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Making a little house feel comfortable

Posted by katrina_ellen (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 8, 11 at 12:08

I am new to this forum, although I have lurked a while. I live in a 784 sq/ft home which I moved into last May. I choose it because it was affordable and I could own it outright, but now am having second thoughts about the size of it. It is 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. I am having a hard time making it comfortable. It feels cramped instead of cozy. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for it - no mortgage is great, but I am interested in knowing what others with similar very little homes have done to make it feel comfortable. I especially would like to know if you have an eat-in kitchen as I do, what type table and chairs you have that work in a tiny space. Thanks for any feedback you are able to give me and others that have similar challenges.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Katrina - can you post some photos? For lots of small places, just decorating the heck out of it helps. If your kitchen is also your main dining area, then the kitchen should be decorated as nicely as would be a dining or living room, with attractive lighting too. Or if there isn't enough room in your EIK, then perhaps a multi-purpose table in your living room could serve as eating area.

When you say your home feels cramped, is it due to lack of storage, or oversized furniture, or low ceilings? Do you need to edit your belongings to fit into a smaller home?


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

I will have to borrow a camera to take some pictures - I don't have a digital camera yet. Its just probably a poor layout to the house and I am sure that if I had the money right now to do a remodel I could get it more efficient, but I just want it to be livable in the mean time. I will try to borrow a camera this weekend and take some photos, I really would like help with it as I am all out of ideas. Theres not much space in the living room either! Thank you!


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Katrina, I know what you mean. At one time, we rented a 900 sq ft house. We were only going to live in it for 6 months while we built a new house. That 6 months turned into 2 years and we had all the furniture from our 1800 sq ft house in it, and we had two small children and 2 dogs at the time. It was like living in a 2nd hand store. Not fun at all.

If I ever move to a small place, I will get rid of my large furniture and buy smaller scale furniture. It would have made such a difference in how that place lived.

With an eat-in kitchen, I'd either get a drop leaf table that can be put against the wall, or a counter top height table that can double as a work area.

And I agree, photos would help.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Good ideas so far. Smaller scale furnishings will go a long way. Post some pics and folks here will definitely chime in!

if you like modern, or even cottage looks, I would recommend checking out what IKEA has to offer. They design mainly for European (trans.: small) spaces and have a lot of things that could work for you.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

How many people do you want to seat at the dining area? Can you put a banquette on one side, with a table and chairs pulled up to it? This saves some space, since no chairs have to be pulled out, against the wall...and has a cozy feel, too :)

Or create your own 'banquette' feel...this would work just as well, without the bay window.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Thanks everyone for the feedback and pictures lavender lass. I have toyed with the idea of a banquette. Right now I can't imagine seating more than 4 in the space. When I take some pictures you can see if you think it would work in the little space or if maybe just some small visually lightweight chairs would work better. I hate to get rid of my table and chairs because I bought them from Ethan Allen - probably beyond my budget! But if smaller works better I don't have any plans on moving so I will be living with it. I read in a Japanese inspired small house book last night that comfortable is not bumping into things and having a good traffic flow. I have a round 42" kitchen table that I thought of removing the legs from and putting a pedestal on instead. Will take shots of it - maybe it will work with a baquette or smaller chairs - I only have two now because that is all that fits comfortably. I like space to move around in, in the kitchen. I will try to take shots this weekend.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Our stucco cottage was 2br/1bath separate dining, tiny kitchen, ok living room, a screened porch and a half-enclosed back porch when we first rented it from a friend (after our larger house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina). Two years later, on Valentine Day 2008, DH bought it as a present for me. Since then, we've :
* totally enclosed the screened porch to have a 10 x 10 sun porch with a small window a/c.
* totally enclosed the back porch as additional kitchen space, especially the frenchdoor fridge, microwave, and stacking washer-dryer. We moved the water heater into a tiny little "shed" leanto just off that porch.
*Dh built a raised 10 x 12 wood deck outside the back door where we sit and eat at an outdoor metal table.
*we tore out the old bath, added a 5.5' x 19' bumpout to create a new large walkin closet and a master bath. The other bath we created is very tiny with a toilet, small sink, and shower.
*in process of renovating a derelict cement block garage so we will have a huge secure 20 x 24 place for greenhouse plants, my messy painting projects, maybe the parrots, and of course, STORAGE STORAGE STORAGE.
*we fully enclosed our back yard with a 7 foot tall wooden privacy fence so we can feel like we have more outdoor space for our gardening and just sitting around with friends.

