What is your favorite benefit of your smaller home?

Pamela ChurchJuly 14, 2006

This may seem very "scroogish", but one of my favorite things about my house is that we don't have a guest room. We have a couch in the living room that can accomodate one person in a pinch, and in an emergency, we could do pallets on the floor.

The benefit of this was really brought home last week. My sister-in-law, her daughter, and her very badly brought-up grandsons popped in on their way to Disneyland from Massachusetts. After a few hours of back-talking little boys (and grandma and mom not addressing the behavior AT ALL, I was very happy to say "good-nite, enjoy the hotel".

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weed30

LOL! A most excellent benefit to be sure.

I guess mine would be the ease of cleaning. Not that I'm a stellar housekeeper by any stretch ;) But I came from a 3 bedroom 3 bath home with full finished basement - over 3000 sf total. That was A LOT to clean. And I never could get myself on a schedule, where one room got a good cleaning each day. It was always an entire day of cleaning top to bottom, and since there was so much space, by the end I was just darned tired of cleaning, so something was always left. Usually it was mopping the 750sf of tile! I'd just spot clean :)

The new house is also not spotless, that's just me, but when I need to, it only takes about 2 - 3 hours to do the whole thing.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 9:44AM
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miso

Cleaning here, too! I can plug the vacuum into an outlet on the main floor, and vacuum just about the entire house without changing outlets (and this is without an extension cord!).

Amy

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:41AM
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judithva

Definatly cleaning ease. Plus, I a getting ready to remodel, being a small house, less amount of "material" to buy.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 11:17AM
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FlowerLady6

Pameliap ~ I wouldn't call that scroogish at all. We also do not have a guest room, and have a love seat. I can't remember the last time we had anyone spend the night, years and years ago, and that is fine with us. We are rather reclusive.

I'd have to say cleaning is the benefit for me also. Heavens if I had a larger place it would be miserable to think about. I'm trying to be more organized and am doing better and it feels good.

Also, the cooling/heating bills are cheaper. We do have to have A.C. down here in sweltering FL, but we don't need much heat in the winter.

FlowerLady

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 11:23AM
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steve_o

I'd say it's the human scale of it. No cavernous rooms, no high vaulted ceilings. There's enough open space between (public) rooms so people don't feel claustrophobic but not so much that they feel lost in the space. I hate to use the word "cozy" because real-estate agents have co-opted the word to mean "too small". But that gets at what I mean.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 11:46AM
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mrsmarv

Hmmm...a couple come to mind. The fact that we have two piggy-back oil tanks that hold a total of around 650 gallons...and a fill-up lasts us an entire season and then some. We purchase oil in the summer and laugh all the way to the bank in the winter...especially the past few years ;o) And I agreee about the 'human scale'. So many times I've been in homes with such high ceilings and cavernous spaces that for me, at least, I find the furnishings are dwarfed and seem so...lonely. I have heard so many times about how difficult it is to decorate those spaces. Small spaces have their challenges, but filling a large void with a multitude of 'things' isn't one of them.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:05PM
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girlgroupgirl

My hubby originally wanted a victorian home in our neighborhood. My friend has one. It's HUGE. The thought of cleaning in there was daunting, especially since we are reforming "pilers". And then again I love that our house is cozy. We don't need anymore room.
We have however found that we like to have guests, but many of our guests have very different hours than we keep. So we fixed up the house we purchased next to ours and they have somewhere clean, and comfortable enough. Eventually we'll have a small guest cottage built (when we tear the house next to ours out, it's not a well built home). Luckily my sisters sons (much as you describe above) will be well into their teens by then.
GGG

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:10PM
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butterfly1061

Pameliap ~ I don't think that's scroogish at all! I have a queen sofabed and I may be getting rid of that in the next year.

