It’s been a little over a month since we moved into our new home. We’re getting settled in, though we’ve been so busy with baseball, summer traveling, and regular life stuff that we haven’t been able to get to all the little projects we have planned.
We’re still feeling blessed and excited over this perfect-for-us place. I shared in my earlier post a bit about it that we love it, but it wouldn’t be perfect for everybody. The reason? It’s just about 1,000 square feet with 2 small bedroom, 1 tiny bathroom…and one closet in the whole house!
And while we love the house, barn, land and all that goes with it (including our new baby chicks!), there are some challenges that come along with living in a small space. Many of our friends said things like “I could never do that. Our 1,800 square feet is too small for us.”
I understand. Before we lived in our first rental (around 850 sq. ft.), I probably would have said the same thing. However, we’ve actually come to enjoy living in a smaller space, and I wanted to give some tips for those who might be forced into living in a smaller space for a season.
1. Start with a good attitude
Attitude is so important! Challenge yourself to choose joy. Challenge yourself to choose contentment.
No, it won’t always be easy, but it is possible. I can look back at all of the rentals we lived in over the past few years, and each place came with its own set of challenges. However, I can think of several good things about each place as well–even the one with the horrible mold that made us sick had a few redeeming things.
This is especially important because your attitude is catchy. If you’re moping and complaining about your home, it will affect the rest of your family. Find something about your house that you like. If there truly is nothing, then simply be thankful for the family that lives inside it.
On this same note, don’t compare. Comparison will steal your joy and lead to bitterness. Just don’t do it. We can choose to be blessed and content in the Lord.
In Philippians 4, Paul said he had learned to be content in all circumstances, and he wrote that from a jail cell. Surely I can be content with a small home.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when living in a smaller home is to try and bring 2,000 sq. ft. amount of stuff into a 1,000 sq. ft. space. This doesn’t work. Technically, you can do it. I’ve seen creative storage solutions to help people do just that, but too much stuff makes the small space look even smaller and more cluttered.
Make your possessions earn their keep, and carefully consider every purchase. As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Get rid of some things. There is no magic number for the amount of things your family should have, but it should be an amount that feels comfortable and uncluttered, with a place for everything. You’ll thank me later.
3. Make it beautiful
You can’t easily change the size of your home, but you can make it more pleasing. I tend to be a very practical person and haven’t always appreciated the value of decorating the house with pretty things. However, while I still want things to be as useful and functional as possible, I am coming to believe that this is our home and it should be a haven. If some well-placed decorative touches make me love it more, then it’s well worth it, especially if you’re feeling discontent with your home. A little bit of beauty can be just the thing to change that around.
This doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of simple, frugal things you can do to make your space more pleasing and homey.
I especially love wall art that helps remind me of scripture and positive values, like this beautiful wall art from Dayspring. It’s beautiful and a great reminder to practice hospitality.
The Nester has some great ideas for making your home beautiful, and even more great ideas in her book The Nesting Place.
4. Keep it Clean and Free of Clutter
If you’re living in a small house, a few things out of place here and there add up quickly and can make the whole space look cluttered and messy. You’ll definitely want to keep on top of the mess so that it doesn’t get out of hand. The good thing about this is that it’s also much quicker and easier to clean a small space.
5. Get Outside
We value time outdoors and think it’s important. Also, our particular small house came with a barn and 5.5 acres, so we have extra incentive to spend a lot of time outdoors and I love that. If you’re feeling restless in your small space, get outside into the wide and open outdoors. Enjoy God’s creation. Stop and smell the roses. Plant a garden–even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can foster potted plants, and some small things like tomatoes, spices and herbs, etc. There are so many possibilities.
6. Get Creative with Storage
I’m not a proponent of wall to wall storage in order to hang on to too much stuff (see point #2). But, some things need to be kept. Did I mention that my smallish house comes with a single closet? That’s not one extra storage closet in addition to the bedroom closets. That is ONE closet in the entire house. That means I needed to get creative with storage. Fortunately for me, we do have a garage with a small landing full of shelves. It isn’t temperature controlled, so we are limited in what we can store there, but we have been able to store a lot of things there on shelving.
We also have a big, open living room, kitchen, and dining room area. It’s a very large room and I love how open it is. However, it also means that we have no closet or spare bedroom to “hide” things in. Nearly everything we own is right out for guests to see, so I wanted storage that was both pretty and functional. I love storage items that double as decor! I found some really cute baskets at the At Home store this past weekend. I also love the cube shelves like these.
Other storage tips:
- Rotate toys for children
- Downsize clothing and other possessions
- Utilize under the bed storage
- Utilize wall space
7. Experiment with the Layout
In our first small house, I arranged and rearranged a few times before settling on a layout that really worked. It’s amazing how much difference it can make to simply arrange things a bit differently in the room.