I have a love/hate relationship with my house.  I guess that is normal for most people.  I love the layout and the general concept of our home.  I absolutely hate that it is stuck in the 80’s.  It is a 1300 sf 3 bed/2 bath home.  We are literally underneath each other’s feet all day.  The great thing is the kids cannot get to far away. The bad thing is the kids cannot get very far away.  I love the view out of my kitchen window.  Which is great because I hate doing dishes.  I love that even though this is a small house, we have very large closets in every room.  My favorite thing though is the huge back yard.  The kids love it, I love it, and when you look out back you see no one.

We have considered moving a hundred times at least.  But we just keep coming back to the same thing.  We don’t really need more space yet.    Yes, I would love granite countertops and cabinets that do not look like they are from the 18th century with a kitchen layout to match.  But this house keeps us close together.  We have everything here we need, and that is good enough for right now.

But, the biggest deciding factor of why we stay where we are is the price point our house costs us each month.  We are not mortgage poor.  I do not have to even think about the payment.  We purchased well under what we could afford 7 years ago.  Now the payment is a breeze.   Small house means a smaller utility bill, and smaller maintenance bills.  It means having the leverage in our budget to buy higher quality foods and vacation more often.

Soon we will have to move, though.  Sweet girl needs a nice cul-de-sac to ride her bike and socialize with friends. Swag isn’t far behind her.  I am sure though we can find a suitable home that leaves us the extra money every month we have now.  We are thinking of having our next home built with the hopes home maintenance costs will be lower for the first few years.  I mourn the day we must move into a larger home, but until then, I will enjoy the one we have.

In keeping with the spirit of small home living here are ten ways to maximize your living space regardless of your homes size.

  1. Closet storage – We are lucky to have large closets.  But regardless of the closet size, it is only as useful as your organizational strategy.  My home came poorly outfitted with closet shelving.  Be certain to make full use of every attainable inch of space available to you.  Full depth shelves and the use of baskets will help.
  2. Get rid of your junk drawers and junk areas – We all have those places in our homes where we keep odds and ends.  The way I see it is, if I haven’t opened the drawer or closet in a couple of months, I likely don’t need what is in there.  Get rid of useless spaces in your home by making them useful.  If you are living in a small space, you need the space.  If you are in a larger home, you will likely find yourself overlooking whatever is in there anyway.  Either way it deems the contents unnecessary.  No one needs 50 pens.  I thought I did.  I kept my excess office supplies, only to discover they did not survive their drawer sabbatical.  Organize anything you can in proper storage and ditch the rest.  Better to use it and lose it than to hoard it.
  3. Trim down your duplicates – Keep what you need, garage sell the duplicates.  Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, most likely you can go out and buy what you need fairly easily.  You will likely find that you will use what you have more and purchase less in the long run.
  4. Everything has a place, and everything in its place – Gosh, this is so cliché. But it is true. Stuff management is the hardest part of keeping a tidy home.  If you have somewhere to put everything nothing is left out to drive you bananas.
  5. Group like things so all like items are together.  If you are in a small home, chances are you don’t have very far to go for anything.  Put all your towels in the same place.  Keep everyone’s coats in the same place.  Know where everything’s spot is.  If like items are stored together they take up less space.
  6. Your furniture should meet your needs and be properly scaled to the space. Every piece of furniture should be able to pull double duty.  Usually its second job is storage.  Chairs can transition from being in the living area to elaborate dining chairs.  All ottomans and end tables should be able to have accessible storage.  With kids I use these areas for toys. It makes it easier to pick up in a hurry if things are stored close by.
  7. Utilize your outdoor spaces.  Be sure to incorporate your decks, porches, and lawns to extend living areas.  This is helpful when entertaining in a small space.
  8. Cut down on your electronics. In a small home you may only need one TV (as if we really need a TV anyway), stereo equipment, clocks, computers can all be kept to a minimum.   Noise and distraction can add to a home feeling smaller than it really is.
  9. Your pet should be given its own area. Now I have 2 dogs and one of them is 135 pounds.  It is important that our pets have beds where they can get peaceful sleep and rest.  If you are always moving around your sleeping pooch or kitty your house will feel smaller.  Sometimes crates can be incorporated into furniture.
  10. Be certain to have enough light in your home.  Small spaces get smaller if there isn’t enough light sources.  If there is light bouncing around it pushes the walls away. If your home is older, you may need to change out fixtures that are poor light sources.

If you are in a small home or apartment, use the below checklist to see where to start making changes.

  • Do your rooms have enough light for daytime and nighttime?
  • How many areas of your space have you not visited lately? ie closets, drawers, and corners.
  • Do the kids and animals monopolize the floor space? Should you optimize their storage or areas for better flow?
  • Do you have furniture you don’t use often? Are those pieces essential?
  • Have you optimized your closets and storage areas to make the most of your storage areas?
  • How many low cost items are you storing for a later date? Are these items essential?

Update 2019: Amazingly, we are still in our little house.  Time really does fly. We still think of moving every 15 minutes but the right place hasn’t come along.  Until then, we will just enjoy our little slice of peace.