Return to the Smaller Homes Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Posted by fifty_two_farmhouse (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 8, 10 at 2:16

DH and I have lived in 3500-3800 sq. ft. tract homes for the past 8 1/2 years and we've decided to downsize significantly (downsize the home, but supersize the lot). We bought a 2-bd/1-ba 800 sq. ft. 1952 farmhouse on 1 acre and are drawing up a floorplan to add on a master bathroom and walk-in closet, kitchen pantry, laundry room and a dining room (which could also be used a home office or converted to a 3rd bedroom). It will be about 1495 sq. ft. when we're done, which is still small for the area...but we've determined that it's all we need! :)

It will be nice to finally say that we "use" every square foot of the home we live in, so that's one thing I'm looking forward to when we complete the remodel/addition and move in. I think we've always been attracted to the larger kitchens and family rooms that are found in the larger homes, but we really have no need for the 4-5 bedrooms and bathrooms that usually come with it! :)

Anyway, before I ramble you all to boredom...have you significantly downsized to a smaller home? Is there anything you "miss" about your larger home? Any tips for a remodel/addition?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I think there are many of us who have gone from very large to small. Can become emotional, educational and a big job. But once settled we are proud and quite comfortable.

I also think there are a lot of Smaller Home posters that would love to be able to do what you are. The option to utilize space and add details. Build around what we have and love. Storage is our biggest need. Perhaps space for company and many would like a big porch.

All the posts in SH has a lot of information and suggestions for heading your direction. Plus links to smaller home information. Do keep us up on your transition and ask a lot of questions. This group loves to help.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Your new place sounds like a dream! I can't wait to see the progress.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I just happened to check out this forum for the first time (I'm usually in the garden forums), and what post do I see? Well, let's put it this way: I could have asked this myself.

In August this year, I moved from my 1800 sf house in the burbs to a little 1940's beach cottage--800 sf. More land than before, though.

Short version of my progress so far:

-Realized the first week that I simply could not cram any more "necessary" furniture and other stuff in this space. More priority re-thinking.

-Sold off yet more furniture and household things. Rented storage space for everything else that I still can't emotionally part with.

-My plan to divide the largest room into a living/kitchen area became an obvious bust in the first 48 hours after I moved in. Now I have one large kitchen/eating area and no LR. The second bedroom, which I had planned to use for guests, will now become a small sitting room/office.

Storage here is a nightmare--takes a lot of creative thinking to make best use of available space. Lots of small containers and organizers help. Suddenly other items have to do double or triple duty-- the pot rack gets another hook for my hat, and sauce pans hold onions and garlic.

I could go on and on....

Besides the space adjustments, there are definitely emotional and mental issues for me and I'm still grappling with answers: When will I be able to say I made the right decision? When will I finally feel "at home?" I miss my 5-burner dual-free range, a full-size washer and dryer, and a vanity under my bathroom sink. At other times, humorously, I pat myself on the back for overcoming what seemed to be major hurdles initially: living without a dish drainer or a knife block! Outrageous!

You know what? It's fine. The knives fit in a drawer and the dishes get washed, dried, and put away immediately. I can live with four burners and doing three loads of wash a week instead of two. You can hide extra rolls of toilet paper under the bed.

I get more comfortable here every day.

You CAN do this! If I have any words of advice, it would be these: 1) recognize and accept the fact that downsizing will be stressful and there is definitely an adjustment period, 2) you will have to make decisions about what things are important to you materially and emotionally, and 3) keep a sense of humour and get excited about the little "ah-ha" moments (like when you discover you really only need two cutting boards).


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

We did not do such a drastic down size and yet it felt like it at the time. From 1850 to 1200. I fussed and fumed until finally I embraced the less is more train of thought and creative use of furniture and then it became a game to make it work. Since then we have moved again and up to 1375 and that is perfect for us. The 1200 was just fine but this house works better for us because of the way it is laid out.

A lot of the downsizing in mental. You need to change the way you use things. I like the onions in pots on the pot rack. TP under the bed. Ideas. Why not as long as it works for you.

We have bounced from 800 SQ FT to 1850 and back to smaller again. We prefer the smaller size we are in now. your 1500 SQ FT should be just fine for you. Mostly get rid of what you do not love and use. Becoming very organized helps too.

Chris


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

The biggest 'downsize' so far in my life was moving from rural CT to urban FL. I got used to always having room for whatever project I dragged home. I can't even get a vehicle/boat/trailer in my back yard here. I'll be bouncing back once I get settled in SC, though!

I've never lived in a house big enough to be excluded from this sub-forum, and I find it easier to adapt to a smaller/different house than adapting to a smaller yard and garage. But then.......I'm a guy.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Ai-yi. We are in the process of downsizing from 2400 to 1350. I know it will be worth it in the end but it' nerve racking for sure.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Welcome 52 and Professor! Take a look back at some older posts and you will get a lot of ideas and perspectives. I would also recommend some additional resources such as looking for episodes of HGTV's no longer airing Small Space Big Style on YouTube. You can find many episodes there. If you have a decent public library, find the homes and architecture section and look for books on living in smaller spaces. Pay particular attention to the titles focusing on Japanese design. On one of my older posts I listed several small house books from my public library. I have also found some nifty storage ideas in RV magazine, also at my public library. You might also look at some yachting magazines as boaters often have to maximize storage as well. Just a few thoughts.

My divorce shack is 1000sf. That's about a 50% reduction from my marital home but 100sf larger than the 3 bedroom one bath home I grew up in and shared with my parents and three siblings. My 16 year old son and I live quite comfortably in our 1000sf of 1950's amatuer ranch design. Editing is the key. You know you have reached perfection when there is nothing left to remove. I think Frank Lloyd Wright said that.

