Posts Tagged ‘living small’


how much house

June 7, 2009

For some reason, assessing what possessions need to go has been far more difficult for me than figuring out the reasonable amount of space we need to live happily.  Well, except for the kitchen anyways!

Our current house is just over 1500 sq ft on the three developed levels and of those we really only use two.  Further still, it’s really only the kitchen, dining room, bedroom and bathroom we use.  Oh, and the little sub 20 sq ft computer alcove in the family room.  The “sewing” room may as well be a closet because I use the dining room all the time anyways.

Many months ago I made a long lost list of the dimensions of the rooms we use.  Then I went one step further and looked at how much space we actually needed to be comfortable in those rooms.  We could add so much storage and still only need a single level of our house.  No wonder this house seems big, it’s huge!  Even if we added a family member we would still have too much.

This exercise, that started as a way to illustrate that we could handle a Tumbleweed B-53 has shown it might even be a little on the big side!

I was still a little worried about the kitchen and how much space the given layout would have so I went and used the Ikea kitchen planning tool.  I got a little carried away and came up with this makeshift sketch of the main floor.

06 house sketch

The kitchen: I did so many tweaks of this space since it’s the A-1 most important room in the house for me.  I like light, a connection to the main living spaces, and a minimum of corner counters (but no galley or walk through please).

I’ve been in a few show homes that have the window in the space that  would otherwise be wall between  the counter and top cupboards and I love it, so I added that.  There’s still a big window higher up at the sink – not that you can see that.  To the right of it the counter goes a little ways and then the idea is to have the wall which is the back of the coat closet.  The apartment sized fridge would be in its own enclosure beside the closet, with the door facing the stove.  My sister has a similar set up in the best bachelor apartment I’ve ever seen and it works fantastically!

The bathroom The plans for this house actually include a dining booth in this space and as much as I like that idea it’s really hard to lay out and cut fabric using that kind of set up.  Moving the bathroom here frees up space for laundry which is a big plus.

Second entry While I really like the look of the main door at the front I know enough to know that I need a place to put shoes and jackets right at the door.   This new side location seems to work well, at least in theory.

Dining area I like, perhaps even love built in benches.  They provide storage, can be personalized with relative ease and since I’d probably make it myself, I would know exactly what it was made of.   No chemical flame retardants for me thank you very much!

I’m thinking that the bench would be a good place to store my sewing machine and could put the reigns on my fabric collection too.  Of course if we’re to have a wee one, then I’ll probably have to restrict my collection even more!

Having the bench on one side also means that it’s easy to add chairs or even a table, to fit more people.

Living area I suspect the main living area will be the area around the built in sofa but it’s always nice to have a bit of an away space – thus the un-labelled bookshelf and chair near the door.

I’m not quite sure how to go about designing the sofa so it can go double duty as a bed, but that would be the goal.  With bookshelves along the outside we would be able to fit our current resource library and some other goodies.  Since books aren’t that deep we could have an access under the cushions to store board games and the like.

I still need to tweak the staircase layout as the recommended one makes me too nervous of falling and breaking more bones.  Regardless, there should be room to wire in the “control station” under the stairs.  We mostly view things on our computers now but there’s always the possibility of a projector sort of thing image on the wall if we really want to go there.

Other I ‘m not sure what the space requirements are for a hot water tank and the plumbing to eliminate the first plug of cold water, but I’m hoping that would fit under the stairs on the bathroom side.  In the tallest space under the stairs I was thinking we could house a smaller deep freeze (a necessity with our diets) and then have more storage above it.

So that’s it for the main floor and apart from the stairwell I don’t see a need to tweek the upstairs!


junk diet

June 5, 2009

Our house is big… which means when we’re not careful we acquire a bunch of junk.  To get an idea of just how much I cart around imagine these two scenarios…

1.  Moving into my first place (that wasn’t res) after university, my folks and my youngest sister met me in my new location.  The three of them and all my belongings fit in their van.

