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Showing posts from September, 2017

Our Favorite Couch

We weren't really looking for a new couch.

However, while we were wandering around IKEA back in January, one in particular caught our attention. It was the FRIHETEN sectional sleeper sofa, and after a few weeks of deliberating, we went ahead and bought it.
It's everything we hoped, and nine months later, we still love it.
The process for purchasing it was pretty straightforward. We got the ball rolling in the IKEA sofa department, took our paperwork to the register downstairs and paid for it, and then we drove to the overflow warehouse down the street to pick it up.
Like most IKEA furniture, the FRIHETEN came flat packed in several boxes, which made it fairly easy to transport home.
Getting it into our small house was quite another matter. We waited until our girls were snug in their beds, and then we locked the cat in the bathroom and took the sliding glass door in the living room off its tracks so we could fit everything, including the old couch, through the opening. Then we …

The Hefty Price of Normal

Years ago, when Chris and I were considering our options for housing after we moved back home, we looked at a piece of property about twenty-five minutes from my parents' house. It was a former quarry that included several acres for about $50,000. We ran the numbers and figured that we could probably afford it if we did a lot of DIY on whatever house we built there.

And then I got this knot in my stomach. It felt like I was sinking or like gravity had suddenly increased. We pulled back and reconsidered, and the relief of that decision was astonishing.

A few months later, we purchased our home for about $40,000. Even signing those papers was a pretty heavy feeling. That was a lot of money for us. It still is. But I have never regretted forgoing that property we were looking at and going with a park model instead. It was a wise choice to not overextend ourselves reaching for just a little bit more.

It is interesting to me sometimes to try to see the world the way others seem to see …

Recovering Hoarder

On Sunday afternoons during football season, I often take my girls next door to my parents' house where we can watch the game together and give Chris a little time to himself.

My mom has been on a decluttering binge while my dad and brother are out bow hunting this month. Last Sunday, she put me to work.
Back in 2008 when we moved into my parents' house after finishing up our university degrees in another city, we brought along quite a passel of stuff. I remember purging a lot of our belongings during that move, and then we transferred most of what was left into our own little house in early 2009. There were a few boxes and bags full of our stuff that we left behind since we didn't know where to put them.
Here we are, nearly nine years later, and my mom plopped an old school backpack in front of me and asked me what I wanted to keep.
Gulp. I am not a minimalist by nature. Is that surprising?

My family of origin leans toward the hoarding side of the spectrum, and all of the…

The Tiny House Living Festival

Last Saturday, Chris and I attended the Portland Tiny House Living Festival, and we had a blast checking out all of the tiny houses and buses and vans. It was the first time either of us had ever actually seen a house smaller than a park model in person.

I was amazed by the turnout. The line to park was long, the line to buy tickets was long (and when they told everyone that we could buy our tickets online to skip the wait, the sudden traffic increase crashed the site), and the lines for each of the tiny house tours were long. It took us about three and a half hours to see everything that we wanted to see. Chris and I were pondering the draw for so many people. Surely not everyone who came is interested in extreme downsizing. I imagine the event attracted a lot of people who have seen the shows on TV and view tiny houses as something of a novelty.

I wasn't surprised to see our table in one of the little cabins since I've seen it in a few pictures of tiny houses, and I even not…

Our Living Room

Chris took our girls to town the other day, and I managed to snap some photos of our living room when the toys were not strewn all about.

We call it the living room, but it's really more of a multi-purpose room. It's the living room, the play room, and a bedroom at times. We hope to buy a folding table soon that will allow us to eat real meals there as well. (Yes, we have a dining area, but it's more of a nook type space that only fits one or two people at a time, and our beloved IKEA table is too heavy to move into the living room multiple times a day. We eat most of our meals on the couch right now.)

