My Full House

Today’s post is a ramble about my small home here in the country…two bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, kitchen, laundry room and back porch. We are fortunate to have spacious rooms, and the promise of someday being able to spread upstairs…

In our older home, the upstairs is closed off and only accessible via a door in the kitchen and a narrow, steep stairway leading to two large rooms and an attic storage area. Hubby hasn’t wanted to branch UP with our family yet, not until he figures out the most economical way to heat and cool the space up there. We’re talking major insulation issues, not to mention no ductwork, etc.

Bedrooms

Each Friday’s goal includes a major cleaning of my girls’ bedroom! If you can imagine, three girls sharing a bedroom 24/7…they have so much stuff in there we can barely see the baseboards. A fact that causes me no end of frustration!

A playroom would be nice…but it’s not only toy items, those are actually pretty easily maintained, it’s all their craft projects/supplies. Perhaps I’ve become lazy, but I’ve found it’s just easier on everyone to let the girls work perpetually on their different projects w/o daily pestering them to “finish it up”, “clean it up”, and “put it away”–when it’s not even done to their satisfaction yet! So on Fridays…they know it’s got to be dealt with!

Kitchens

counters1.jpgFunctional countertops won out in my recent poll concerning kitchen counters. That’s great by me, I like having stuff on my counters…it’s homey…as long as it’s not dirty dishes or crumbs or…broken kiddie crafts needing glued, etc. I have no appliance caddy, or pantry, or islands. You can see my main workspace above left. It’s gloriously cluttered functional! The opposite counter top, not pictured, is the one upon which our home schooling materials seem to accumulate in between mealtimes. I have no dining room, so the kitchen is probably our highest traffic area.kitchenview.jpg

Living Rooms

I have a curious question to ask of you ladies. I’ve always assumed that those of us who live in small houses say goodbye to the baseboards at some point or another, but Juli recently sent me some Valentine party pictures taken in her home, and I was in awe of the sheer space I saw there. We’re talking a living room that would be a delight to vacuum! I’m just guessing, but I’d say Juli’s square footage is limited, and taking into consideration that she’s raising four children and homeschooling three of them…well, somehow, she keeps clutter-free. I asked her to share her thoughts and this is what she said,

“I do like to live semi clutter free. I have found that in our society we tend to accumulate many things. (like toys, clothes, shoes) What I try to do, is keep the things that mean something to me deeply, or that we use often. I would say once every six months, we go through our things, and give away what we are not using, or clothes that the children have out grown. I really think too many things have a way of zapping our energy, and make us unhappy. I try to buy only what we need, and not more. (our closet space is limited) There is a book I love called Shelter for the Spirit, it is such an inspiration to me. I guess I think in many ways less is more.”

I for one, am inspired to do better–thanks, Juli, for the encouragement and for the nudge on the book.

lr1.jpgOur living room is around 16’x23′. In this space we have five medium-large windows and three doorways–one to the hall, one to the kitchen, and one to the small entry foyer by the front door. We also have a massive limestone fireplace (pictured here, sorry for the dim quality), sandwiched between windows and three resinors (old fashioned hot water heating vents that we still use for heat). Okay, that’s all the non-movable stuff.

We have two bookcases, a piano, a computer desk, a humidifier, two recliners, two end tables, a coffee table, a couch, a wooden bench in front of the fireplace, a stereo system with two large speakers and an antique dresser which holds blankets in one drawer, DVDs/movies in another, and toddler toys in another. Oh yes, and a quilt rack. And a basket full of library books. (Anyone else feel like humming the Twelve Days of Christmas after that long line-up?)

So a question to satisfy my burning curiousity:

Are you crowded? If you’re not, I’d like to hear from you too!

While we’re at it, feel free to scold me for accumulating so much stuff. My goal for 2008 is to get rid of some of it. Sometime.

