Monday, January 30, 2012

large house vs. small house

Would you rather have a large house or a small house?  I have been thinking about this for several years.  Ever since I realized that my house is a lot larger than I thought when we bought it 6 years ago.  I constantly go back and forth.  I love the fact that I have a large house, a room for pretty much any purpose that I could think of.  I love that my kids have a huge area to run around in, that I have a large kitchen (since I love to cook so much), and that I can spread out.

What I don't like?  Well, it takes me several days during the week to actually clean the house.  I feel like we need a bunch of stuff to fill up the house, or it would look empty.  It bothers me.  I don't want to spend so much time cleaning or picking up after my kids, or even having them picking up their own things.

It seems like I spend so much time maintaining "stuff" that I can't enjoy the rest of life.  Obviously that is an over-exaggeration.  But, the fact that I spend half of the week cleaning the downstairs, and the other half cleaning the concerns me a bit.  I moved most of the kids toys out of use the past couple of weeks.  They have a total of maybe 8 toys to play with, as many books as they could possibly look at, but only a few toys.  They have been better behaved, and have entertained themselves longer with fewer toys.  Interesting...

Now, what if I had a very small house?  And a larger outdoor space?  What if I didn't have to worry so much about taking care of the house, dealing with the utility costs of a large house?  Would I be happier, more fulfilled?  Or would I remember my large house and feel like I was missing out?  I'm not sure my kids would care.  It would be the same box of toys, just in a smaller space, and they would have more outdoor space to run around in...while currently they have our driveway.

That is something that I am constantly thinking about.  And unfortunately, this market is not the best market to be thinking such things.  We are in a unique situation in that we own some land, and we own a very large house.  In order to build on the land, we would have to sell the house.  And if we build on the land, we want to build something small and energy efficient.  Something that will allow us to live our lives, and not be as concerned about how much we have to spend each month to keep a house running.

The problem with wanting to build something small?  The view of others.  The perception that we are making unwise decisions because we choose something different.  I know I posted about innermost house, but it isn't feasible with two littles.  I mean, obviously it would be if that were the option, but it really isn't.  If we build on our land, it has to be at least 1000sf.  We can work around that.  But, how do we explain to people that we want the kids to share a bedroom, or that we would rather have more outdoor space instead of a large indoor space?

Clearly, random thoughts are going through my head these every day actually.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  What is adequate for a family of four?  What do you tell family and friends that thinks you are nuts? Would you rather spend time outside, have a smaller mortgage, and a smaller house?  Or would you rather have the indoor space?  Do you feel tied down?

I am joining in at the barn hop today :-)


  1. I heard a great quote the other day it goes, People spend to much money on things they dont need with money they dont have trying to impress people they dont like. I loved it :) I told my teenage daughter my idea to build tiny houses on trailers living in the boonies she said i was crazy and she would live with my aunt lol but I know what you mean Im loving less is more :)

  2. I saw your link on barn hop and I also have been thinking about this. We have always had smallish homes (1100-1500sq ft.) There are 8 of us. However, the last house we lived in was 2700sq ft. We were renting and at first I was excited about having so much space. It wasn't until we moved that I realized that that is just too much space for us. We had 3 bathrooms and I probably didn't even go into my teenage boys' bathroom for the last 6 months. I'd just say "Make sure and clean the bathroom." The house we live in now is officially 3brm 1.5 bathrooms. We're converting the mudroom into a bedroom for my 2 oldest sons (17 & 15). So far I am loving having a smaller home. Now, we haven't finished unpacking everything and we will still have to store alot of things in the garage - like the games and most of our crafting supplies. But it is nice to be able to keep up with the actual cleaning a little better.

    Of course, if there's nothing you can do about downsizing right now, there's no sense in letting it discourage you. I do think that not having all of our boxes unpacked is helping with the clutter and it's inspired me to be selective in what I keep.

  3. I would love a bigger outdoor space for certain! Just wished we lived in a warmer climate :)

  4. We (6 of us) just recently moved from our 2300 sqft 5br/3ba home to our 1600 sqft 3br/2ba condo and people thought we were crazy. However, the transition just wasn't that hard. The biggest shift has been having two bathrooms for 4 children to having 1 bathroom for the four of them, but they've acclimated beautifully. We have a tiny yard/patio area and I sure miss the space for the boys to play. But only needing 30 minutes of routine cleaning time each day and saving $1000 per month ON TOP OF the tightening up as a family unit is SO worth it.

  5. Just happened to land on your blog from the barn hop. I find your question kind of interesting. We have a family of 5. We had 1 lab ... now we have 3. That factors into the equation.

    The house we have now is 1325 sq. ft. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths though so each child had their own room. That was nice as they had their own space for their things. We did just fine, my children are actually pretty much moving out at this point and I'm down to 1 at home now... with still 3 labs...

