Living Downstairs {Guest Post from Jesse May Danson}

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Hi friends! Today I’m happy to welcome Jesse May Danson, (fellow basement apartment dweller) to Smallish. Jesse May blogs about her family’s experiences at Danson For Joy. If you have time, stop over and say hi to her there!

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We’ve been living downstairs for four years now. 

What I mean is that we have been renting a daylight basement apartment since the beginning of 2011, most of our married life.

As newlyweds of five months, when our friends offered to let us rent their three-bedroom basement for the same cost as our one-bedroom nest, it made sense to move. And through all the ups (including job changes and welcoming three babies into our lives) and downs (including live-in relatives, septic issues, and rats…yes, you read that correctly) over the last four years, it has never made sense to move FROM the basement.

Oh, we have gone through periods of looking at properties as I’ve longed to be in an actual house with windows on all sides. This California girl moved to Washington state five years ago and has been going through sunshine withdrawals ever since!

While our 900-plus square feet by no means entitles us to the “Shoebox” club, it has been a challenge learning how to live in this space. With no garage of our own, our third bedroom has evolved from an office to a full-fledged storage room filled with baby gear, tubs of various-sized children’s clothes, and tools… and this is AFTER ruthless de-cluttering.

Our two bedrooms, one bathroom, and narrow great-room concept living area has challenged me to move our hand-me-down furniture into all kinds of configurations as I’ve tried to make our home work well for us.

Our family is bigger than ever—we have three children—but I’m so excited to see how our home has changed for the better in the last months, and how my mindset has changed. I barely know where to start in sharing this experience!

Danson family

After lots of experimental tweaking, our home seems to flow so much better than it used to. I’ve been constantly educating myself on home-making and decorating since I’ve been married, and while I have a lot to learn, our space looks dramatically different than it did when we began.

Through the challenges, God has used this home to teach me so many deep lessons – humility, gratitude, contentment, hospitality, patience. The Lord has  brought me to a wonderful place of truly loving our little home.

I’ve realized just how much He has blessed us by having us be in this place…

I’ve realized just how much He has blessed us by having us be in this place, and can see His hand of provision in ways that connect directly to where He has had us live – and stay – downstairs.

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Jesse May Danson enjoys living in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest with her hardworking husband, Jonathan, and their three blue-eyed girls. Her family serve together in their local church and pursue their widely varied creative interests, with recurrent snuggle breaks and espresso runs in between. Jesse blogs occasionally at http://danson4joy.blogspot.com/ and pins frequently at https://www.pinterest.com/jandjdanson/.

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12 Comments
  • Diane
    July 9, 2015

    Wow… I needed to read this today. I have been so discontent lately with our 1,400 squft rental home on a huge one acre lot! We have 4 kids and they’re all sleeping in the same bedroom because we decided last year that we did desperately need a school room too (we homeschool) because all of the books and curriculum were taking over the rest of the entire house and I just couldn’t manage that.
    What an eye-opener this post was. THANK YOU!!

    • Evelyn
      July 9, 2015

      I’m so glad it spoke to your heart Diane! … by the way, super cute blog!

    • Jesse May
      July 9, 2015

      Thank you for commenting, Diane! It’s so good to know that our story was a blessing to someone. To read that you “needed” this today really meant a lot to me, and made my heart grateful. We haven’t reached the homeschooling stage yet, so I can only imagine the challenge it must be to keep all the school stuff organized! May the Lord bless you as you endeavor to make your home work well for your family’s needs. 🙂

  • Cheryl Smith
    July 9, 2015

    It was such a wonderful joy to read this and to see how content this dear family is in a small space. This is a true picture of gratitude! Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    • Evelyn
      July 9, 2015

      Glad you enjoyed it Cheryl!

    • Jesse May
      July 9, 2015

      Hi, Cheryl! Thanks for your sweet comment, and for the note you left me over on my blog. That was such a nice surprise! 🙂

  • Kariane
    July 9, 2015

    I love this! We also live in a small home (though not quite that small, it’s a small circa-1950 house). I love hearing how other people make small spaces work for their families. With two adults working from home and two homeschooling kids, we also sometimes think about moving, but we keep coming back to this space being a wonderful place for us as long as we keep our lives simple. Thank you for sharing!

    • Evelyn
      July 9, 2015

      Thanks for your thoughts, Kariane! …”we keep coming back to this space being a wonderful place for us as long as we keep our lives simple.” LOVE THAT!

    • Jesse May
      July 9, 2015

      Kariane, your comment made me grin because we’ve recently fallen head-over-heels for a little 1950’s rambler! We’ll see if the Lord allows it to become ours, but I love hearing that yours accommodates both working and schooling from home (two of our future goals). I also liked the part that Evelyn quoted, about keeping it simple. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Becki
    July 9, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I have been living in a daylight basement apartment for almost 17 years. . While we have a little more space (1400 square feet), we still only have 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. We have had 4 children born into this home and a 5th is due in January. We home school, have a small home-based business and have thrived in this home. While there are definitely days I would like more windows….or a second bathroom, I am so very thankful for what God has provided for us. And nothing beats having grandma upstairs. And we are also in the Pacific Northwest. Lakewood, actually.

    • Evelyn
      July 9, 2015

      Thanks for commenting, Becki! (Congrats on #5!!! baby!) 🙂

    • Jesse May
      July 10, 2015

      Becki, how fun to find someone with such a similar home! I must say, my first couple winters here in the PNW were so dark and dreary, the basement only made them seem worse. After I figured out how to cozy it up in here, and after having a baby or two to keep me company during the day, I haven’t minded the darker living area quite as much. 😉 It is wonderful to hear how your family has thrived in your home! I had to look up Lakewood on the map, but you’re only a couple hours south from me. 🙂

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