Monday, June 21, 2010

How to live well in a small space

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to live well in a small space

Years ago, my husband and I had a large house and 1 child.  Ironically, now we have a tiny shouse and 5 children.  Funny how that works.  Over the years, I have found numerous ways to make a small space live large.  We slide workspaces into every niche and cranny.  We use furniture that has multiple purposes.  We re-purpose storage for different parts of our shouse.  Here are some pictures of how we make our shouse work for us....

In our kitchen, we have part of an old field desk, that we use as an "office".

And next to it is a military medical box on wheels, we use it for bandaging and medical supplies.

And here it is open.

The top of the work table, holds an old cream separator equipment box that now holds all of our medicines, herbs and essential oils.

We opted to put a small love seat, tea table and rocking chair in the kitchen instead of more work space, so that while the kids were playing in the living room, my husband and I could have tea quietly in the kitchen.  I store the pots and pans that I don't use very often behind the love seat.

My Knight in Shining Armor built a wooden box for my refrigerator to sit on - it is a Sunfrost, so the refrigerator portion sits directly on the floor - very inconvenient.  Anyway, Knight in Shining Armor built a box for it to sit on, and now I have more kitchen storage!

Our Kitchen table is pushed up to the door during the day, but when it is dinner time, we pull it out.  At one end, we have a bench.  That makes it easy for two kids to eat next to each other, and it provides much needed storage!

This dresser serves as a buffet when we have company and also holds movies, linens, candles and is a nice height to cut sewing patterns out on!  We slid an unused headboard behind the dresser to prevent grease and food from the propane stove from splashing on it - it works great.

We tuck our piano behind the chaise lounge.  It is out of the way, but centrally located.

Our TV is hidden behind upholstery fabric, because I hate looking at that horrible black hole when it is not in use.  Plus, we are not tempted to turn it on, other than Friday night Pizza and a Movie....

An old trunk holds bed linens, and doubles as an end table.

Another "end table" is actually a socks and underwear dresser.

We have no "dining room", so my Great-Grandmothers corner china hutch lives in the living room.  A little unconventional, I know, but it works.

We make the most out of old grocery store shelves in the living room.  Books are stacked high and the two bottom shelves on the left hand side are full of baskets of toys.  The kids don't have toys in their rooms, but they prefer to play in the living room anyway.  We have a blackboard hanging on the shelves for the kids to draw pictures, make signs or just color on.

Tucked into a corner, is another small bookcase.  We put the school books we are currently using, plus stationary, dictionaries and pre-school toys here, where we will have easy access.

We strive to be an industrious family, and all of the girls have sewing machines.  This is 11 year old middle daughter's machine.  We rescued it out of a dump pile at the local junk store.  We paid $20 for it (in the table) and it works great.

Middle daughter is helping youngest daughter, almost 5, sew her very first bath mitt.  I love it when the bigger kids help the littles.  Youngest daughter felt so big!

This is my sewing desk.  It is snuggled right up under the stairs.  I have to cover it to keep it from getting horribly dirty.

And this is a cast off hutch that we put all of our sewing and craft supplies in.

Behind my sewing desk, also under the stairs, we have our computer hutch.  It is out of the way, but close to the living room.

We have an antique kitchen cupboard that was built locally in the late 1800's in our bathroom to hold bulk medical supplies, Youngest son's clothes, piles of candles, soap, toiletries and everything else that doesn't have somewhere else to live.

We had an old dresser that the drawer disintegrated in, and we put shelves in it and use it for towels.  It also hold my household tool  box, an enamel bucket with washcloths and shampoo.  The screens behind the dresser hide our HUGE industrial batteries.

I don't have a lot of wall space, so a framed tapestry lives about the washing machine.

And here is our dryer, in the kitchen, of course!

This wardrobe holds all of the hanging clothes for a family of seven!

Our eldest daughter used canvas painters drop cloth to create her own private "Out of Africa" room.  Her sewing machine is set up here.

It has been a challenge to learn to live with a little room and a lot of people, but I love the creative aptitude that it inspires.  I would love to hear from those of you that also live in a little space.  I love to see how other people make it work!


  1. Love your blog! I think I have read most every post since I found your link a few days ago on the Providence Lodge website. We too are living in a tiny space with four children. We have been living in our 33' travel trailer for almost two years while we build our log cabin. I am always tripping over someone or something! We have just begun getting into stocking up for emergencies. My problem is I obviously don't have any space inside our 300 feet of living space. We do have a large storage container in our yard that we use for tools, windows, etc. I was just wondering if you could give me some advice about storing food in there. I have some stuff in there, but I am afraid of the extreme temperature changes. We live in the Florida panhandle but it can get down in the 20's here at night sometimes. It also can get over 100 degrees in there when it is warm. In the winter the cans and jars seem to get lots of condensation on them. What do you store in your storage container and do you worry about the temp?

  2. Oh my! I love your blog! I thought we were the only "crazy" people in the world that live in a shop/house or our is kinda like a barn/house. W e have lovely referred to ours as a "sharn" shop/barn or a "bop" shop/barn. I can totally relate to the creative furniture for storage. LoL my kitchen cupboard is actually an old metal chicken laying boxes hung on the wall! (sterilized of course) I will share some photos and ideas later when I have time. Glad I found you.