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Thread: who is raising a family in a small house?

  1. #1
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    Default who is raising a family in a small house?

    Just curious. Since we're expecting #3 this summer, I initially panicked about space but have come to realize that with a little organization, I think we can do this comfortably. We have a total of just under 1,200 sq ft. We also have plans to build a shed this spring, which will allow us to move stuff from the garage to the shed, which in turn will give us more garage space (with creative storage) to move stuff from the basement to the garage.

    Our house is a bi-level with 3 bedrooms and a half-basement (other half houses the garage). The girls share a room and the third bedroom is currently office space. We plan on moving our office desks downstairs, which will merge office space with our current music room/family room/toy space.

    I guess my concern isn't immediate, but as the kids get bigger. I hope we can live comfortably in our home as we really love our location/specific location/neighbors. We like the house, too, although it would be nice to have a bit more room. We are talking about adding on in a few years, which would then give us more dining space plus maybe office space or additional seating.

    If you have a smaller home and a few kiddos, how do you make things work? What about privacy as they get older? Do you think living in a smaller space = cozier, closer siblings/families?

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


  2. #2

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    We had 7 children in 1600 square feet. The twins were babies though. We had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, kitchen, and living/dining combo. The oldest 2 girls shared a room, then the next 3 shared a room and the twins were in our room. I made it work by being extremely organized and keeping clutter to a minimum. I had a huge utility room that we used for storage. I had builtin bookcases in the living room and the bottom two shelves were designated for toys for the kids. I felt we needed more space so we moved into a huge house around 3200 square feet. We had a 3 car garage, 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and separate living room and dining room. In that house the oldest 3 had their own rooms then the youngest 2 girls shared a room and we had one huge bedroom that the 3 boys shared. 3 of the bedrooms were in the basement. I felt like I never saw my kids. It was very difficult to keep things neat and orderly because things were spread out all over the place. We just moved into a smaller home. We went from about 3200 sq feet and about 1/2 acre yard to about 2500-2600 square feet and 4.5 acre yard. It is so much better. We have technically 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths but upstairs is a large open area that we use as a big bedroom and we have a sunroom that we use as a 5th bedroom. My oldest 2 have their own rooms. Then the others are 3 to a room. We have fewer bedrooms but the rooms are much larger. We have a living/dining room combo that's actually smaller than our old living room, but it's so much cozier. The layout is better. The kitchen is bigger and has more cabinet space. We have no garage but we do have an attic with easy access and a walk-in crawlspace and a storage shed. The master bedroom is much bigger. The storage here is just better and makes more sense. We also purged a lot of stuff we just didn't need. We spend way more time outdoors now, and we spend more time together as a family.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
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    How did I not know you were pg?! Or maybe I did and forgot.. but I really don't think thats it.. ahhhh, who knows.. either way CONGRATS times a million mama!!!

    To answer your question. We are living in a home that is 1400 sq ft. There are 5 of us. Technically there are 3 bedrooms. But we converted a room off the downstairs living room into a bedroom. (We live in a tri-level) For a while the girls shared a room and we had the master but last year we decided Marissa needed her own room. So, she got the master and we moved into the makeshift bedroom. We have bifold doors I think they're called so it is separate off the liv room. It was an adjustment for us because we went from a 2000+ sq ft house with a huge backyard to a smaller house with a smaller yard but it works, and honestly I love it. Sometimes we all drive each other crazy but we are so much closer than before.

    IT'S A BOY!!!

    Marissa 12, Peyton 7, Jayden 5 and #4 due 7/4/2014

  4. #4
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    We have a 3 BR ranch and 3 kids. The older 2 used to have their own rooms but we got bunk beds and moved them together and moved the baby out of our room into her own room. We have a kitchen, living room and dining room. We only have a table in the dining room and that is where we eat our meals (or the kids have a small table and chairs in the living room for lunch/snacks/breakfast whatever....

    We only have 1 bathroom and that is already tough! We have a full basement but we rent it out. There is another full bath and kitchen down there. There may come a time when we decide we need that space but right now we need the money! We also have a garage, shed and attic so plenty of storage.

    We could build up but I don't think I want to. The only plans we have is to maybe expand the main floor to build a new master bedroom so we would have 4 BRs so each kid can have their own (if they want) and to make the basement apartment smaller so we can have some of the basement too. We also have a cool covered patio which we want to screen in and make into an outdoor living room.

