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Small Houses

Posted by julie_mi_z5 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 7, 06 at 6:02

We have a small house. Over the weekend I was at my SIL's house, also a small house.

What a difference! When I compare how our houses are set up, I can truly see the benefits of decluttering.

For example:

(1) We each have about 3 feet of food preparation space on both sides of the kitchen sink. I try to keep mine totally clear (no toaster, blender, canisters, etc. setting out). You couldn't fit as much as a coffee cup on her counters (they eat out a lot, LOL).

(2) I'm trying very hard to keep horizontal surfaces clear (I'm fighting my family on this one) but my SIL has every horizontal surface stacked high.

Seeing what a difference it makes keeping things out of sight really made my continuing efforts seem worthwhile.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Small Houses

Small houses, though, typically have less storage space, so keeping it out of sight really requires keeping things out of mind!


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RE: Small Houses

Juli - I have the same problem. Was hoping we could get a Small Houses forum going at some point.

Carol


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RE: Small Houses

Steve,

Then there's always the less creative storage solutions, where the bottom of every closet is piled with boxes, bins, and baskets of stuff. LOL One side of the master bedroom closet, for example, will only hold shirts because there's a 2-drawer file cabinet in there to hold paid bills, etc.


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RE: Small Houses

No doubt about it - the smaller the house, the more everything "shows". LOL - what I've realized is that the definition of "small house" varies from person to person. We started in an 800 SF home and YES that was small. So now that we are in a 2400 SF home, we feel very fortunate. However, we are the smallest house in our neighborhood!

Julie - I see what you are saying. Two people with the same square footage can use their space entirely different. And it's quite noticeable!


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RE: Small Houses

Intherain said:
"Two people with the same square footage can use their space entirely different."

Well isn't THAT a revelation! Since all the houses in our neighborhood are basically 1000 SF and pretty much the same basic floor plans, I should probably start paying attention to how the neighbors use THEIR space! LOL


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RE: Small Houses

In our neighbourhood -- our small (smallest in the neighbourhood) "house plan" has been used throughout the streets. Its a 3-bedroom, 2-bath -- about 1800 square feet with a two-car garage (now stacked with EBay stuff)

When we first moved in -- I visited OUR house BUT on another street during their Open House. They had turned a useless small window in their master bedroom into a door -- that led to the back patio.

Well!! I raced home -- grabbed the DH and dragged him over -- and later on -- we got our door/screen door installed -- and loved it ever since! :) Now we have a very handy walkout (and screen door) to the pool and patio.

And yes!! it is amazing to see the difference in our people's small homes.

My friend brought her kids and friends over to swim a couple of summers ago ---- and one of the kids said "HEY, this is OUR house!!!" --- Her mum arrived later for a drink ---- and she couldn't believe how different each home could be!!

In our small home -- we NEED and REQUIRE order. LOL!!! We discovered (and accepted!) those facts about ourselves!!

We get so edgy and miserable when we let chaos take over --- except during big projects of course (but we do try to tidy the work area each night -- just to set up for the next day!)

Its a hard fight -- and a constant "tidy and de-clutter and clean" routine -- but well worth the effort!


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RE: Small Houses

Wow small is truly in the eye of the beholder! I'm living in a 1200 sq ft home, no basement, 1 skinny car garage attached. Been there over 20 years, and I am excellent at keeping nothing we don't use. But by end of this month, I'll be moving into our new home being built, 1874 sq ft, 2 car garage and full basement with 900 sq ft finished down there and the rest of the basement is for.....STORAGE!! I'm totally in love with the house and can hardly wait to spread my stuff out. Oh and hubby's stuff too...


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RE: Small Houses

Julie - when we lived in our 1200 SF home, I'd marvel at how much more room my neighbors seemed to have. It finally dawned on me that they had NO clutter. NONE. Their house felt much larger than mine did!!!


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RE: Small Houses

Out of curiosity, how do each of you figure the square footage?

