Why We Couldn’t Do the Tiny House Thing

It’s intriguing. It’s resource-saving. It’s simplifying. It’s even hip.

And there’s no way that we could ever attempt it.

The tiny house movement is a fad (there, I said it) in which people buy or build a super small building and make it work as their one-and-only living space. We’re talking 200 square feet spaces, guys. It’s kind of like taking a tiny NYC apartment and proving that you could live in it any old place. Sure, in the city it may seem worth it…okay, not even in the city does it seem worth it. At least, not for our family of four humans and three cats.

Even if it would be the best excuse ever to get well-meaning relatives to stop. Buying. All. The. Stuff. Tiny just isn’t viable or sustainable in the long-term.

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Currently, we’re living in a house just over 1,000 square feet. Some might say we’re already living in a tiny house, but I’d argue that it’s more of a small house.  Not bursting at the seams. Not “a hut in Africa” small. But cozy and definitely cramped, especially with a 3-year-old who takes to announcing “I’m Kid Flash!!!” zooming from room to room. As cute as he is, it gets old.

The idea behind tiny house living is an admirable one. In response to the mentality behind McMansions that led to the housing market collapse, people thought, “That’s gross materialism, plain and simple.” So, what’s the opposite? Gross simplification.

As you know, I’m all about living a simpler lifestyle. The benefits are immense. If we COULD wrap our heads around the idea of living in a tiny house, maybe this blog post would be a very different discussion. But, as it is, I’m a realist. And a mother, at that. Four years ago, I know I thought, “Well, if we don’t find another house, this one will suit us just fine in the long-term.” I was wrong.

I couldn’t have foreseen the special, what-the-heck-is-in-his-Wheaties kiddo who would bless our family. He is SUPER-CHARGED a lot of the time. Kid’s got spunk and energy for days. The only good our tiny house is to him currently is as a race track: the fact that our layout offers a misshapen circle to race is his favorite. Dining room, kitchen, living room…dining room, kitchen, living room….

No, a kid like this deserves a larger space. Sure, we could do a tiny house on a HUGE plot of land, but we spend far less time outside during the winter than we do inside. (Maybe I should amend that.) And, since winter is *usually* a pretty lengthy season in these parts, there’s a lot of energy that can get stored in a 3-year-old body. That energy inevitably explodes in sometimes disastrous ways.

So, while we by no means long for a McMansion or even a Happy Meal version, we’d like to upgrade to a reasonably larger space. At least one that allows for more inside play space (along with a bit more outside, too) but still small enough that we know our kids, if you catch my drift. Then, in purchasing a house rather than wasting materials on a new build, and by upgrading in eco-friendly ways, I’m hoping that our footprint will still be markedly less than the big beasts.

As with all things in life, moderation is key.

Office/Nursery Progress

We’ve got LESS than a month before we welcome this new little one into our world. There’s a TON we have left to do, not gonna lie. I’m working on sub plans for my maternity leave and generally trying to get a jump on things at work while juggling the usual tasks, trying to get ahead of any writing work I’d like to accomplish pre-baby, and, well, generally getting ready for the baby — name picking, analyzing what we may still need, etc.

But, one area that we’re trying the “slow and steady wins the race” motto out is our office/nursery; our “offisery,” if you will. It doesn’t need to be done immediately since the baby will be in our room with us for the first month or two (or more), but we realize that we won’t have the time to do it after the little one arrives. Plus, ticking things off of our “to do” list is always enjoyable.

So, most nights, we’ve been doing something *small* in the space. We started with a buttload of books, which we packed up except for the ones we always like to have available. (I’m talking about YOU, two copies of “Little Women”…you!) So, after finally emptying an entire 6-foot-tall bookshelf, we dragged that sucker down to the basement. Let’s call it additional storage, although we all know the cats prefer the term “jungle gym.”

