Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Our House, Is A Very Very Fine House...

With 4 dogs in the yard... lalalala

This post brought to you by insomnia and the refusal to stare at my own face all over the top of this blog.

Our house is slightly less than 1,200 square feet.


I know, pretty damn small.

You enter into the living room and to your left is a hallway which leads to 2 bedrooms and a bath... ahead of you is a doorway which leads to the kitchen and master bedroom and bath... there are French doors leading out to a courtyard which has, off it, a room and bath (which we have always referred to as "the outside room"... I have tried, over the years to call it, "the children's room", "the bonus room" and "the office", but, it remains the low-rent, "outside room"). 

There is a nice backyard with plenty of lawn (too much grass, says Hugh, the lover of cement) and a pool and a view-ish of the ocean.

That's it.

And every now and then Hugh and I freak the hell out about SPACE!  We need SPACE!  And we comb through the real estate sections of the local papers and troll the Internet for listings and drive around to various open houses... we make lists of what we want in a house and in the beginning, the list is very practical:

A den

A formal dining room

Another bedroom

More closet space

Then the list gets a bit more specific:

An office

A mud room

A dog run

More closet space

Finally, the list gets ridiculous:

His and Hers dressing areas

Butler's pantry


4 closets for every person including a cedar one for winter sweaters and ski clothes

And then we come home, and sit in our living room, and listen to our kids down the hall and we say things like, "You know, in a big house we might never see them..." and, "It would be hard to find a location quite as ideal as this..." and well, you get the idea - yes, we talk ourselves right out of that 4,500 square foot 5+ bedrooms with butler's pantry and ensuite bathrooms.

Because we are simply not big house people.  Plop us down in the middle of any neighborhood and the house we will both exclaim, "What a cool place!" over will be the small, slightly dilapidated cottage with no garage but a killer garden.

The truth of the matter is that the boys can share a room forever and it won't kill them.  In fact, it might be kind of nice.  If death threats do come into play, there is always the bonus (see, still trying!) room which could be made over into a hideout.

3 kids sharing one bathroom is a bit tight, but again, not the end of the world... Eva will probably demand a vanity table, or some such thing, in her room, but that won't be for 10 years and by that time, she'll have the whole thing to herself.

Closets are a real problem but I have solved this by issuing forth the following edict:

Do not have more clothes than you have space for in the closet!

The kids wear uniforms, it should work.

In a small house there is a lot of forced contact.  There is no sulking off to the children's den to play video games or stomping upstairs to the master retreat to cool off from the day... there is instead a person everywhere you look.  Problems must be dealt with or we will spend our day tiptoeing through a frosty DMZ and quite frankly, I don't have the patience for such nonsense.

Right now, I am in the living room, listening to the simultaneous snores of my 4 year old (from behind me) and my husband (in front).  There are dogs in every bedroom.  

If you think this sounds annoying and somewhat claustrophobic, you would be right. 

But, it is also all good.

For some reason, this house works.  The doors are always flung open, the courtyard feels like a den in the warmer months (and, during the cooler months, like now, it feels like Dubai... a neat place in theory, but I can't really see getting there) and the outside room, thanks to the magic that is the EZ Bed, makes for a functional guest suite when my mother is here as well as  a handy place to keep the PS 2.

There is always talk about expanding the kitchen or adding a second story, but we'll probably end up being one of those couples who jazz the place up the minute the kids are off to college... in a small way hoping that multiple bathrooms and privacy entice them home over the long winter breaks.


jennie said...

thinking about the effort involved in moving is enough to get me to love my house again. it works for me every time.

CDJ said...

The house sounds lovely to me. We have more space than that in our condo right now, but we don't use half of it. Of course since Hubbz and I both work from home, we need a little extra space between us to keep from killing each other during all that together time.

Kristin said...

Jennie - I hear you!

CDJ - We have NO extra space and thus we have all become fools who, if we can't see it, don't believe it exists... because storage is just a fairy tale around these parts!

dgm said...

I tend to prefer a smaller, comfier house. We've got what seems just the right about of space for us, which is not too big, but big enough to host guests so that they can have some privacy too. This has more to do with the layout of the house than the size.

Kristin said...

dgm - sounds like our place... small house, clever layout, still working... 5 people later!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love you. I love our little house. I hope to do some cosmetic updates to it this year, budget allowing. For a long time we were thinking of "upgrading" but let me tell you, it would have to be one hell of a house (not in the fancy or better sense but in the "it has a soul that feels like ours sense") because I'm super attached to this dusty/drafty ol' thing. And I'm totally with you on the family unity thing. I always tell Guy that even if we move to a bigger place or add on, I still want the girls to share rooms.

Phoenix said...

I've always wanted a huge house, but the things I love about smaller ones are all the things you mentioned. Now A HUGE kitchen, like you see on Cribs would thrill me to no end.

Shelley said...

Hey, I don't know WHAT I would do without my mudroom!

Seriously. Big house = Big maintenance. And yet we still don't have enough storage. AND 95% of the closet space in the entire house - still all mine. :)

I love your house, and secretly plan to live there one day. :D


Kayce said...

