Living in a small house and the beginning of our quest towards minimal living.

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When we bought our home, there were 3 of us. Little Miss was 13 months old and we bought our home on a whim. We were happily living in the city, in a large condo style apartment with all the fancy fixings. We had 360 sq. ft. of community garden right across the street, 986 sq.ft of living space with a heated indoor garage and were walking distance from just about all you can think you might need. We had been trying for Little Miss for almost 4 years when she came so we were pretty sure our family was done, this was the way life would be. The 3 of us and the cats, happy slightly hippie city dwellers.

Then this home went up for sale and for months, driving by on the way to Saturday night dinners at my parents’, we looked and thought “it’s still for sale”. We finally took a look at the sale notice online and fell in love. Little things too, like the knotted pine arch ceilings in the kitchen and the living room facing the yard instead of the street. But mostly, it was the land…

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So much work, but so much potential! The house was small (less than our apartment in square footage) but it was sitting on 1/3 acre of beautiful land and it dawned on us : We could really live here. It was LIKE our apartment, with a huge yard! No more crossing the street to get to our gardens. And with just one child, this home was the perfect size! So we jumped in and bought it.

Then a miracle happened…

IMG_5279We were 4! He was perfect, he was loved, he was the first boy in my family (2 girls that had 2 girls) and we had NO CLUE how this would all work! We had 2 bedrooms on the main floor (one of which is only 7.5 ft X 10 ft) and one in the unfinished basement (yeah, that wasn’t gonna work!), so Little Man moved in with us! For the record, he is still living with us in the master right now!

This is when the flow of questions came in : “You are gonna move right?”, “This is a cute starter home, but do you really think it’s big enough for you and 2 kids?” and my favorite : “You have so much land, why don’t you just build an addition?”.

So of course, we pondered and reflected. Selling was not an option. We LOVE where we live. When we bought this home, it was with visions of us retiring here. This, to us, was not a starter home. It was a “our home” home. Plus, at this point, we had invested so much in the backyard, there was no way we would make any money selling it only a few years after buying it in the first place. Then the addition question : To build an addition in any direction would mean cutting down centennial trees. NOPE! So we decided to view this differently : How can we make this home bigger without changing anything about it? We came up with a 3 part plan :

1- Letting go of “labels”

What is a bedroom? Now, what is a master bedroom? Would our bed fit in the smaller bedroom, allowing the kids to share the master with the walk-in closet for their toys, crafts and books? What is “me” space? Does “me” space require physical walls? Can “me” space be multi-functional? Can I create a space for myself without the “box” around it? Is the garage less my husband’s “space” if it also houses the bikes, the outdoor pack-n-play, the winter tires and the strollers?

This took breaking down YEARS of conditioning and it wasn’t easy. Most people that we share our plans with don’t understand and definitely don’t agree. You get attached to certain things. who doesn’t want a walk-in closet??? But the reality was, that space could be better used. So we are right now in the process of re-inventing our home. I’m buying the paint today to redesign our master bedroom into a lovely space for a boy AND girl to share and my husband and I will be moving into the small bedroom and downsizing our possessions to fit it all in! I look forward to sharing the progress with all of you.

2- Less stuff equals more space!

I’ve already shared with you our yearly goal of reducing our material possessions by 50%. As the year is progressing, our progress has been slowing a bit since we are now neck-deep in the “little things”. But as I’ve stated before, the more we get rid of stuff, the happier we are. We still need to attack the crawl space (our home is almost 100 years old and half of the “basement” is a sanitary crawl space we can only use for storage) and I have a feeling that part will get us to 50% with no issues.

3- Spend more time outside.

Really, I’ve come to believe that the only reason why a room (or in this case a home) would feel small is if you spend too much time in it! They don’t call it cabin fever for nothing. So as Little Man grows up (and stops trying to eat every rock, leaf and branch he puts his hands on!), we plan on increasing our time spent outside the home. That will, I believe, make us appreciate the coziness of our charming little nook even more.

So there… thought I would share this morning. I’ve always found that laying things down in writing motivates me, gives me a goal. Seeing it in black and white has always made things seem more “real”.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

 

 

 

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About Yanic A.