Then, after vacuuming up a lifetime’s worth of dust, it was time to assemble our version of a changing table. As you may (or may not) remember, we repainted a free dresser to use for Hadman’s changing area when he was a baby. This time, we’re using one of the more heavy duty “cube storage” units from Target. It’s definitely thicker than the usual flimsy ones, so I feel more comfortable using this to support the little one. We also grabbed some feet to attach in case the height wouldn’t work and, of course, a few of the nicer cube boxes to up the fanciness quotient. If cube storage could be called “fancy.”

So, what’s left? Well, we already moved my desk out and the crib in, tossed down a big, fluffy, natural wool rug that I got from Rugs USA (seriously, cheapest high-quality rugs ever), and purged/boxed up tons of stuff we don’t need access to. Here’s where we’re left:

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– Obviously, um, declutter more. Lots of random pieces hanging around. And an extra chair. We’re still discussing the fate of the cat tree (yes, that ratty, scratched-up thing that my husband seems as attached to as any of the cats) and whether or not he can foresake the ugly office chair for a comfy, fits-an-office-AND-nursery-decor alternative. And, yes, we’ll be saying “see you in the next house!” to much of the comic art on the walls, which Dave’s been super good about. I just want to leave him with SOMETHING of his own…that doesn’t involve violent crime-fighting. Because, y’know, babies.

– Switch out some new wall art (which will involve some touch-up painting, ugh). I’m thinking of grabbing some canvases and a gold paint pen to do some DIY art, and I already picked up a bunch of swatches that I’ve ironed and chopped into fabric tassels for a wall hanging. But, yeah. Art.

– Floating shelves to the rescue. This is one of those “if we have the time/energy” things, but the floating shelves in Hadley’s room and our bathroom (seriously, how have I never showed you guys a final reveal for that space?!) are amazing, so we may do something similar above the changing area in this room. Plus, it’ll give us some more options for combining decor styles and a little extra storage. But, again, it’s not a “must-have” right now.

– Bring in the baby stuff! (sing to the Muppet Show theme song) “It’s time to strip the diapers, it’s time to clean the clothes!” So, I’ll be utilizing under-crib storage, which I’m in love with, for the “next sizes”, but otherwise keeping the newborn and 0-3 stuff at-hand as best as possible.

What do you guys think? I know we’re fighting an uphill battle with the color, ugly as heck rug, and, well, general officity (can that be a word? It should be) of it all, but this is FAR better than we were even a month ago. 🙂

House Wishlist

Happy Groundhog Day! We’re lucky enough to have a snow day (and my hubby took the day, too!), which is our first one of the year. Definitely a great day to hunker down, drink hot cocoa, bake cookies, and generally appreciate the warmth together.

That said, we love our house, but we’re hoping to start up a house hunt just about when the snow melts. It’s strange to admit it out loud (or, for all the internet to read), but the good thing is that we’re not in a hurry. Our current situation is fine, for now, but because we’re not rushing to find something, we have time to work on little areas of ours that need work and won’t feel quite as pressured to buy something we don’t love.  

It’s not a huge move; we’re still going to be in the same relative area, but hopefully safer and with more space for the little guy to play. That said, I thought I’d share Had’s current thoughts on the house situation (which, quite honestly, change a little depending on the day). He has consistently asked for the following:

– More land to “run and run and run.” I’ve asked for awhile now whether he wants a house in a “town” with people around to play with or in the “country” where he can have lots of room…and this is what he says.

– Places to play. We take this as either a room that’s big enough for him to use also as a playroom, or a specifically designated place that IS a playroom

He doesn’t ask for much. Gotta love a 2-year-old. His mom and dad, however… Well, here’s what we’re hoping for:

– More space, but not too much. We currently have a 3-bedroom, 1-bath house that clocks in at around 1,000 sq. ft. If we could have a house with an extra bedroom (or a 3-bedroom with an office or playroom area, or finished basement) and maybe an extra half bath, we’d be happy.

– Bring on the charm. Our current fixer-upper is charming. There are soooo many cookie-cutter homes that lack things like substantial woodwork or built-ins or, well, much of anything. I personally prefer homes from the first half of the 1900s. I’m flexible…but within reason. 😉 I will also gladly work to bring it up to modern standards, while maintaining its character.  

