Beautiful Work

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands…. Psalm 90:17a

Making the most of every square foot March 12, 2009

Filed under: Household tips,Living in small spaces — Kate @ 6:00 am

Our previous home was a whopping 750 square feet on the main level, but it was our first house, super cute and we were sooo thankful for our own space and the equity that we could build that we were sold on it almost before we had walked in the door!   The people we bought the house from had made the most of the living area by finishing the attic space into 2 smaller rooms.  When we had Sammy, we made one of the upstairs rooms into his nursery.  It actually worked very well, because we could make the most use of the dormer areas … I didn’t need full wall space for the crib or changing table!

sammy-nursery-panorama1

stacked-washer-dryer

Some other square footage maximizers were our full sized, front loading, washer and dryer!  The space was wired for a smaller single unit one, but we installed the wiring needed for the 2 full sized units and stacked them!  I LOVED having the front loaders and the extra capacity they offered!  Even though we only had a laundry ‘hallway’ and not even a full room, it was great to be able to get lots of clothes taken care of at once.

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Taking a look back… March 11, 2009

This post is going to really date me :)  We have lived in many different places since getting married and starting a family.  We got pregnant 3 months after we were married and we were not on a track to settle down into a house yet so I will share all the many various housing situations we have lived in and how we coped.  With our first child we lived in a one bedroom apartment (we moved three times before the birth of our second 18 months after our first but they were all 1 bedrooms).  With our second pregnancy we moved to a 2  bedroom apartment.  Then as we prepared to move to Minnesota we moved in with my parents to save money.  We then moved in with our wonderfully gracious Sister and Brother-in-law who had 900 sq. ft. house.  From there we moved into the first floor of a house that had 1 bedroom and a den.  We bought a duplex next that had 14oo sq. ft. and seemed huge to us with our 2 children.  Then our family grew :)  We had 4 kids, 2 bedrooms and a nursery (a room that was only big enough for a crib not a twin bed :).  The Lord provided a huge house for us to live in last July that is a much longer but amazing story :)  With all that said here are some tips we have learned:

  • We moved so much that we never really accumulated much “stuff.”  This is key.  I think I tend to be a pack rat but have been trained to get rid of stuff.  I still go through the house and say would I want to move this???  That is my real test.  You have to pare down and live with what you love.
  • Well marked plastic bins for kids clothes (Thank you Christa!).  Each season and size gets its own bin.
  • If you are in really cramped quarters like we were, movable furniture in a necessity.  Our babies slept in pack and plays or bassinets that you could move or smaller cribs (not the wonderful picture of a nursery that I dreamed of!).
  • Furniture that does double duty.  Our coffee table also houses our Bibles, journals, and current books we are reading.  Attractive baskets or bins that go with our decor hold toys.  Ottomans that can store blankets and such.
  • Memberships- We belong to the YWCA which is an absolute lifesaver for my family.  It has activities for the whole family, a pool, babysitting, classes and a place to run around.  We go most everyday and it is so helpful especially in the winter.  Memberships to zoos and children’s museums also have helped in the past.  Just to have place to go and hang out.
 

“Itty Bitty Living Space” March 10, 2009

Filed under: Decorating,Household tips,Living in small spaces — Leah @ 6:00 am
Title is a movie quote- do you know where it's from?  Answer at the bottom of the post!

Our family currently resides in a 915 sq. ft, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, single car garage home.  :-)  The twins share a room, Miles gets his own, and we’ve recently done some things to make our main living space a bit more managable for our family of five.

Living Room: We set aside some of our tax return to by a flat panel TV.  Truthfully, we didn’t want the “big-fancy-TV” as much as we needed the extra floor space it would provide via it’s wall mount.  We’ve eliminated the entertainment/media furniture item from the living room and replaced it with a small bookshelf that fits under the television.  We sold the coffee table on Craigslist (who needs that silly thing anyway…my son can find something else to bang his head into I’m sure…), and bought a SMALL occasional table at World Market for $20 (it was on sale) to set drinks and whatnot on instead.

img_2077Bedroom Storage: The bedroom closets are not standard size in our home, they are smaller.  So, we added a second bar in each of the kids’ closets to accommodate their clothing storage needs.  We also added a second shelf above the main one to give us some extra storage space.  We bought the Billy bookshelves from IKEA for each of the kids’ rooms and filled them to the brim with baskets/buckets for their toys.  We’re using a combination of some super cheap ones from IKEA (red and blue only) and some not-quite-as-cheap ones from The Land of Nod (LOTS of color choices).