Again, welcome aboard.

Scott


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

emagineer, thanks for your reply! :)

I think there are many of us who have gone from very large to small. Can become emotional, educational and a big job. But once settled we are proud and quite comfortable.
***For us, downsizing is more of a "relief"...no more HOA, no more large utility bills, no more rooms we don't use. :)

I also think there are a lot of Smaller Home posters that would love to be able to do what you are. The option to utilize space and add details. Build around what we have and love. Storage is our biggest need. Perhaps space for company and many would like a big porch.
***Yes, I feel fortunate that we are able to add on and remodel to our needs and taste, since we got such a good deal purchasing the property. :)

All the posts in SH has a lot of information and suggestions for heading your direction. Plus links to smaller home information. Do keep us up on your transition and ask a lot of questions. This group loves to help.
***I've already spent countless hours "lurking" here on the home forums on this site! I'll definitely be around to ask questions of the GW experts. :)


 o
Thank you, young-gardener!

Your new place sounds like a dream! I can't wait to see the progress.
***We're at the very beginning stages of the remodel/addition. So far, we've drawn up:

1. A remodel-only of 800 sq. ft. (it was just too small since we don't want to give up a large kitchen/family room combo and didn't think we'd like only having one bathroom).

2. A larger remodel-addition of 2300 sq. ft. (this turned out to be more than we need and want to spend.

3. Now I think we're both pretty happy with the 1500 sq. ft. version. We will definitely use ALL of the rooms every day, with the exception of the second bedroom, which is a guest bedroom that we'd use every year when my parents come and stay with us on vacation. :)


 o
Thank you, retiredprof!

I just happened to check out this forum for the first time (I'm usually in the garden forums), and what post do I see? Well, let's put it this way: I could have asked this myself.

In August this year, I moved from my 1800 sf house in the burbs to a little 1940's beach cottage--800 sf. More land than before, though.

***We're going from a little over 1/3 acre regular neighborhood lot in a gated community (didn't realize that our $200+ monthly dues included paying for security patrol who ultimately drive around spotting homeowner violations and turning them over to the HOA to assess fines) to an acre in the country with no HOA...and we can't wait to start a veggie garden, fruit orchard and get a rooster and some chickens! :)

Short version of my progress so far:

-Realized the first week that I simply could not cram any more "necessary" furniture and other stuff in this space. More priority re-thinking.

-Sold off yet more furniture and household things. Rented storage space for everything else that I still can't emotionally part with.

-My plan to divide the largest room into a living/kitchen area became an obvious bust in the first 48 hours after I moved in. Now I have one large kitchen/eating area and no LR. The second bedroom, which I had planned to use for guests, will now become a small sitting room/office.

Storage here is a nightmare--takes a lot of creative thinking to make best use of available space. Lots of small containers and organizers help. Suddenly other items have to do double or triple duty-- the pot rack gets another hook for my hat, and sauce pans hold onions and garlic.

I could go on and on....

Besides the space adjustments, there are definitely emotional and mental issues for me and I'm still grappling with answers: When will I be able to say I made the right decision? When will I finally feel "at home?" I miss my 5-burner dual-free range, a full-size washer and dryer, and a vanity under my bathroom sink. At other times, humorously, I pat myself on the back for overcoming what seemed to be major hurdles initially: living without a dish drainer or a knife block! Outrageous!

You know what? It's fine. The knives fit in a drawer and the dishes get washed, dried, and put away immediately. I can live with four burners and doing three loads of wash a week instead of two. You can hide extra rolls of toilet paper under the bed.

I get more comfortable here every day.

You CAN do this! If I have any words of advice, it would be these: 1) recognize and accept the fact that downsizing will be stressful and there is definitely an adjustment period, 2) you will have to make decisions about what things are important to you materially and emotionally, and 3) keep a sense of humour and get excited about the little "ah-ha" moments (like when you discover you really only need two cutting boards).

***EXCELLENT ADVICE and it's well taken! There is a detached 3-car garage that I'm really hoping will house CARS and not be used for storage of unnecessary stuff (aka "junk")...but that's more my DH's department. :)

I need to take advantage of this "down-time" prior to starting our remodel and start going through stuff...toss, donate, save...and rethink saving. I guess I should start with the most difficult, my closet. ;)


 o
Thank you, shades_of_idaho!

We did not do such a drastic down size and yet it felt like it at the time. From 1850 to 1200. I fussed and fumed until finally I embraced the less is more train of thought and creative use of furniture and then it became a game to make it work. Since then we have moved again and up to 1375 and that is perfect for us. The 1200 was just fine but this house works better for us because of the way it is laid out.

***I'm actually amazed that after really thinking about the rooms/areas we use, we have all that we need in less than 1500 sq. ft. I do agree that the layout has a LOT to do with how a house feels...although no matter how we tried, we couldn't make 800 sq. ft. work for us. We'd either end up selling or doing an addition AFTER moving in! :)

A lot of the downsizing in mental. You need to change the way you use things. I like the onions in pots on the pot rack. TP under the bed. Ideas. Why not as long as it works for you.

Great ideas...thank you! :)

We have bounced from 800 SQ FT to 1850 and back to smaller again. We prefer the smaller size we are in now. your 1500 SQ FT should be just fine for you. Mostly get rid of what you do not love and use. Becoming very organized helps too.