– Centrally located. We’d like for our commutes to be 30 minutes or less. Currently, Dave’s is around 25 minutes; mine’s 15 minutes.

– A bit of land. Again, not too much, but enough that Had and any future siblings or friends have space to roam. I’d like to be able to garden. It’s also a bit of a dream of Dave’s to have a barn or garage for strays. Just call him St. Francis of Assisi. But, if we didn’t get a country home and instead had a nice backyard in a safe neighborhood, we definitely wouldn’t mind.  

There are other things on our list, like particular townships near friends or a particular price-range or yes-to-hardwood-floors-no-to-oil-heat, but everything is flexible to an extent. We’d like it to be a place that we enjoy for many, many years to come, so we’re picky about some things, but willing to work with others. Certain aesthetic issues can be remedied, but other bigger updates may not be in our budget long-term. But, seriously, I’m so glad that we don’t have HGTV right now — watching the house hunting couples walk into a place and put their foot down over bad wallpaper or easily-amended ugliness is frustrating!

That said, I thought it’d be fun to share a couple of the “wow, that would be AWESOME” mental wishes for a future home. I can’t wait to get my DIY on and put some fun, love and life into a gem of a space.

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For some weird reason, I’m really into bungalows from the ’20s and ’30s. It’s not a deal-breaker, but these have me weak in the knees.

 
Then, there’s my husband. When we drive around the neighborhood where he grew up, he swoons over these cottage- or English-style houses. I’m not against them, but they’re not my favorite. Again, it’s not a deal-breaker, but these are the styles that make us sit up.

Let’s head inside our “dream house.” I don’t have an idea of specifics (unless I’m thinking about “the one that got away” last year; it was the perfect size and had no work to be done, so of course it was out of our price range), so I’ll just share a couple of things we’d love to have or create over time.

Our current kitchen is a pretty good size and has amazing light, so it’s going to be hard to find something by comparison. However, it doesn’t always function very practically (hello, 1925 dwellers). So, given what we’ve already seen on the market, I’m pretty much positive we’ll have to do a makeover in the kitchen. Enter subway back splash, stage right. I love this stuff, and chunky open shelving comes in a close second.

This may not be exactly what we’re thinking, but the idea is here (and isn’t it gorgeous?). Wood floors? Yes. Fireplace? Definitely. (Bonus points if it works.) Space for entertaining/hosting holidays? Hopefully.

We currently use an entire bedroom as an office. We’d LOVE to be able to have similar (or more) space for another one, or even part of the basement, but if we need to be creative, this set-up is awesome and simple (and cheap).

A kid space is pretty high on our list. The zillions if ideas I’ve seen floating around online have me itching to create a fun place for Hadman (and any future siblings). Chalkboard paint + homemade tent + reading area + art area + dress-up/stage area = fun. I’d also LOVE to put a piano in this space, as well, since our current place can’t accommodate one. (sigh) Plus, if we decide to homeschool, it could double as a learning room.

So, what do you think? Are any of these items on your wishlist? What are some must-haves for your dream house?

Operation Closet: Closed

Over my recent spring break, I performed what I can only describe as (in my skewed little world) a miracle.

It all started with a closet that was brimming with, well, crap. Coats, scarves, gloves, hats…and the occasional piece of randomness (on the bright side: Now we don’t have to decide which towel hooks to buy for the bathroom! How long ago did I BUY those??). Let’s just say that, like many doors in our home, we couldn’t close it. And being in the middle of our most-used living space, it was downright embarrassing.

The goal for this closet was to 1) purge our winter coats and maybe even make some room for *gasp* visitors to hang their jackets, 2) organize the top shelf area, 3) make some room for my everyday use bags, and 4) be able to see the floor.

While pulling out all the items in the closet, I found some wooden hangers that we got for Christmas (luckily it was this past Christmas, not last year or any other embarrassing year) to add some consistency and get rid of the ol’ plastic ones. Isn’t it strange how the worst part of organization is the fact that you have to completely destroy an area first? You can’t really clean a closet (or pantry or cabinet or…) without pulling everything out. So, long story short – that’s what I did.

