house to better utilize the space.

Book-lovin', relaxed homeschoolin', dog snugglin' mom of the best kid EVER!  AND...waiting for baby #2, due 5/9/14!  stork-boy.gif

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