Fitting a larger family in a small house

Red Roof
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We have lived in our new house for a month now, and I have to admit we are still not all the way unpacked! It is taking longer with my husband still on crutches and unable to help. Between homeschooling, keeping up with meals and the house, and running Deborah & Co. I’m swamped! I’m hoping in one more month we will be all the way unpacked!I moved to a smaller house with some trepidation. Being able to rent this house from friends was a huge blessing, but I knew it might be difficult downsizing 600 hundred square feet. We felt like we were bursting the seams of our 1600 sq foot house, so how were we possibly going to adjust to living in a 1000 sq. foot house?

After getting most of our things unpacked, my husband and I are both thrilled to discover that we are actually fitting in this house better then we did our 1600 sq. foot house! It’s really all in the set up of the house. Our last house did not have a basement, it was on a slab with 2 bedrooms on the main floor and a large room on the second floor. The three oldest children shared the upstairs room, and they felt disconnected from us.

Our current house has three smaller bedrooms all nestled together at the end of a hallway. The small hallway is blessed with three closets which greatly helps in storage. We are working on organizing our one small bathroom (to be featured in another blog post!) and making it easy to get ready on Sunday mornings. πŸ™‚ Our bookshelves and business resides downstairs in the finished basement.

The blessings of living in a small house are:

  • It’s easier to clean because there is less space to clean! A small living room floor to vacuum, one bathroom to clean, etc. It just cuts down on cleaning time.
  • We are growing closer together as a family. This is a blessing that I did not expect at all. Since our living quarters are tighter, we are all forced to be together all the time, and it really is helping us become knit together as a family better.
  • I can hear the children playing (versus them running upstairs to their bedroom before), and have been able to stay on top of correcting foolish or unkind attitudes better.
  • Clutter must, must, must be constantly eliminated! I have a get rid of box going at all times, and even though I purged before we moved I’m still adding things to it as we finish unpacking.
  • The most obvious – it’s cheaper! For us, our monthly payment went down and our utililites are cheaper. As you all know, every little bit helps πŸ™‚

I feel like the Lord has blessed us in giving us this house to rent. The location leaves a lot to be desired, (small yard, no fence, and not the greatest area of town), but I feel peace here knowing that we were given this place to live while my husband finishes college. The Lord is so good to lead us forward, even through the trials. I am excited to see what the future holds for us next year when my husband graduates!

Wise-Woman-Builds

Comments

  1. This article brought back a flood of memories of our last house…

    Six children in a 1040 square foot home. It was a tight fit. Thank goodness for a set of homemade bunk beds and a homemade triple-bunk bed. It was like a game of human Tetris to get us all to fit…but we did!

    Great memories of this home and our family.

  2. I’m with you on the small house thing. We were over seas for the last five years and were blessed with large homes. But, they were too large. I had five bathrooms to clean! We moved back to the US with two more children. Yet, we still have three bedrooms. We use an office for a bedroom as well. Let me tell you, we moved here last May and still have boxes everywhere. I told my daughter if it’s still in a box, we must not need it. So true, right?

  3. I’m so encouraged that you are finding the best of a situation that could be complained about. Having grown up in a small house, I knew most of the blessings you listed, but did not think about how it would be easier to grow together as a family and raise children with them closer to you. My prayers are with you as you are adjusting to this time. God bless!

  4. I’m so glad you are happy in your new home! Hubby and I were talking last night about how nice it would be to downsize. We discussed many of the point you brought out in your post. Hope you finish the settling-in-process soon, and your husband is off those crutches soon!

  5. As a family of 7, hoping to be 8 this summer by adoption, living in a 1100 sq ft house ( no attic or basement) I love seeing your post. You learn you don’t need it all, you learn to be creative, you learn its not how it looks…its how it feels. Many times my husband and I talk about the desire for a bigger house. It would solve so many “problems”! But in the end we always smile and know the “problems” are well worth the blessings.

  6. Thank you for sharing this post. I blogged yesterday about downsizing someday when we are empty-nesters. We will not need a 3000 sq ft – 4 bedroom home. The idea of a smaller, cozier place is appealing. I’m glad to hear how you are making it work…& the red roof makes the house quite charming.

  7. Last June we moved from our 1700 square foot house, with a nice fenced yard, and a large garage, to a 700 square foot apartment with no yard at all (surrounded by parking lots and a road) and no garage. What an adjustment for our family of six! However, we have found everything you have mentioned to be true! For us it also meant being debt free, so that we can give more away! What a blessing it is!