I look for small scale furniture. I am about to put a windowseat and two tall pantries flanking it, so we can pull up a 39 x 39 square table for dining. A tall bar with room for two stools will be on the cooking side of our kitchen when we redo it and tear out the wall separating dining from kitchen.

Scale is super important. So is storage. So is decluttering. And I recommend that you look for books in your library by Sarah Sasanka, who writes the NOT SO BIG HOUSE books. Most good sized libraries will have them.
And get a printed copy of the IKEA catalog. They have great products, and also great room displays. Plus, their website is great too.

If your cell phone has a camera, you could use that and just email the photos to yourself to get them on your computer. Or, if your computer has a webcam, turn it on and see what you get.

How many folks live in your house? Do you like cozy cottage style, mid century modern, colonial, Asian? If you like Ethan Allen, that used to mean you liked colonial, but not necessarily any more...they have branched out a lot. If you can find a nice pedestal for your table, that could save some space on the floor. Just keep those original legs and apron some place out of the weather.


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Moccasin landing, I am going to have to read and re-read your post - you have lots of ideas! Thanks for sharing them. I live by myself but I have 4 grandkids I like to have over when I am not working. I like more of a cottage look. The furniture I bought at Ethan Allen was from the Country Swedish style they had a few years ago. I like the clean lines - I love the look of layering but I couldn't live with it. I like a clean look, but not modern, just not a lot of stuff. I like it to look calming and soothing and comfortable. I am realizing I may have to get some different furniture to make the best use of the space. I am selling my expensive swedish style Ethan Allen tv cabinet on craigs list for a song because I would rather have the space. I like the idea of your water heater setup since mine is behind a folding door in the kitchen along with the furnace, but in our cold climate (0 degrees today) I don't think that would work. I had thought of making an enclosed porch but so far in the 8 months I have been here I have had the tiny bathroom gutted down to the studs, re-roofed the garage and a new garage door and many other smaller things I have done and need to do so for now my funds will be tied up with the basics - I have a "laundry room" that I believe was converted from an enclosed porch because the floor is concrete and I have discovered this winter that there is no insulation in the walls- I need to rip out all the drywall and insulate when the weather starts to warm up. So, lots of things to do but in the meantime I do want to make it as nice as possible. I am borrowing a friends camera this weekend. Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it.


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Katrina, instead of ripping out the drywall in your laundry room, you can make small holes in the top between each stud and fill with blown insulation - either that you do yourself or an insulation company does. Much cheaper and works well. We did our garage that way when we enclosed it, and rented the equipment from Home Depot. If I did it again, I'd use fiberglass insulation instead of cellulose(?), but that's what they had at the time. It was heavy.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Katrina- Exellent idea to put your table on a pedestal base! You'll feel like there's a lot more room, without bumping into those legs all the time...and it will work better for a banquette, too, if you decide to use one. My mom is thinking about doing the same thing with her table :)


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Kat - go to YouTube and search Small Space Big Style. It's an HGTV show that isn't airing anymore (frown) but focused on some really small homes, some smaller than 300sf. Lots of great ideas to be had there and in just about every decorating style and taste. Welcome aboard, don't be a stranger.

Scott


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

marti8a - Great idea about the insulation. I will have to see which type of insulation is the best vapor barrier. Thanks for the comment - that will save me time and $$$!!!
Scott - thanks for the youtube reference, I will enjoy checking that out.
Thanks for the comments all, its great to get some different ideas to consider. I have a camera now and will take photos - I call my house my humble abode because its just a simple little box shaped house - but to others 784 sq/ft would be a palace. I just want to get it as functional and comfortable as I can.


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Scott, glad you told me the series SMALL SPACE BIG STYLE is on YouTube. I sure enjoyed it. I THINK it was Sarah Richardson who was the host, but mmaybe not.

And I spelled Sarah SUSANKA's name wrong before. It is NOT SAsanka. And I got so interested in what she'd done lately that I wound up ordering some of her books from Amazon. Sigh, I will be reading for a while I believe.

And Kat/Katrina....(I like Kat)....just remember how much you have already done. You cannot do it all at once. So please appreciate the plus factor. I consider it a blessing that I could not accomplish my projects as I envisioned them in the beginning. Over time, and with a lot of flipping my ideas end over end, I wound up with a much better idea. And amazingly enough, I've been able to achieve more space without a major renovation of our little house. It is what Sarah Susanka calls, a "bumpout" renovation. Not as expensive, and will not price our little cottage too high for its neighborhood. But sometimes, if you know you are going to STAY forever in one place, its resale value is secondary to your personal comfort and use.
Sweat equity is the best way to reach your goals, if you are not a perfectionist. Which I'm not. I like it strong, safe, and functional. Which is what you said, "functional and comfortable."

