Small House Living: An Interview

Today I’m interviewing a small house living expert. Today I’m being interviewed by an up and coming blogger in the small house movement. Today, I’m interviewing myself (the first two sentences sound so much more professional, albeit redundant!)

Me: What made you choose small house living?

Myself: Frankly, exhaustion. It seemed as if our family was working harder and harder, and yet losing ground. Economically, we felt stretched. Our time was completely eaten up with just keeping up, and both my husband and I felt like there had to be a better way. It was during this time that I came across the concept of minimalism. The idea just grew from there.

Me: What did your “Before” look like?

Myself: We were living in an almost 2000 square foot “pre-Civil War” fixer upper. When we moved in, we didn’t do anything for the first year. After a VERY cold winter, we knew we had to improve the heating/air/insulation situation. We opened up a few walls, and (like any good HGTV show) found more problems. We started remodeling out of desperation and on a shoestring budget. This meant that we lived in a reno zone for over 5 years. Whole rooms were torn down to the studs and left like that until we had the resources (time AND money) to close them back up. Minimalism helped. Instead of trying to crowd 2 rooms worth of stuff into 1 room, we sold a lot of our possessions. When you are tearing out lathe and plaster, you want to have as few “dustable items” as possible. We finished up the Master Bath remodel a month before we moved.

Me: What does your “After” look like?

Myself: Currently, we live in a 900 square foot “shop apartment” on a 14 acre wooded lot. My husband desperately needed a workshop for his business, and we did not want another remodel. So we decided to build an 1800 square foot metal building with a 12 foot covered porch running the length of it. We spray foam insulated it (we will never be cold again), and my husband built a 3 bedroom, 1 bath apartment on one side. The outside is NOT fancy, but I indulged my heretofore hidden Industrial Design streak on the inside. We absolutely love its simplicity. Bonus is that there are no remodeling projects weighing on our minds. I can clean the entire apartment in an hour (and that’s with washing windows and wiping down baseboards – something I never had time to do at our previous homes). It is simply a pleasant place to live in, relax in, and sleep for our family of 4. Our living situation has freed up both time and money to follow our individual interests in life.

Me: What are the Pros and Cons of your small house living decision?

Myself: The pros would include less money spent on necessities like utilities, taxes and upkeep; less time on mundane chores. We are also forced as a family to interact more closely together – to bump into each other on a regular basis. I feel like this helps us grow closer to each other, and practice patience and understanding with each other – virtues we all need! Finally, we have been entertaining other people more in our home – something we always wanted to do, but that seemed like too much work before, and not enough time between projects to do.

The major con would be 1 bathroom! This has forced us to be much more considerate of each other. There are 2 “bath takers” in this house. We have to make sure to check that no one else needs in the bathroom before we get in. I remind myself that most people in the world live with only 1 bathroom (if they have indoor plumbing at all). The other major drawback is that, although we still love to host people (even overnight guests), many people are not comfortable staying in such tight quarters or sharing just one bathroom between 2 families.

I feel like the pros definitely outweigh the cons. We are finally seeing progress toward some of our long-term goals (growing Hiram’s business, being debt free, following our passions). We have more time to just be with each other. My absolute favorite thing in the world is to sit on the porch with Hiram and have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the Nature that surrounds us. My second absolute favorites are to sit down and read a book or play the piano, knowing that what needs to get done is already done. Thirdly, I love that we are living with “just enough” for us – no wasted extra rooms or possessions (this really appeals to my efficiency-loving nature). Most significantly, my daily prayer has changed from “God, please help me get through this day” to “Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings.”

Me: What advice would you give to someone else who was interested in small house living?

Myself: First of all, I would recommend taking time to reflect on your direction in life. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What does your perfect day look like? Are you currently happy? Why or Why not? Then, make a plan to get from there (10 years in the future) to here (today). What needs to change to put me on the right track. Secondly, if you are intrigued by small house living, you can explore it before committing to it. Declutter. Try living in half your current square footage. Close off a room or two in your house. If you can live without those spaces, then sell what’s in those rooms and shut the doors. You’re now saving yourself money and time without moving. Try it out temporarily before making permanent changes. Once you start seeing the benefits of living with less, it will help you to find the strength and clarity to make the bigger, more emotional decisions.

Me: Thank you, April, for sharing your journey so far with us!

Myself: It was my pleasure! I really do want to help others find the breathing space they may be lacking in their life, to find the joy in life rather than always being exhausted by the drudgery of life.

Me: And if you, Dear Reader, have a story of small house living you’d like to share with this audience, please leave me a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

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