    • May God continue to bless you for sacrificing yourself to glorify Him!
      It’s so wonderful to hear stories like this!

    • Please tell me how its going? This is my desire as well though we made a move to a nicer much more expensive home recently, we are considering moving. Thanks – Janna

  8. Great post! It wasn’t until we as a family were content living in a very small house (700 sq ft) that the Lord blessed us with a house almost triple that size. My husband and I felt called to be foster parents. We prayed 4 years for it. The Lord had other things to work on in us before that could happen.

    At this moment we are waiting on our homestudy to be approved. We look forward to adding more children into our family.

  9. When we moved from a spacious 4 bedroom, 2 bath, separate entry and dining room in the city, to a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, eat-in kitchen, 963 square foot house in the country, I was expecting #9. I thought I would lose my mind! It took a lot of adjustment and surrendering my will before I learned contentment. Now I wouldn’t trade our little house for a huge mansion. It really is a breeze to clean (and yes; it is necessary to keep out the clutter!). We are planning an addition that will double the size of our home (planning for grandchildren!), and I’ve wondered aloud, how will we keep it clean???

  10. I totally agree. Our smallest house was a little under 1000 sqr feet with 6 of us living in it. I feel like we fit better in that house than anywhere else. I am blessed by our new house, which is twice the size, however I often feel like there is so much wasted space and cleaning can feel overwhelming. Bloom where I’m planted I guess. But our small house will always be my favorite.

  11. I am glad you are enjoying a smaller home. We too moved to a much smaller he this year. We have 5 children ( so far) and moved into an 850 sqft home. We are remodeling it a bit (while we live in it ) but I agree that the blessing are out weighing the burdens. I am so glad we did it. Thanks for sharing. God bless you!

  12. Excited for you on this new journey, Caroline! The Lord will greatly bless you for following His lead. We are trying to downsize in anticipation for our summer move…can’t wait to be in a smaller home. You are so right, the blessings are countless and so worth it!!!

  13. We had our bedrooms on second floor with a circular landing and we are so grateful for those nights of being able to all be so close – what memories we made. I’m glad you will have this opportunity too.

  14. Thank you so much for posting this!! I’ve been struggling alot in the past 1 1/2 yrs on being content with a smaller house and can seldom keep my mind on the positive regarding it for very long! We have 3 small children and 1 on the way and we live in a 1 bedroom apartment. Its been working out ok so far and we’ve managed to make it look neat and not cluttered. I’m afraid our new baby coming is gonna gently kick us over the cluttered line. πŸ™‚ I keep telling myself that the Lord obviously wants us living here still cause he hasn’t opened another door. I think we probably are closer as a family and have learned alot since we’ve been here and thats definitely a blessing! Hope your husband can be done with the crutches soon and that you guys continue to get settled and grow together as a family! Thanks again so much for the post! Think it was just what I needed! πŸ™‚ God bless!

  15. Jacqueline says:

    I hear you on the cleaning bit! I sometimes wish I had one more room, to use for crafting, etc. But whenever I spend time at my parents’ larger house, I remember that my little apartment is MUCH easier to clean, and even things like doing laundry take a little less time when the washer is in the bathroom and not down in the basement.

  16. We are in the opposite situation, having made do in very small houses during our 10 years of marriage – and now looking around our area for a large farmhouse on acreage. The design of the house really does matter, though – you’re right! That’s the problem with our current house. It has a huge living room, which is nice, but our family of 9 can’t fit in the dining room to eat three times a day. There’s no room for homeschooling, my laundry room is tiny and you can’t fit any more than 2 in our bathroom at once. For us, bedrooms aren’t as important. They are just for sleeping and our children don’t mind being all together. It’s the “living space” that’s crucial, in my opinion, because that’s where the day-to-day activities take place.

    In our case, we are also needing something bigger in anticipation of one or both of my husband’s parents coming to live with us because of health issues.

    • This is our very problem right now.