I'll link below to my Webshots albums, with several about different homes I've managed to live in during the last six years. Look for anything about remodel/decor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Webshots albums


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Swedish country style

KatrinaEllen says, "The furniture I bought at Ethan Allen was from the Country Swedish style they had a few years ago. I like the clean lines -"

It is a really soft style, and was recently mentioned on this forum somewhere else. It involved a Google search for the art of Carl Larsson in the Swedish style. His paintings showed a lot of interiors of Scandinavian style homes and the colors are gorgeous.

I was reading the 6/2009 issue of Architectural Digest (in the doctor's office) and in their list of products on page 42 was a chest described this way:

GUSTAVIAN GRACE...Finely rendered Neoclassical decoration adorns a circa 1800 Swedish commode, $12,750, at Dienst (www.dienstanddotter.com) in Sag Harbor NY where the focus is Scandinavian furnishings of several centuries.
And here is the picture I took of the "commode" (as in chest). It is the softness of the paint, not the ornament subject matter.....and the delicate shape of the legs, which give it a light feeling, like it consumes less space.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

If I remember correctly Small Space Big Style had two different hosts during it's run. I sure wish they would bring it back.

My daily commute is about 35 miles and takes me along a four-lane highway that has been a major connector across part of South Carolina since the 1800's. I pass by several small to very small structures laying fallow and or decaying. There's a wood sided cabin that's about 12X12 with a tin roof and a fireplace at one end, an old Army Quanset hut, a low, brick structure with a fairly deep porch that I can't decide if it's an old house or some type of store, a 10X10 concrete block structure with no roof right beside the road, again, wondering if that one is some type of abandonded mini-store, and another wood framed, wood sided home totaling about 700sf.

Coming home Friday night it occured to me that these are snapshots of the past that will either decay and collapse or be bulldozed. It also occured to me that they are most visible right now because the leaves are off the trees and shrubs. So this morning I got up and took a few photos of two of the structures. Photos are a great way of proving just how miraculous our eyes are. Our eyes can take in several angles as we motor past and transmit that to our brain as a vivid 3-D image with depth and detail. Capturing that same brain image on film (digital pixels) is down right difficult. The photos just look flat and lifeless. If only I had Chris's eye for composition. But I digress.

I drive by these structures and wonder about the people who built them, the people who lived in them and what life was like when they were occupied. It reminds me that we are not unique in our fascination with small structures, we are really just revisiting the past.

Maybe someday I'll have my own blog and post them for others to see.

Scott


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Scott, I was browsing a photo album of a man up in Maine last night. It was named ABANDONED. And he was doing like you, making remarks about the state of disrepair and all the folks who once graced the structures with life. I'm frequently moved by the lost dreams these homes and tiny buildings suggest.

You are a philosopher. Definitely start a blog.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable(pics)

http://s1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb377/Katrina_Ellen1/
I don't know if this link is going to work, I've never used it before. Sorry but I don't know how to post the actual pictures. It was hard to get a good view because its so small and hard to stand in the room to get a shot. The cabinets are the old originals but its what I have to work with for now. I have a kitchen cart because there is so little counterspace due to the gas cooktop taking most of it and I needed a spot for the coffee maker and microwave, but to me it has a messy look. I thought of attaching a skirt around the base of the cart so you cant't see everything in it. What do you think? Also, I thought a square or rectangle table set right up againest the wall where it is cut-out and looks into the living room may work better, along with visually lighter weight chairs. I am open to any and all suggestions, even ideas for in the future of what I could do with it. I see so many beautiful homes on this site I am hesitant to post but I really would love some help with it to make it look its best. Thanks for any and all ideas!!!


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Katrina_ellen, Here are a few of your pictures. Hope this helps :)


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Link

Here's the link to the other photos :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

WOW What a darling kitchen. Forgot what the problem with it is for you. Love the color of your cabinets.

Would love to see more of your house.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

I think your kitchen is really cute, actually. I love the green cabinets, and I hope you keep them long-term. When I first looked at your small photos, I was puzzling over the black thing in the corner. But after lavender_lass posted larger versions of your photos, I see it's the gas cooktop
(duh). Seems to me someone somewhere along the line made a big mistake in putting a wall oven. If the oven were back under the gas cooktop, you'd have a more reasonable amount of counter space. You could then put the m/w above the range as is often done, or better yet, put it in an open cabinet about 28-in. above the counter.

