I’ve talked a little bit before about our house, but to catch you up to speed, here’s the gist- we are a family of five living in a small (ish) sized house- 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1400 sq. feet with a tiny backyard.
Depending on who I talk to, this either seems like plenty of space, or they can’t imagine living in such tight quarters for a family of our size.
And while I don’t think for a minute 1400 sq. feet is considered “tiny house living” by any stretch of the imagination (as is the trend right now), in all honestly it’s also not a ginormous amount of space for our all-boy family of five.
Regardless, this is where we are for the time being. Most days I’m perfectly happy with our house, but for a period of time I had a poor attitude about it. We had many friends upgrading their living situations to bigger and better (how DO they do it, anyway??), and I was struggling against the green-eyed monster.
But I’ve long since come to realize that being sad and irritated that we aren’t able to do the same isn’t helping anything at all. My attitude- whether good or bad- will not effect our direct reality. However my attitude does greatly effect how I feel about my home- my happiness and contentment. Therefore, I try to have the mindset of embracing where we’re currently at in our life, and making the best of it!
With that said, we do hope to eventually one day buy a larger home for our growing family. But regardless, for now we are in our starter home and making the best of our living situation!
Here are some ways I’ve learned to make the most of my small home. Hopefully some of these can inspire you to do the same!
Get rid of anything and everything you do not need or use, and purge your stuff regularly.
The easiest way to keep the clutter at bay is to regularly purge your stuff! (That sounds like a little something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, no?) I am planning on starting a decluttering and organizing series in the next week or so, so be sure to stay tuned!
By nature, I am the opposite of a pack rat. (In fact, I have been known to throw away, donate, or otherwise get rid of items that I actually need. It’s a blessing and a curse.) So this is not difficult for me to do. However, I can respect that for some people this is very challenging! If you are overly sentimental, or just flat out like your stuff, this might not be so easy to do. However if you’re living in a small space, this step is essential! Not only will it help you feel better mentally and emotionally, it will reveal the space you do have and make it seem much larger than it actually is.
Keep the counters cleared off.
If something comes into the house, deal with it immediately before moving on. Toys, extra paperclips, little Lego people, Nerf gun darts- find it’s home, and put it away right then and there.
Deal with the Paper Clutter.
I believe Paper Clutter is a proper noun, guys. It is a real, living, breathing thing that takes on a mind of it’s own. Ahhhhh, the Paper Clutter. It WILL be the death of me, because:
A) How many pieces of random school related flyers does my 7 year old really need to bring home from school everyday?
B) If I sign up for e-statements, that means I really, truly don’t want to receive it in the mail, also.
C) Don’t even get me started on junk mail.
I’m telling you from experience, no matter how tired you are, take the 5 seconds to put the paper away- file it, shred it, throw it in the garbage, pay the bill, sign the permission slip, and get it off the counter stat! Otherwise there it will sit for eternity. Trust me, I’m a pro on this one. I’ve come to understand that dealing with the paper immediately is the only way I can consistently keep my counters clear of the paper clutter.
Move as many appliances as you can into cupboards or closets.
In addition to the randomness that tends to congregate on counter tops, if you are able to, I would strongly advise on placing appliances and the like out of eye sight.
I know this is not always possible- for instance, in my house we have a rather unfortunate kitchen set-up that does not lend itself well to storage (i.e. there is none). So I do have to keep many appliances directly on the counter top. This is not ideal for me, and actually makes me quite squirmy. If I had the option, I would stow everything in cupboards. If this is your situation as well, just do the best you can. Space your appliances out evenly on the counters to create the illusion of a spacious kitchen.
Keeping counters cleared of clutter can go a long way in making your house feel more open, not to mention clean.
2. Less is more in a small home.
Keep only the furniture that you really love, need, and use on a regular basis.
Confession time: In our main living areas, I have one couch. I have a small dining room table. I have a hutch to display my special items. I have two bookshelves for books and DVDs. And I have two cube units for my kids toys. That’s it. That pretty much sums up my entire house.
Truly, in my opinion there is nothing worse than a cluttered house with too much going on. It DRAMATICALLY decreases the illusion of space, and when you’re already struggling with not having enough of it, you definitely don’t want to make that any worse.
I don’t buy a lot of furniture, and I don’t keep a lot of furniture. If I bring home something new, it is to replace something we already have. Which is really a win-win, because not only does it make our house feel more roomy, I spend less money in the long run!
3. Use light colors and decor to make the room appear larger.
If you have a small area that you want to seem as roomy as possible, stay away from dark colors all together. Paint your walls light, neutral, airy tones, and keep your decor the same. Likewise, dark wood might not be your best option if you’re going for spaciousness. A lot of times, dark colors and wood in a small house don’t do your spacial issues any favors, and can quickly make a room feel cluttered and claustrophobic.
(The dark wood and colors are something I’m working on transitioning out of my own home right now…take my word for it and just stay away from them from the get-go.)
4. Set up each room to be the most functional, purposeful, and useful.
Carefully think about furniture placement as you arrange your rooms. Your home’s layout comes into play here. Make use of the most functional aspects of a room.
I love rearranging furniture (and my husband loves me for it…not). You know why? Because it makes such a huge difference in the functionality of my space! Sometimes you just have to live in it for a bit before you figure out whether or not it’s working for you and your family. I’m constantly shifting bookshelves, moving our beds, hauling dressers around, all for the sake of usefulness!
For example, a couple of years ago, I had this grandious plan to move our “office”. (I use that term lightly, while endearingly, because we don’t actually have an “office”, but a place where we stick our desk.). We originally had it in the corner of our dining room area, where we have some extra space, but I had this brilliant idea to make a closet office out of our pantry instead, which is smack in the center of our house. It made sense at the time. I thought we could turn the original office corner into the boys’ play area to give them more space. While it worked for a little while, we eventually stopped using the play corner all together, and the space is currently being wasted. I also started to really miss my pantry. Overall, the idea was no longer functional. So currently my plan is to move it all BACK. But hey, I never would have known whether or not that option would work for us if we hadn’t tried it out for a few years! And now I better know what works for our family.
5. Organize, organize, organize!
Make a place for everything, and do your best to keep things in their place. While I love organization, it is not my strong suit and I struggle with implementing it. (This is also why I’ll be starting a decluttering and organizing series soon, to get my tush in gear!)
If you need a little motivation, make sure to stay tuned here on the blog. For inspiration, I also love following other bloggers who are blessed with the gift of organization, such as Andrea of Andrea Dekker, and Crystal of Money Saving Mom– two of my favorites who are my all-time organizational heroes.
If you’re struggling with your small home, take heart in knowing all is not lost! You can still thrive where you are right now. Remember: you are not a victim to your house! OWN where you currently are, and make the best of it. Not only will it dramatically change how you feel about your home, it might even bring you and your family joy!
I hope some of these practical tips can help you think outside the box and give you some motivation and inspiration to take control of your current living situation.
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