Chris

***Being organized is a definite MUST! I've never had a closet organizer system, but I'm definitely getting one this time. :)


 o
Thank you, flgargoyle!

The biggest 'downsize' so far in my life was moving from rural CT to urban FL. I got used to always having room for whatever project I dragged home. I can't even get a vehicle/boat/trailer in my back yard here. I'll be bouncing back once I get settled in SC, though!

I've never lived in a house big enough to be excluded from this sub-forum, and I find it easier to adapt to a smaller/different house than adapting to a smaller yard and garage. But then.......I'm a guy.

***A big selling point to this house was the fact that it had a detached 3-car garage and that it's on an acre with only two adjacent properties. One is 4 1/2 acres of vacant land and the other is 55 acres with a house we can't even see...but we do see their two beautiful horses! :)


 o
Thank you, dennie!

Ai-yi. We are in the process of downsizing from 2400 to 1350. I know it will be worth it in the end but it' nerve racking for sure.

***So far, we haven't felt our nerves racking...but this is just the beginning! From the time DH and I got married, we went from 1350 to 2450 to 3500 and now 3800...so it will be interesting to see how we actually make the transition to 1500. :)


 o
Thank you, columbiasc!

Welcome 52 and Professor! Take a look back at some older posts and you will get a lot of ideas and perspectives. I would also recommend some additional resources such as looking for episodes of HGTV's no longer airing Small Space Big Style on YouTube. You can find many episodes there. If you have a decent public library, find the homes and architecture section and look for books on living in smaller spaces. Pay particular attention to the titles focusing on Japanese design. On one of my older posts I listed several small house books from my public library. I have also found some nifty storage ideas in RV magazine, also at my public library. You might also look at some yachting magazines as boaters often have to maximize storage as well. Just a few thoughts.

***Japanese design, huh? Okay, I will check it out. We do have an RV and you're right about how space is maximized to every inch! I'll keep that in mind. :)

My divorce shack is 1000sf. That's about a 50% reduction from my marital home but 100sf larger than the 3 bedroom one bath home I grew up in and shared with my parents and three siblings. My 16 year old son and I live quite comfortably in our 1000sf of 1950's amatuer ranch design. Editing is the key. You know you have reached perfection when there is nothing left to remove. I think Frank Lloyd Wright said that.

Again, welcome aboard.

Scott

***I definitely think that getting rid of "stuff" is the hardest, yet the most important challenge to downsizing. Luckily, we really don't have a lot of furniture, so not much to get rid of except for a breakfast table/chairs, one loveseat and a couple of end tables. Garage stuff, electronics and clothes are our problem areas. I have no idea why I still have two broken desktop computers, a broken laptop, old cell phones and even an ancient Sony Mavica digital camera...with (ahem) FLOPPY DISKS! Not to mention the amount of shoes I have somehow managed to accumulate over the years. Yikes! ;)


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Too funny....Mavica with floppy disks. I still have mine. For some reason the cost of these when first coming out cannot let me go of it. And there are still options other cameras have not incorporated....those artistic shots.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Welcome to the club!

I went down from a 2800 sf
4BR, 2 full bath, Family Room, Living Room, Dining Room, Utility Room, big kitchen with center island, 2 level screened porch + lower deck

...to...

1000 sf plus 600sf in the basement. The basement is concrete & block and storage/laundry only. We don't "live" down there.
2BR, 1 bath, dining/living is 1 room L-shaped, kitchen is small but completely useful and I cook a lot. I have a "3rd BR", but it's too small to be a BR, and it's become our Library room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a loveseat.

I have a double lot and screened back porch. Love my bigger outside.

I couldn't be happier with my small house.

I got a divorce, and everyone assumed I was gonna keep the house. Yes, I could afford it alone...but I wanted something so much smaller. I knew within a year...even when the marriage was fine...I didn't feel comfortable in the big spaces, so when the marriage ended, it was a relief for me to get back into a reasonable living SF.

I LOVE that I can clean my house to a spic and span level in just a couple hours. Utilities are cheap! Daughter and I live in and use all the rooms & spaces and I don't have to close off unused rooms.

I LOVE that I can do home projects and afford better/higher quality materials because I'm not installing extensive SF of building materials.

I LOVE that DD (she's 5 yrs old) and I are always within speaking distance of each other and our lives and times aren't separated by expanses of SF. We live together. We share. We don't/can't hide from each other. It makes us a closer, tighter family unit IMO. She can close her BR door when she gets older, and we have a little library room she can go to...so yes...we do have our private places if we want them, but at the same time, we are still close.

The only thing I miss about the bigger house is dealing with DD's toys. With the bigger house, I could always drag the stuff to corners to get it out of the way for the moment, and the toy debris blended into the SF. In a small house, it doesn't take much before the toy chaos has to be completely dealt with. I've become pretty militant about toy cleanup, but I think ultimately it's good and makes for good habits for DD as she grows up.

I LOVE that I only have so much space and my choices in decor, furniture, and "home stuff" is controlled. I don't spend the $$ on the experimental decor anymore. I know what I love. I think about things ahead of time. I'm purposefully decorating, and not just using furniture and decor to fill up spaces and corners.

I don't care how much $$ I have and how more much I can afford...I'd never go bigger again.

Actually, when i was looking at houses to buy, I was looking at 1200-1800sf homes. I saw this house based on a mis-communication with my Realtor. I fell in love and felt at home immediately. This house was $13K less what I planned to spend. BONUS!!!!
Gayle


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I'm just lovin' everybody's posts and am truly glad I stumbled upon this forum. Just reading threads, old and new, over the last few days has made me feel infinitely better. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my adjustment struggle.