18 thoughts on “My Full House”

  1. We are SO cramped!! Our house is small, and it is the area of my life I have the most trouble being content with. This year I’m trying to focus on being grateful for what we have. So no room for scolding here, I could use some myself! :)

  2. Ah, your comment made me feel an instant kinship! πŸ˜‰ I never really felt cramped till baby #3 came along, and even then, not much until we moved her in with her sisters. We are outgrowing the downstairs, and dh is really hoping to have things upstairs ready to go by next fall. I used to want a “school room” but I don’t think we’d use it as much as I’d like to think we would. Someday, maybe we’ll have the girls all upstairs and free up their room to be a multi-purpose room (sewing/exercise/craft/guest)…

    Your focus this year is just like mine, I’m still planning on stenciling that phrase from the Point of Grace song above one of my kitchen doors, “Have what you want, but want what you have”… :) Such a great philosophy, because contentment is where it’s at!

  3. Well, we have a family of 5 in a two bedroom apartment, so I don’t think I will be much help to you, Mary!

    I am trying really hard to declutter and get organized myself. One of my problems is that we just don’t have any room for the things we DO need or use a lot. My girls have lots of toys, but with three girls, I hate to get rid of the Oldest’s toys since I have two younger girls that will eventually play with them. And I keep all the clothes to use as hand-me-downs. My sister also has two little girls, so we swap clothes often.

    I am working on the girls’ room right now, and our room is a huge project after that. I will have to take more pictures to show you our space. It’s not pretty…. (but hey, we have a roof over our heads!)

    I have to remind myself almost daily that the majority of the world is poor and that my family is rich in comparison (even though I don’t feel like we are). Despite hating apartment life, I am truly grateful we have a place to live and I feel God has blessed us in so many ways.

    Julie’s last blog post..How many garbage bags does it take to clean the kids’ room?

  4. I have an excuse but that’s all it is…it’s not really a valid ‘reason’ for hoarding. I grew up with the strictures of the Great Depression and World War II motivating all the Moms and Dads. You saved everything because you ‘might need it’ and be unable to replace it (no money or no provisions in the stores). I even read about a couple who were dismantling the home of her parents who had died. In the attic they found an envelope full of pieces of string. On the envelope was written ‘pieces of string too small to do anything with’! And a friend who knew you well, Mary, when you were a baby, once told me that she had a class in high school during the war years in which they learned to take apart the seams in garments, wash and press them, and then use the fabric for totally new garments. You can see how hoarding became a way of life. But how do you break out of an acquisitive compulsion? You dear young Moms, find your way out while you’re young!

  5. Well, we have the 12 of us in a 1300 square foot house. When we looked at this house to purchase, 8 1/2 years ago, Dan and I remember standing in the living room imagining all 7 (at that time) children stretched out on the floor to watch a movie, and said to each other “it’ll work for awhile, but what about when they’re teenagers?” We now have 5 teenagers, and 5 younger than that. We still only sorta fit to watch a movie…legs everywhere, no noticeable fire exit…
    So, Dan built a “cottage” out in the yard which is a 10 x 12 cute, pitched roof, lotsa windows little house. It is one room, with a sleeping loft. My 2 oldest girls (19 & 16) moved out there for their bedroom. It’s very cute as it has the look of pretty garden shed, or a room to go out and paint in. I’ve begun a rosebush and flower garden around it, and it’s become a focal point in the yard. We live in the country, so an “outbuilding” that’s less than 120 square feet, not on a permanent foundation can be built without a permit. Of course this one is tight, insulated, has a ceiling fan, electricity, and a small heater. It’s adorable with little white Christmas lights on it during the season.
    So, our 3 bedroom house expanded to 4 with the cottage. That meant the 5 girls to a bedroom went down to 3, and so Dan and I took back the master bedroom from them and gave the 3 a regular kid sized room. What a delight to have a bathroom in my bedroom again!
    Then we were trying to provide for a friend who became homeless and purchased ($600) a motorhome to park on our gravel driveway for her to live in until she got back on her feet. She got back on her feet, and now we have a motorhome. Dan gave it to our 3rd daughter (14) for her room. She’s musical, playing guitar and piano, so it’s called the “studio.” There is an electric piano out there, and the other kids go out to practice music with her. Everyone is a little jealous that she has her own room…But it’s called the studio so we refrain from calling it the “trailer,” not wanting the trailer trash connotation.
    The expansion includes 5 bedrooms now that we have the studio. We have 4 boys in one room, and 2 girls and a toddler boy in the 2nd room, and DH and I in the 3rd in house room. Our next building project is planned to be a “water tank” style building, again with less than 120 square feet…this will be to house our almost 18 year old son. He has never complained, but he sure would love to have a little space, so this will eventually be his room. Then toddler boy can move into the boys room that already has 2 bunk beds in it.
    We’ve attempted to make these untacky looking, and I think it’s OK. It sure is an inexpensive way to add on. And my husband is a builder, so when he removes/tears down something, he brings home the good materials, french doors, little window air conditioners, etc, and so material costs haven’t been too much. With his talent he even made windows with squares of glass and putty and wood. They are old fashioned and cute, and the girls hold them open with a stick in summer. Of course we don’t get snow, so these are tight enough for our winters.