For me it would be easy to say 1st floor = 23x30, 2nd floor = 23x30, and unfinished "but usable for kids, laundry, tools and seasonal storage> basement = 23x30, plus "too cold/too hot> rear "wing" = 12x9 on each of the 3 floors. So, do I say about 2400 sq.ft.? ... or do I then subtact closets, bathrooms, hallways...?
Just curious.

'Cause 2400 sqft sounds luxurious, but the five of us sharing space here, though comfortable, is carefully controlled and edited frequently.


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RE: Small Houses

We are almost 3,000 finished square feet for six people and it too is "carefully controlled and edited frequently." This gives us room for my DH to have an in-home office, I have my own space off the kitchen, each child has a bedroom, 3 bathrooms, laundry room and living room, kitchen and dining area. No basement. No attic. No shed.

We did a total remodel of this house before we moved in and we have very little storage. On purpose. Of the six bedrooms, only 4 have closets. The two youngest kids don't need them.

I built in a closet under the staircase on the main floor for brooms, mops, vac, etc. Built in a bookcase on the other end of those stairs. We lowered ceilings, so over the living room we have a storage area 5 x 11 for holiday stuff, suitcases, and camping gear. The original sloped ceiling is there, so you can't really stand up. But it's enough.

When designing the closet for our master, I measured how much room we needed for clothing. Our closet is 4' deep and 6' wide. With our two dressers, it's fine.

I figured out how much storage we needed for the snowblower, bikes, lawnmower, tools, etc. and that's all the room allowed in the garage.

What I found when house hunting was people wanted to show all of the storage in the house. Storage in the way of kitchen pantry would have been great, but storage just to pile things?

I've really decided to live by a motto. I need a place to live my life, not store it. Other than holiday or seasonal stuff, if I don't want to look at it, it just doesn't get to live here. Family items are out and if they get broken, so be it.

The only things still in storage type boxes are photos (and really, I'm going to do those some day) and vintage quilts which would be ruined if exposed to the constant light or any use. I am close to being ready to getting rid of any of those which aren't made by family.

Our last house was slightly smaller than this one, yet had tons of closets and storage. And they were packed to the gills. All of that stuff is now gone and I don't miss any of it.

I've lived in small and what I consider large and the same theory seems to apply both places. Have what you use and need, not fill the house with just stuff. Since each of my kids do have their own room, this allows them more room for personal stuff. But if they needed to share, then it was just be each person would be allowed a smaller amount of "keep" space.

Even as we live in a larger space, I'm thinking of the time I'm ready to downsize. Our youngest is only 6, but we are 50, we may have to downsize before we really have an empty nest if we can't keep up the yard and stuff.

If we needed to be in a smaller house, the DH could definately not work out of the home. I wouldn't have my own room for my sewing/crafts/whatever so I would be back to having that stuff in boxes under the bed. Otherwise, the kids would be sharing rooms. The main rooms, I don't think would be much different since we don't have formal/informal rooms. Just one living room-one dining area.

I would mourn the loss of my personal space, though. I've never had one since I was a kid and I so enjoy this luxuary.

Gloria


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RE: Small Houses

I was thinking the other day that when we lived in this house with 3 children, it didn't seem too small, it seemed just right. (We had moved from a teeny-tiny house). But now the big kids are adults and have moved out. It's just 3 of us yet the house seems smaller! Maybe we are just filling it up. Or maybe it's just like a 7 year itch when you start to want a change. (We've been here 16 years and there is no need to move).

We have a very small family cottage that we share. It has no basement and has teeny tiny bedrooms. If someone is watching tv, everyone hears it (which is okay in the summer, on vacation). There is a possibility that we can buy out the family members we share it with and my DH would like to consider retiring there someday...I found myself wondering where would I put the sewing machine??? What furniture do we have that I just love and would want to have there? One of those late night conversations you have with yourself that makes it hard to sleep...I did decide that if I could have the machine and the quilting stuff, there was very little furniture I'd need to take with me.