I filled up my 2 extra rooms for part of that very reason. One's a sewing room and the other a birdroom. I have 4 lovebirds and they aren't going anywhere for anyone. I love being alone in my new home and doing some home improvement too.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:30PM
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johnmari

I'm joining Steve_O on the scale issue. Although I grumble and gripe about my rooms being too small, I find the enormous spaces that seem to be getting more and more common are just so uncomfortable. I feel like a mouse in some of these tennis-court-sized two- and three-story great rooms, and they don't feel like homes to me. They feel more like public spaces, like hotels and lobbies and the like. And let's not even talk about heating those darn barns! (I'm a true New Englander, I'm obsessed with heating. LOL)

I have a cleaning lady starting in a couple of weeks... it's definitely cheaper hiring someone to clean a smaller space than a big one! ;-)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:39PM
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maggiemuffin360

Cleaning time for sure is a definite benefit, but I think the biggest benefit is that because our house was affordable we aren't 'house-poor' and can afford the lifestyle we choose....entertain as much as we want, travel a bit, etc. etc.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 1:26PM
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scraphappy

I ditto the guest-room shortage as a bonus! We have two possible bedroom-type rooms on main floor - one we turned into a den/TV room, and the other is my sewing room - not enough room for even an easy chair in there. I have two loveseats in the living room. Sev. years ago, woke up in the morning to find bodies lying all over the floor - DH's stepbrother and boys, and his wife, who slept on one of the loveseats-evidently they were passing through and stopped in about 11 p.m. I was upstairs asleep, DH had stayed up to watch TV, and put them up for the night. Now these people I can take or leave - the wife commented on my loveseat - "Well, it's kinda small to sleep on!" Did they not think of checking out motels/hotels? - there's plenty around where we live. OK, rant over - this has only happened to us the one time, but still steams me for some reason. I too like "cozy". We have a Craftsman Bungalow - 1600 sq.ft.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 1:37PM
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bluesbarby

I hope 1800 sq feet(no basement) isn't too big for this discussion. We also have a small studio in the front (another 200) that we rent out but will someday be "guest quarters". We downsized from a large 2 story to this nice one story. Everything is easier to take care of and we have just enough room for what we need. I have 3 adult children (2 in college, youngest will commute her last semester) who are in and out. One bedroom is designated theirs to use when they are here - otherwise it's a guest room. The 3rd and larger extra room is our office/craft/sewing/exercise room. We have a futon there for my son so we can sleep all three when they are in town. I like having company but don't want them forever.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 2:39PM
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sunrochy

The very low mortgage! Many find it unbelievable when they find out what the monthly payment is compared to their. Also it is easier to keep it clean and require less material for remodeling. Just right size for us.

Only I can win a lottery so I can set up a small guest "suite" in the basement.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 3:29PM
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supercat_gardener

Cheap to heat (well, relatively so), easy to clean, and don't need to purchase a lot of materials when it comes to remodeling. It's also very bright...it doesn't take a lot of windows to light up a small room!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 3:33PM
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spunky_MA_z6

Boy, I don't think 1600 or 1800 sqft is a small house! We have 1700 and it has 4 bedrooms, a 13x24 living room, 12x15 kitchen and average size dining room. When I think of a small house, I think of 2 bedrooms, a 12x12 living room, small kitchen and dining area. Something under 1400. So, what is a small house anyway?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 4:05PM
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spunky_MA_z6

Oh I see....anything under 2000 is a smaller home. Who would have known!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 4:06PM
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roopooroo

and vacuum just about the entire house without changing outlets

Haha! My neighbor and I were just laughing about this very thing! We can do our whole houses off one outlet! We live in duplexes and my half is 1,064 sf and his is 960!

anything under 2000 is a smaller home. Who would have known

I remarked about that when the forum first opened up, and to be honest, I don't participate as much as I might becuase I really can't relate to folks who list their several rooms (living, dining, eat-in kitchen and den!) and multiple floors. I would have a hard time calling anything over 1500 sf "small".

For me, the best thing about my small house is the mortgage. I don't care how small my house is - it's MINE.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 8:40AM
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skeeterbuzz

My favorite thing about my smaller house (1440 sf) is that it's very easy to keep up and keep clean as long as I don't allow my clutterbug DH to take over space to store his goodies in the house.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 12:07PM
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willie_nunez

With us, it's the total package. We had a multitude of requirements, that's why it took 9 months to find just the right lot, and it took a whole year just to design the house. "Small" is relative, yes,....but we consider our house to be small, it certainly isn't a big house. One of our goals was to figure out how small of a house 2 people could live in, comfortably. We whittled it down to 1,715 sq ft of heated/cooled area(single story), BUT we just had to have porches and a big 960 sq ft garage (rear attached). Our house also does not have a guest room, nor a dining room. In fact, our house only has a very large master suite, and ONE small room with a make-a-bed couch (it's actually a sewing room). We have a great room with a nice kitchen in one corner. But, we do have a nice entry area, and one large and one small bathrooms. Tall doors and windows (8 ft) and tall walls (10 ft) makes it feel like a larger house. Another unique feature is a long driveway to the back, where we are building a large RV pad, complete with full hookups. Our big motohome will serve as are guest house(hopefully not too often LOL).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 1:24PM
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southernheart

I would agree with some of the wonderful points above. "Human-scaled" (great term!), cleaning ease (although my sons and pets negate that a bit :), and low costs. For me, there is a lot more to life than a big mortgage payment.

