Thriving in Small Places

Disclaimer: Of course, it is practically impossible to pinpoint a definition for a small house. A tiny home in modern America would be extravagant to medieval peasants or many around the world today.

Here I mean small in the American sense: a duplex with two little bedrooms and living room, a tiny bathroom and a kitchen with just barely enough room to squeeze in a few chairs and a table.


That’s how I felt when we first moved into this little duplex so that Joshua could attend law school. With just barely three feet of counter space, the kitchen was especially bad.

But over the past two years I’ve come to realize the blessings of less space: the impulse to accumulate stuff is balanced by the lack of room to store it and you are forced to be creative. Plus, limited space encourages communication and makes holding a grudge nearly impossible.

Before digging into specifics for each room, there are a few principles that work for the entire house.

Be content: Enough room is mostly a matter of the heart. We have way more than we need. Discontentment with a small home won’t disappear with a move. Choosing contentment makes even a small home seem big.

Gratefully accepting the room you have encourages you to be creative with it. Almost the moment I accepted the kitchen, I thought of simple (and obvious) ideas to make it more functional.

Simplify, simplify: Whether it’s the decorations or the children’s toys-keep it simple. Even when stuff is cheap or free evaluate whether it will really add to the peace and charm of the home. By keeping it simple, you are able to enjoy the things you truly love.

Continually evaluate what you have: pretend to be a visitor walking through the front door. Looking at the stuff through someone else’s eyes highlights things you don’t use anymore, the toys that really could be given away or sold … and the dust on top of that old shelf.

Keep things picked up: Homes are to be lived in. No home with little ones is always tidy, but unabated clutter wreaks havoc in small spaces. Determine a place for everything that you really love (and ruthlessly get rid of the rest!) and then make sure it gets put away. Even little children are able to put their own toys and clothes away. Tidiness not only makes the home more peaceful, it makes it feel roomy.

Do you live in a small home? How do you make it work for your family?

And no, that is not our house, isn’t it cute thought? Photo by Eva Schuster

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  1. Candace says

    Anna, your home is small (as is mine), but it is always lovely and peaceful. I think these are great tips. I’m always inspired when I come over-especially with what you’ve done with your kitchen.

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