Today, based on someone's funny comment to the effect that "it's only paint and you can fix it", I finally decided on a paint scheme for the kitchen/DR combo. Whoever you are, thanks for giving me a break from my OCD! I mean, really, how many weeks does it take to make a color decision?


 o
Too funny, emagineer!

Too funny....Mavica with floppy disks. I still have mine. For some reason the cost of these when first coming out cannot let me go of it. And there are still options other cameras have not incorporated....those artistic shots.

***Well now, emagineer...fancy meeting another Mavica/floppy owner here on GW...what a coincidence! I can't believe I came across someone else who has hung on to their piece of digital camera history like I did. Wonder how much it would fetch on eBay! :)


 o
Thank you, gayle0000!

Welcome to the club!

I went down from a 2800 sf
4BR, 2 full bath, Family Room, Living Room, Dining Room, Utility Room, big kitchen with center island, 2 level screened porch + lower deck

...to...

1000 sf plus 600sf in the basement. The basement is concrete & block and storage/laundry only. We don't "live" down there.
2BR, 1 bath, dining/living is 1 room L-shaped, kitchen is small but completely useful and I cook a lot. I have a "3rd BR", but it's too small to be a BR, and it's become our Library room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a loveseat.

I have a double lot and screened back porch. Love my bigger outside.

***Sounds wonderful! A bigger outside is what I'm really excited about getting with our "new" old home! :)

I couldn't be happier with my small house.

I got a divorce, and everyone assumed I was gonna keep the house. Yes, I could afford it alone...but I wanted something so much smaller. I knew within a year...even when the marriage was fine...I didn't feel comfortable in the big spaces, so when the marriage ended, it was a relief for me to get back into a reasonable living SF.

I LOVE that I can clean my house to a spic and span level in just a couple hours. Utilities are cheap! Daughter and I live in and use all the rooms & spaces and I don't have to close off unused rooms.

I LOVE that I can do home projects and afford better/higher quality materials because I'm not installing extensive SF of building materials.

***YES, YES, YES!!! Quality over quantity. Just calculating the cost variation in flooring with a $1 per sq. ft. difference in price makes it seem so insignificant that it urges me to just pick what I really like...not the "cheaper" one that I would feel better about picking, just to save money. :)

I LOVE that DD (she's 5 yrs old) and I are always within speaking distance of each other and our lives and times aren't separated by expanses of SF. We live together. We share. We don't/can't hide from each other. It makes us a closer, tighter family unit IMO. She can close her BR door when she gets older, and we have a little library room she can go to...so yes...we do have our private places if we want them, but at the same time, we are still close.

***I know exactly what you mean! We lived temporarily in an RV on acreage (mind you, it was on the "larger" side, a 40' coach with 4 slide-outs) and it brought DH and I a lot closer to each other, figuratively and literally.

The only thing I miss about the bigger house is dealing with DD's toys. With the bigger house, I could always drag the stuff to corners to get it out of the way for the moment, and the toy debris blended into the SF. In a small house, it doesn't take much before the toy chaos has to be completely dealt with. I've become pretty militant about toy cleanup, but I think ultimately it's good and makes for good habits for DD as she grows up.

I LOVE that I only have so much space and my choices in decor, furniture, and "home stuff" is controlled. I don't spend the $$ on the experimental decor anymore. I know what I love. I think about things ahead of time. I'm purposefully decorating, and not just using furniture and decor to fill up spaces and corners.

I don't care how much $$ I have and how more much I can afford...I'd never go bigger again.

Actually, when i was looking at houses to buy, I was looking at 1200-1800sf homes. I saw this house based on a mis-communication with my Realtor. I fell in love and felt at home immediately. This house was $13K less what I planned to spend. BONUS!!!!
Gayle

***A familiar story, indeed! We just happened to stumble upon this house and next thing you know, it was ours. I'm a firm believer in that things that are meant to be find a way to happen and I think that's exactly what happened to the both of us! :)


 o
Hi, retiredprof!

I'm just lovin' everybody's posts and am truly glad I stumbled upon this forum. Just reading threads, old and new, over the last few days has made me feel infinitely better. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my adjustment struggle.

***Me, too! :)

Today, based on someone's funny comment to the effect that "it's only paint and you can fix it", I finally decided on a paint scheme for the kitchen/DR combo. Whoever you are, thanks for giving me a break from my OCD! I mean, really, how many weeks does it take to make a color decision?

***That's so true! Color is one of those "easy" things to fix when it comes to interior paint. I'm glad that comment sparked you to decide! :)


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Fiftytwo,

Love having you answer the posts. There are so many times posters will ask a question, then never be seen again. And, you have brought out a lot of new people. What great fun to see us grow.

Not to push age limits, but as one of the older posters it is great hearing so many younger people thinking small. Small makes living much easier at an older age and definitely pushes getting rid of things. I never really thought about being in a smaller home, but am glad I found such. It was a bit accidental too when falling in love with another home I still think about. The kitchen was so small my daughter asked me how the heck two of us could cook in it. Didn't care, there is a a bit of romance attached to our homes....somewhere in a little corner or odd design.

For whatever reason younger are starting to buy the little homes, it gives a lot of hope to so many areas which have been forgotten. We have a lot of neighborhoods filled with smaller homes that became rentals. They are beautiful homes and deserve to be restored. Perhaps the lean towards smaller will bring them back.

Regarding garages....the last "too big house" had 5. My husband fell in love, he restored cars. I called it the garage with a house and realized our looking at homes had nothing to do with kitchen, livingroom, bedrooms, etc.

