Little homes, creative solutions

Lately I’ve been greatly enjoying Teri’s blog, Homestead Honey. Teri and her husband live in a charming tiny cabin of 350 square feet (just over 32 square meters) that they had built themselves. They have two children, whom they homeschool.
How do four people fit into 350 square feet? On her blog, Teri talks about some creative solutions that have enabled them to live in their small space. They have, for instance, an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor shower. And, of course, despite having a storage shed they need to be very selective about which possessions they keep.

We live in a house of about a 100 square meters, or 1070 square feet. In addition, we have a storage shed of about 15 square meters (about 160 square feet). Our house is by no means huge, but I confess we do have a lot of poorly utilized space. First, our storage shed is filled to bursting with stuff we hardly use. We also have an office and a guest bedroom that are seldom used for their direct purpose, and a lot more for accumulating junk. In addition, we have three bathrooms in our house, out of which one is used very, very rarely, and its shower not at all – I consider it completely superfluous.

So, while it’s certainly nice to have a roomy house and lots of space to put our stuff, it’s an undeniable fact that a family like ours can downsize and live in a smaller house that is easier and cheaper to heat (or cool), clean and maintain. Also, in Israel, the smaller your house is, the lower the occupation tax you pay.

Of course, you wouldn’t pay occupation tax for an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor shower, a storage shed or a covered front porch/deck/pergola that would enable you to place garden furniture, benches, swings, hammocks, and spend many pleasant hours outside! The only hitch I see in this arrangement are the days when you are confined to the interior of your house – when it’s too rainy, windy, stormy, cold or, as more often happens in Israel, too hot.

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Above: deck at our new cabin

I do have to be fair and acknowledge that all these wonderful outdoor extensions are only possible if you are living on the land. In city apartments, you just make do with your space (though I’ve seen some very neat space-utilization practices done in apartments too). But if you have some land, however little, you can work wonders.

We have been married close to nine years now, and we are on our fourth house, so far. Despite my desire to get settled in a permanent home (as much as anything can be permanent in this world) straight away, I think it was a blessing in its way, because it did force us to go through our possessions from time to time and decide what we can’t do without. When you must pay to have your stuff moved, you’ll probably let go of that old broken-down washer than has been sitting in your back yard for years, waiting to be turned into a potter’s wheel or some other marvelous engine (talking from experience here). Still, we tend to accumulate possessions at an alarming rate.

At this time, we are facing the prospect of moving to a smaller house. When it first began to dawn upon me this is a serious possibility, it was daunting. How would I sort through all our things? Obviously we wouldn’t be able to keep everything. We’d have to get rid of stuff, possibly a lot of stuff. How would we fit into a smaller space? But now that I’ve found Teri’s blog, and the testimonies of other people who have downsized and are happier for it, I’m not nervous anymore, but rather looking forward to this as a challenge. In the future I hope to post updates of our progress.

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2 thoughts on “Little homes, creative solutions

  1. We also have a guest room which is never used for its intended purpose. However, I keep the sewing machine in there, and it’s wonderful to be able to close the door and not have to pack up a half-finished project so we can eat dinner. When one of us is sick, the guest room is a good place to sleep and let the spouse “rest in peace”. The TV is also in that room, as I have a real “thing” about the television in the main entertaining space.

    My mum was a pack-rat extraordinaire, and we are still clearing her things, five years after she died. Believe me, that’ll put the fear of G-d into you! And my dad was a clergyman, who moved about every seven years. We have lived in the same house for over forty years, so you can imagine the collection of STUFF we have! Recently, we have been playing “let’s pretend we are moving”, just to get rid of things. I don’t want to leave a mess for OUR kids to clean up.

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