Here’s a fun little “before and after” for you.
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So, what’s the miracle? Not only can I see the floor AND close the door, but we can now toss our unsightly shoes there before company comes. They’ll never know! Tricky, tricky! (All the rest of our shoes go into the nearby ottoman…which makes me sick to think about because one of our naughty scratching boys who shall remain nameless has created his own artwork of pinhole scratches upon said faux leather ottoman. *sigh* It still fits its purpose and folks wouldn’t know unless I made them run their hand across it, but it’s the principle of the thing!) So, now our guests not only have space for their shoes to go near the door, but there’s room in the closet for their bits ‘n pieces. In other words, we can have folks over! Seriously. Who’s coming? (Too bad we’re booked solid the next several weeks, LOL.)

DSC03292DSC03296It’s closed!!
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One other tidbit of trickiness to share: my favorite “work bag slash purse” (see in the last picture above; I retired the green for the mustard a little while ago) can now be treated with some respect when I get home, thanks to am M3 plastic hook or two. Although, admittedly, it still gets tossed near the ottoman 50% of the time. Ya win some, ya lose some. Either way, this is definitely a “Dude, Get On That Already” that’s been awaiting my attention for years. *bows* Finally!

Oh, and while I was at it, I replaced an outdoorsy wreath (featuring those fake red “buds” that I used to like so much) with a bit of summery freshness. This is our “dump everything” spot, so it doesn’t always look so tidy, but the ceremonious, aggressive deletion of red from the living room is definitely happening! You can also see my attempt at daily organization with our “mail basket” and ottoman.

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Black Thumb

I love green. It means so many things: eco-friendliness, newness, fresh living plants. It’s my favorite color, and in fact it’s my eye color. What’s not to love about green? Well, for the plants I haven’t had luck with, apparently lots.

When we moved into our house a few years ago, vegetation was the last thing on my mind. I was much more focused on the interior “let’s make it ours” aspect of being a new homeowner. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still concerned about our view around the joint. And, we’ve had two years of quasi-successful (our first year was definitely better) herb and vegetable growth. But, I’m dying to create an exterior space to be proud of – while keeping it, hopefully, relatively low-maintenance. Since, y’know, I’m all about making things easier (a new take on simplification) as life gets a tad more complicated around here.

Last summer, we said a sad goodbye to the honkin’, troublesome, older-than-God tree that made it near impossible to grow much in the front border around our house. Some deep roots are still underground (and, at times, viewable at the surface), but we feel a lot safer when strong storms hit the area.

Let’s just say that I’m pretty ignorant about all this stuff. I’ve discovered that we’ve got plenty of early-season bulb flowers (daffodils, tulips) that pop up this time of year, but the organization of it all is pretty haphazard and not attractive in the least (and half of them don’t bloom – the biggest challenge here is the angle of the house; our east side gets an okay amount of sun (I’d say partial) while our west gets damn near nothin’). I’ve tried adding some annuals each year, getting rid of the hostas (after we had success with one and major failure with two others), putting in some ferns (also haven’t done very well), and a couple of boxwoods and a hydrangea – which I’m clearly not advanced enough to master. *sigh*

So, while it seems that I can handle growing edibles, my green thumb ends there. I’m going to do some more research and find some blogspiration, and ask that anyone reading who may have a bright green thumb (I know some of you must!) for any low-maintenance plantings that work well in Upstate New York, feel free to blurt it out! The biggest challenge, ultimately, is the fact that we don’t have much (or equal) sunshine, so it’s difficult to keep things symmetrical. Here are some pictures from a) FOREVER ago and b) the best the space has ever looked (after I transplanted hostas, added solar lights and mulched)

The ivy below the windows on each side of the foundation has started causing some problems, so I’ve been working on digging it out for good over the past year – ‘cuz goodness knows it keeps coming back. Some opinions that I need:

– Paint the foundation a deep tan (and the shutters glossy black)? The roof is hunter green and I hate it, but hey, it’s a roof…and our front door is a bright, cheery red. The porch needs some paint to let it blend in more, but I’ve gotta have “the men” in the family take a look at its stability first.
– Red cedar or plain ol’ chocolate brown mulch? Or none of the above?
– Ditch the stone border? We’ve got lots of brick floating around (that I’m considering Craigslisting) but I feel that it would probably also look kinda ghetto. So, just go “sans stone” or work with it?
– What plants have you had luck with, or do you think might work for this space? I’d like to add a few different levels for the eye to look at, but of course the ultimate goal is just to have a space that CAN grow. 🙂 I’m up for greenery like bushes or dwarf trees OR a variety of perennials. Any ideas would be great!

On a side note, another “just need the money first” project that I’m dying to take care of before we ever try to sell this place is having the driveway done (it’s been decades), which would include amending our sidewalk situation. Seriously, if you look down the street (a very long street, at that), the only “break” in the sidewalk is where our driveway takes it over. Silliness! It drives me crazy. Plus, the unevenness of our driveway can’t possibly be good for our cars. Every time a visitor comes, I feel ashamed that they have to pull into this crappy “whatchya think of me now?” first impression. So, clearly we won’t be DIYing that undertaking – but, man, will I be a happy camper when it’s done!

Windows, Windows, Everywhere…

We have a pretty small house, for the most part. For its size, it has a pretty decent number of windows. My mother speaks often of the amount of light brought into our kitchen (ie “the best-lit kitchen she’s ever seen”, and it’s not due to our lighting situation). Sure, the bedrooms each have one or a set of two windows, but, again, they’re tiny. The office only has one. But, our front room…our front room wins the window prize. It’s got seven, and we’re lucky enough to have double french doors that let the light into the rest of our first floor.

We’ve been replacing these windows, one or a few at a time, since we moved in. We’ve purchased them through my father-in-law, and he has kindly put them each in (with a few snags here and there – the surprises that come with “old home” ownership). The windows help with energy use, seem a heck of a lot safer, and can actually open and close nicely. Not to mention, they’re pretty snazzy to look at. Oh, and cleaning is easier – although, let’s be honest here, I never got outside on a ladder to clean the original windows or anything so reasonable.

We’re down to the last handful of windows in the front room, AKA the sun room, AKA the three-season room (although I’m not sure if any of these terms is altogether accurate). We currently have sheers hanging from cheap-o white rods that were here when we bought the place. I’m actually surprised that ANYTHING not bolted down was left behind. The sheers are okay, but considering their lack of privacy (and the fact that they’re the length of the windows…no longer), I’m pretty much over them.

Another little ditty that gets stuck in my head and drives me crazy? The fact that two of the rods will NOT stay TOGETHER. I’m using the proper hardware (although the previous owners rigged together some homemade contraption utilizing WOOD SCRAPS and, I believe, a button or some such nonsense for one of them), but the middle extender finds itself slipping out a lot. It could be due to the fact that the furry boys love looking out into the world beyond the windows, so I find myself frequently sliding the curtains – but this shouldn’t be such a darn problem! Here’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout:

That’s what I call “too short”, young lady. You may not leave the house wearing that.
Broke-a$$, evidence number one. (Hi, Mr. Neighbor!)

Broke a$$ evidence number two. Much more obvious. And, in case you’re uber-snoopy, that’s a window waiting to be hung on the left, leisurely laying against the wall.
So, what do I want to do? I want a nice, fun visit (when the gas prices aren’t so high…RIGHT!) to our about-an-hour-away Christmas Tree Shop. It’s the best place (price-wise) I can find to stock up on window rods and hardware – and I’m planning on going way more heavy-duty than what we’ve currently got. I MAY also search for some clearance fabric to sew some slightly-less-sheer curtains, but I’ve gotta search around on Pinterest to see if there are any inspirational SHORTER ideas out there. One thing I’d definitely like to do, since I’ll be “custom making” them, is to make the panels narrower. I want the privacy, but also want the boys to be able to sneak a peek at the birdies and squirrels frolicking on the front lawn – I think this’ll help us achieve both goals (I don’t have to slide an entire curtain over, exposing our leisurely living room selves, but they’ll still be able to see out).