    I am the throw away, declutter queen. When my husband says, “where is that thingy I was going to use for…?” I say, “um, I might have gotten rid of that…sorry.”

    I once perused a website dedicated to only owning 50 items…if they got something else, they got rid of something. It wasn’t for me and my family, but it was fascinating and encouraging. I think just limiting myself to 50 books would be difficult.

    I think I’ll spend 15 minutes getting rid of things in the school/dining room today.

  6. Julie, I can relate on wanting to save everything for the next daughter in line to reuse…whether it’s toys or clothes. Plus those “sentimental” keepsakes that take up space… Sometimes I tell myself…what if we lost it all in a fire, then what? Why not get rid of it now, and have it go to people who could get some good use out of it. However, the “frugal” (er…cheap?)part of me can’t let it go…thinking it will get more mileage out of my family with the next child. It is a dilemma. I know moms who only keep 3 play outfits and one or two church-type outfits per child. And I just drop my jaw in awe…

    Anyway, Julie, I will be anticipating those pics, and can’t wait to check out your latest post on the garbage bags! I’ve BTDT in my girls’ room also! There is hardly anything more satisfying!

    Holly, I know it’s good for us, but still! And you’ve had to purge each time you’ve moved, so I bet you have a lot less “stuff” than the rest of us have driving us crazy! πŸ˜‰

    Mom, that bag of “strings too small to use for anything” cracks me up! What’s sad is the horrible deprivation that generation must have gone through to feel they needed to resort to stashing things like that. Wow. I’ve been reading “Sadaam’s Secrets” and it’s horrible what the Iraqi people endured while under his 40 year-tyranny. He was spending all the country’s economy, so the civilians had to sell their family heirlooms, French doors, clothes off their backs…whatever they could do to survive. Schoolteachers were having to beg their students’ families for food because their salaries had dropped to $3 a month…now that they are rebuilding their nation, things are looking so much better for them. Of course, it made me wonder what’s in store for America’s future, especially with our national debt. I’m so glad for what we have…

    Cena, I so enjoyed your comment, that I read many parts of it to my hubby! (Kind of a “see, we could have ten kids too, even in our house! lol) Wow, what a great testimony…and I LOVE how your ingenuity solved the space problem with cottages and “studios”…what perfect solutions. I bet your older kids love having a “getaway” now and then…

    I used to be the “throw-away/declutter queen”, but I think dh is rubbing off on me. He absolutely won’t let me touch his magazine subscriptions, even Western Horseman magazines that are 15 years old (ya know they could be collector items someday)…so I let his “stacks” get just so high before I box them up and put them over in his “leather shop”…I’m am way more tolerant of these things than I was when we were first married! He is a saver…

    Thank you all for sharing what you’re going through and how you’re working through it. So encouraging to me!