How much open space is there? It looks like maybe 5-6 ft? And what is behind the louvered doors - pantry or w/d?


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

lavender lass thanks so much for posting my pics to the site.
shades of idaho - thanks for the kind words - if I get my nerve up I will post some others at some point.
gwbr54 - you hit the nail on the head for me - the cooktop and oven are what I don't like. I would prefer a range. And besides that the cooktop is way oversized. Yes and then I could put an actual vent! over the stove with the microwave over that so I wouldn't need the cart. Only problem is, I still wouldn't have anymore counter space and I would need to change the cabinets quite a bit. Something to think about though. There is 5.5 ft. of open space - good eye you have. I was also thinking that a square or rectangle table may work best because I could fit it flush againest the wall until I needed to put more chairs around it and then I could pull it out. Keep the ideas coming! Thanks so much.


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i think it's a darling kitchen! I love the little shelves under your cabs.
maybe down the road you could replace the cooktop and oven with a range? combing the 2 and allowing for more counter space. replace the counter top... and turn the corner under the window with a very shallow edge of counter maybe? with very shallow cabs under it for food goods storage.

the floor looks good also. I really like your kitchen!

I hope no one doesn't post their rooms because they see others here they think are better. maybe the 'others' have already been redone - and people's tastes are different. have you looked at the pics I've posted of my place so far? lol! I'm more at home in a kitchen like yours or farmhouse's. not that I don't think some of the others are beautiful, I'd just feel very awkward in them if they were mine - but i sure love looking at 'em!


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katrina, is that your only eating area, or is there another dining room in the house?

Your kitchen cabinets look a lot like my mil's. I think her house was built in the '60s, or late 50's. Having the range and oven so far from each other would bother me.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

marti8a, yes that is the only eating area. Most of the time I eat in the living room with a tv tray, but when I have a few people over I like to sit at the table. I have 4 chairs which is all my table will fit. My house was built in 1958. Actually I don't even use the oven much so it doesn't bother me, what bothers me most is the big cooktop that takes all the counter space. If I had a freestanding stove over where the microwave cart is now I could have a decent amount of counter space on each side of the sink. Of course I would then have to reconfigure the cabinets. I even thought of taking the top cabinets off and doing open shelving, but I don't know that I would like everything out in the open in a small space.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Katrina - I'm assuming that you mean that you would slide a range into where the cooktop is now, rather than where the m/w cart is. It's hard to see where the cabinets attach to each other, but if you are lucky, you could could remove the oven cabinetry, and then shift the cabinetry on the far left to the far right of the run. If a little space is left over, you can always use a filler, or add a wine rack. Of course, if there's too little space, then you're not lucky! Adding a new countertop of wood, for example, would be inexpensive.

Do you need the ceiling fan? If not, and it were my kitchen, I would remove ceiling fan and replace with a nice metal chandelier. I'd add an oriental rug with a lot of red in it.

For the table, I like the idea of a narrow, rustic farm table about 24 x 48, that I could also use as work surface. That size is less easy to find, and before even trying, I would cut out paper that size to see if you can still move around it. If not, I'd cut out 36-in. diam. and 36-in. square to see if those will work. With only 5 1/2 feet of depth, it's really tight.

What's behind the louvered doors? Any chance of blocking any part of them? Also, I think the slab-style back door conflicts with your retro/country look. You might consider adding mouldings to mimic a paneled door. Or you could add a narrow curtain rods with shirred fabric to mimic a door with glass center. Or you could hang artwork on the door to treat it more as wall space.

When I'm home, I'll see if I can post some photos that may better convey what I'm trying to say.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

You can see a little bit of the living room, which is so inviting, in this photo. I think you have a charming house, but like all small houses, space is always a challenge! :)

We'd be able to help you more, if we had measurements of the rooms sizes and location of the fridge...and is that the laundry, behind the louvered doors? If a banquette would fit, against your shelving unit, you might be able to use a pedestal table and two chairs...and still seat three to four people.