As far as size issues mentioned above, I think that size is a relative term. We have 1800 sf, but it is literally one of the smallest homes in our suburb, a town of over 35,000 and a bedroom community outside of Memphis. One neighborhood older than ours has some slighty smaller, but ours are would be the smallest in our town's real estate listings, except for condos/apartments. With two sons who were already adult-sized around age 14 (6'2" and 6'4", about 235 each), who have collected a lot of sports memorabilia from working in the business, it has been like living with two professional athelete-sized males (and often their friends), *and* the museum at Cooperstown. Right now, storage and space are at a premium, as it is for many people with children still at home. But, we have fun, have tried to maximize storage, and ignore the temporarily cramped quarters. If there were just two of us here, this would probably feel like a mansion, or at least a really roomy cottage.

Everything is relative~

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 3:59PM
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netshound

Maintenance is alot cheaper. We have to put a new roof on next spring and since it's a small house it won't cost nearly as much as a huge home. We also have to put a new furnace in the following year. Again, not as mush as one for a bigger home. Theres other things I would rather do with my money!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 6:44PM
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southernheart

roopooroo, I was thinking about your post above, and I think that you might have more to offer this forum than just about anyone. I'm glad that you're here. I'll bet that your home is lovely and personal (and as you said, yours!---that is the best part!)

It is nice to *meet* you, and I look forward to talking with you, and everyone here, more~

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 8:42PM
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angelcub

I think I like that it just feels cozy. And is easier to maintain, although not less costly in CA. Propane has been $2.25 gal for the last two years and I don't expect it will be heading down anytime soon.

Also, please note that the forum is "Smaller" homes, not small homes. With the average home being 2400 s.f., the forum creators got it right, imho. This is a national average and of course there will be those living in areas with much smaller homes being the average. But the line has to be drawn somewhere, right?

I suppose if someone with a very small home is uncomfortable here they could ask TPTB for a tiny homes forum. : ) But I would hope they would stick around. There is so much to learn from everyone, regardless of their homes' square footage. As has been noted - everything is relative. : )

Diana

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 9:13PM
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shirleyinadirondacks

hi all,

We built our home in'74 after our first home burned to the ground. We had five kids at home, the oldest 16, youngest 9. My db-i-l helped me draw up the floor plans and it was almost exactly 2000 sq ft.

With a bunch of teenagers squabbling, I wanted them each to have their own rooms. there were tiny bedrooms for each and three full baths. Walk in, back out baths.

It was two stories, with the bottom one being a walk in basement, that we made into the kitche, dining and livingroom with 2 br and bath.

it worked great and everyone was amazed at how much space we had. Then the kids left home. then they came back, one or two families at a time. they are all gone now, thank God.

In 2003, Dh had to have a hip replaced. Two months later he slipped on the ice and snow and broke that leg. No weight on it for four months. that meant no stairs so the kids moved us downstairs. I had to give up my king size bed cause of space limitations.

One of our DGS's closed off the upstairs and made it into an apartment for his family, 3rd baby due in Aug. this has worked quite well. We have someone around if we need help(we've been married 50 yrs) and they've got reasonable priced living quarters.

This all is a prologue to telling you we have around a thousand sq. ft. It's working great. We just tell everyone that we have large mice upstairs. And DGD can tell when A Linda, A Marlene or U Gary come over. they seem to be the only smokers left in the family

there is no couch or loveseat. We got rid of them adn also the diningroom table. It was used oonce or twice a year, so it collected junk. We have chairs, a eat-in counter in the kit and both our computers. there's a laundry room and the utility room off the kit.

there were two bdrms but so small that we use one as a dressing room, with bookshelves and a gun closet. We've just taken out the bath tub and put in a large shower with heads at either end of the shower. there are two seats and lots of handy bars for people with balance problems.

when we have guest for overnight, they either sleep in the recliners or blow up a mattress on the floor. Needless to say, we don't get much over night guests. Our youngest DGS was our last overnight guest, when the cops brought him home after breaking up an underage drinking party. His folks were out of town.