    But we are getting ready to move and we'd like a bit bigger. When family came to visit they didn't have anywhere to sleep. That has to change. We need room for when my children bring their children to visit for everyone to be able to even sit around the table. I need to be able to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I need real craft space. So even though our children are moving out and the number of people living in the home will be less on a regular basis, we're looking to have more space so that others come to visit.

  6. Hi Heather, What a great question to ponder. We are a family of 4. 2 boys (11 and 9), me, my husband, 2 dogs and 3 cats. My house is tiny compared to the norm. It's 986 sq. ft. and has 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. There is a small sunroom that's my crafty catch all spot and one of the bedrooms is used as a music room for my kids and husband (a full time RN and part time musician). Our 1 car garage is storage and the laundry room.


    We have 1/4 of an acre in the city. A huge front yard and back yard. Last year I put raised garden beds in the front yard and planted fruit trees. Our back yard is surrounded by huge oaks and I don't know that a garden will take well. So this spring I'm splitting the back yard up. One half will be for a couple chickens and garden space and the other half will be for us and the animals. We are going to close in our garage to make that our music den and then everyone will have a room of their own and the music will be much quieter! I love my tiny home! It's cozy and easy to maintain and eveven though the mortgage is way underwater it is still cheaper than rent.

  7. Thank you everyone for your comments! I am not sure I could have a small house without a large outdoor space. And I would definitely miss having my own craft space, although something might have to be set up in the basement. Not that we are building a small house currently, but it is something I think about a lot. I love to read that much larger families are making it work though, very interesting to think about!

  8. We moved from our large 2600 sq. ft. home on 2 acres about 6 years ago to a 1600 sq. ft. home in town. We moved because we were having a hard time keeping up the property, as well as the feeling that the kids were getting lost in the the bigger home, and that in a smaller home it would be easier to have family time. Also smaller bills, etc. Also our new home was not needing any repairs compared to the larger country property, and we didn't want to go into debt with repairs. We really miss our larger yard, and sadly can't keep chickens. We have also found that it is difficult to share an office with all four family members (we turned the tiny formal living room into a closed off office space) Storage is difficult, and the house can clutter up very quickly if you don't stay right on top of it. Having lived in both situations, we now think that we would like our next home to have more land, and the house to have one extra room as well as a much larger kitchen with pantry, but not as large as our old house.

  9. Hello! I'm visiting from whole foods kitchen. Size of home/yard is one I've thought about for many, many years. My husband and I house-sat for a family that had a huge home and it was impossible to clean and find my husband. After that I knew I never wanted a large home. Right now I live in a TINY apartment in NYC. We have 3 little kids (5 and under) and live in about 500 sq ft (1 bedroom). (Not something I recommend for others, but we are doing well. We are looking to move out of the city this summer.)

    I LOVE the lessons living here has taught me. A big one: I don't need stuff. Every item I bring an item into my home it will take time and/or money to fix, use, or get rid of eventually. We are continually getting rid of stuff and it always feels good once it is gone.

    Even if we move into a 3 bedroom home we plan on having our kids all share a room as long as it works, hopefully until the oldest is 10 or so. I have learned my kids only really need a few things to be happy: 1-a happy mama, 2-good food, 3-good sleep, and 4-time to run and explore outside.

    Yes, people (outside the city) think we are crazy. They are probably right, but we are a very tight family. And that's our number one priority. I saw a quote recently that said, "small homes make tight families". And it is so true!

    I'll take a tiny house with a huge yard any day!

    P.S. I can deep clean my entire home in 2 hours. It is awesome!

  10. I typed a whole comment and it disappeared - LOL so I will make it shorter this time.
    Every place has its pros and cons. Don't worry about what others think - if they think you are crazy - agree with them - you know "crazy smart" because you are doing what is right for your family.

  11. My mother talked about this today with me. I'm a teenager with my whole future ahead of me and I have been mapping out some aspects of my life. I think I would rather have a small home with large yard because I think nature is much more beautiful than stuff. This might come from the fact that my room is the smallest in the house yet secluded which is nice being the oldest of five children. Anyways I think even if you had a smaller house you could have nicer things in it because you would have less to furnish and of course less energy costs, but I guess you could combat man caves and storage with yard barns and pole sheds anyways. I guess I would rather be outside than indoors anyways

    1. Great thoughts Ben! I agree, having nature available to us is much more important than having a house full of stuff. Do we really want to spend all that time managing and taking care of stuff or would we rather be out living our lives! Thanks for joining the conversation :-)


I love to hear from my readers and try to respond to all comments either here or through e-mail. Thank you for taking the time to comment!