  7. LOL Mary, reading about your DH-my Mom always said I was a “junk rat” hoarding all my stuff and never getting rid of anything too.

    Cena-my DH read your post too, and he was like “see Geri we could live in this house for a few more kids!”

    And Mary-I don’t know how your friend does it-only keeping 5 outfits per child. Some days that’s how many outfits LO goes through with messes! LOL I wish we only had to keep that many, but I don’t think my LO would let me.

    As for us, our house is the perfect size for us right now. However, our garage is a cluttered pigsty so I think that we have too much stuff. Now that it is getting warmer out I would like to pack LO up and put him out there in his playpen while I sort through our boxes and boxes of stuff, getting rid of the stuff we haven’t seen since we first moved out (3 yrs ago). Seeing as our house is for sale, I think it’s the perfect time to de-clutter the garage. (And the house is only for sale because we want to get nearer to DH’s work). I wouldn’t mind if we stayed here another few years. Our house is 1600sf with one master, and 1 kids room (now LO’s toy room, since his crib is in our master), and 1 spare room. Since we want more kids we can easily switch the spare room to a kids bedroom and put the spare room stuff in the garage to make more room (provided I clean out the garage!). We have only had one guest stay here before so I’m not too worried about keeping my spare room, not to mention that there is only boxes in the garage (no fuel, etc. so it’s completely fine) and if we were in a pickle and someone needed a place to stay, the garage is heated and everything.

  8. Man, you make 3 bedrooms and a dining room sound luxurious, Mary. It seems that no matter where we look for houses you either get the land or the space inside. It looks like you opted for land?

    In any case, I wish you well on the decluttering. I’m slowly becoming able to let go of my childhood things and that’s part of the clutter. You’ll have to let us all know how that goes.

    MInTheGap’s last blog post..Purity is More About the Heart than the Body

  9. I very much identified with this post, Mary. Monday is always a hard day for me, with lots of laundry and picking up all the accumulated clutter from a weekend of just coming in, dropping the stuff, leaving again, coming back…you get the idea. This weekend was extra full, so today I’ve been elbow deep in stuff!

    I am so thankful for our bigger house, we really have plenty of room – for now! – but the couple of nice days we’ve had do have me longing for spring, b/c my garage is in horrible shape! It’s been so cold that I’ve been guilty of running out there, grabbing a tote down, getting what I need, and running back into my warm house without putting away, or straightening. And with getting out all my baby girl things for my sister, this has been multiplied. Since having kids, I am very guilty of just picking up and stuffing things, and never stopping to say – “Do I even want this__________, let alone need it?” I just go on auto pilot and pick up, put away, and stuff the rest. I say “since having kids” because before that I only put stuff away if it was neatly organized. Amazing how your priorities change – just seeing the floor clear of stuff by evening seems like a spotless house now!

    I also have several closets that you can’t open without an avalanche – which drives this organized-neat-freak-at-heart absolutely batty! My “excuse” is that it’s hard to pull everything out of a closet to organize when the 2 crumb snatchers will have it strung all over the house before I can even see what’s there! Glad to know I’m not alone in all this! Happy day!

  10. I have a tiny house also. We have four bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, dining area and a teeny-tiny laundry room barely enough room for me and the washer and dryer.

    I hate clutter. So, I do my best to keep things as organized as I possibly can. With a hubby who happens to be a messy-junkie person it is hard, and with two little boys who love to make messes, it can drive me batty and sometimes is does. I finally got tired of forcing them to make their beds, so those stay untidy all of the time. But they do have a semblence of organization in their room and playroom.

    Leticia’s last blog post..Part 3 WARNING THIS POST NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG EYES!

  11. Hey, I just remembered another thing we did to make more room. We live in California, and the weather is great for being outside 9 months out of the year. So we’ve tried to extend our outdoor spaces to be family friendly.