    Right now I feel like we are on top of each other. There is no play room so the toys are in the living room. I have worked VERY hard to be creative with where they are stored and I am constantly trying to reorganize and de-clutter. I think I am fairly successful in not making the house too cluttered but I want to do more and I wish it were more organized. The bedrooms are REALLY small so that adds to the space issue. If the girls had huge rooms their toys would mostly be in there but I can barely fit their bunk beds in there!

    Some days I wish we had more space and sometimes I am fine with what we have. I think if I were able to spend more time organizing it would be more manageable. Sometimes I am glad the house isn't bigger since I have enough trouble keeping it clean as it is!
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (20M)

  5. #5

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    We have 3 of us in 900 SF. It is perfectly fine, but I have no idea how we would put another kid in here. (not an issue!)
    We keep clutter to a minimum and have a storage room and a shed. We only entertain in summer when people can be out in the yard. And it works fine. Honestly I would love to have more room (mostly so we could entertain more) but we do just fine without it, and where we live we can't afford bigger in a safe neighborhood. (With 2 professionals working full time. Ugh.)
    I think being deliberate about furniture and storage is key. We also rotate the bigger toys of my daughter's (doll house, castle etc) in and out of the storage room. If there isn't room in a closet or on a shelf (or under the bed!!) it has to go downstairs.

  6. #6
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    We had the two kids in 695 square feet and it was challenge - two bedrooms no garage, just a storage locker in the basement.

    We obviously kept everything to a minimum which was much easier when the kids were younger. I'd give away or exchange large toys for smaller things. But family kept giving us monster toys so we had to store them in the bottom of the closet. We bought storage bins that fit under all the beds and would put off season clothes or other things in them. Family let us store out grown clothing at their house which was a big help (since we planned on at least one more child, maybe two). We spent the money for a closet system in both bedroom closets which really helped (kids two hanging rods and lots of shelves, us more focused on clothes only). We had a small desk and book case in our bedroom to serve as office space which wasn't ideal but worked.

    Now that we are at my mom's we live in two bedrooms and share the rest of the house with two other people. Honestly, that is harder.
    Jessica (32) and Ryan (32). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
    Check out our business, JRSolutions.

  7. #7
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    DH always shared a room with someone, when he was growing up. He doesn't understand my desire to only have as many kids as we have room. He said it never bothered him, but for me not having my own space at various points during my childhood was quite bothersome.

    Things are a little crazy, but I'm loving every minute of it My Blog


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    I was reading an article the other day, and it mentioned the people in the story living in a 1250 sq. ft. house. 6 kids and 2 adults. I cannot imagine.

  9. #9

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    I have a very close friend with a 3 br house (I'd guess about 1000 sqft or less) and right now it's her, her DH, their 2 older boys (18 and 19), her sister (18 - her mom died last summer so they took her in), and their younger kids (boy - 9, girl - 8). They have a very small kitchen and no dining room - meals are taken in the living room on folding tables they they have to set up and take down all the time. The older boys have one room and the sister and younger kids have the other room. The clothing storage situation is too messed up to even try to explain. They do have some land and several small storage sheds, but no garage. And on top of it she home schools all of them so they have books and curriculumon every shelf it seems like. Its tight but they make it work and I was shocked to hear they almost ended up with another 8 year old - her DH's cousin took off and left him without a word to anyone about when or if he was coming back and the kid's mom has been in rehab for a long time with no success. When I asked her where they were going to put another person she said " In order to adopt him we can only have 2 per room and they have to be the same gender so the girls would get one room, the little boys would get the other and the big boys offered to build themselves a room off the back." It basically amounted to closing in an old carport off the side of the house. I asked what they would do all that for a kid they'd never met (he lived in Texas) and she said "because he needs a stable loving home after what he's been through and he's family and there is no limit when it comes to family. If we feel we can provide what they need we will keep helping however we can." I think they might be the closest most loving family I've ever met. Although I don't really know that the size of their house has anything to do with that.
    We have 1500 sqft for 6 going on 7 with a garage and 2 sheds. I need to purge somethings because we're suffocating right now.

  10. #10
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    I grew up in a house that was 906 sq feet. Two adults, two kids and generally two dogs. My sister and I did get our own rooms....but our rooms were also where we played. And mine was 9x9 with a closet that stuck out into the room. It was fine and honestly I do think that it helped my family be closer and my sister and I are very close today. We had one living room so watched TV as a family.