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gwbr54, I like the table idea, a rustic top table is one thing I was actually considering. My table now is 42" so I know a 36" would work, but I will try taping out the rectangle size. I like your light fixture idea but I really do use the fan in the kitchen a lot - I want to replace that one with a nicer looking one that is more flush to the ceiling, I also want to replace the light over the sink with either a canister light or a flush mount - the pendant doesn't give much light. Behind the louvered doors is the water heater and furnace, behind the slab door is the laundry room. I never thought about the door as conflicting with the style - I was just thinking this morning that maybe I should paint the door and molding the same color as the wall and just leave the louvered doors white - then it wouldn't look so cut up. I like the idea also of doing something else with it! I never would have thought of that. I am holding off on replacing the flooring until I know what I want to do with the kitchen - underneath that rooster rug is a big stain that will not come off - the sellers had it covered with a rug and I didn't know it was there until I took possestion of the house. Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions!!!
Lavender-lass - the fridge fits in a little alcove to the right of the table and chairs on the opposite side of the cabinets. Its really the only place for it and looks like it was made to go there. I will take measurements tonight. I would love to re-do the kitchen at some point but if I do that I want to do it just how I want it if I am going to the expense of it. I do hate to get rid of the cabinets though - I like old things, but I like efficiency just a bit more. Thanks for the feedback - I just love all these ideas, I always say two heads are better than one. Thanks so much for posting the picture.


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Behind the door is the laundry room you say? You just KNOW we want to see what it would look like without the door! OR since it is an interior door, you could really have fun with a french door or dutch door.

Hhmmm, if you have a 42-in. table there, I think the distance between the two cabinet runs may be more than 5-1/2 ft.

Not that I'm encouraging the rooster theme, but I thought you might enjoy these:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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photos

Since louvered doors don't need frequent access, perhaps a bench against it, with rustic table in front and a couple of chairs. (This assumes either elimination of laundry room door, or reversing the direction it swings).
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is one of my favorite eat-in kitchens:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Love the rug, altho' for your space, I'd go to cover most of the floor.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Notice the microwave shelf. In your kitchen, maybe the single cabinet to the right of the sink could be cut down with m/w shelf added
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Once the microwave is off the cart, you could find something really funky and decorative to hold your coffee maker and a tray.

Also, if you don't cook a great deal, a 2-burner, rather than 4-burner cooktop would take less counter space.


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I think a slide in range would be your best bet to save space, and it would help you keep the cooking function together.

It would also allow you to remove the built in wall oven. With it gone (the oven being the one beneath the stove burners), it would help a lot. These days, they sell full ranges which have a single oven which operates as a microwave or as a convection oven. If you still want a small MWave for quickly heating up a can of soup or whatever, a really tiny MW could fit beside your fridge. It might even fit inside your utility closet on a shelf, but that would be just an emergency setup. Only as a last resort. BUT, I bet there is room for a rollout pantry in all that space devoted to furnace and water heater. If you are going to seriously consider remodel, then think about the TANKLESS WATER HEATER as an option. They do take up SOME space, but no where near as much as a 50 gallon behemoth right in your kitchen. I had them take our waterheater outside and put it in a little leanto shed built just for it behind my fridge....and thus had a cold water supply line for my ice maker close to hand. All the space in your closet then is substantially freed up to use for storage....either pots/pans or pantry goods. But not things that would be harmed by heat.

I also think that taking out that big slab door beside your present MW cart would open up some space...provided that area is insulated well enough not to create discomfort while in the kitchen. And if it is not an exterior door, you can also put a pair of bifolds there with the hinges where the present door is. I would not put in the tracks that come with most bifolds, I'd just keep it simple. We've used BIFOLD FRENCH DOORS (in two houses so far), which will let in light or visually increase the apparent size of your kitchen if there is no light beyond. But something tells me there is light there, and I'd sure think about operable shutters across the bottom half of that window next to your stove. OR, take out that window and put in some shallow shelves to hold your spices and pretty jars of sugar and coffee. I think there is room to extend a short cabinet attached to the wall beside that door, and have it about 36" long, but only 12-18 inches deep, as a place for more work surface, and maybe put your garbage can below it to pull out at the open end. With a butcherblock top, or maybe a small slab of stone that can endure heat, you'd have more places to work. Keep it low though, meaning same height as your countertops elsewhere, but it could be 42" high as a bar height.

Where you remove the old oven, that gives you more counter top space, and you don't have to reconfigure your kitchen.
However, if there is space for moving your fridge there, it would essentially give you a galley style kitchen. And you would not have to pass across the traffic pattern by the table and the living room, to get something out of the fridge. It might also allow you room to move the table away from that wall, so someone accessing the fridge from the living room, would have room to walk adjacent to the wall without interrupting your kitchen work flow.

Before you go so far as to get a 36 inch new table, think how many people can sit there. Four at the max, and not much room for anything except the plate settings, not any space for serving dishes. Your 42" table is much more sociable that way. And if you really are going to buy a new table, think about one with a drop leaf. I'm sure Ethan Allen still makes one or two.

