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Thursday, September 18, 2008

A really small house. . .

As I was searching for a home to purchase in the Portland area over two years ago, I remember thinking that I absolutely, positively, needed a certain amount of square footage in order to be happy. I ruled out anything that had less than 900 square feet, and although there were 'tiny' houses at about 750 square feet in my price range (and in attractive locations), I didn't even deign to look at them. "Much too small", I thought. "I need something that is at least as big as my house in California" (which, you may be surprised to learn, was just 1,000 square feet).

So, I ended up with a lovely 980 square foot house in a nice neighborhood that is unfortunately far, far away from where I work, in downtown Portland. Now I find myself considering selling my house in order to move 'closer in' to downtown, which means that I'll probably forfeit some space, whether I buy or rent. Now, however, a 750 square foot house sounds just fine! Since I've become more frugal, more committed to simple living, my attitude has changed. I no longer need a certain number of square feet to fit all of my stuff---instead, my stuff will just need to fit into the space I find! Now, this is assuming I make the decision to sell my house, which is by no means an easy one, in this market.

It was heartening to see, however, there there are others who feel that they can live in spaces far, far smaller than those that even I am contemplating! One of the homeowners interviewed for this article lives in a 100 square foot "wee house", located on a friend's property! In fact, a 'green builder' in Arizona has this to say:

"I'm not the Gallup poll, but I hear the same story over and over: 'We got rid of that big house, and now I have time to see my husband. Before, we used to work all week and then we'd spend the weekend on the house."

This mirrors the quote that lives in the far right corner of my blog, by Ellen Goodman, in which she laments that the new 'normal' is spending all day working in order to afford the house we don't get to spend any time in!

Now, I truly don't (at this point in my life) see myself in a 100 square foot 'wee house'. But the mere thought of it truly does help me to see that the only limitations I face are the ones I place on myself!


marci357 said...

My prior house - just me - was 1026. A house with spouse and dog was 780. A rental after that was 800 apt. and now this house that I bought at 560 is now 1010. I could have gotten by with less but wanted that extra bedroom (it's 2) for a dedicated space for the grandkids' bunks and toys.

If you are looking at 750, and are committed to creative storage, and are used to 980, if the house is laid out well, you should be fine :) And so much less to heat and clean and care for :) 2 bedrooms is nice, but 3 would have been nicer in my case, as my sewing is now in the mudroom, and my scrapbooking in a 6.5x6 closet :) but it fits!

Over bathroom doors I have put a shelf for the toilet paper. Over the hallway doors into the 2 bedrooms I have a shelf each that holds the spare blankets and pillows. Out of sight, but in it's place :) Creative storage, for sure! I also said either my stuff fits in the house I have or it goes.... it's been going!!! Liberating!

Good luck with it all!

Finally Frugal said...

I love the idea of less space being liberating!!! Freedom from clutter, from high heating and cooling bills, and freedom from endless cleaning. . . .

There's a show on HGTV called 'House Hunters', which follows people---single and coupled---through the process of choosing a new house. I'm always AMAZED when a single couple (perhaps with a child on the way) says that they need more space than their 1800 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with the 2 car garage affords them!!! That is simply crazy.

marci357 said...

I've lived in a couple big houses...2700, 2800, 3000 - with 3 kids - and let me tell you it's TOO much to keep cleaned and heated! And too easy to accumulate junk!

I would love a garage - but am hoping for a carport at some place in time. The woodshed had to come first! It would be nice to be under cover from our nasty windy rain here on the coast when I have to run out and bring in more firewood! A carport would get me from the backdoor to the woodshed without getting wet - ah, what a luxury that would be :)

I don't have TV, but will check it out if it's on when I'm at a friend's house. I did enjoy those house shows!

marci357 said...

One of my best buys for my house was a set of 3 standup cupboards from bimart. They were on sale for $79 around Christmas time last year.
Dimensions are 6 ft tall, 18 inches deep, 30 inches wide. They have 2 doors and the shelving inside is divided into two sides, plus the shelves themselves are adjustable. I put them on the wall opposite my attic stairs in the mudroom/utility room. It's nice to see that solid wall 90 inches long of bright white cabinets with all the clutter out of sight behind the closed doors! There's also room on top for small bulky items. They were however a major pain to put together - and very heavy once assembled - about 100 lbs. Sturdy tho, so should last.

I use one for kitchen overflow and canning supplies, and home canned items. A 2nd one is being used for construction items at the moment - paint, scrapers, adhesive, the next project, etc... but will soon be cleaned out as I finish the house. The 3rd one I use for my sewing - I'm a fabricaholic I fear :)

I am a firm believer in vertical storage - floor to ceiling when possible! Lots of book shelves too!

Another space saver was some towel racks that hang on door hinges. There are 4 racks for hanging on each - I have them behind both bathroom doors and they eliminated the need for towel racks in my small bath and a half. They would also work behind a bedroom door, etc. Online from HomeDepot - called space savers.

Good luck in your quest! And I'd say the one room that HAS to have lots and lots of storage is the kitchen!!!

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