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RE: Small Houses

jcs7: Our square footage was listed on the realtor sheet when we bought the house 23 years ago. I imagine you could measure the outside of the house to figure it out maybe?

quiltglo: I was shocked that you would design a room without closets, then I realized your house is 3 times bigger than ours so you probably have room for things like extra dressers to hold clothes. LOL I would love to have one of those chiffarobe things (drawers & closet rod cabinet combined--whatever it's called) but there is a queen size bed in our master bedroom that pretty much takes up the whole room. My "dream room" would have an alcove for a lamp table and reading chairs.

lots2do: Many people put additions on cottages for retirement. Not big additions, but enough to add a sewing room for you!


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RE: Small Houses

Yes, I was looking at a picture of the cottage this morning. There is a really small screened in porch that is pretty useless other than to keep the rain off your head when you are unlocking the door...I could see an small addition right there! Something to daydream about...
lots2do


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RE: Small Houses

I just wandered over to the kitchen forum. Found this GRAND TOTAL: $81,149 for kitchen!!!

That's over 1/2 what we paid for our little house.....

Carol


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RE: Small Houses

That's about half of what I paid for my house (1800 square feet) as well. Eeek! But then I'd rather have the house paid for than the kitchen to die for, so I guess I'm doing alright. :-)


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RE: Small Houses

Smaller kitchens wouldn't have so many cabinets and square feet of flooring and counter material so it might be harder to spend $81,000 :)

Smaller homes make it difficult to have company: no huge dinner parties and no unemployed cousins staying forever in your guest bedroom (because the "guest bedroom" is the living room sofa :)


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RE: Small Houses

81,000 wouldn't buy me a garage here.

Julie--even with no closets we do not have extra dressers, etc. The two younger kids have a 4 drawer dresser each. They are about the size of a changing table. That's all the clothing allowed. My DD has a few dresses we hang on the back of the door. I've seen very few kid's closets that didn't turn into black holes of junk. No need taking up floor space for that. All of their toys and stuff are organized on free standing shelves which we can change around as they get older.

Gloria


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RE: Small Houses

Smaller kitchens wouldn't have so many cabinets and square feet of flooring and counter material so it might be harder to spend $81,000 :)

Smaller homes make it difficult to have company: no huge dinner parties and no unemployed cousins staying forever in your guest bedroom (because the "guest bedroom" is the living room sofa :)

And all this is a problem ... why? :-)


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RE: Small Houses

The estimate for my neighbor's kitchen was $40,000, which scared me too much to get an estimate for ours. Her layout is different than mine, but her "walking space" in the kitchen makes the floor about 6 feet wide and 10 feet long. Is it the granite counter tops that add so much?

Gloria--you must have smaller kids. My 9th grader is 5'11" and only 2 pairs of pants would fit in his drawer. LOL


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RE: Small Houses

Regarding kitchen remodels. We spent over $20,000 10 years ago. Simple U shape, nice cabinets, but no new appliances. Only laminate for counters. Plain floors.

Labor costs. In a nutshell, the labor costs were over half the cost.

I have a kitchen 3 times larger than the last one and I could easily spend $50,000 and just get a simple kitchen. I'm not crazy about my current cabinets, but they are really good quality and so there's no way I'm going to spend that kind of money now.

Gloria


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RE: Small Houses

To compensate for a small kitchen, you need really high-end built-in appliances and the best cabinets and counters you can buy :)


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RE: Small Houses

Of the six bedrooms, only 4 have closets. The two youngest kids don't need them.

but won't they grow up? And need closets? I thought that some jurisdictions require a closet before you can legally define a room as a "bedroom." But I agree that kids' closets can turn into black holes of stuff that they just don't use. I'm sure it works for you, and I admire your approach to how much stuff you own. I can't quite get there, but boy would it be nice, after living in our decluttered home.

My DD is coming up on 12, and I'm at the point where I want her clothes on hangers. Until now, drawers have been fine.

We spent $30K on the kitchen, probably, and got a $550 range, $5k of cabinets. $3K for counters, though. The rest was labor, mostly. And little bitty incidentals that added up.