As you can see in the picture, we have most of our toy storage in the EXPEDIT unit to the left. (You can't buy these anymore; they were replaced by the KALLAX line a few years ago.) Sweetheart's baby toys are in a small bin, and the girls' wooden train set is in a matching bin. We have a few larger things, like an abacus and a pretend toaster oven. There is also …

Living in a Small Home with Kids: 10 Reasons It Might Not Be Right for You

I recently read a great article over at The Tiny House asking "How Big Can a Tiny House Be?" In his post, Ethan ponders the definition of "tiny" when it come to little houses and concludes that the perfect "tiny" house is whatever size meets your needs, whether that is less than 100 square feet or much, much bigger. I think his conclusion is sound. He points out that even if a small house is too small for you, you can still benefit from some of the tenets of tiny house living. I would include living within your means and being mindful of the environmental impact of your chosen lifestyle as practices that anyone can enact, regardless of their home size.

If living large (or larger than we do!) is your thing, you'll hear no judgment from me. Living in a small home might sound romantic or adventurous, but the obvious truth is that there are downsides to the tiny house lifestyle. It's not all sunshine and roses, and you have to be committed to making i…

Parked in the Snow

We ordered our house in November 2008, and it was delivered in early December of that year.

That winter turned out to be the snowiest season in twenty-five years in my hometown, and we experienced our very first white Christmas. The ground was frozen solid, which made it almost impossible to finish prepping the site, and immediately after the house was parked, it snowed. Chris works for a shipping company, and he was busy working around the clock trying to get holiday packages delivered in the winter weather. Snow was on the ground for the next three weeks, and we had around two feet of the white stuff at one point. This is highly unusual in our corner of the country.

It was pretty much the worst time ever to have our park model delivered!

We camped out on a mattress in the loft on Christmas Eve 2008 so we could wake up in our own home on Christmas morning. Then we went back to my parents' house until February when we finished getting all the utilities hooked up and finally moved…


I've recently watched a few episodes of some popular tiny house shows, and one thing that is clear to me is that everyone has certain items that they own that they are not quick to relinquish. From shoes to unusual hobby equipment to sentimental pieces, everyone seems to have at least one special thing that they don't want to give up.

It's easy to watch and say that these people are crazy for thinking they can keep these things in such a small space, but the truth is that I think we all have those significant items that are meaningful enough to us that we find a way to make room for them despite the storage cost.

I honestly think that is okay. Even in a tiny house.

The key is to prioritize and cleverly organize whatever stays.
Every item in a small home takes up room that cannot be used by something else. I've already mentioned on here a few of the bigger items we keep around because they are important to us.

Chris has an extensive retro gaming collection that we have …

Dreaming of a More Functional Kitchen and Entry

I am a planner by nature.
A problem solver. A visionary. A dreamer.
At least that's how I like to think of myself.

At any given moment, I have a half dozen ideas in mind for how to make our small space even more functional. As I explained in my last post, this is an ongoing project in our little house. We've lived here long enough (nearing nine years now) that we've got a good pretty idea of what works and what doesn't.

Lately I've been thinking about improving our kitchen and our entryway. I've noticed that it's time for a purge of the kitchen cabinets again. I do this every few years, and it's been a while. There are a number of items in my kitchen that we really don't need, such as that second strainer and the air popper that we haven't used in at least five years. (Seriously...I'm a hoarder by nature. I've come a long way, baby.) We have this cheese grater that I have to move out of the way every time I want to pull something out of …

The Evolving Nature of a Tiny Family Home

Our home is always changing to accommodate the needs of the moment. There was a time when I felt guilty about this. It seemed so wasteful to spend money on that mini playpen that met a need for so brief a time or for a new little children's table when the old one suddenly seemed so big after we replaced our couch.
Then one day, I reminded myself that as families change and grow, the space around them needs to change and grow, too. Sure, we could spring big for future needs long before they occur. We could buy a house with "room to grow" because someday we might need that extra space.

At what cost, though?
How much money and time do we steal from ourselves today by buying a too-large house that we now have to work longer hours to afford and maintain? There is value in maintaining flexibility for the future, of course. We did that ourselves when we chose a lofted floor plan even though we could have saved quite a bit of money without one. Everything comes with a price.