Hello to all of you and thank you for stopping by! My name is Yanic. I'm a wife to a wonderful husband, a mother of 2 beautifully complex and unique children and a lover of all things inspiring. Having started a personal journey of self discovery when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter 4 years ago, I've since embraced a daily life of simpler pleasures and gratitude. As we get to know each other, you will know me as a quilter, a gardener, a Tao cultivator, a vegetarian foodie, a true believer in a healthy family life as being the secret to my happiness and hopefully as time goes on, a friend... I will try to share with you my days as they unfold, speaking of my happy successes without censoring my challenges, trying to make this blog a true portrait of the ever-changing path that I have chosen for myself. I'm hoping to find in these pages others to share with and learn from, bringing to light the absolute connection in all things and people, showing this world as being a true community.
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34 Responses to Living in a small house and the beginning of our quest towards minimal living.

  1. Kristin says:

    What a wonderful solution! I look forward to reading all about your adventure!

    Like

  2. karen says:

    You can do it! I think it’s only this generation that think more space is better, the bigger the house, the more house you have to clean!! Hope you share some photos.

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      That is what my hubby says! My husband has a slight OCD problem when it comes to cleaning. So really, the whole family is happier with less stuff to clean cause dad can relax and spend more time with us. LOL!

      Just came home with the paint, SO PRETTY! Will share pictures for sure!

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  3. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love writing too! 🙂 Have a lovely day!

    Like

  4. lucylox says:

    Lovely post 🙂

    Like

  5. KC says:

    This sounds very familiar. When we moved to France it was with intention of going there permanently. So we sold everything we owned except 4 suitcases of clothing. We are 4 people after all. It was the hardest and most freeing thing I’ve ever done. 🙂 Good luck on downsizing. You’ll feel so good. And I way to go on rethinking your space!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      Wow! Now that sounds like me when I moved to California when I was 20 : I had an army kit bag and a box! 🙂

      Thank you… this little “paradise island” we’ve create for ourselves is the only thing that feels like home. It would take a tornado to Oz to drag me away! 🙂

      Like

  6. Good plans my friend. We too, gave up the bigger bedroom to our little man to create a bedroom and craft/play room that would be fun and inviting. We moved upstairs to the loft, and our living space houses my office, my craft space, our dining room and our sitting area. It works it you take the time to figure it out. We have changed things up a lot over the years, always refining and making better use of space. It is fun, and exciting every time I come up with something that just might give us a bit more space.

    Have fun, and yes to spending more time outside, when you do that your home feels so much bigger. We have found by creating a nice outdoor living space it functions very well as added space during the summer.

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      I totally agree! I’m looking forward to building some shade in the garden for an outdoor play area for the kids. We already have a nice balcony, but I know the kids like to be ground-level more. I want a reading nook in the wooded area in the back of the plot and a nice clubhouse with a slide. So many fun projects for the years to come!

      I’ll tell you, your home is DEFINITELY an inspiration!!!

      Like

  7. Your home is a mansion compared to what most people in the world live in. While I don’t think making comparisons like that can get a person all the way to contentment (comparisons ARE risky, aren’t they?!?), they can help one’s perspective. 🙂

    Like

  8. I read an anecdote many years ago, several homes ago, when Jim and I were going to renovate a kitchen. The short story was that a young woman, much impressed with her new home, asked her grandmother for her opinion of the kitchen. Grandma didn’t say much. The young woman tried again by asking what Grandma loved most about her OWN kitchen. Grandma said she loved the fact it had running water in it.

    BOY lemme tell ya, that really helped me through the renovation. We didn’t always have running water in the kitchen, but we did elsewhere in the house. What a blessing that was!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      Love this!!!! Thank you for sharing that. It made me grin from ear to ear!

      We are actually looking into tearing down the entire top cabinets of our kitchen. So we would be going from 19 cabinets and 8 drawers to 7 cabinets and 8 drawers. So that gives you an idea on how much downsizing we are looking to do. 🙂

      Like

  9. wombatquilts says:

    We just saw the wonderful documentary “Tiny” which looks at down sizing and simplifying. I love the idea but it scares me a little, but your place looks ideal and all that back yard is a dream.

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      Still need to see that film. I’ve heard great things about it.

      Thank you for your kind words. It is VERY scary… I mean, how can you live without all your stuff???? And then you just do and you wonder why you were so attached to it in the first place. It really is a process.