    • Layout is everything! I designed my home. Bedrooms were all small and we had 6. All a child does in the bedroom is sleep and house clothing & toys! I had a long hallway (I called this Hotel Gilbert..a hallway with a bunch of doors..built for 6 bedrooms, 2 baths & a large closet). I kept homeschooling materials used regularly at the end of the hall (think large closet space). Downstairs was a great living space, large foyer with a large bench and closet. Large Mudroom/Laundry/pantry/office. and a large kitchen with an eat in area and a nice size dining area open with the kitchen. and then a “fire” room for our Amish wood cookstove! also downstairs was a full bath under the stairs. We also had a 3rd floor that “held” everything else… would have been our completed master suite/family room/homeschool area, but we never finished the project… it was close to 3000 sq. ft. Tornado April 2011 took it. We were then blessed with a 5000+ sq ft home with 6 br, 5.5 baths… all rooms are large… no carpet (thankfully..ugh to vacuum). Sweeping it all is work and keeping up with 5 kids and school and a business or 2 gets pretty tough. But we were beginning to move in (2012)and my mother got ill and had to move in with us.. because we had the space we were able to easily accommodate her with 2 rooms and a bathroom of her own. She passed in December and I still haven’t completely gotten all the boxes unpacked. And the kids all end up together in one room most every night! Even in this big old place, we still feel close… space doesn’t separate us here! I could have a 12k sq ft home and my kiddos would migrate to us! Love it!!

  17. Your house is lovely and I have no doubt you’ll make it into a sanctuary. πŸ™‚ The layout really does make a huge difference! I love wide open living/dining areas and smaller bedrooms. It encourages people to be together in the open spaces. Our last house was very similar in layout to yours and our new apartment is the same but without the basement. I’m also very thankful for closets!!

  18. Great post! We’re currently on the opposite side of the spectrum and are hoping to make our house larger, while correcting some structural/foundation issues.

    While our house is certainly big enough for us, it is a very old house and poorly laid out: we have to eat dinner on the opposite side of our house from the kitchen, because it is the only place our table can fit. That said I do like having only one main bathroom to clean and a living room, rather than a mansion,

  19. It’s SO TRUE that it’s really the layout that matters. My husband and I are in a large 1 bedroom apartment … and I really REALLY wish that it was a two bedroom … even if the sq. footage was the same! As it is we’ll need to move because of our little one on the way…as we’re looking at 2 affordable 2-3 bedroom apts/houses in the area we’re flabbergasted at how large some of them are! There is one 2 bedroom apt that is larger than your current house that’s in our price range … and I simply cannot believe how BIG it is … it practically screams for another bedroom. I know God will provide the perfect place for us in his time, though, so I try not to get worked up about all of that.

    Seeing how many of you are dealing with your size houses and your families is an encouragement =)

  20. I am with you on the small house! My family lives in an 880 square foot, 3-bed, 1-bath house. We are in the process of adopting from the foster care system, where we will go from one child to two or three. We are having to get rid of a lot of stuff that we really don’t need (our 3rd bedroom has always been an office/craft room). It’s teaching us to be less selfish and concerned about our stuff and more focused on trusting the Lord and learning to rely completely on Him in our changing lives!

  21. Your house looks lovely. We moved into a “too small for us” house about 3 years ago. We halved our living space and moved into a 2 bedroom house with four children. Our 22 year old has since moved out on his own. My son didn’t like sharing a bedroom with his sisters, so we moved a bunk bed into a hallway that is exactly as wide as his bed. We put a mattress on the bottom bunk and a piece of plywood on the upper bunk. That gives himself a place to put his things.

    I have seen the same benefits you mentioned. I didn’t like it when we moved in, but I’ve come to love it.

    Blessings to you from our little Harvest Lane Cottage!
    Laura

  22. We had the same experience 2 years ago when we moved from our 2400 sf home in an upscale subdivision to our 900 sf trailer in the woods. It was amazing how much better the smaller space fit our family of 7. It’s definitely the layout that makes it work, it’s so much more functional than our house ever dreamed of being. And providing the means to eliminate debt in the process has been a blessing as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love just a bit more room for a couple very specific things, but we’re making due as it is and growing closer all the time!

  23. As a family of eight (six kids 9 and under) living in 1200 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom, I really appreciate this post. We’ve been here for nearly three years, have grown by two babies in that time, and I’ve so appreciated how close by the children have to be – to me and to each other. The wait for the bathroom can get interesting, but what the world deems a “need” – an abundance of space – really fits in the “want” category. Contentment is what it’s all about!

  24. Hi Caroline! I was so blessed today by your post! πŸ™‚ Right now our family is in the midst of trying to sell our home (it’s been on the market for 5 months with only 3 showings) and this posts puts it all into perspective for me: God knows what you need right when you need it and He provides so much when you are faithful to Him! You are blessed to have such a beautiful family and business! Many blessing in your season and I will pray for more encouragement for you as this time of your life flies by! God Bless!!