    The front yard came with 3 big shade trees and faces north where our summer breezes come from. So the front has 10 foot deep cement patio spaces, with picnic tables and those white plastic chairs. The 2 hard plastic kiddie pools go out there during warm weather, and the water changing job goes to an older child for daily clean water. We can play croquet or corn hole on the lawn under the trees, and have company over for root beer floats in the evenings. (google corn hole for plans to make the game)

    The side yard used to have old lumber and cement tools laying around, and we cleaned it up, added more gravel (it’s really an extension of our gravel driveway) and prettied it up. We have 1/2 wine barrels out there with flowers, herbs, and greens growing. We have a round table for eating there too.

    The back has more than one spot. Under the willow tree is kid sized benches and chairs because they love to play and hide under the weeping branches. My veggie beds are raised beds with railroad ties around them. Kids are always sitting on the rr ties and munching on tomatoes and things from the garden. Guest children are amazed that things can be eaten like that right from the plants. The back porch was poured last spring and is nice and wide for more “living” space. It has a couple reclining lawn chairs and a ceiling fan (outside, like on Southern porches.) But the prize spot is around the “cottage.”

    The cottage is getting (slowly) a cottage garden around it. Last April, DH and I were contemplating going away for a day or overnight for our anniversary. There are some garden tours I would love to go to, and DH tries to make our anniversary about me! Then I asked if we could stay home and spend the money on the yard instead…He said he didn’t think I’d want to work in the yard on our anniversary. I said, “but what if you built a simple shade arbor next to the cottage, and I watched you (he calls it being his girlfriend) and handed you stuff, and made you iced tea.” He asked if I would really stay out there all day with him. Yes! So my older kids made a plan to clean house in the morning, then take the little ones to the park on the afternoon, and they made dinner in the crock pot, too. So we had our arbor built and had a quiet day in the garden together. It was fun. But the spot turned out so pretty, with the roses already blooming, the shade arbor made the roses look taller and framed them so well. We had no idea how pretty it would be. We filled the underneath with pea gravel, and two wooden chairs and a tiny table, and had dinner there all dirty and sweaty, and the kids served us. I started to realize that the investment of time and effort to make our own place a little more like a bed and breakfast would serve us better than paying to go to one (which usually isn’t $$ possible…)

    I know we’re thinking of our little stuffed houses right now because we’re winter housebound, but maybe drawing a little plan for outdoor areas to pretty up would give hope…

  12. Cena, I think you did hit the core of our problem…we’re all antsy to be out of our winter hidey-holes…lol. I adore the sounds of your outdoor living spaces, have always wanted several of my own. In fact, we have so many such ideal places on our property…that I have many “plans” in my head. I’ve always wanted a rock picnic table out under the trees…here where we live, you can find large rectangular slabs of limestone out in the pastures (I keep bugging my dh to go dig one up and haul it home–huge undertaking, I know!) that would be perfect for the table top. I really could drive myself batty with all the things I’d love to do to our property…fun to dream about. I’m with you 100% on saving the B&B fees to instead spend on prettying up what we have. That’s something you will enjoy every time you glance out the window, not to mention go outside, etc. I’d go that way, and have before, anytime!

    Leticia, 4 bedrooms sounds good to me, but tiny ones don’t help that much, I know from experience. Our girls share a room that is probably 15×18 feet, and one set of bunk beds helps immensely, but still! πŸ˜‰ And I wonder who is messier…little boys or little girls? Girls can be terrible with clothes everywhere and their many crafts-in-progress!

    Haley, your garage sounds like my attic! It’s SO cold up there, I do the very same thing. And it needs me. I was just thinking about it this morning, how I am getting all fired up about organizing the stuff that’s gotten strewn about up there…and how much I wish the weather was warm enough for me to open the windows up there and let the chill out! And if it makes you feel any better (it’ll probably make you feel worse!) I used to be almost obsessed about everything being “in its place” before kids. Boy have I changed. I guess I didn’t have enough to do before! Ha.