"I said it was long." We enjoy the smaller quarters and the fact that we don't have so much company now. We're becoming scrooges.

shirley

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 10:08AM
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gardener_in_ia

Hello! 800+sqf makes cleaning at the top of the list. Repairs and maintainance are a close second. Living with little debt is a good feeling, esp. for those in my generation "generation debt" (I'm 22).
~Caryn

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 5:14PM
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southernheart

Caryn, you are wise beyond your years. Keep that philosophy and you will find contentment. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 7:27PM
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sister3

I love the intimacy of my 1200 sq ft New Englander. Our home functions beautifully for the four of us. My two daughters share a bedroom. It is just a few footsteps away from mine. I think it is heavenly to have them so close. I love hearing their muted whispers as they talk themselves to sleep. I can easily answer a cry in the night or a sick child in distress. When they play their violins the music fills the house. When they argue I can tell when to intervene or when to let it alone. I actually think this little house has helped make me a better parent. There is a security for me and my family in owning a small home. Not just financially but emotionally and physically as well. In our super-sized world my girls will learn fast enough how BIG life can be. I just want to preserve for them a family life in a home where we are all able to be together in good times and bad. I want a home that is fully lived in. One in which privacy is respected but togetherness is a way of life.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 8:09PM
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southernheart

What a nice post!~

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 8:35PM
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FlowerLady6

Shirley ~ It sounds like you've made your place truly yours and are enjoying it. That's great! DH and I are a couple of reclusive types ourselves. : -)

Caryn ~ You are doing great for being so young. Congrats to you and keep on with your philosophy, you'll be a much happier person.

Sister ~ I loved your post. What a sweet, nurturing mother you are. You and your daughters are blessed having each other.

FlowerLady

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 11:58AM
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jaybird

I ditto the room/ human scale and the not being "house poor". When I want to gripe about my 55 year old small rooms etc., I just remind myself that we don't have a housepayment!!! It doesn't take me long to decide everything is just perfect!! :^)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 5:45PM
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amandasmith911

wow this is a forum for me!! my self,my husband tow kids, one kid part time live in 960 sq ft. also my house in the neighbor hood kids hang out. and my husband has 2 grown kids and 4 gradnd kids.

i love the ease of cleaning but i hate that it gets cluttered fast. and i love that i can hear my kids and know what there up to.

amanda

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 6:07PM
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minnie_tx

I have about 1200 sq ft. I like the fact that I can see out of all sides of my house. I have windows in each room and even on the garage side the kitchen window is there. If I hear something or the neighbor's dog barks I can quickly go to that side and peek out and get a pretty good view of what's out there. I have windows in the garage door and hve painted them with a frost glass paint with the botom corners clear. I also found napkins that just fit each window and have velcroed them to each window. I can easily pick up a corner and peek out from there too. I don't like the idea of my garage light being left on and letting anyone look in.
DS also put up motion lights on each corner of the house.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:31AM
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downeastwaves

Pameliap,

We we purchased out less than 1000 sq ft cottage, we fixed the spare bedroom up into a real nice guest room, called it the international room and decorated it from our travels. At last count I think we had stuff we collected from 10 countries. Then, one day we figured since usually we only get company a few weekends a year, that my hubby should take over the room as his study! So I packed up the stuff, we bought a nice desk, book case and file cabinet--which took many hours to build, and voila! The bed is still there, but the room is used several times a day now as a combo study/guest bedroom!

I'd say the best things about our small home are:

No mortgage! Debt free!
Easy to clean!
Cheap to heat!
GREAT YARD! Smaller home, so the yard is larger!
Less to take care of, so we have more time to travel and do what we want to!

Leasa

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 8:12PM
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cheryl444

I love this questions. My family of four lives comfortably in a 1400-sq ft condo that's all on one level. Benefits? Less cleaning, definitely. And I agree with each of the items Leasa mentions above.

Also, the ease of everyday living is great. Like today, I had the windows open all night, but now it's getting steamy outside and I need to turn on the air conditioner. It doesn't take long to walk around the house to close the 5 windows that we have open.

Also, if I need to put something in another room, I can take just a few steps to get it to the right place.

Greatest benefit? TIME TO LIVE LIFE! And do what I like to do, like play on garden web!