    My house now is 1500 sq feet and I find it feels big....I wouldn't want any more house to clean. We only plan one kid though. And eventually my MIL might move in with us.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

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    We had our 5th baby while living in a 1044sqft home. We built a detached garage which helped and planned on adding on but we moved. We put the girls in one room, the boys in the other, and the baby was with us. We kept toys to a minimum...mostly books, blocks, legos/duplos, etc...

    My kids were all 7yrs and under though so it wasn't a big deal. We moved into a 1100sqft home with a full w/o basement and had 4 more kids. We moved a year ago to house that is more than ample, lol, and wow, I think life is less stressful with a smaller house to keep up with . I'm very thankful, don't get me wrong...it's just a lot of space for things to spread

    My bff lives in a 1000sqft home with her dh and 6kiddos. They felt debt-free was more important and are working towards that while saving to add on (they got a good deal on the house in a great location with very nice acreage that is considered waterfront...the house needed work but they're able to chisel away at it with frugal living and a smaller mortgage payment). Her kiddos are 16yrs-5yrs and they're doing very well (they also home school which tends to mean more stuff). It's not her ideal but she knows it'll be worth it in the end. In the meantime they're all very close-knit and I think learning to live without getting everything they want has really benefitted her kids. They are some of the nicest, respectful, responsible kids I've ever met.

    They make it work by building more rooms with less space and 2 kids per room and bunkbeds while utilizing under the beds for storage. They also have a lot of built-in shelving with storage baskets. They do have an attached garage and large polebarn though which has made all the difference.

    I think even without an addition you can make it work for everyone...I grew up with my two brothers and parents in a 900sqft single wide trailer. My dad eventually built a detached garage and a small add-on room for me (the only girl...the boys shared a room). We kids never thought anything of it since it was all we knew and my mom and dad never complained about it or seemed unhappy .
    Dh (39) Me (37) 8bio 1adopted, 14 angels






  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suja View Post
    I was reading
    an article the other day, and it mentioned the people in the story living in a 1250 sq. ft. house. 6 kids and 2 adults. I cannot imagine.
    We live in my grandparents house (they died. We own it now). Next door was the same exact house but the basement was not finished. I guess its about 1200 sq ft of living space in the upstairs ....6 kids and 2 adults. I think anout that a lot when i feel cramped and frustrted!

    There are so many good storage solutions available now. I think being organized and having a storage system and a less is more mentality is key. We moved from a 2BR 1000 sq ft house after i had DD2. Our house felt like a mansion! It filled up quickly. I imagine if we got a bigger house the same would happen.

  13. #13
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    We are a family of 4 in 1,100 sq. ft. Our biggest problem is that we have the smallest bathroom in the world with no tub, just a stand up shower. We do have two rooms finished in the basement not included in that 1100. But, we are still tight. At one point, before kids, we had 2 of my brothers-in-law living with us. So, 4 adults, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and no finshed basement... that was tough. I think you just have to manage the best you can. I know that we can't afford to move until I go back to work and that has helped a lot. Trading off a smaller house for time at home with my young kids is worth it. But, yeah as soon as I go back we'll be looking for a bigger house, better layout. Good luck to you!
    Growing fast... DD1 (6) & DD2 (4)
    Forever loved, forever missed... Twin Girls with us for 19w3d 6/12/06

  14. #14
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    We live in a 1200 sq ft home with 3 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms. This baby & DD are going to share a room. My DS is 13 so we are letting him keep his own room. We do have a large garage & a pole barn for stuff but my DH has TONS of stuff. I am not exaggerating. With our camper, trailer, 2 snowmobiles, 6 dirtbikes, 1 four wheeler all the lawn & garden stuff, & DH's tools (which basically fill our garage) things are tight!!! Our basement isn't finished other than one of our bathrooms so we use that primarily for storage but even that is getting overrun with stuff. We are going to clean out once I am on materninty leave. We do have a space in the basement that can be converted to a bedroom so later on we will probably do that so my 13 yo can have his room down there & then the 2 little ones can have their own bedroom. It is tough sometimes. I feel like I am going to burst at the seams sometimes but then I think about how much I don't like to clean & that I would never be able to keep a large house clean. We are gone alot on the weekends (hence all the toys) so I am ok with it. We survive the week & then we can spread out!!
    Joanie (33), DH (33), Thomas (13), Angel Baby 9/9/10, Katherine (2), Angel Baby 8/28/12, Daniel (born 6/23/13 at 35 weeks)

  15. #15
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    Thank you for all the feedback! It's encouraging to see that many others are making it work in not-so-huge houses. I've found a couple of blogs about it, also. I've been devouring creative storage magazines lately and am getting ideas...