I like your cabinets too. I'd try to save them if they look as good inside as they do outside. And it might be possible to change the doors to a different style, which would be a really high impact for much less money than a total reno. I think they say a total kitchen gut job where appliances are moved, is upwards of $50,000 these days. I don't think you need to go that far. Your kitchen needs a face lift, but not a body replacement!!! It could be a real fun project.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

gwbr54-those are some mighty cute kitchens! Wish mine looked like that. I also have a big rooster on a wall in the kitchen I didn't take a picture of - its not that I like country style that much - I just like chickens. When I measured the space before I misunderstood what you were asking - the actual measurements are 11 ft. long and 8.5 ft. wide. That area in front of the louvered doors is too little for my table - it would totally block the door. I really love the french door idea! I am going to use that. I like the shelf space for the m/w too. I think I'm going to try the m/w on top of the fridge in the meantime and see how that works. Thanks for the ideas!
moccasinlanding - I didn't even know bifold french doors existed. I've never owned a home before - always rented, so I don't even know whats available out there. There is a window in the laundry, and the side door is there too. I was thinking of putting a new exterior door there that would let in light. I love the french door idea. I priced them at the big box store and the bifold is approx. $300, while the regular french door is approx. $100. Would love to go with the bifold but I think the regular french door is more in my budget. I love that idea because it would add some style. I suppose I could just take the door off but I like the idea of the french door and I can close off the door when the washer and dryer are going. I closed the door in the pictures because you don't want to see whats in there right now - a duct taped dryer thats sticking out halfway into the space because I didn't want to put a flexible dryer vent in there. I have to get someone to put a new hole in the wall to fit the vent close to the wall. I also discovered this winter that the room is not insulated in the walls - I kept the door shut all winter it was so cold in there. Thats another spring project. Good point about the table, I also have a leaf that makes it an oval size. There is no room in the water heater and furnace closet though - Its totally taken up besides a little space up on top that I could use to store a few things - some is better than none and I like that idea. I would love a tankless heater but it would cost me around 3 thousand to do that - if I do at some point I think I would just locate it in the laundry room and then have some good space for storage. I also think the operable shutters would be adorable in there. Thats something else that wouldn't cost much and would make a difference. If I put shutters on the bottom half, would I just hang a valance over the top of the window? What would you do for the window over the sink? I just bought cheap vinyl blinds for the livingroom and kitchen just to have something on the windows for now, but I love blinds because I can filter the light, although thats not needed so much in the kitchen. I also have thought about a cabinet that wraps around that area where the m/w cart is at. That would take care of the work surface problem. I'm going to be thinking about that, thats another project that wouldn't be too costly for now. Thank you so much for the ideas!!! I can't believe people are so helpful here to someone they don't know. You sound like know a lot about renovation. I always heard kitchen renovations were costly but 50,000 is almost what I paid for my house, yikes! Sorry this is so long.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

>I've never owned a home before - always rented, so I don't even know whats available out there.

Then the first thing is to start stopping in at Lowes/HD/Menards (whatever's around where you are) and take a look at what they have available. You won't find everything there, especially these days, but it's a great way to start getting ideas.

You can do a kitchen for way under $50K. Take a look at the Kitchens forum here. Yes, there are people who spend six figures, but some of the nicest revamps are from people who only had $1500 or so to spend on it. If you have to do cabinets, think about Ikea if you're within five hours of a store.

Take your time and think a lot about it. The worst thing is to start doing things piecemeal without any idea of where you want to wind up. If you have a goal in mind, then yes, bit by bit, but until you do you may wind up having wasted money when your vision for the space changes.

I think your house looks adorable.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

writersblock - words of wisdom! Thanks much. Thanks for saying my house looks adorable - I really feel encouraged by the posters. I have an Ikea about 15 minutes from me, I will have to go check it out. Also will definately look on the kitchen forum - I do need to do my research. You are right about the piecemeal thing, I would rather save up to do it right then waste money.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Hey there. Glad you like the idea of a shutter on the bottom half of that window beside your stove. If you were wondering where to gain more storage, you might find that a wire shelf across the top of the window molding, with the metal braces (they sell them for wire shelving at Lowes etc) could be a spot to put some casserole dishes on the shelf itself, and then hang some of your smaller pots/pans from S-hooks as you would clothes on hangers in a closet. I did something similar over the range in a rental house where my friend did not want holes in her old plaster.
I would suggest your smaller pots/pans that look nice up there, to keep from banging your head on the big ones.

I would not bother with a valance. Besides making more work for yourself, less light could enter the room. And, right beside a stovetop, I would keep flammable things at a minimum.