I adore small houses! I only wish my husband did too. He thinks we need space, space for what I ask!!! And yes, I;m left to clean said big house. Someday I'll have the quaint little cottage I dream of.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Have you read the book The Not So Big House? We love that book and it completely codified what we'd been thinking for years. Our current house has about 2,000 s.f. including the basement and that's PLENTY for us. Although, a coat closet would be nice. We're contemplating building the house of our dreams and every plan we've looked at is less than 2,000 s.f.

Kristin said...

I am going to bring all of you to the dark side... join me, join me in a CELEBRATION of the wee house!!

Joannah said...

I can identify! We've got just under 900 square feet here, but a nice sized yard. I totally get the concept of living with just what you need and not a stitch more. My husband, on the other hand, is not hip to my jive - YET! He is the King of Clutter. But I'm working on him.

Since we got married, I run searches on the internet for larger homes in the area. The ones that appeal to me are way out of our price range. So, we're staying put. Some day we'll add on. Until then, it's gonna have to do.

Anonymous said...

Is there really a house with enough closets? Our house is 4,000 sq feet and I thought it was a mansion when we moved in 10 years ago. Four kids later we are busting at the seams. In the next year or so we'll go bigger and 5 years later I'll be bitching that I don't have enough closet space. You've got the right attitude about this. I need to follow your rule of not having more clothes than space for in the closet!

BTW, love your new look!

Kristin said...

I think that's a good point - closets cry out to be filled up!!

carrie said...

Oh Kristin. Thank you for writing this. The allure of something bigger is always playing in my mind (especially when I can't sleep) and I need to remind myself that the boys don't NEED their own rooms and it is NICE to be able to hear everyone . . . most of the time. Our house is about 1900 sq. ft. and it's cozy, and warm and most importantly, home.

Although a total kitchen make-over is in order sometime in the foreseeable future!

Jodi said...

I know exactly what you mean, the good thing about a small house is that it's not scary to be home alone in. It's actually very relaxing and nice. If I was at home in a huge 3 story with 12 bathrooms I'd get a little freaked out.

Amy Y said...

It sounds like a great house to me! The biggest problem with a bigger house is you feel the need to fill it... so you just buy more stuff. And stuff turns into clutter and more shit you have to throw away (or freecycle) :)... so you guys have the idea situation, really. And I want an outside room! :) What a great place to banish fighting brothers...

SSC said...

Have you heard the saying home is where the heart is. A home is a home but mothers make it magical anywhere. Your home is for you and everyone seems to love it. Its hard not to get into the orange county lifestyle of I want this or that, and being contempt like you are is something real and that is why I like reading your posts!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love your blog and am a longtime lurker, but this is my first comment! My husband and I have one child but live in a very large house. There are 3 bedrooms which never have anyone in them and a formal living room we never ever use and a finished basement playroom for our son but he never goes down there because he doesn't want to play by himeself. We have finally agreed that it is time to downsize.

Lisa said...

You know what they say... Love grows best in little houses. Comfy is good.

Los said...

I'm dreading when we begin looking for a new house ... ugh! The house we have now is great for the two of us, but once we start having kids, it will no longer be enough ... I dread the search, the move, the new mortgage ... ugh!!!!

Daniella said...

I read your post yesterday from my Treo and have had that song in my head for 24 hours - thanks :) I happen to love that song, by the way.
I love this post and your house does sound like a very, very, very fine house. When we take our boat trips, what we like best is that we are all together in a compact space - there's no escaping each other :)

Stephanie said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!! Have you seen the new book House Lust - it's all about Americans and their obsession with their homes. I also live in a small house and sometimes complain about the closet space or how our "office/studio/guest bedroom" space (see we have the same problem) is just not big enough. But then we realize that if we get a bigger, fancier, flashier house, then we will end up house poor (and who wants that). I think sometimes the problem is the fact that we can't tell between our "needs" and our "wants" I often hear my neighbor saying that she "needs" to have a larger kitchen. But does she really?

Sarah O. said...

Wee houses are the BEST. Wee houses take very little time to vacuum.

Mamma said...

I feel the same way about being not having the kids off where I can't hear them (sometimes). But I could really use more storage--or less crap.

FENICLE said...

Girl, we have the exact same house it sounds like. We are getting ready to put ours on the market and have been looking around for the same things you listed.

Right now I'd settle for my own bathroom and a dishwasher. Doesn't take much to make me happy!!!

class factotum said...

I have a small house -- 1,200 SF -- for just me. But 50 years ago, a family with three kids might have lived in this house.

My neighbors have been trying to sell their 1,200 SF 1920's bungalow. The biggest complaint of the young couples with no kids about the house?

It has only one bathroom.

Honestly. If you can't wait a few minutes to share a bathroom with one person, then you don't deserve a great house!

InterstellarLass said...

At 1600 sqft we were doing fine and planned to stay until Elle hit 6th grade. But then Pop came to live with us and Elle moved into the dining room. A nearly-teen boy, a tween girl, and an old man all sharing a bathroom (when the old man sometimes has bathroom emergencies) just does not work. We're looking now, listing in a couple of weeks, and hopefully we'll be moved at the start of summer into something that will last us until the kids graduate from high 2017. Then we're headed somewhere else...anywhere but then 42 years of it will be enough!