    MIn, that’s so true! We were expecting our first child at the time of purchase, and the house seemed spacious to us, in fact, with the upstairs we figured we had it made…and it was the right price. Of course, we didn’t *realize* the upstairs wasn’t insulated (bought it in late spring, so it wasn’t obviously hot or cold up there!) etc. What clinched the deal, is that the property came with 2 houses, two horse barns, corrals and 12 acres…and we’d been searching for a place with exactly those things. My hubby uses the extra house for his leather shop business, and back then, we were totally self-employed by his saddle making…so this property was/is an answer to prayer. Of course, it’s been a challenge, as it was pretty run down when we bought it, and we didn’t borrow extra to allow fixing it up…we’ve been fixing as we can afford it, which in our self-employment years was very seldom. Hope you find God’s answer for your family, housing/property-wise, very soon.

    Juli, thank YOU for being an inspiration to me! Your thoughts in simplifying resonated in me–you are so right, too many THINGS drain me of motivation and energy. I have that book on my TBR list!

    Geri, I really doubt my friend only had 5 outfits per child when her children were babies/toddlers! That would be asking for trouble! Hee…I even kept spare outfits in the trunk and diaper bags when mine were little. But the idea is sound…my girls barely have room in their dressers for the clothes they own. All favorites, OF COURSE! πŸ˜‰

    Your house sounds perfect for us, when can we move in and how much are you asking? πŸ˜‰ Lol, we have considered the pros of moving closer to dh’s job and if we ever had, we’d be in bad shape now as he started a new one last year and it’s over an hour away from the previous one. This one is closer to our church though, so we have double the reason to consider moving, as much as I doubt we’d ever do so. But you’re right, moving is the best of all times to go through and purge. It’s a lot easier setting the trash out on the curb than toting all those boxes along with you to the next home! BTDT. But, after 15 years of marriage, I’m still learning. I save way too many things in the name of sentimentality. Oh well.

    Loved everyone’s responses!

  13. LOL Mary. The last few days we have started reconsidering selling our house. For starters, now that we know I am pregnant it is not really a good time to be worried about moving. Then we just love this house and it would be sad to leave it. We want property so badly though, so that would be one perk of moving if we could find that. But otherwise, we have the house on the market for another 3 months, and if nothing happens then God is sending us a message to stay here. The big thing is that it takes an hour plus in winter for DH to drive to work. In the summer it is closer to 1/2 hour which is not so bad. It just really gets to him at times that he’s not able to spend that time with me and LO. So if we are able to find something closer and with property that would be ideal. And wow Mary your property sounds beautiful! Up here the market is sky-rocketing; something with all that you have would be worth a 3/4 million, if not more. It’s really difficult to find acreages with one house that isn’t right on the highway (a problem for us with Bowser and LO). But I will keep praying that God will show us the spot!

  14. Well, I wish it were worth that here! πŸ˜‰ It may sound beautiful, but much of it is in need of major TLC. In fact, we have a third barn on the property that dh is in the process of tearing down and salvaging the barn wood for woodworking projects. It’s needed done ever since we moved here. (oh well!) Sometimes he jokes about how much easier it would be to toss a match to the whole thing…

    My dh has a 45 minute commute. It’s not ideal to work that far away from home, but when you live in a rural area like we do, many people have to drive similar distances in order to have better jobs. He leaves early, and thankfully is usually home by 5:30 or 6 p.m.

    I hope and pray the perfect place opens up for you guys. Hopefully it will soon, but like you said, it’s in God’s hands!

  15. No, we aren’t crowded- yet. Our home is 2 bedroom 1 bath too but thats perfect for just the two of us.
    I love to pitch stuff. I hate cludder.

  16. It is perfect for the two of you…dh and I started in a three bedroom trailer house, with two baths! I can’t imagine how we felt crowded, except that dh operated his leather business out of one of the end bedrooms. We have such special memories of that cozy home!

    I’m getting better at pitching stuff! My girls got rid of 60 stuffed animals on Saturday! Amazing! W/o tears. Whew!

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