      That is the backyard when we bought it… you should see it now! Lush and green. We’ve been doing so much work to it. The house, as cute as it is, was secondary… I could make anything work for a yard like mine. 🙂

      Like

  10. I love your story and the house is just precious! Where people live in peace and love, they don’t need huge mansions. The smaller space brings families together. And the yard… Just chilling there would be a reward by itself. Hopefully one day we can do something similar, I would love to exchange flat for little house with the yard 🙂

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      I totally agree : We’ve trying so hard at creating a close family bond, why separate ourselves with too many walls? It is quite an oasis for sure. Some people find our yard a bit too “buggy” with all our flower beds and gardens, but I know all those pollinators work hard to give us food to eat, so they are more than welcomed!

      I wish for you to find that little home with a yard! 🙂

      Like

  11. We live in an old farmhouse that was built in the late 1800s! Closet space is at a premium around here and so I know all too well about less space equaling less stuff and having to find creative ways to store things! The hardest part has been convincing people (like Dave’s parents) that we don’t need a ton of stuff (especially a ton of crummy plastic toys that are going to break a minute after the box is opened). I agree, getting rid of stuff and not having so much in our home truly makes for a happier family!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      That is one thing we have to be careful about : As much as we are truly grateful for all the hand-me-downs (that have saved us SO MUCH MONEY over the last years), some people have been trying to use us as a bit of a place to put their stuff. LOL! We are also “quality vs quantity” kind of people, but we end up with stuff that we really don’t want our kids playing with. 😦 It gets very awkward sometimes.

      Like

  12. I totally agree with you, the less you own the richer and freer you are. Looking forward to seeing what you share!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      I’ve been trying to make enough of a change in one area that I could share it. But it seems all our advances in de-cluttering are not really showing yet. I know there is less, but I still need to organize what we’ve got left. 🙂

      Like

  13. sophiezest says:

    Good luck! It’s great hearing about all your plans. I like the idea that you are trying to fill your children’s lives with experiences, not things. I think this is a lesson we learn as we get older… When I got my first job at 22, I was very keen to furnish my new flat, and my life: furniture, books, piano…Then I reached my thirties and realised I was very fortunate to have all the material possessions I needed. But I think it’s hard to see that when you’re young. And it’s hard to let go of your stuff!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      It is… and when you are young, social acceptance and conformity is such a huge part of growing up. When you are an adult, you try and be different, you want to be your own person. But when you are just learning about the world, standing out isn’t what you want. We are already seeing it when we walk around and Little Miss notices that many kids have something she doesn’t… her first reaction is to ask for it. Sometimes, she doesn’t even know what it is… she just knows others have it so she wants it too.

      Like

  14. Jane says:

    I love your attitude. Your kids are lucky that you value that beautiful backyard over separate bedrooms. Our older boys (12 and 13 now) have always shared a bedroom and there’s really no option for them to do otherwise (except share with the 6y.o.). I am really trying to de-clutter and reading your post has inspired me to do more… less really can be so much more!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      That is very sweet to say.

      I read a blog post yesterday about “facing your problems’ and the guy was considering clutter as a form of avoidance : It’s all about holding on to things and having trouble letting go. I had never thought of it that way, but I guess it is true!

      I’ve been running out of time to attack the inside of the house. I’m looking forward to a much less hectic week to finally get back to it!

      Have a great week-end and thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  15. Janet says:

    This sounds like a wonderful plan, Yanic. Keep going you will succeed in your vision! I have a vision of selling my home soon and going smaller 🙂 I am waiting until my youngest is out of state college to move but it is a dream that will become reality, I hope 🙂 Have a beautiful day!! This is very inspiring to me 🙂

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      To me a small home is freedom! Less maintenance, less cleaning, more closeness, more sharing… Just heaven!

      I wish you a happy ending to your dream! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story. 🙂

      Like

  16. Angel Jem says:

    So long as there is food on the table and a warm bed on a cold night, I’m guessing your kids will be happy. Could you split the master using bookshelves to make 2 small bedrooms? Sharing will work fine til teenage angst sets in, so you still have time to work it out as a family!

    Like

    • Yanic A. says:

      The room is long and narrow (11 X 20) and if we split it that way, one gets light, the other gets closet. LOL!

      We will be creative with blocks of color and area rugs. Sheer curtains around my daughter’s bed for privacy. By the time we are teenagers, we will have had the house lifted and the foundations redone to get rid of the crawl space and have a full basement. They’ll each get a room then. That is a 5 year plan. 🙂
      So far, it’s going well. They’ve been in the same room for 4 nights now and very few issues have come up.

      Like

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