Oh, and a window post certainly wouldn’t be complete without our champion window-watcher, Mr. Winston, utilizing his new favorite thing — a slightly opened window with a screen (which freaks Dave out, but I only do it when I’m home and can keep an ear open for sneaky pushing).

Built-In Beauty

Organization can be a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a “before shot” on this project because Dave had started working on it before I even realized what was happening. Before I knew it, every item in the upper cabinets was on the floor. I can’t really complain about that initiative, can I? That’s what I really call a “dude, get on that already” project!

The built-ins at the end of our upstairs hallway made me want to buy our house in the first place. It sounds silly, but we each had something about the house that made us realize that it had to be the first official “us” space (we had lived together in my apartment for only a short time before finding our house). Dave loved the front porch-slash-3 (or 4, depending on how warm you like to stay)-season-room, so to each his own. 🙂 Either way, the uniqueness of a craftsman-style house is hard to hate.

I try to reorganize this space once a year, but somehow some pills that we had accumulated were REALLY expired, so Dave put a bag together of medications that we’ll dispose of when a pharmacy holds a proper disposal drive.The same goes for lots of beauty items that had been compiled. I always figured that I’d just use them up, but I’d always purchase an eco-friendly option (and want to try it out) after running low on shampoo or body wash. I hardly even USE conditioner. So, after some thought and conversation, we realized that we could donate the un-used beauty products to a local facility called Evelyn’s House (which helps out young mothers and their children). I was ecstatic that, not only could we find a use for our items that were never going to be used and taking up way too much space, but that they could go to help out such an inspiring cause. Win-win!

Here’s the whole shebang, well, way improved. Sheets on top, towels in the middle, random larger items (like a tote holding all of our travel-sized items, my “clothes shaver”, and Neti-Pot), and all toiletries (organized accordingly) and first aide items in plastic containers on the bottom. Seriously, the “before” was craziness.

So, after some moving around…followed by still more shifting…followed by lots more finagling…we figured out how to utilize the space. And, who knows? Next year, it may look completely different. But what I’m most excited about is that we emptied some of the lower drawers for more storage. Y’know. Like for seasonal clothes…or baby stuff. 🙂

How’d we empty drawers? Well, one way was by getting absolutely brutal about what we need. Seriously, how many semi-complete sets of sheets do folks need? Then, we found space to pile the towels and sheets (which, by the way, don’t look any nicer utilizing the “Martha Stewart – put all sheets into one pillowcase trick”…just sayin’) on the shelves rather than hiding away in the drawers. I kind of like that it makes the space look a little airier rather than “stuff laden”. I’m sure a cute basket or two will help add some more storage prettiness, eventually.

On a side note, this project occurred well over a week ago (more like two or three weekends ago). LAST weekend, we did some more organizational work…but there’s still lots more to do, so I won’t bug you with it. Not yet. 😉 And the ultimate goal with all this craziness is to create more usable space in our home to make a new baby’s arrival slightly less stressful than it already will be. We’d much rather focus on learning how to parent; not where to fit stuff and having our home AND minds cluttered. Not a very positive way to live, is it? So, every little bit of work that we’re doing – from Drylok-ing the basement to cleaning out a built-in to filling bags for Goodwill – bring us one step closer to the “more fun” baby stuff (nursery decorating, etc).

Appreciate the Now

After reading this article, it dawned on me that our current surroundings may not just be a starter home — it may be our after-starter home. Certainly not our ending home, but a bigger player in our future as a couple and family and careers than expected. I’ve gotta start coming to terms with that.