  25. D M Chaffin says:

    We recently downsized from a tri-level 3500+ sq ft, 4 bed 3 bath home to a 1500 sq ft 3 bed 1 bath 1950s ranch. We are learning to schedule our bath time and to coordinate our mornings better. The bedrooms and bathroom all adjacent to one another in a single hallway has been an adjustment vs our sons being on a different level in our old home.
    The joys and increased family time are far outweighing the sacrifice. Cleaning time has been drastically reduced and the chore of laundry is a breeze when you don’t have to gather clothes from 3 separate levels. We are learning the organization it will take to live stress free in our new home. I love the idea of a discard box and I will implement it today! Thanks for the post and God Bless.

  26. So true!!! We (family of four) moved in May from about a 1600 sq ft rental house to a 1000 sq ft apartment! The positives you listed are so very true. We are a part of a home church, though, and with limited parking space at our apartment, and a small living room, we can’t share in hosting it. πŸ™ We’re in the market for a house, and we’d love to have a place just a little bigger so that we can host church meetings. But it really doesn’t need to be much bigger! We’ll see what the Lord provides, in His time. Though I am a little eager for a garage so I can have my deep freezer again! And a yard for the kiddos to play in… πŸ™‚ But seriously, we are VERY comfortable in our cozy, cute apartment. It is a blessing!

    • *I think our previous house may have been closer to 1800 sq ft than 1600…so we nearly cut our square footage in half!

  27. We move regularly (military), and I find that it truly does take a couple of months (at least) to unpack with a large family. As you stated, there are just so many other things that need to be a priority. It all gets done eventually, just pretend you are eating an elephant and take it one bite at a time. πŸ˜‰

    We’ve found that the floor plan makes all the difference. The closer together we all are, the better. With 7 kids (and one on the way) we are not looking for a larger house on the next move, but a smaller one!

  28. Hi Caroline,
    We just had the opposite happen. We relocated for my husband’s job and were staying in a ~400 sq ft. studio until we could find a home for our family. My husband’s friend rented us his house when it became available and it is soooo much larger than the studio we were living in. I actually miss several aspects of the studio. I agree with you in that we were closer together. Everything was less expensive. The benefit of this particular studio was that it was within walking distance to everything and that was good for me because we only have one vehicle which my husband takes to work 6 days a week. I found myself walking everywhere with my kids in tow and they enjoyed it. This new place is large and very lovely. It is not within walking distance to as many places. I am still grateful for both experiences, though. Thank you for your post. I hope your husband gets back on his feet soon.

    Karina

  29. I have heard that coconut oil really helps with adrenal problems. The book called “Eat Fat Lose Fat” is a really good source of information on coconut oil and how to add it to your diet (even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, which you obviously don’t need to!:-))

  30. We are a family of 6 living in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 880 square foot house and actually considering downsizing to half the size into a 5th wheel travel trailer to lower our debt for a season! Thankfully, we have a mostly usable basement and a good sized yard to play in. I wouldn’t mind a 3rd bedroom since I have 3 boys and 1 girl. 2 of my sons and my daughter share a bedroom. My baby boy sleeps in the living room since he has a different sleep schedule than the older kiddos and wakes up frequently at night. Plus, my toddler son thinks he needs toys and will literally fill the crib with toys if I’m not careful. Hubby and I do feel it would be better if our daughter had her own room, especially as she approaches puberty (which is many years away yet).

    Having a 2nd bathroom would be a welcome luxury, too, especially for the times when intestinal issues hit the family. We have had to resort to using the outdoors or a chamber pot.

    However, we do fit rather snugly in our little cottage in a good way. The biggest challenge is clutter and listening to people with families half our size in houses two to three times larger than ours complain that they have no space. LOL! I don’t even have a full size kitchen stove! I have no dishwasher, either. I don’t have a lot of closet space. If the kitchen door is open, you can’t open the fridge door. Hubby and I’s bedroom is smaller than most master bedroom CLOSETS in today’s McMansions. But, we make it work. Carving out our own spaces, even if they’re tiny, helps.

  31. Hi, love your post, but i have to say we moved from a 2040sq foot house and an acre this year to a 1000 sq foot house. but the layout makes it hard to live in and one bathroom for us is very hard with 7 people and in june adding one more. plus we have dietary issues that take some people longer than others. for me the bedroom size does not matter but bathrooms do and so does storage as we homeschool and have soon 8 people living here and we rent not own since we still own our house in fl, but are here in CA right now. so bathrooms and cloest space is my big thing.

