I've lived in a variety of small spaces throughout my adult life. However, none of these spaces have been smaller than the situation in which my family and I recently found ourselves at my mother's home.
After selling our house this summer, my wife, four-year-old son, and I decided to pack up and head out west for a while to see what it was all about. After having our home on the market for nearly 18 months, we were anything but eager to jump into something right away, and wanted to get the lay of the land before we made a decision as to what we wanted to do. This meant the cramming of four people (three adults and one four-year-old) into a two-bedroom one bath home.
While I knew we could make the situation work, it's definitely been a challenge -- even for just a couple of months. But there have been a few of the things I've learned during this time to help us make the most of a small living space.
Downsizing was a crucial aspect in helping to make the most of our latest small living situation. Hauling a ton of stuff with us to fill up the minuscule space in which we are living would have been silly and wasteful.
Instead, we used the opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff we no longer needed (and some stuff we never needed in the first place) and make some money doing so in the process. This left us with less clutter, less stuff to put in storage, and less stuff with us to take with us on our 2000 mile trip to the west -- plus a little extra cash in our pocket.
With so much less stuff -- and less space in which to accumulate new stuff -- we've found that it's easier to stay organized. This helps cut down on wasting time and effort cleaning, organizing, sorting, and conducting similar activities revolving around the stuff we tend to accumulate when living in larger spaces. Not only this, but living in a small space means we have less space to furnish, thereby decreasing our decorating costs.
One great thing about my mother's house is that she has recently added a covered deck to the front porch -- complete with porch swing -- and both the back and front yards are landscaped with flower gardens, fruit trees, bushes, seating areas, a grape arbor complete with table and chairs underneath, and even a fountain.
Therefore, in the warmer months we can use these areas as livable space in which to spend much of the day. It allows us to spread out and makes the home as a whole seem larger.
Multiple Usable Indoor Spaces
It's not always the amount of space you have, but how you make the best use of the space that's available. Giving a space multiple uses and purposes can make a home feel larger than it actually is. By making the best use of certain pieces of furniture and sectioning off portions of larger rooms, my mother has created multiple usable spaces inside a single room.
The dining room in my mother's house serves as an office for her, with a desk space in one corner, as well as a play space for our four-year-old son complete with bookshelves, a small table, bench, and lamp. In another corner, there is a work space for my mother (she's an art educator), and a dining space with a round dining room table and four chairs in the center of the room. This division gives the room four distinct purposes, and yet the space still doesn't feel that cramped.
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