We found this house a little over a year ago, thanks to my mother. She was on the look-out for a cheap starter home for us (it seems lots of people were — my sister and Dave’s brother both bought their first homes around the same time). In luck, she found a foreclosed property in our suburban area for a great low price. Yeah, no. Ridiculously low. Dave and I walked through, knowing that it might have some unforeseen issues (the realtors couldn’t inform us due to its foreclosure status, which we were fine with), but the place seemed just right for our needs. I think once Dave saw the brightly-lit sun room in the front, he silently fell for it — I think the age of it (close to that of my first home, where I lived for 18+ years) did me in.

Shortly after moving in, we discovered that the house hadn’t been winterized in sufficient time, so the pipes had burst. A funny story involving our kitchen’s leaking ceiling fan and my niece calmly proclaiming that, “The light’s got water coming out of it” will always be engraved in our memories of our first day in the place.

With great thanks and appreciation for my step-father, before too long we had all new pipes, toilet, and energy-efficient water heater and furnace. Then, he and Dave worked together to put in a pedestal sink, vanity, overhead light, light/heater/fan, front door locks, etc etc etc. Dave’s dad supplied us with well-priced windows, which we’re still working on getting put in — a vast majority are finished. We’ve turned our eyes to getting the lawn green (in a green fashion — like by using his old-school push mower, as mentioned in this post) and will be planting a modern “victory garden” when the weather stays warm for a bit.

Oh, we’ve done more — much more. Lots of painting and cosmetic stuff, but nothing too costly (yet). We put in some cool vintage-looking (but modern material) black-and-white-check flooring in the kitchen, painted nearly every room, and am in the midst of finishing the cellar-way. Oh, and as a wedding present, my stepdad will be helping us put in a back deck. But, we’ve talked over other plans and what we’d like for the rest of the house while we own it. This is where it gets a little complicated.

See, the house itself is pretty small. I’m not sure of its exact square footage, but I’m pretty sure it’s misleading when I say we’ve got 3 bedrooms. In actuality, we have one bedroom (slightly cramped), one guest room (it’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s covered in my clothing — it contains a closet and a large dresser, but I still don’t have much room for clothes), and a den/office which houses 3 not-big desks (Dave uses this closet for some of his clothes; he also has 2 dressers in our room, plus the tiny closet). Add a small bathroom and you’ve got our upstairs.


Downstairs is a little roomier. Our living room feels pretty expansive, but once you get 4 people in it you realize how uncomfortable it really is — it’s a hard room to furnish correctly! But, YAY, at least it’s got a sufficient closet; still tiny, but works for seasonal items. The front door and “sun room” (tiny!) open from the living room, as do the kitchen and dining room (each have a door; this is the 1920s, after all). The kitchen is a sufficient size, but there’s not enough storage and some of the cabinets were downright abused by the prior owners. Mom always says it’s the brightest kitchen she’s ever seen in her life, so once we add a back door onto the deck, it may just be my favorite room. The dining room isn’t very big, and won’t be once we get my piano in there, but it fits its purpose.

The basement is a “future project.” It’s pretty expansive, but with lots of opportunities for head-bumping. We’ve discussed how to do over the basement and have decided not to completely finish it, but to waterproof it and designate storage areas — and even a comfy TV area and bar. Oh, and there’s already an area for a possible 1/2 bath, so it only makes sense to put one in. 🙂 I can’t wait to get some kitchen pantry/storage built in!

Outside, however, is another situation. We have a tree in front of our house which has pushed up the sidewalk and doesn’t allow much to grow around our foundation area. It’s also buckled our already-curvy driveway — so, those projects would pretty much be a necessity if we’re going to stay.

So, that’s what we’re dealing with. I already know that I simply need (need vs. want) to downsize lots of my stuff, particularly clothes. Perhaps we both do. Who knows? I know that people only use 10% of their clothing, which is a discouraging figure, so to garage sale it or give it away would only make sense. But, this is just to get it to be a comfortable living situation for a young-ish engaged couple now — what about the next step?