Another trick I used (until we recently put shutters on those windows) was to put the sort of wooden dowel stem ware hangers across the glass portions of our dining room windows. The stemware was in two rows, screwed into the wooden frames of the window sashes. And the stemware was practically invisible because they were just another layer of clear glass and all the lovely light came on through. I'll check for photos of both the wire rack and the stemware thingy.

And, I think you might try to move your table in front of the furnace/waterheater closet. Those louvered doors would give it a pretty backdrop.

Failing that, I have before used such bifold doors as a spot to hang photos or paintings, also on an S-hook inserted between two of the louvers and bent to the right angle. Heck, for that matter, if you have a piece of wire clothes hanger, you can cut a piece off and use it. Even keeping them level is easy if you hang a frame using TWO such wire hooks. That is a lot of space empty and begging to be prettied up.

And of course, if you have space beside your sink for something, or even beside your stove top, put a hook in the ceiling and suspend a light chain (they sell white chains that are just right in the garden dept at Lowes, strong enough for your cooking forks and spatulas etc. Someone said they put their utinsels in a crock on the counter and freed up an entire drawer, so this would also free up that much counter space as well.

And I sort of figured that the current laundry area might have insulation problems. Ours was originally just like yours, we've gradually made it all weather, and now we plan to take it into the kitchen....our next large project.

Have you perhaps thought what you'll do with that area when you move the laundry elsewhere? Mudroom? Pantry? Fridge? (by taking out the wall and the window)....and then using the space where the fridge currently is located for a larger dining space? Sorry, that idea just popped into my head.

Katrina, don't apologize for making your post long, it covers the bases that way. I get to going and don't know where to stop. While it is in my mind I better put it down, or lose it forever.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Ciao, lady.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

mocassinlanding - wow, where do you come up with all these ideas? The dowel idea is ingenious for stemware. I don't have any but I bet it looks good with the light coming through. I barely have any wall space in the kitchen to put anything up, I'll have to mull over some of these ideas to see where it would work. I know IKEA sells some contraptions that you can hook various containers on and put kitchen things in also - I thought about doing that under the shelf above the cooktop but don't know if they would constantly get greasy and need cleaning in that area. One of my goals is to make my house easy to clean.
Love your parrot(?-don't know much about birds). My sister has a rescue parrot that just has nubs for feet but he compensates and gets around by scooting.
I think the only way for me to build is up. I am on a narrow lot with a detached garage in back and a narrow driveway so I can't encrouch on that space - but I am wondering what a bump-out is and if I could do that on the wall where the m/w cart is to expand that a bit - its hard to know where to start - I guess expanding the space would have to be first.
I'm following your teahouse ren., thats going to be awesome!


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

http://www.decoratingyoursmallspace.com/


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A table with storage

Ok, found this in the current Pottery Barn catalog, thought it was neat. Note that beneath the table legs there is an area for storage. They are using a basket etc. I love painted furniture and baskets too. This particular table is located in front of a window seat with book shelving facing the window seat, not the room itself. And, they do not use the window seat for dining seating....although it might be okay to do so in a pinch.
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And then on HOUZZ idea albums, I saw this way of creating an attractive display for really colorful pots. I also notice that there is an enameled colander close to this, on top of the fridge, and the holes in it coordinate with the holes in the pegboard. Repetition makes it all appear like a factor in the DESIGN, not simply a make-do solution.
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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

ML That storage table is some thing I would love to have here. What a great idea.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

moccasinlanding - cute table from PB. Pegboard is a great idea. I am reading books you suggested by Sarah Susanka. I'm really enjoying them - it got me thinking about her idea about putting up a chair rail molding -she suggested 6' to 6'6" from floor and painting the area above the rail the same color as the ceiling. Thats something I want to do and will be inexpensive while I am having the laundry room and crawl space insulated. One of the first things I want to do is a french door to replace the slab door. I think that will look really good and it will give a look of more spaciousness. Thanks for the pics!


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

So glad that you are finding something that sparks some ideas for your own homes. I see lots of things in catalogs which might FIT somewhere. Mostly though, a catalog gives us a series of "vignettes" which look good, might work in our overall space. I like to scan through catalogs....which are FREE....more so than through magazines these days. Off the news stand, the issues have to offer a lot more than a one page article to show how the look was achieved. The price is up there higher than $5/USD, and I can look for free online and in several catalogs. Plus HGTV and DIY and PBS occasionally.

I suppose that Pottery Barn puts out my favorite catalog for IDEAS. I like their "look." Let me start a new thread on that topic.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

If you like the Shayne table from PB, there's a much less expensive knockoff on overstock:

You can buy the table or the table and chairs and they have one version in black that looks just like the black table and chairs in the PB photos:

You can buy just the table, too, in either finish.