My one car garage is sufficient too. Still calls for organization a couple times a year.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Glad to see 52 and Professor move into the SH neighborhood. We have a lot of stuff going on around this forum for sure.
Hope you all stay for a long time.

Well, it was Hurricane Katrina that forcibly downsized us from our river house of 2500 square feet, in less than one night. Besides furniture, all the contents were just about totalled as well. But it was not a total disaster, because the house we'd purchased just two months before and barely moved into, was paid off and now we own the PROPERTY free and clear. My policy now is to ALWAYS BUY FLOOD INSURANCE REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU LIVE. Even little creeks can flood you out.

We ended up buying the little stucco cottage rented from a good friend after the hurricane. It started out being about 800 sq feet, with two unenclosed porches not counted as living space. Now those two comprise our sun porch and a part of the kitchen, and we've also made a bumpout to one bedroom which allows us to have a walkin closet and a second bath. EVERY home needs at least two crappers in it.

The next plan to rebuild the roofless big garage is being planned as we speak, so we can have storage space for moving the contents of DH's home up in Massachusetts when we sell it. Hopefully by next summer it will be sold, and hopefully this spring the garage will be ready for use. After we rid ourselves of extraneous items, that garage will be the spot we use to get some space away from a small house.

One thing I am planning, since the second bedroom will become our study, is to make the living room of the house function as our guest room....we seldom have overnight guests, and this can be a really nice guest room when I return French doors to the wide opening between LR and dining room. I further plan to make the fireplace wall open storage so any electronic equipment can be contained all the way to the ceiling, and small furnishings eliminated. The Bose small speakers are fantastic for us SH folks, and that is the route I intend to go. You do not need to achieve things all at one time, but if you have a plan, and can avoid shooting yourself in the foot by not buying ill-advisedly, each step can get you closer to your goal. Just like IBM always said, PLAN AHEAD. Some of the plans I drew up 5 years ago are coming into being now, and I am the first to be surprised that it is working out. I have a DH who thinks I have reasonable objectives, plus good judgement, and that makes me happy.

My one concern is, will I be happy having only ONE house to play with, not two, and to have all the projects DONE? I might have to fine tune a few things, who can tell.......:)


 o
Hi, emagineer!

Fiftytwo,

Love having you answer the posts. There are so many times posters will ask a question, then never be seen again. And, you have brought out a lot of new people. What great fun to see us grow.

***For me, answering posts is simply a courtesy! It's like taking the mic in front of a large audience, asking a question and then taking off when people take the time to answer you. Of course, there may be a time when I "forget" to come back to a thread I started, but since this is my first one, I am keeping good track of it! :)

Not to push age limits, but as one of the older posters it is great hearing so many younger people thinking small. Small makes living much easier at an older age and definitely pushes getting rid of things. I never really thought about being in a smaller home, but am glad I found such. It was a bit accidental too when falling in love with another home I still think about. The kitchen was so small my daughter asked me how the heck two of us could cook in it. Didn't care, there is a a bit of romance attached to our homes....somewhere in a little corner or odd design.

***I'm 39 and DH is 44, so I don't know whether we're considered "young" or "old"...I guess it depends on the age of the person asked! ;)

For whatever reason younger are starting to buy the little homes, it gives a lot of hope to so many areas which have been forgotten. We have a lot of neighborhoods filled with smaller homes that became rentals. They are beautiful homes and deserve to be restored. Perhaps the lean towards smaller will bring them back.

***At first, what got us thinking small is that we no longer want to live beyond our means, and the more we thought about how living with less would affect our lives in a positive way, the more we grew fond of the idea of buying only what we can afford to buy. Not having a mortgage for the first time in our lives will certainly make our lives a lot more stress-free. :)

Regarding garages....the last "too big house" had 5. My husband fell in love, he restored cars. I called it the garage with a house and realized our looking at homes had nothing to do with kitchen, livingroom, bedrooms, etc.

My one car garage is sufficient too. Still calls for organization a couple times a year.

***Our current and last "too big" homes both had 3-car garages, so DH is happy that our next home also has a 3-car garage. :)


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

10 years ago we moved from a 2200 sf home with 1 1/2 acres and a 100foot long barn crammed with stuff from three generations of family to an 800sf home on 1/2acre. The hardest part was deciding which books we could give up (we had a library larger than a lot of public libraries, lol)
I'm still not adjusted to having only one bathroom. I think after 25 years of marriage, our bodies are sync'd.
But the plus side of a smaller house is it doesn't cost as much to make changes, and it's faster to clean. It's cheaper to keep warm in winter and cool in summer.
It feels cozier to sit in our tiny living room and knit or sip hot chocolate while watching the snow fall outside than it did sitting in a big family room.

I'm planning to put in a deck off our newly dedicated dining room (used to be the second bedroom, but we are now empty nesters)which will increase our living options in the summer at least. I'm looking forward to breakfasting out there with the deer (we have a small herd of about 25 deer that hang out in our neighborhood)


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I wanted to add my welcome to all the newcomers. We downsized about 21 years ago. We never really meant to, we had plans to build an even bigger house. But it didn't work out and we bought this 1400 sq ft house intending to add on. We have enclosed the garage and still plan on building a dining room, but this house will still be much smaller than we originally wanted. Over time, we have become content with this house, but it really wasn't until we finally started getting rid of the stuff that made this house crowded. Of course, now the kids are gone too and that helped.

