House Lessons

There is any number of things I could say our small house taught us but here are some.

This house was sold ” as is” by the nephew of the owner who had died at least 3 yrs before, so it was in a very neglected state. Plus Mr. Clark was 90-something when he died so the house was already neglected due to the fact he was so old and couldn’t do any repairs. The bathroom was pretty much ruined by water damage. We had to gut the tiny bathroom and even the subfloor had to be removed. The prequel to this story is for another post.

It took a very long time for me to understand that this was a very small house and only so much could realistically fit. ( I know, I know, it seems only logical). BUT I didn’t learn this for many years We had moved from a 1500 sq ft house to under 700sq ft. I tried to cram in all our stuff and for years( at least 15) just kept moving stuff around. So the first lesson was the house is a container and the container can only fit what it can fit. It is too small for 2 couches, a piano, a large oak table and on and on. I tried but it really was too much but I still tried. It really wasn’t till I started doing Flylady( around 2010) that I began to understand the relationship between clutter, stuff, collectibles, furniture, and SPACE. What I wanted was a house that worked for me with less stuff, less cleaning, less dusting of collectibles, moving piles of stuff constantly, etc.

Secondly, this is an OLD house and will never have the amenities of a newer house. Our floors creak and the foundation certainly needs some attention. Old houses are harder to keep clean and are always in need of some sort of upkeep that newer houses don’t require. Accepting this house was OLD just helped me get on with the actual living in it.

Thirdly, the layout is really just awful and I’ve had to adjust to this. There is no entry wat to speak of, You come into the kitchen after stepping into what is the front door where Barclay has his desk to one side and on the other is a low metal locker for odds and ends. This room was a porch we enclosed. If we had money, I would have repositioned the front entry in a completely different way. Of course, back then in 1995, with the little money we got from the sale of our house we did redo quite a bit including all the plumbing and electrical. Still, we never changed anything structurally or added on ( like a second bath or bedroom). We just didn’t have the money then nor now.

Four, finally this house taught me to SIMPLIFY everything. Living small is possible if you remove the excess and that is what this house taught me. There’s no question, that if we had money, I would have done remodeling and building but that is not the case so, it’s do what you can with what you’ve got.

If anything, this house taught me to be a minimalist in a way that works for me. It may not be ‘minimalist’ enough for someone else but I’ve pared done to the essentials of what I need and use and love.

There’s more to the story but that’s for another time.

8 thoughts on “House Lessons

  1. We too live in a small home,just under 1200 sq ft. We love it & are even happier that we own it outright. We managed to raise 2 kids here & did the absolute best we could w:what we had to work with financially. We’re in a great n’hood & we could care less what other people think. We’re happy!! It’s clean , orderly & not overloaded w/stuff we don’t want. We did add a 2nd bathroom (very small) years ago in the garage! Hey, it works for us just fine!!

    • That’s great you don’t have a mortgage. If we have one regret, it’s doing that last refi right before the 2008 crash. We were duped into going with a loan we couldn’t really do based on the company giving way overinflated appraisals. It was a hard lesson and if it wasn’t for Obama’s Dodd act where we could reduce the payments for x amount years, we would have lost everything. We did get thru and now we still have a mortgage but we manage somehow.

  2. I totally get the “old house” thing. We live in a 152 year old farmhouse that has had several incarnations. We totally gutted everything down to the original structure, raised it up to put in a foundation, rebuilt the entire house including all the plumbing, wiring and insulation (we live in a very cold country), roof, chimney etc. EVERYTHING – while having dogs, cats, babies and toddlers underfoot! Never again. Never, never, never. I love it but I don’t know what we were thinking when we bought it other than we were young and poor and it was cheap and out in the country which we wanted. Like you, I guess, I could easily fill a book with the adventures we had while “renovating”, including almost twice losing it in a flood!

    • Impressive, a 152-year-old house. This house was built as a summer cabin in 1949. Of course, the original owner lived here till he died in the early 1990’s.

  3. We’ve owned 4 houses all of them “old” when we bought them and all needed work. Each one had its own needs, pluses and minuses but they all became home because what happened in the house was way more important than the house. Still, being warm/cool, comfortable and enjoying your surroundings is vital and I’d say from your photos that you have made this house a home that is a lovely place to live. The setting is amazing.

  4. I love your post and totally understand where you’re coming from. We live in a 1200 sq. ft. house and it fits us great now. When we first purchased, there was just 2 of us..worked great. Then there were three…still worked great. Then there were four and five….very tight fit and thought of moving. Now we are retired and back to two and the house is paid for…Great!

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