Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{Day 19} Real Home: Living Large in a Small Space

We have a lovely home. I'm so thankful for it. We bought it new nearly 6 years ago and it's the only house we've ever owned. The main living space showcases tons of natural light and high ceilings. Our bedrooms are plenty big and we've all got ample closets.  

I have a giant bath tub and our bathroom has two sinks. We have a garage and plenty of storage. The driveway is flat and therefore perfect for bikes and scooters. What's more, we have a huge, empty backyard that's big enough for my golf-loving son to practice his sport.


Our home is sort of small. Now I know that house size is entirely relative. If we lived in Shanghai or New York, it would be a mansion. For many, many people, it would be a large home. By American standards, I honestly don't know. It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house and about 1300-ish square feet. 

I think it would feel less small if I didn't homeschool and we weren't here all day. Perhaps it would also feel less small if I was less of a borderline introvert {something I've only realized in recent years.} Frequently I long to escape to a quiet space where no one talks or asks questions. 

There are no dividing walls in the kitchen / dining space / living room / school area / foyer. 

It's like open gym all the time. 

While this makes the space feel large and airy, after 6 years and 3 growing kids, I am sort of missing walls and boundaries. 

Above our living space is a nearly 300 square foot bonus room and a small office. It has stairs to get there and everything. It's one of the reasons we bought this home: room to grow. And though our family has grown, our budget has not. So the bonus room sits there gathering cobwebs, mocking me with its spacious unfinishedness.

From time to time, I pray that God will give me that finished bonus room but He's teaching me to be grateful for what I have.

Though I'm not naturally a look-on-the-bright-side kind of girl, things like unfinished rooms are making me one. Some time ago I began to think about the ways in which a smaller space has been a blessing. And if you're trying to live large in a small space, maybe you can use this too.

Togetherness. We can think of it as "cramped" or we can consider it "cozy." I've been in large, gorgeous homes that felt cavernous, homes that boasted space but didn't seem to burst with life. {I've been in large, gorgeous homes that are welcoming and warm as well. Don't want to hate on the large houses}. 

But if I had to choose between the lifeless large and the bursting-with-life small, I'd choose the latter. Any day. 

Though we're constantly rubbing shoulders {literally}, close quarters are all my kids know. Each of them have shared or are currently sharing a room with a sibling. My daughter begged for her own room but when she finally got it, she was lonely as could be. 

I complain about our house feeling small, but they never have and never do. Not once. In fact, they randomly tell me that they love our house and think it's pretty. 

Maybe I need to take more cues from them. 

The Great Outdoors. Because mama needs some quiet by late afternoon, I send them outside. Seriously, I give them no choice. If we had a bigger house, maybe they'd play outside less. Our climate is a mild one so we're blessed to have playable weather many months of the year; I simply consider the yard and driveway our extra square footage.

Creative Spaces. For two days in a row my sons have played Legos on the 3 x 3 foot front porch. It's shady and covered.  

They've been known to play board games and all sorts of things on the front porch with one another and with the neighbor kids. I'd sort of gotten used to it until guests stopped by yesterday and literally had to step over tiny cities and battleships. I was a bit embarrassed. And it made me realize that this is probably not a normal place for kids to play Legos. But it is creative and that makes me smile.

Our porch, driveway, and deck are almost always littered with evidence of play. To the neighbors, it probably looks like we're always gearing up for a yard sale. {Hi neighbors!}

Less Stuff. If you accumulate too much stuff in a small space, you're on your way to Hoarders fast. And though I love the show, I don't want to be on the show. We are constantly cleaning out and purging around here. I've decided that having less is liberating.

I still want that bonus room but if it never happens, we'll be just fine. Because the older I get, the more I realize that home is not about more space and nicer stuff. It's about living real life together to the fullest: the messy, the glorious, the celebratory and the small. 

You can't put walls around any of that. 


I did my first post about Real Home 4 days ago but took a detour and talked about rest instead. Now I'm picking back up with thoughts about home. Join me?

{Click on the button for the list of all the days 
and topics thus far.}


  1. Love this!

    We currently live in the largest house we've ever had which is 1800 square feet with an unfinished (leaky!) basement that is another 400. Needless to say the basement is useless to anything that isn't in a waterproof container and, if I let it, I can get really irritated that I have all that extra useless space.

    I wish I focused on the good stuff more often so thanks for the perspective.

    Togetherness is a good thing for sure! We find that my kids' teenage friends, who live in much bigger houses, seem to like to hang out at ours. They like the homey together casual feel. Things just can't be too formal when you're all on top of one another. :)

    Also, a smaller house means less time cleaning. It generally means more time picking up clutter because it can get overrun so quickly, but less floors to mop and bathrooms to clean.

    When the kids were little we lived in a 2 bedroom bungalow that was about 1000 square feet. It had one closet, one tiny linen closet, few cabinets, no basement, and a virtually inaccessible attic. We had an outside shed for the lawn mower and outdoorsy stuff, but we simply had no room in the house for anything but necessities. So we collected less. When we moved here, I was amazed at how quickly we could fill a house with junk! haha

    Oddly, while I once longed for a big brick palace, my dream house has changed a lot through the years. It keeps getting smaller and smaller with less work, less cost, and more amenities. A few more years of aging and I'll probably have it whittled down to a kids' playhouse that you walk in the door, take three steps and walk out the back door. haha

  2. What a great post. We live in an 1100 sqft (if you're being generous) apt courtesy of the US Army. While I'm grateful to have a place to live, there are days when I CRAVE more space. We're moving in a few weeks to another part of Germany and will likely get a similar sized apartment. This time though we'll lose our school room as Han Solo really needs his own room. Sigh.
    Hoarders is my favorite/most hated show. I love it because it makes me want to clean and hate it because it icks me out. I try to get rid of stuff, but James Bond does not get on board with "less stuff" and is constantly dragging stuff home. I dream of a tiny little cottage (like an adult playhouse) that I can decorate and make all girly and have just for myself.

    BTW, doing a week of giveaways on my blog. Stop by!

  3. This was a great post, good perspective.... BUT I'm really commenting to say THANK YOU for salsa chicken!!! Your post was the third time I'd heard about it in a week and was the final push to try it, which we did last night for dinner, will have it tonight for dinner too... and I just scooped some up with a few chips for a little mid-afternoon protein boost! I can't believe you're well over halfway done with this series... I look forward to reading everyday :)

  4. Oh Girl do I have the house for you!!!
    Love you...


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