Living in a Small House
Inspired by our friend’s house along the river, we gave up our 2300 square foot home with double attached garage, workshop, forest & pond on 10 acres and bought a 930 square foot fixer upper along the river. We had been looking at homes along the river, but they were all set well off the water, so that you had to travel to the back of the yard to even know you were on the river. This “cottage” was set well back on the ˝ acre property so that we could hear the river from our bedroom window.
In this article, I am not going to tell you how we got ready to downsize; there are lots of books on how to do that – and believe me, I read them all! We put the things we couldn’t bear to part with in storage and dropped our dining room table at another friend’s house, while we experimented with downsizing.
It’s been 6 years; we are still married and our daughter is still talking to us - sometimes, just barely.
I stopped calling it the cottage because it confused people, but really it is a winterized cottage, with all the warmth, charm and coziness you would expect at the cottage. Because the house needed a total remodeling, we were able to reconfigure space to suit our lifestyle. Some decisions we made were good and others – well, I’d do it a little differently next time.
First is that we only have one bathroom – this is one of the things I would do differently next time. I would add at least a 2 piece powder room. Most of the time one bathroom is just fine, but when you gotta go, you gotta go! And in this day and age, we are not used to waiting.
That being said, the bathroom is my favourite room in the house. I figured if I only got one bathroom, it was going to be amazing. The bathroom is a combination bathroom, vanity, laundry and change room. Part of living along the river is that we enjoy a lot of the time in the water, and in our hot tub. I didn’t want people traipsing through my house dripping wet, so we put French doors in the bathroom and lots of hooks to hang towels and wet bathing suits. The laundry is also right there, so things can also get dumped into the washing machine if necessary. We all prefer showering over bathing, so we sacrificed a bathtub for an upscale European Shower with rain showerhead, jets and hand-held nozzle. We figured the hot tub near the river and under the stars would act as both an outdoor room and a more sociable way to soak. We deliberately chose not to put a second sink in the bathroom because all we use it for is brushing our teeth and washing our hands. The fact was, the extensive lighting meant the space was needed for a vanity or a place for my daughter and me to do our hair and makeup every day. A final touch that is pure comfort, and I would recommend it whether you live in a large or small home, is heated ceramic tiles underfoot. All of these touches combine to make a truly sensual experience and a very functional room.
Like the bathroom, every room serves a dual purpose. The kitchen, living room and eating area are open to each other, so one TV does the trick, and the gorgeous slate and walnut-framed gas fireplace can also be seen from every room. Since we like to entertain, we created a fully functioning kitchen with extras such as a second sink in the breakfast bar, a wine fridge, a gas stove and natural stone countertops. Lots of pot drawers help with accessibility, open shelving above keeps it light and airy feeling and a little wall space allows us to display artwork. French doors on fridges were a new thing at the time – and the perfect addition to a small, but very functional kitchen.
Finally, the original house had 3 bedrooms; we decided to make 2 larger bedrooms so that each had a sleeping and a sitting area – private space is very important in a small house! It also allowed us to incorporate a sofa-bed for company and an area where our daughter could hideout with her girlfriends. I mentioned earlier that our daughter was still talking to us – that’s because we gave her the bedroom with the view of the water. Yes, I am not ashamed to say that we bribed our daughter to get her onside with our decision to move.
Would I do it again? I think we downsized too much and too soon, but we have made it work, and every time we dine with guests in the gazebo, overlooking the water, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Thinking of downsizing, please feel free to give me a call – I’ll understand!