What I miss most is storage. I had a lot of closets and built in cabinets in the other house.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Dennie, Brightsea, Gayle, AND 52.......AND RetiredProf......
You are all contributing to the homey feel of this forum, with its friendly helpful attitude, and for that I am sincerely grateful. This is my favorite forum about homes, not just on GWeb, but anywhere online. Because of the people here.

Keeping the ball rolling with new posts, new issues to tackle, that's what I like to see. Thank you for the new excitement injected into the topics.

Marti, I know what you mean about storage being an issue with our smaller spaces. But I learned when I lived on a houseboat for 10 years how to really get the most of space. I also learned how to get rid of things. When you overload a HOUSE, it doesn't sit lower on its lot. But I had to break myself of buying BOOKS, because I noticed one day that my boat was sitting six inches below its boot stripe. (That's the painted stripe at the waterline but hmmmm, in this case it was BELOW waterline.) So I had a built in indicator that I was going to sink my boat sooner or later.

Now I have the little stucco cottage with only two closets. I am still painting and installing shelving in the new walkin closet, which will help a great deal with clothing.
However, it will be the garage/teahouse reno that will truly add some style to my storage and add enough room to USE the things I like to keep around me. That 20 x 24 building might actually be used for car parking a couple of times in the future, but it is "garage" in name only. It is my greenhouse, my future part time aviary, my studio for painting picttures and furniture, my loud music haven, and up in the loft by way of a spiral stair, will be the storage for DH's furnishings when we sell that house.
And I might even put the koi pond-in-a-watering-tank in there so tree leaves won't mess it up. I am more excited about this unique addition to our lives than I've been about turning the back bedroom into a real master suite.
It is still a small house we'll have, but it is beginning to "live large."


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

It's been a while since I've had a chance to check in here. We are under construction and I certainly have my hands full!!!! We're almost completely dried in now with the exception of my windows. Roof is on, porch is on, and the house is sheathed. I've missed all of you and see there are some new faces.

We have downsized somewhat ourselves and I agree that it is a process that evolves. When we were raising our five children we had a fairly large home, about 2,800 square feet, and had 20 acres of land in the country. We then moved to Florida and built a house that was about 2,100 square feet in a subdivision. We were swept away by the fantasy of it all....groomed yards and picture perfect looking homes. All I can say is that after having the soul sucked out of us for 13 years, and dealing with neighbors and HOA, as well as what was becoming a very expensive way of life, we sold our house a little over a year ago and bought 10 acres out in the country again.

Well, adjustments big time....we bought an 800 square foot single wide to live in while we build. Most of my belongings are in boxes in our barn. Since I cook from scratch, can, and freeze, as well as like to sew, 800 square feet does not make me happy. BUT, I am thankful we are on our land with no mortgage payments!

We now are in the process of building what we expect to be our last, forever home. It is 1800 square feet and I feel it will be a perfect size for us. Rather than put in extra bedrooms that would seldom be used, we will be putting in a nice sized master bedroom and bathroom. Still deciding if I will add a small shower to the second spare bathroom. Depends on if there is enough space. (I feel if at all possible it is good to have two potties in a house).

A nice sized kitchen with "real" pantry storage is also planned. That part is still evolving. I'm not sure if my table will be in the kitchen itself or off in it's own little section. Giving it it's own area wastes space that could be a nice closet for sewing stuff. I plan on sharing the "great room" area with a sewing nook, at least initially. If that does not work out we will build a little sewing studio. I would love to figure out if I can combine a portion of the master bath with a laundry area rather than another room for it.

Our goal is to make this a nice space to live in with larger rooms in which the "public" areas can serve more than one purpose. We decided we wanted fewer rooms and have them larger, than many small rooms that will not be used. We can purchase a couch that pulls out to a confortable bed for someone visiting.

Our new home is going to feel like a mansion after living in the mobile home. Even so, I am fully expecting when it comes time to move in, that I will be giving away a good share of what has been boxed up to our children, or whomever. I don't miss most of it any more. My fabric and my Christmas stuff will stay, as well as a few other treasures and gifts that mean a great deal.

I guess my point is that as I look around in the barn, I have no urge to dig out all that stuff and move it in the new house any more. I just do not want it. I feel free without it, like a burden has been lifted. And we absolutely love the tranquility of our land.

It has taken 15 months to reach this point, so it is not a fast process, and it can be emotional, as someone else has said. I am sure there will be more emotions to deal with as I part with some of the stuff that is still packed up.

It is well worth it. We've hit the ground running and have never looked back.

Sandy


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Hmmm....I was figuring square footage on our house. It comes out to 1620 square feet on the inside after accounting for the structure and insulated walls. No wonder why a couple of rooms seemed shy on space in reality (like my laundry room). Graph paper is certainly a tool, but the actual house space inside is slightly different. Something to think about when looking at floor plans. I'm looking at it as less to clean!

Sandy


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Great thread. I have a bit of an unusual situation. My parents are building a new house, and then my husband and I will move into their old house, the house I grew up in.

Our current house: 1680sf
Their current house: 3200sf
New house: est. 2600sf

Here is my conundrum. Although we will be moving into almost double the space, I feel like I will be downsizing. That is because the house has been added onto a few times, but what was good space for a family, will be mostly useless space for DH and I. It is going to be more like I am moving into a smaller home with various storage lockers attached. Great for storage, but not great for living. We have a large combo living/dining area and a large kitchen with an island. In the house we move into, there are two living areas, but both are small. The kitchen is small and outdated. But I will have 5 bedrooms, an office, multiple walk-in closets that aren't even in bedrooms, and a 20x40 game room. It was great growing up, but...not that functional for just DH and I. So I feel like I will be using ideas from this forum a lot to make the most out of the smaller living area that we do use.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Lots of great ideas here and encouragement for those of us about to jump into such an endeavor, whether willingly or not. :O) I was just spending time checking out places other than the garden forums and feel so good about finding this place. (Hi there Retiredprof!)