Note: The current configuration consists of the lower two shelves with the IDEA baskets, the toddler toys have been moved to Miles’ room.  We’ve also bought a additional (skinny) Billy bookcase to expand the one you see in the picture.  Here is the link for the picture hanging line (actually made for curtains).

Closet Storage: There is one small coat closet, and the linen closet is a JOKE.  Seriously, it was homemade by a previous owner and isn’t even deep enough to get a folded towel or sheet set in it. SO, we don’t keep many extra sheets for our beds.  The kids each have one extra set, and Eric and I have one summer set and one flannel winter set.  That’s it.  It means laundry gets done the same day that they bed gets changed…but that’s ok, at least it get’s done…right?!  :-)

img_06991Bathroom: The bathroom is as small as a bathroom can get and still enclose the necessary amenities.  Other than adding the cabinet above the toilet, I’m at a loss as to how to make that space any better.  Just to give you an idea of the space: I’m standing in the tub to get the picture taken. :-)

Garage: We gave up getting a car in there long ago.  I really dislike the idea of not actually using our garage as a place to keep the weather and whatnot off our main car…but with so little storage in our home it became necessary to kick that car out!  So, I have a shelf in the garage devoted to extra pantry items that don’t fit in the kitchen itself.  I have another one devoted to extra toiletries and cleaning supplies.  This allows me to get as much as I can when it’s on sale for super cheap without totally cluttering up my kitchen.

Okay, that’s it!  What are you ideas and methods for living in your small spaces?!

(It's from the Genie in Aladin)  :-)
 

Living in small spaces March 9, 2009

Filed under: Household tips,Living in small spaces — Andie @ 4:11 pm

 

This week, we are going to share how we cope with living in small houses. Not all of us still live in tiny houses but we all have at some point. Andrew and I live in a house that is just shy of 1100 sq feet. We have two children, but want more and are wondering how we’ll all fit in here for much longer… especially with the long Minnesota winters!

Here are the things that have helped me cope:

Create more storage space. Small homes feel less cluttered when everything has a spot to be put away. But, small houses often have small storage! One way we’ve dealt with this is to be creative with our storage. We turned my old bulky dresser into a buffet by removing the mirror on the back. Our bedroom is small so the dresser took up too much space there. Our dining room needed more storage for things like placemats, bibs, and candles. We filled the leftover drawers with diapers, nebulizer & meds, and memory books. This has become a nice-looking, functional storage solution for us. dsc_0001_800x536shkl2

 

Maximize your existing storage space. We try to use every inch of our existing storage space. This means that my coat closets have anything but coats in them. As you can see, I fill my closets with ugly plastic drawers. While having built-in storage would be nice, the plastic works great for now. Also, I have found that you can sell them on Craigslist later. They are worth the $30 (for 2) investment for my sanity. These have also worked great for Ruth’s closet. She is able to put away all her clothes by herself now because she can see through the drawers and know what goes where.  dsc_0003_800x1195shkl

Confine toys to limited spaces. We have a playroom. It’s not big, but it’s where the toys can be put away and the door can be closed. To me, this makes it feel like I can still have “grown up” space in my living room. I know other people who achieve this simply by having nice-looking toy baskets or trunks to keep toys disguised in their main living areas. Another note about this is that we have certain toys that are only for room time. Ruth and Byron both have individual play time in their rooms for 45 minutes most days. I let them have special toys during this time that they do not bring into the rest of the house. This was a good option for Ruth’s magnetic paper dolls which have 1 zillion pieces. It’s fun for her, and it’s contained

Get rid of stuff you don’t love or need. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before. Maybe you think I’m really organized. I’m not; I’m just crazy about getting rid of stuff I don’t love or need simply because I have a small house. No matter how often I purge my stuff, there is always more! So, I have to be on top of this.