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RE: forgot

Oops, forgot to say that one difference between the PB and overstock tables is that the PB table is kind of oblong when the leaves are up, so that it's 49 x 54, but the overstock version is 48" round with both leaves up.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Mamagoose made a great shelf table for her kitchen island. I made similar with a roll out truly piece of junk cart table under my old time baking kitchen table. Works great in my studio for glass. I wish I had two of those enamel top tables. One for our kitchen one for the studio.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

If the kitchen is your only dining area, either the shayne or the overstock will probably be too long. I used to really like this solution when the Bombay company used to carry it: a console table like a sofa table:

which unfolds to a card table sized table:

and then to a 72" dining table when you need it:

if there's room elsewhere in the house.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

WOW that is a neat table Writersblock. Would make the perfect sofa table and dinning table. I wonder why this is not made any longer? OH and a perfect sewing table as needed.


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RE: stakmore

Oh, it is. Just not in the bombay finish/style. Sorry I wasn't more clear about that. The company is stakmore. They also make the really heavy duty folding chairs and stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: stakmore


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Great multi purpose table, Writersblock. I'm a fan of the unfinished furniture products too. I've made friends with the manager at one local store, and sometimes I get to talk to the manufacturers when they are delivering during my visits. Some of the mfgrs are running one-man operations, so it is not a whistling-in-the-wind sort of conversation. I conveyed my message to both folks that I am looking for the Pottery Barn style, mostly cottage, definitely smaller scale products. I want nice architectural elements that I can use in my house, like the scrolls and ball feet, and other feet which can elevate a piece to the height I need. I was pleased to note during my last visit that they are now carrying a wider selection of the feet and scrolls. Also the square/cubic cubbies that can be combined for a tonsu (Japanese step furniture) chest look. IMHO, a sturdy step chest can make a good storage unit as well as a narrow stair up to a lofted/high platform bed. Not for children, but where space is a real issue and the ceilings are high enough, go UP UP UP. I have a photo of that somewhere.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

The fold up furniture would be ideal for a small space. Its funny that I never ran into any of that when I googled for kitchen tables for small spaces. Thanks moccasinlanding and writers block for the pics! I had an insulation company quote me for my house and found out theres no insulation in any of the walls, so since I live in a cold climate, I will need to have it done. I can't imagine that this house was built in 1958 and everyone just lived with the cold drafts. The price was 2,400 for 9 more inches in the attic, and all the walls insulated with blown in cellulose. I am getting another quote, but I think that price is worth it for the comfort level it will give. Sarah Susanka's books have me thinking of molding and how I can use that to add character.


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

And now I'm looking at an ottoman bed. The really best one seems to be the CASTRO CONVERTIBLE. It makes a bed 33 x 75 x 5" thick on the mattress. It is also on locking casters. It is $499 now. Which is more than some others, and less than some of the things shown on APARTMENT THERAPY website. But if you want to browse through furnishings for small spaces, yet high end or close thereto, then I think that is the place to look for reviews.

Writersblock's extendable table/consoles are fantastic as well, but I cannot use one in my little cottage. The ottoman, however, chances are pretty likely it will fit in one of three rooms....the sun porch, the living room, or the front bedroom/new study. Or even out in the Teahouse loft? Not intended to be a sleeping area, but.....


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RE: Making a little house feel comfortable

Hi moc,
I went to the website to look at that. To me the price wouldn't be bad if it were comfortable. I'll have to check out some reviews. I bought a daybed frame off of CL which is really cute, its an iron daybed, but it is still in storage and I need to get a mattress for it, but I would be willing to re-think my choice - the daybed only cost me $50.00 so I could probably resell or give it to one of my kids. The thing is, I have a spare bedroom for the grandkids but they don't usually sleep overnight because most of the time I have to work the next day. But that ottoman would be a good option because I would actually like to use that space for dual purposes - a small office for me, and a toy storage and play room for the kiddies.
Next week I am having my whole house - attic, walls and crawl space insulated. That will really add to the comfort level. My goal is get my space as comfortable as I can - and to take care of all maintenance issues as priority. My next project for spring will to be grading around the foundation and directing any water off the foundation. Fun huh.
This is one of those items I am going to keep in the back of my mind. I also considered just one of those blow up mattress's - a decent one - that inflates and deflates fast. But I have never slept on one so don't know how comfortable they are. Doesn't sound like I want guests to linger too long hah! Thanks for the ideas, I appreciate them!


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