In my case the change is not a willing one, but I am starting to feel excited about finding my own 'little' place in the near future. Our present house is 2900 SF and I've been looking at places between 700SF and 950SF. You are making me look forward to all the little challenges that will be facing me!

I'll be lurking a lot in the future for your welcome ideas!


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Tiffy, this stucco cottage we are living in now started about 850 sq ft. We've nudged the boundaries a little, and it is now about 1000 sq ft. Ultimately, with the final renovation where we take in the ultimate 6 x 17 to the master suite, it will max out at 1100 sq ft. And we will feel really spacious at that point!

It can be very exciting to plan how your space can function for you. I would recommend looking at the books SMALL SPACES, which was once a TV series. It might give you some ideas. Multipurpose is a word you'll become very familiar with.

Lurk all you want, and chime in at any time. And welcome to the family!


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Yes...I went from 3,500 to 1650 and I am now living alone with my cats and dogs in not quite 800sf.
Talk about downsizing :-)

Anicee


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Here's a story for ya:

ExH and I were living in a 2,500 sf house in CA, I was pg - we were living the normal life. I lost the baby and we were devastated. Being as it was my 5th pregnancy and 5th miscarriage, we decided that I should probably just get my tubes tied. The doc agreed.

Then, we decided that we'd just say "to he11" with normal living since we'd never have a family, sold or gave away everything we owned (including the nice house with a pool), bought a 5th wheel and a big truck. Our thought process was to golf our way across America and back.

Just before leaving town for our big adventure, I went back to the doc one last time to be sure I'd healed from the miscarriage and was ready for the tubiligation.

Yep, you guessed it....pg again. Living in a 40 foot travel trailer! "Oh well", we thought, "I'll no doubt lose this one too", so off we went with our two dogs.

9 months later we were still in our 5th wheel with a bouncing baby boy. What now?

We maintained that life style nicely for about 1 1/2 years and it was a lot of fun. We finally figured it was time to give the child a normal lifestyle and a normal home.

We put the down payment on a 5,000 sf custom home on 5 acres in the mountains. Total culture shock but it was beautiful.....filled with gorgeous furniture.

About a year later, ExH decided he didn't want to be married anymore, let alone be a Dad. I got up one morning and he was just gone. Just gone. He moved across the United States. What now? I'm unemployed, stuck in a 5,000 sf house, tons of furniture with a toddler. Time to down size again, sell or give away all of your posessions.

We found a dirty little 950 sf rental with new carpet at a decent price. It had been vacant for about 5 months. I remember sitting on a box packed with my pots and pans, watching my toddler poke at a dead fly in the dirty fridge. I don't think, other than my son's birth, I've ever been more happy or felt more at peace. We were "home".

Once cleaned up, I learned to love that little house and made it mine and beautiful - more beautiful than the custom house on a hill in the pines. I bought the place after about 4 years, once back on my feet with a good paying job.

I did sorta notice that as my son grew bigger, so did his toys and his friends so my NEW husband and I added on a 500 sf family room. Perfect now and still beautiful.

I've come full circle again. Due to DH's job transfer, I was forced to leave that perfect house, move to another state, and am now, once again, in a 3,000 sf wayyyyyy too big house. It was nice when my son was in his teens with this being "home central" for a ton of friends. Son has since moved on and started his own family.

If the housing market wasn't so tanked, this house would be on the market and I'd be looking for another little cottage house to fix up. I'd have to sell and give away a lot of "stuff" to fit in it but I'd be fine with that. I hate to vacuum and dust anyway.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I'm about to go from approx 4500 sf to 1500 sf and it is VERY stressful! :-( Every time I look at the smaller house I swear it has shrunk since the last time. :-/

I've already given my newly married son about 40% of my furniture and will probably have to put another 25% of it (or more) on Craigslist or donate to charity.

The worst thing for me is that I'm going from a house that I completely gutted and renovated ten years ago, so it looks like something built in the 1990s rather than the early 1960s, to a house built in 1962 that essentially hasn't been updated at all -- and now living on a fixed income there is very little $$ to "make anything better".

On the upside, the property taxes on the smaller house will be only about 50% of the larger one's.

I have been having severe buyers remorse for the past 48 hours, ever since the walk-through. This is the 4th house that I've bought during my adult life and never had buyers remorse on any of the other ones. :-( I sure hope this feeling of "what if I end up really hating living there" goes away eventually. Unfortunately there is 0 money left to move again, because the 4500 sf one one got caught in the burst housing bubble of the early millenium and it's basically a "swap". Ugh.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

what a bummer. We have a poster on here that went thru something similar. She sold her big house and built a smaller one - just recently finished and she moved in. Maybe she'll see this and post some help for you. Not sure she will continue checking in here tho.

I went from a larger house (with tons of stuff) to a very small place. Lots of stuff in storage. Then recently I got a bigger place again. I don't think everything will fit in here but I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff anyway. I can't keep up with it all anymore - and don't want to.

how about posting some pics of the new place on here and maybe we can give you some help/ideas in fixing up the new place for little to nothing. We love bargains, repurposing things and CL deals. A number of us have done that before or are doing it on our places now.
I am and I also have a limited income. Very limited.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I hear you. I get Social Security (had to start taking it early, didn't want to but I had no choice) and that's it. Never worked for a company that offered a 401K or pension, and the majority of my working years were before IRAs were invented. I do have one but it's pitifully small and so I'm waiting until I am required to take distributions before dipping into it.