I lived in the new location for just shy of a year and added a couch, kitchen, a sewing machine (and the resulting fabric stash) and what must have been a lot of clothes.  I had finished school with 3 pairs of pants, a few shorts, and enough shirts, socks and underwear to be able to put laundry off for 3 weeks at a time.  I can’t even recall what clothes I acquired but it was obvious there were a lot of them and other miscellaneous items because I could barely fit all of it in or on the van and in my car with room for my dad and I to drive home in.  I even had to leave some things behind.  There’s no way a couch was responsible for all the space on its own, that’s for sure!

2.  Moving to Alberta I didn’t even have enough stuff to fill half of a small moving truck.  I moved with another person who hadn’t spent any time packing efficiently so she easily consumed the rest of the space.  Nonetheless, when I got into my apartment it was full.  I didn’t add that much to my collection in the next year but when I bought my first town house I was amazed that there wasn’t much room for new stuff their either. Yes!

Well in the years since, Kevin and I have combined households and moved into a bigger house where we now find ourselves with a lot of stuff.  Kevin’s sisters provided us with an excellent opportunity to get rid of some duplicates and because we use one of the closets upstairs for hiking gear, clothes have been leaving the house too.   We would love to get rid of more furniture but we’re afraid of leaving the house looking empty when it’s time to sell.  Never mind that we have 4 tables in the house and only enough chairs for one of them.  (Except for the kitchen table the rest are for sewing, computing or stacking up junk).

While the excess furniture takes up the most room, our dreams of living in a tiny house have got me worried when it comes to the kitchen.  Most of what we have is nice and it’s well used.  We’ve got more than enough dishes for a full load in the washer but my pottery collection isn’t helping.  We’ve also acquired a number of mixing bowls of late but now that we have them we find we use them too!  We have managed to get rid of some pots and appliances but if we want to live in sub 1000 sq ft we’ve got some work to go.

So lets see.  In the next few months we’ll be getting rid of:

– a leather living room set

– a gigantic tv

– a table, or two, or three

– a coffee table

– old heavy and stinky end tables

– a few lamps

– books (I can only stand to read all but reference books more than once so I should have taken care of this long ago.  They’re almost all second hand anyways)

– bookshelves

– clothes

– pie plates

– pasta machine

– glasses

– mugs

– bowls

– empty plant pots

– snow removal equipment

And I’m sure the list will continue to grow. I’m trying to think of it in hiking terms.  Things have to be multi-purpose or well used, essential single purpose items.  Oh, and they have to be used often enough too!


mini houses

May 21, 2009

I wrote this back in February but it’s as relevant as ever today so here goes!

As mentioned a few months ago I’m in love with the idea of building our own house.  A little, energy wise, mold free and animal free house.  I especially like the idea of less  cleaning and more time for the important things in life.  A big part of that is saving money – spending less money on a house and less money to keep it warm and dry which then means spending less time at work perpetuating the whole cycle.

We could start building a trailer model right now if we wanted to but with all the hobbies we enjoy and all of our toys…. it doesn’t seem like the smartest idea.  That, and we’d have to rent a truck to drive it to our next destination.  The portability really is the best part but for short term stays we have the ecamper already.  For the lengths of time we tend to visit places it’s probably better to have the camper anyways.  We want to live close to amenities and I’m not sure we could stay under the radar of the local bylaw officer for long in a house on a trailer.

If someone wants to start building neighbourhoods with them and common buildings for laundry, hosting dinner parties, etc. in a place we want to live, it would be a different story.  For now though, I think I’ll continue to dream about cheap infill land and something akin to the B-53.

We’re not at the point where we could build our little house and live mortgage free but we’re working on it.  A lot of it really depends on where we wind up a few months from now.  I’ve been watching for land in the places we like and checking with local bylaws to see what we could do.  It turns out it might not be that hard to get a variance on the minimum principle residence size and if we plan things correctly we might be able to get two on a lot.  We don’t want to have renters but if we do things correctly it would help with resale because another owner could build their monster (ugh) house and rent the wee one out.

I’m just dreaming… rambling… dreaming.