Our Experience: Small Home Q&A

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A couple weeks ago I received an email from a reader wanting some general small home advice. He and his wife are considering building a tiny house, and they had some good questions. I don’t seek to give advice much but I’m happy to share our experience. (That is, after all, what this whole blog thing is about.) So I figured I’d expand on our answers for the rest of you. Without further ado, here’s a Q&A session compliments of reader Aaron.

 

Do you have any do-overs, regrets, or 20/20 hindsights that you can offer?

If I had the chance to go rewind 4.5 years and do it over, I would absolutely choose the Shoebox again. Yes, even with the ups and downs and quirks and with how much our family has grown. We had no way of knowing that we would be settling here for longer than one year and welcoming three darling children into our fold instead of the one we were currently expecting. I have no regrets about downsizing to move here at all.

Then again, if we were going to get a do-over, our crystal clear hindsight would suggest that we handle our possessions a different way. Because we thought the move was a quick detour in our “real life”, we chose to keep things that we thought we could just get by with for one year. Much of our nicer stuff we boxed up and stored. We have paid $50 a month for almost five years for a stupid storage unit full of stuff because we had no idea the ride would last this long. That’s a lot of wasted money. In short, I wish we had thought through the downsize from a more long-term perspective and truly embraced joyfully living with less then.

Oh yeah, and a Murphy bed. I’d absolutely let Caveman build that Murphy bed he wanted.

 

Anything you know now that you wish you knew before you did the tiny house thing?

Gosh, yes. Can I say everything? 🙂 We think the biggest thing we wish we had known then was our need to “spill” outside. We can make the small home work, but with three energetic kids there comes a time every day when we need to just.get.out.of.the.house. Although we use our little entry extensively, having a larger patio or usable yard right outside the door would be really nice. We like the idea of a smaller house on a larger plot of land and using the outdoors as wider living space (think big outside dining table, etc.).

 

Anything to offer on legitimate space issues for children or guests?

(I paraphrased that question.)

We truly believe that the size of a home doesn’t matter as much as the layout and how the area works for your family and lifestyle. That being said, although the Shoebox houses us well, as the kids get older we do feel that some space issues seriously cramp our style.

The living room, main walkway and entry as our bedroom, for one. I’m not sure I need to say more: it’s a privacy issue. Let’s just say that Caveman and I look forward to a separate room of our own. With a door.

Secondly, it is very important to us to eat meals together as a family. We sit down to eat dinner almost every night of the week and most weekend meals. Now that Little Lady is old enough to sit in the high chair, there is simply not enough room for us to all enjoy a place around the table. So for our next home, having a large dining area is on the must-have list.

The same goes for having guests. This morning I had a friend and her kids over and we all ended up sitting on the floor because it was easier than trying to negotiate the squished eating nook. People are generally gracious, but if there aren’t enough seats for everyone it gets a little awkward.

 

Ok, your turn! I know many of you are small living experts, so lets share the wisdom. In YOUR small living experience, how would you answer these questions, or one of them, or whatever. Any advice that you would give to someone considering an extreme downsize to a tiny house? Comment below, friends! 🙂

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8 Comments
  • Jenifer
    September 25, 2014

    It’s really important to contemplate how you use space currently, before downsizing, and then consider what options exist for you in the space that you have.

    For example, in our last place — a two-bedroom — we used one bedroom as a family closet, one was an office/play area (where DH would work day — for our business — and night — for himself, personal projects), and the lounge which was where we lived/slept outside of working/storing. 😀

    So, I thought we would do much the same, and that DS would eventually move into the bedroom. But, having lived here for about two weeks (less, really), we discovered that it would be best for the bedroom to be “ours” — and then an office as well — and then for toys and such to be kept in two places (both the bedroom/office/play area and the larger family closet which has access from the lounge), because sometimes he gets up earlier than we do and wants to play. Keeping his toys accessible to his sleeping (therefore waking) area will make a big difference. 🙂

    So that’s what we’re looking at now.

    • Evelyn
      September 26, 2014

      It’s great that you were able to reevaluate how you actually used the space for this next season. Great thoughts as always, Jenifer!

  • Katie
    September 27, 2014

    Hi Evelyn,
    I live in a small house also ! I would definitely agree/add that it is not so much the amount of space that matters as the layout. Our house is an old carriage house and the rooms are very closed off. An open kitchen/dining/living area would make it seem bigger I think.
    Also, having a bedroom that is not right by the front door living space (privacy issues!)
    Katie

    • Evelyn
      September 27, 2014

      Thanks for commenting, Katie! I think that open makes small living much easier too. 🙂

  • Maureen
    September 27, 2014

    Oh my word! I am so happy to find other bloggers who live in small homes! My husband and two 20-something daughters live in a tiny cottage just slightly over 500 sq feet. I have my days where I swear I cannot stand it another minute, but all in all I wouldn’t trade it! I might add we also have 2 golden retrievers and 2 cats!! Thankfully we have a large yard which extends our living space in the warmer months and we make the most of it. I will be sure to visit often!

    • Evelyn
      September 27, 2014

      Oh, Maureen, it does my heart good to hear you say that some days you can’t stand it another minute. 🙂 Because yes, small living is super packed with joy, but let’s face it–it is still life. 😉 And life has ups and downs no matter where you reside! Anyways, you’ve got quite a crew packed into your small space. YES, enjoy that yard for us! Thanks so much for commenting.

  • anonymouse
    November 16, 2014

    My husband and I lived in a 600sf 1br garden style apt outside DC and *loved* it. Rent was expensive and we preferred a nice location over a larger space for the money. More importantly, I learned that square footage is much less important than design and functionality. Our apt had windows on 3 sides and a tiny kitchen with a little island and lots of cabinets. Also, it’s amazing how little stuff one actually needs. We enjoyed the challenge of finding creative ways to enjoy life without buying a lot of stuff. So fun! We hosted lots of parties and overnight guests. We’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

    • Evelyn
      November 17, 2014

      Your apartment sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing your perspective of living small! 🙂

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