Digging out the Dining Room

We have a dining table again!

Two years ago, when I was nesting during my pregnancy with Sweetheart, I insisted that we needed to do a major overhaul of our dining room. The shared wall between the bathroom and the dining space is one of the only truly blank walls in our house. Everything else is doors and windows and cabinets. But this wall has always been like a blank canvas just waiting to be assigned a function in our tiny space.

When we first moved in, we tried a few different furniture arrangements there. At one point or another, we have had various hand-me-downs butted up against that wall. There was a dresser holding spatulas and silverware. There was a filing cabinet. There was even an armoire. None of it matched, but our style has historically had an eclectic, beggars-can't-be-choosers vibe to it.
With baby #2 on the way, though, those hormones coursing through my veins gave me an overwhelming drive to replace it all with something that matched. Obviously this was necess…

2 Kids+No Bathtub=A Tiny House Dilemma

Bath time has always been a challenge in our home. As you can see from the video I posted the other day, we only have a shower and no tub. This was something that I was a little nervous about when we chose our house because even though we didn't have any kids at the time, we definitely hoped to become parents eventually. Bathing children without a bathtub sounded complicated, but I was loathe to give up some pantry cupboards to make room for a full tub, so we just let it go and decided to figure it out later.

Later eventually came.

I have photos of both of our girls bathing in large mixing bowls as newborns. We also taught them to shower at young ages. Most baths take place next door at Grandma and Grandpa's house, though.

We've made it work, but it's always been a bit of a pain.

Recently a friend of mine mentioned bathing her son in a large plastic bin. This was something that I had often considered but never tried because I was never sure what to do with the tub once…

Tiny Spaces through the Eyes of My Child

My cousin and her husband recently bought a used travel trailer to take camping. It's not a big camper, but it is set up in a way that utilizes the available space well. It has twin bunks at the back next to a very roomy bathroom, a spacious refrigerator for an RV, and a dinette. At the front of the trailer is a short queen bed.

It is a very nice camper, and I can see why they chose it. It was fun to open all the doors and see just how the designers organized the limited space.

My three-year-old was absolutely smitten. She didn't want to leave. The new trailer may as well have been her own personal play place.

Watching her happily play in such small quarters intrigued me.
I often wonder what Sunshine will think of our house as she gets older. Will she feel like she has missed out on growing up in a "normal" house? Will she feel confined? She is only just now starting to grasp the fact that our home is smaller than most people's houses. She states it as a fact with…

The Floorplan that We Call Home

I have been hoping to give you all a little more detail of what our home actually looks like, and when I was looking through some of my old photos and videos the other day, I stumbled upon this video footage of a home similar to ours that I took when we were still picking out our floorplan.
There are some minor differences since this is not our actual home, so some of the finish work is not the same. We have white appliances and a few more windows, particularly in the entry door at the foot of the stairs and in the dining area, where we have a bay window. We also have taped and textured walls, so it looks more like a real home. Our electric panel is accessed from the outdoors rather than the bedroom (which Chris says would be much more convenient, but I call it an eyesore), and we have extra storage cabinets next to the the door at the base of the stairs. We decided to forgo the porch options, so the front of our living room is covered in wall to wall windows with a sliding glass door…

Finding Solitude in a Small Home

Chris and I are both introverted, so we need some solitary time to feel rested and ready to face life. As you can imagine, time alone is hard to come by in such close quarters. As part of our small-living lifestyle, and to keep our marriage on track, we've committed to making sure that "me time" happens for each other by taking turns getting out of the house with our daughters.

This evening, Chris is taking Sunshine and Sweetheart to a local park where they are getting in some playtime with Nana and Papa. A couple of times a week, I take the girls to the library or to local children's events or museums or even just the grocery store. This alone time is part of our weekly schedule, and it's a big part of what keeps us sane while sharing such small quarters.