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RE: Small Houses

Talley, the bedrooms original to the house have closets, but we turned a three bedroom into a six. We did build one in the master.

The 22 yo DS is still here finishing college and better be moving himself out pretty soon. The plan will be to move the DD up to that room when she'll be needing the hanging up type stuff. Who know's what will be in style, since she's only 8 right now. My 11 yo DS has one of those rooms and that closet is still just turning into a black hole. The amount of shirts he hangs up doesn't take up a foot of rod space. The 22 yo doesn't hang up anything so the closet is a total waste for him. He'd really rather have the floor space.

You're right that I couldn't currently advertise this as 6 bedrooms right now, but since we did the remodel to suit how we live I'm not concerned. The smallest bedroom is 11 x 11, so we could throw in small closets if we needed in order to sell. Each room has a niche that I had put in for that purpose in the future if I have to sell for some reason.

Gloria


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RE: Small Houses

We live in a 1400 sq ft home. When we moved in 4 years ago we had 3 childrenliving with us. As each of them has moved out we've gotten rid of a lot of stuff. With just the two of us we have plenty of room and storage for us. My husband lined one whole wall in the basement with shelves for our seasonal things and my crafts. He also built shelves in the garage so it stays neat and tidy. We are not afraid to throw things away or give them away to make more space. That really helps keep the clutter down!
Sue


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RE: Small Houses

Wow, we are lucky! We spent about $10,000 on our kitchen remodel (about five yrs. ago) & it was a total remodel; we even tore the walls out. The cost included custom oak cabinets. We live in an area where labor costs are really low. We bought new appliances during a great sale. Also, we did the demolition & tore out the old cabinets ourselves instead of paying for labor for that.

We have a small house & I've found that I must be careful with purchases. When I bought a new, updated Crockpot, the old one went to charity. Also, things like coffee tables, end tables & nightstands must be bought with storage in mind. Like Julie, I try to keep my kitchen counters as clear as possible. It would irritate me even in a larger kitchen to keep things that we don't use often sitting on the counter.

We don't have a garage, but we do have a small shed where we keep the lawn tools. We are lucky to have a mostly floored attic where we can store out-of-season clothes, Christmas decorations & the like. Our home is older, so it has tiny closets.

It always amazes me how people's stuff expands to fit their space. My in-laws live in a huge house. I'm not sure of the exact size, but it's around 4,000 sq. ft. for two people. There is no free storage space. When DH & I moved in with them for a while during a DIY remodel on our only bathroom, we couldn't even put our clothes away in the bedroom we were using. The closet (fairly large) was still full of their youngest son's clothes, trophies, old games, you name it. The dresser drawers were also full. The son in question was 28 at the time. My MIL still has a closet full of old books from when her middle son, now 32, was in college. She has even mentioned that she wishes he would come home & clean out those books so she can use the closet. He is married & lives in a tiny apt. They don't even have room for their current stuff, so I doubt he's going to carry any of those old books home. She had her laundry room remodeled & immediately stuffed the cabinets full of old jars & similar things. I asked DH about the jars & he said they were for canning. I guess she used to can vegetables, but she hasn't done it in the more than 10 yrs that I've known DH. My MIL loves books, but will not do what I do. We have two bookcases. I go through them periodically & weed out things. Books that we're done with either go to the library or one of DH's brothers. My MIL keeps all of her books.


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RE: Small Houses

That sounds similar to my parents. They have a 3200 SF home that is filled. Funny thing is that they had a small house when we kids lived with them. Once we moved out, they kept going larger!

Sheryl


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RE: Small Houses

I agree with the comment on how people's stuff expands to fit their space. We moved from a 900 sq. ft. house to a 4000 sq. ft. house and I managed to keep the smaller house more clutter-free than the big house. Granted, we did move my mother and father in with us but we had an additional wing added to the house so we have 6 bedrooms and 3 baths for 6 people. I just don't get it. I even had an organizer come in and help me declutter and a year later it's cluttered again. Guess its time to call the organizer again. :)


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