  32. Oh, man. I have wanted a smaller home pretty much since we closed on our current (HUGE) home. Now we at least have three kids (we had none when we got it), but hubby actually says we’re running out of room! We have rooms we don’t even use! He may make future reproductive decisions based on our house! It’s 4119 square feet! It can’t house a fourth child?! I want a smaller house!

  33. I have rented all my life some houses were a lot bigger than others most big, now I live in a very small house with my daughter and grand daughter, probabley 600 sq ft.very small living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 1 bath on one floor. There is not much storage space thank goodness I have a unfinished basement with 3 seperate room I can store things in. I do have a nice size fenced in back yard and a small back porch, I have a chronic pain disorder and thank goodness I do have this house because I could not clean a bigger house it would be too hard for me. It is very nice as she stated above it brings a family closer having a smaller house.

  34. I am so thankful for this post which was just brought to my attention today. It’s a great refreshment as I am a young mom of three beautiful boys and we are expecting another this year πŸ™‚ We rent a two-bedroom apartment and even though I know that the Lord is capable of fitting us to any space he provides, I must admit at first my husband and I both looked at each other like oh my goodness, where will we put them!!? He is in the middle of a college career at the moment and working as well… With homeschooling and finding extra routes of imcome, we keep ourselves very busy. I’m both excited and encouraged to hear of other moms doing the same wit their families. THANK YOU!

  35. I’m saving this to read later, but I read the first line and laugh hysterically on the inside. We moved 8 years ago, and there are STILL boxes that have not been “UNpacked” ROFL (I”m the oldest of 6, BTW– don’t judge my poor momma too harshly!) πŸ™‚ I think you’re doing great~!

  36. Great article. And I totally agree with you about the benefits of a small house. We don’t have a small house right now, but we’ve moved about 20 times in our married life. And one of my favorite houses was a single wide trailer where everything was close, it was easy to clean, you had to deal with clutter immediately, and it was cozy. I find I accumulate too much when my house is larger. : ) I pray your time in your small home will be blessed.

  37. We have a family of 3, soon to be 4, in an 800sq foot, 2 bedroom house. We love so much about small living but I think a smaller house is much harder to keep clean. There is less space to put things away but more so, every inch of the space is being used all the time. The floor needs to be cleaned every day and yes, clutter cannot be tolerated. That being said, I love the hydro bill and the mortgage payment. And I love that we have no wasted space.

  38. I just came across this blog today and I needed this post. We have a larger home, 2700 sq feet. I have 6 kids, but in the last few years I had my father, nephew, sister and now brother move in with us. I was starting to feel like would my kids resent us opening our house to family. But I realize I am showing them what is really important in life. Not stuff but people! I wish you all the best!

  39. Kimberly T says:

    We live in a larger home but I really struggle to make us fit comfortably. I know we have much more square footage than we need but it is just configured in the most awkward way that it make so much space not usable, or at least not in the way we need it. We have rearranged rooms countless times trying to find what works best. We are currently expecting our third baby any day and am putting the finishing touches on a new room lay out. We put the kids on a different floor than our room but this will enable us to have a play room right off the kitchen which I think will work out best. I know I could survive in a much smaller home if I could design it to fit our specific needs πŸ˜‰ It’s so hard trying to make what you have work! And to complicate things, this house was bought by my husband long before he thought he would have a wife and kids and he gutted and designed the layout for his “bachelor” life!

  40. Our current home is 3,000 square feet and we desperately want to downsize. We have had out home on the market for 5 months and I honestly can’t wait to sell it. We have 6 kids, 5 boys and a girl and I don’t like how spread out we are. I want my kids closer to me. It’s funny when we told people we were selling, they assumed it was to get something bigger. That’s the last thing I want! I want a smaller home where we can all be closer, have less house to clean, heat and cool and a smaller house payment. We have realized what’s most important in life. It’s not having a huge fancy home. It’s having time together and not stressing to make a house payment every month. We want to be able to give more and lower bills will make that possible. We want to simpilfy our lives a s much as possible and moving to a smaller home would be a great way to do just that!

  41. I’d love to know if you feel moving into a bigger space in the future is a desire of yours? Has it worked out well so far? thanks – Janna

    • Caroline says:

      Yes we are definitely trying to save money to move into a bigger house. We have since added another child, so we have six children in a small house, and are very maxed out. It has worked, but it’s tight quarters.

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  2. […] five children ages 11 and under, it’s easy to just add more clutter to our small house every holiday season. This year I’m determined to purchase things I know for sure my children […]

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