Small space living comes with many challenges, but the rewards for a family on a budget are great. For a long time I considered our smaller home a temporary means to get us by until we could afford more. As the years have gone by though, I have truly discovered the power of living in a smaller house and making the most of what we have been given. I can fully admit though, that it is all about our approach towards making our space our own, more than it is about the amount of square footage in our house.
Small space is all relative, of course, isn’t it? In full discretion, our home is 1,500 square feet for our family of four. While that may sound like a lot or a little, the space is made smaller and more challenging with a tri-level floor plan. If it was spread on one or two levels, I am sure it would feel much larger. I think it has been the floor plan that is more of a challenge than the square footage of our home. Regardless, spatial challenges have existed and we have learned a lot from working through them.
One thing that people remark on though is how our home doesn’t feel small at all and I recently had a visitor who said she was so impressed with how efficient our home was (world’s best compliment- by the way!). I attribute it to one part renovation, one part smarter selections for our home, and one part major clutter-busting. The investments that we have made have given us a new appreciation for our space and have helped us fall in love with this house.
Now if we moved, I know I would never be as happy as I am right here.
That’s a good feeling to have.
Regardless of your square footage though, I wanted to share with you a few ideas for learning to embrace the power of living in the space you are in right now. There is so much that I have learned over the years about making our home the best that we can and I wanted to share with you some ideas on how to make the most of the space you are in right now.
Reconsider Your Furniture
Furniture can truly make a room feel larger or smaller depending on the size of it and the purpose it serves in your home. Our larger furniture that we purchased for our previous home was not well-suited for the home we had now, but replacing it was not a cost that we could really afford.
Instead, consider scaling back on the amount of furniture you have in your rooms. Do you truly use the side tables in your home? Is the coffee table really needed or would your space benefit from an ottoman that could serve as dual storage? Try removing pieces of furniture from the room and see if they make the flow of the space feel bigger.
When you do replace furniture, try buying items that could serve as a dual purpose or could maximize your smaller rooms. Our ottoman in our family room is the perfect place to tuck our record collection in our home, for example. One piece, but two functions to everything helps to make the most of the corners in our home. The furniture, as we have begun to replace it, serves multipurposes like beds with bookcase and drawer storage.
Cut the Clutter in Half
The best part about living in a smaller space is that it has forced me to edit the belongings I have and has kept me from buying as much as I would in a larger space. If your home closets that are small, if you don’t have a basement, if there is no garage…than these situations can truly work for you as a way to keep your clutter naturally under control. Here is my spot where I like to throw things I don’t know what to do with- we all have ‘em. I am a work in progress just like the next person, but I am proud to say that I have reduced our clutter by 50% this year thanks to a few new decluttering & minimizing challenges I have embraced.
Lately I have been trying to live my life by the infamous quote from William Morris, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” If it is not bringing beauty or usefulness to my space, then I can feel good about passing those items on to someone else in need. Suddenly, my kitchen counters feel spacious, the basement really does have a spot for everything in storage, and the house really does have enough space for us all. It’s all about perspective and investing in the things you really do want in life.
Consider making a weekly date with yourself to devote an hour towards improving one spot in your home that you struggle with. If it is a drawer that never opens, an office that is filled with useless papers, a basement that has become an avalanche of misplaced items, spend your hour making those spots in your home better. Make it a goal to cut the clutter in half in these spots to make them more livable and enjoyable.
Make Wise Renovation Investments
Once you cut the clutter in your home, you can begin dreaming of new ways to use that freed up space. Renovating your home can be costly, but it is not as costly as it is to buy a brand new home. The best part is that you can take your time with it and tackle one corner at a time, personalizing it to your own personal style. If there is a particular area in your home you want to improve, consider getting an estimate to make your space more livable. Many homes have unused corners and smaller spaces that could be improved upon to make the home more livable.
Our little house got a much needed renovation to make our space work for us for many years to come that has been one of the wisest investments we have ever made. With one wall knocked out and putting unused basement storage to work, our home was renovated into a spacious family room and a quiet home office in the basement. Each year we tackle one project (at least) to make our home look and feel spacious and loved. We have updated our backyard shed into a useable bonus space, we did a beautiful stamped patio & firepit that could act as an extension to our indoor space outdoors, and we added little things like a fireplace in the office that cozy up the home, and knocked out walls to let the sunshine in through big open windows. As we speak, we are adding a shower to our little guest bathroom so that we can make this home a two bath house.
With a ’60’s home, there will always be projects, but I actually love the dreaming and scheming of making these spaces in our house uniquely us.
As my husband’s grandmother says when she visits us, “I love coming here because there is just always something new to look at!” That is probably a very true statement since we are always working on our little fixer-upper.
Begin really thinking about the space you are in and how you could make it work for your family. Look for guidance in home magazines or consider spending the money on having an architect coming to evaluate your home to draw up a plan for making more out of the space you are currently in. You may be surprised to discover how much more square footage you might have right where you already are.
Make Your Space Feel Permanent
If you look at your home as a temporary place until you find something better, you might be overlooking the chance to really make the space you are in work for your family. I found that when I finally told myself that this was my home (whether I liked it or not) and put the elbow grease into it, it transformed not only the space…but my attitude towards it. As with all things in life, it is what you make it and I am choosing to make it the best that I truly can!
If you are living in a smaller home or apartment, just remember to consider your blessings. Not only do you have a mortgage or monthly payment that you can afford, but you have less of a home to clean, a natural way to edit the excess from your life, and more importantly….cozier quarters that force your family to always be together. What could be better for a family than that?
We have a sign hanging in our home that reads, “Small homes grow tight families.” It is truly my belief that our little house fosters just the kinds of relationships that I want with the best people in my life. I can continue to maximize the square footage on the existing space, but I love the togetherness that our smaller space brings.