I’ve thought a lot about what will happen when kids come along — I think we both have. It’s pretty obvious that, for now, we’d stay here; but how long? The article makes me re-think it. When we moved in, I mentioned that things’ll be very different when we move out, to which we both agreed; I figured we’d have a toddler running around, Dave thought we’d have teenagers helping us. Very different ideas!!! I can’t possibly imagine raising 2 or 3 kids in this house — but, I’m sure it was done, back in the day. I know of a family with 3 grown children who did just fine in a house as small as ours, if not smaller…but, they were uber-close and uber-religious (we weren’t raised to be “close” in the literal sense, and our religion was always pretty mute).

But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s not that things are desperate now, just tighter, and I can’t imagine how tight they’ll be with young ones around. However, it may not be plausible to just move, and I’m considering whether we should put more money into the place than we were originally intending to (that tree was definitely a “eh, leave it” thing before).

So, what will help make the house more user-friendly in the long run? I’ve got a few ideas. 🙂
– Well, obviously, get the tree/sidewalk/driveway taken care of. *shivers* These are “little at a time” projects, but, in this case, a priority.
– Finish the basement. Dave recalls his childhood home as having a sort of rec room basement where he and his brother could crash and play to their heart’s content. Well, why can’t our kids have that? We already have an extra TV and entertainment center, and eventually when we get a new living room set, we could easily put our “old one” down there. Plus, waterproofing will help the organization we do create even safer. (And an extra bathroom is helpful in ANY house!)
– Once we have our back door, life will be a lot easier. Currently, our driveway is on one side of the house and both the front and side doors are on the complete opposite side. With the plan of adding this entrance, we can bring groceries directly from the car and into the kitchen — what a luxury!
– If we’re living here long-term, the floors will have to be re-done. While we can pretty easily live with the cheap living room/stairway/office carpet with just the two of us, no amount of steam cleaning will make it sufficient for when we’ve got babies crawling. I’d like to see what wood we’re working with and whether it’d be cheaper to have it repaired/refinished or to get a nice carpet throughout.
– DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER!!! We’re currently using pretty much all of our space, which I think is a little bit much (I’m guilty as much as Dave is!!!). This is something that we could pretty easily accomplish without much, or any, money. 😀
– Re-analyze our needs. Do we need all the books we’ve got? Dave does a great job with purging his collections through eBay and amazon.com, but our bookshelves are full. Do we NEED more bookshelves, or less books? (No right or wrong answer.) Do we NEED 3 desks, or more office storage? Do we NEED the huge extra bed in the guest room? (That’s probably one that we won’t work on until *dun dun duuuunnnn* eventual pitter-patter.) Organization isn’t easy in this house, and once you let it slide for a few days, you’re buried — with Dave being pretty particular about his space and us both being brought to tears by the shows about hoarders, it’s pretty obvious what we’ll need to do.
– Eventually, a small kitchen reno — and, hopefully, some new appliances. The cabinets under the sink were very poor quality and currently stink when you open them — seems they had a moisture issue and the bottom of them fell through. I’ve still got some items down there for my cleaning, etc, but it’s pretty ridiculous. Can’t wait to have them GONE and simply something cleaner (and that match the rest of the kitchen — white!) and better-quality. While we’re at it, we may get some granite-esque tops for them, and the old, original cabinets.
– This summer, I’m planning on re-doing the main bathroom. It’s small, but I like it. The tub isn’t white, but it’s livable. The mosaic tiling on the walls I find disgusting and the floor and trim need an update. The paint isn’t staying on correctly, so that’ll take some sanding, and I’d like to fix up the cabinet to be a nice, open concept. Since we have some new items in there already, it shouldn’t be TOO costly — but let’s see if summer school + bathroom reno + wedding planning = happy Meg. 😉
– A cohesive, non-green color scheme outside. (And I don’t mean non-eco friendly, hee hee.) The shutters are pretty yucky and, after replacing the tree, will be quite viewable, so I’d like to paint them a high-gloss black, along with thresholds and doors (possibly a tan thrown in), but we’ll see when the time arises.

So, those are some ideas for our “home sweet home” if it’s going to remain such for 5+ years. If another great deal (higher-priced but within our budget) comes along before that, ’tis fine, but for now my philosophy of “get out and spend relatively little before doing so” may have to go the way of the dinosaurs.