It's frustrating too because in recent years I've developed some health issues that get in the way of me doing projects/repairs/etc that in the past I'd have tackled myself with no problem. So it's become a choice between paying someone or not having it done at all. My son does offer to help but he works 12 hour days and his wife is not a happy camper if the remainder of his time isn't spent on things connected with their life/house/etc rather than elsewhere. No other relatives, and my local friends are in the same boat I am, LOL.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

We are in the process of downsizing from a 2500sf split ranch to our weekend 960sf log cabin. It's taken exactly one year to finally get used to having a lot less - space, personal things, furniture, (2 of everything) etc. Before we made permanent the move to our smaller place, my DH was excited about us downsizing, while I had lots of reservations, (even though I knew that 2600 sf was way too big, and we only used maybe 1/3 of the space).
The hardest thing has been figuring out what to do with all the extras. A storage place as interim has helped, but I know it's not going to be long term.
I've started reading SH on here just for ideas on how to "fit better".


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

"So it's become a choice between paying someone or not having it done at all."

I'm limited physically too (and often mentally - lol!).

you might have to find someone and pay them to do some things for you. Ask around with your friends for a young guy (HS or college maybe? at a church?) who needs to make some money. Make a list of priority things that need done and try to squeeze out 30-50.00 for a few hours of work.

I hired a few guys to do a some things and got ripped off. That put me off for some time in getting more done. I finally connected with a young man (29) who has done work for my sister over the past 15 yrs. She knows his parents (I've been to their house). Even as a teenager he was huge and strong - and she wanted him to do mostly outside work. A lot of rock moving - her land is very rocky. He still does that for her some Sundays. He comes here on Saturdays for 3-5 hrs. He's done a ton of work around here - putting up shelves (taking some down), fixing cabinets, doors, locks, putting down some flooring, moving things around, caulking windows and doors. He also does 'low and high' things for me like caulking around bottom shelves of cabs, cleaning off high shelves and putting things up there. It keeps me from falling off of a step stool or being stuck on the floor until someone eventually finds me there...
He's put up curtain rods, replaced my water pump, laid out and connected hoses for future plantings (that he'll do), cleaned up weeds and 'construction' type litter around here. He's even worked on my car. I'm finding it not as easy recently to lift the hood of my car to check water, put in pwr steering fluid etc. He's done some plumbing and some electrical work too. He's quick to tell me if it's something he can't do rather than say he can and mess it up.

He's great on figuring things out (more creative and logical than my old brain these days) and problem solving around here. He's been working most Saturdays since last fall and there's enough work here for him for another year I'm sure. He isn't a speed demon but he is dependable, methodical, careful etc - which is much better.

He works a full time job during the week but is saving up to buy some land up north of here by the end of the year. He's happy to have the odd jobs - close to his home, a friendly boss (me) who gives him things (ice cream maker, dishes, scrap metal, old appliances, a vacuum (too heavy for me to even move but they are young and strong and have a 2 story house)). He isn't obligated to be here every single Sat or at a certain time. I always tell him that his family comes first so when a family doings is on Sat he shouldn't be here, he should be with them. Financially I need to limit it to maybe 2 Saturdays a month now. In the summer my electric bill skyrockets and that will take priority for several months. I also need to save up for more flooring.

Maybe you can find someone like this that you can trust who would like a few flexible hours to work around another job, school activities or studies.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

I am living proof that 6 people can live with one bathroom and make it work in our little 1500 sq house...granted, I got up at 5:30 to get use of the bathroom to get ready for work, lol! Our youngest son was granted custody of his three children in a divorce (two are autistic), and our other bathroom was in remodel mode. We offered them a place to live, figuring it would be for just a few months; it lasted 5 years until he remarried to a wonderful gal, and what an experience (that I wouldn't trade for anything, now that it's over)!

It all worked out, the oldest autistic granddaughter tested out at 93% percentile in the US on her SAT, and the youngest (grandson) is a little mathematic whiz. Just don't plan on having much of a conversation, lol!


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

You bet I did! I went from 4090 sf, 5 bedroom, 4 bathrooms, 3 car garage, with to all the bells and whistles...my DH passed away and I am disabled..sold the house, moved 120 miles away, built a 1628 sf 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 car garage....all on one level and no steps...and love it.
I do not know your ages, but if you are 50+, I would advise you to keep it as much handicapped accessible as possible...you never know when this might be necessary, even at a younger age.

When I think it, I could probably get along very well without 2 bedrooms, but did it more for resale purposes than need. Actually it is pretty expensive real estate when I think that they have only been used a couple of times...could have stayed in a very good motel for that amount.

Good luck and if I can help you, let me know...my house is on this forum under Phoggie's house.


 o
RE: Anyone here who has significantly downsized?

Definitely 50+ here. I'm addressing future needs by not having any recessed lighting in the ceilings (ladders are not my friend, LOL), having all other lights with bulbs easy to change (no flush or semi-flush fixtures that need to be disassembled in order to change a bulb), making sure all doorways are wide enough to maneuver a future powerchair or wheelchair through, and making sure the stairs to the basement are ready to receive a stairlift when the time comes (needs electrical connection in the proper place). Also no changes of level between rooms and no more than 2 (wide shallow) steps to get from house level to outside ground level.

I look at everything in the house through the eyes of the "90 Year Old Me" in order to determine how easy or difficult it will be to use whatever it is.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Smaller Homes Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here