    I agree about more house, more to keep up. I feel like I can manage to keep our house clean (enough) now. And we're really not on top of each other, but I'm not sure how that will change as the kids grow. DH has 3 sisters and 1 brother and he says his sisters always shared a room. They are incredibly close to this day. He believes it's partly because they had to learn to get along in close quarters, and he may be right. I didn't grow up in a giant house but my sister and I did have our own rooms eventually.

    Some of you mentioned using outdoor space for living...that's exactly what we do in the summer. We are always outside! During nice weather our house size isn't such a concern.

    DH and I desperately need to purge stuff...I think we can free up an entire closet by getting rid of old clothes, picture frames, and boxes that are just taking up space right now. The baby will most likely be in with us for quite a while (if he/she is like DD2, it will be at least a year before he/she is moved into a different bedroom) so there really isn't a rush to transform our current office. I will need a place to put baby clothes, though. Maybe cleaning out the closet is the key...we could put a dresser in there. See, I just came up with a solution while typing!

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


  16. #16

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    When Anakin was born his crib was in our room. We bedshare until our babes sleep through the night consistently then they go to the crib in our room for awhile. Anyway, I kept all his clothes in a big storage drawer that fit underneath the crib. I got the drawers at IKEA. They were cheap and sturdy. I also have 2 teenagers and 2 preteens. The 2 oldest have their own rooms, but honestly, my kids still sleep with each other on occasion. On the weekends it's not unusual for the youngest 5 to all camp out in the biggest room/play room and for Brynna and Tea who are in 7th and 6th grade to sleep in the same room. Vada's 16.5 so she is a lot older and has friends over a lot, but sometimes if she's doing something she knows Brynna would be interested in, she'll ask Brynna to sleep in her room with her. Brynna and Tea also share a wardrobe since they are the same size and Aslan and Anakin share a wardrobe since they are the same size. I would have hated sharing a room with my little sister growing up, but my sister was 6 years younger than me. I think when they are close to the same age, it's not as big a deal.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  17. #17

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    We live in a 1400 sq ft house and there are 5 of us. 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom (which we're getting ready to expand and make larger), and an inky dinky office. We unfortunately have very limited storage space, with only one large closet upstairs and one closet downstairs in the office. We do however have a significant amount of attic space, which helps, and we live in the country, too, on about 2 acres, with a pole barn, garage, and sizable tool shop that DH uses to store his tractor and 4-wheelers, so we have some storage options there as well. This year I've been trying really hard to de-clutter and reorganize since we are feeling the house close in on us a bit with the addition of a new little one. There are so many options out there, though, as far as organizing goes. It's totally doable.




  18. #18

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    We are a family of 6, plus pets...including 2 large dogs, and have been is a small house since before the trio were born, we are moving next month but the new house isn't a whole lot bigger.
    The new house is 3 bed/2 ba, bonus room and 2 car garage....just under 1300 sq ft. Which is a little bigger than what we have been in all this time, so we are really excited LOL.

    We have our room, a 'boys' room and a 'girls' room...so everyone shares. We hope to add one more to our family...it is cozy, but not bad

    ~*~Katrina~*~ Momma to Xander, Hayden & Lily (5 1/2) and Jericho (3)
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  19. #19
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    You all need to travel more! In the US, it's more common for people to have their own bedroom, but in Japan or in many other countries where space is at a premium, we have it good. We have 1360 sf for our family of 5. We only have 2 bedrooms, so the twins share a bedroom and our toddler is still in our bedroom, but we are wondering what to do down the road. We are lucky to have a back yard and a storage area. My DH feels like we should have a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, but lately every time one of the kids' classmates comes over they admire the amount of space we have, so I guess it depends on perspective. It helps to not have a lot of furniture or stuff.

    On the other hand, we can't have people over for dinner or entertain, and that will be my goal if we ever move.


  20. #20

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    I didn't read all of the replies...but we live in a 2 BR apartment in NYC with 2 kids and 1 on the way (so soon to be 5 of us). I like it the way it is, and could care less about about my kids each having their own rooms for now. I suppose one day, that thought and feeling will change but for now, I like us all in the same living space all the time. Most people in this city live with a tiny amount of space, so we are very used to it by now.



  21. #21

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    We just downsized (and payed more) for a house at least 800 sq feet less to get into a better neighborhood closer to our jobs. We still have same number of bedrooms/bathrooms but I actually like the layout of the house much better and I love love love our neighborhood (very walkable, close to lake, close to train, close to city).

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