Cheryl

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:51AM
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krustytopp

If I just want background electronic noise while I'm cooking or cleaning, I just turn up the stereo or TV in one room while I'm in another part of my home :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 5:53PM
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christopherh

I enjoy the cost of heating and cooling too. Especially in Vermont winters! We used just under 2 tanks of oil for all of last year for both heat and hot water. And the fact my woodstove heats the house in winter with 3 cords of wood at $135 a cord makes for an economic value too.

Also TAXES! Let the McMansions pay. That status is killing some people!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 8:53AM
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supercat_gardener

Krustytopp reminded me of another thing I like about living small. Recently I bought a nice set of powerful speakers with a subwoofer for my computer and now can enjoy music all over the house!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:02AM
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gypsyrose

Yup, gotta agree with everyone here - I have no desire to clean a huge space because I like to spend time outside and doing other fun stuff! Plus, I don't like to have overnight guests - let 'em get a hotel! lol And it is SOOOO economical to heat and cool - love those low energy bills!

Last but not least - low mortage payment, taxes and insurance. Nothing worse than struggling to pay for your housing, especially if you're retired.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:20AM
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delvo

I haven't done it yet, but the main reason I like the idea of a small house is not about the difference between a small one and a big one: it's about the difference between owning a house and renting for life, because after the financial and career-related bad luck that's hit me, a big or even medium one would probably never be even marginally possible for me, so thinking small is my way out of the world of rental and into the world of ownership.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 10:03AM
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barbschmidt

Having read many of the postings, I don't really qualify as having a "smaller home" (1800 sq ft). But it's a patio home with a zero lot line -- the homes are "cheek by jowl" as Mom would say. I moved from suburbia and my husband moved from a duplex in the city. My favorite thing is not having to mow the lawn! The HOA takes care of the front and I have a small garden in the back. And it's perfect. I posted a picture under the heading "smaller homes."

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 8:48AM
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bzyathome

I've been giving this some thought and I realized that I just feel "happy" living in my small home. We recently visited my sister in the Boulder area and they have a 3000 sqft home with hardly any yard and neighbors ALL around. One of those golf course subdivisions but the golf course is still a mile away!
I realized that my smaller home sits on a little over 1/4 acre and my neighbors aren't looking into my back or front yard and watching me all the time. We have privacy! It hit me when we were on my sis's deck having a BBQ and the neighbors were all out on their decks doing the same thing and everyone was watching the other! TOO CLOSE for me. I could have a bigger house on this property but I don't need it. It would just put me closer to my neighbors...lol. So.....that's my benefit....it suits my needs, satisfies my wants and makes me HAPPY!

Marilyn in NM

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 9:35AM
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xtreme_gardener

I love the idea of a house that is 'fully lived in' as sister3 says! And 'human scaled'...so much empty space in really big houses.

The guest conundrum is funny to listen to...we've been lamenting about not having room for our relatives to stay when they come (usually for at least a week) and I don't think they enjoy the idea of camping that long in a tent, so its always an issue. Last year it rained 9 out of the 10 days my sis and 2 children (who fit the previously mentioned category perfectly)were here! Cramped to say the least! I think I'll not worry so much about trying to make them comfortable in the house (there's talk this year of them borrowing a camper trailer! Hee hee!)

Cleaning and maintenance is definately a bonus, but like amanda I find it gets cluttered and the floor gets dirty so darn fast! But a few minutes each morning (well, ideally every morning...)seems to keep things under control.

Also, we dont have seperate kitchen, dining and living areas (all one room) so our computer sits amongst it all. We got a 19" monitor so we can watch movies on it, which keeps down the electronic clutter. We even have no trouble with one phone!

And heating is a cinch...in fact, right now I'm baking a rhubarb crisp, and the oven is heating the cabin nicely on this rainy, cold day! Not to mention filling it with yummy aroma! The list of benifits just goes on and on...if only people just realized!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 2:50PM
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johnmari

Mmmmm, I'd love both a chilly day (it's 90 here, forecast to be nasty hot sticky for the next several days) and a big dish of that rhubarb crisp! :-)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 2:54PM
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sunrochy

xtreme_gardener-
Send some of the coolness down to Morganton, NC!!!!! Pretty please?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 8:43PM
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xtreme_gardener

I don't know if I want to share the coolness or the Crisp! LOL! We've had our share of heat up here, too, so this rain and coolness is a blessing. I hope you both get your turn!

Toots
PS. The crisp didn't last long anyways :^)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:56PM
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