Small Houses

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We live in a small house, and honestly, it’s enough for us. Our town is expensive and if we were to move to something bigger it would probably need a lot of work and I would probably have to get a job, and I’m not up for either of those, so we are going to stay put. At least for right now.

To live in a small house with two adults, three kids, and a dog isn’t hard, you just have to be careful. You can’t leave anything to chance; every move has to be deliberate. For example, suppose you find something on the floor and you aren’t sure what it is but you think it might be important. In a normal size house, you might throw it in a drawer in the kitchen and nothing or no one would suffer. In a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet, though, the drawers cannot be expected to store random non-kitchen items. It’s just not fair. They should be assigned forks, knives, ziplocs, and a can opener. That’s it. When you live in a small house and you find something strange on the floor, you have to go through the painful process of identifying it, finding the owner and putting it back where it belongs as quickly as possible. It sucks but you have to do it.

Another point about the kitchen: If you are considering entering it for something but someone is already in there doing something like cooking or washing the dishes, ask yourself if it’s really necessary that you enter. A kitchen the size of a walk-in closet was originally designed for just one person, and once another person enters it, it becomes much smaller, especially when that person is a husband. If you have asked yourself the question about needing to enter and the answer is still yes, please stay to the right. Criss-crossing and triangle patterns will only result in frustration that looks like a ballroom dance but definitely doesn’t feel like one.

In a small house, mantras are very useful. “A place for everything and everything in its place” can be your guide, especially in those rooms that are dedicated to storage, like the garage, which was originally designed to store a car but that would be ridiculous. In ours, smelly soccer cleats and slimy shinguards go in the stolen Wegman’s shopping basket on top of the folding table. Hockey sticks go in the bin located to the right of the bin that holds all the balls; if you put a hockey stick in the ball bin I will find you. Gardening tools and potting mix go under the other folding table next to the 16 containers of gasoline we have left over from Superstorm Sandy. Beach chairs get hung up on the wall next to the boogie boards and snow tubes.

“Less is More” is another mantra that resonates with people who live in small houses, especially when they find themselves at Bed Bath and Beyond or HomeGoods surrounded by lamps, motivational plaques and scented candles at deeply discounted prices. In a situation like this, it’s helpful to repeat the “Less is More” mantra silently to yourself, along with the addition of a positive affirmation such as, “I don’t need any of this shit.”

Bathrooms in a small house should be used for taking baths, and not much else. Toiletries are allowed, but no more than two or three at a time and they must be small enough to fit in the pockets of the shoe organizer hanging behind the door. Please note that all such purchases must be approved in advance. Toilet paper cannot be hung from a holder on the wall or stacked on the neck of an iron giraffe that sits on the floor because then your movements will be significantly restricted. In fact, I have found that toilet paper looks best in a small wire basket on top of the toilet tank, you just have to spin around 360 degrees to use it.

Finally, you need to pay close attention to your closets. Closets can make or break a small house. If used as they were intended (for clothes, in-season only), the whole house will hum. But if you are shoving board games, stuffed animals, unwanted gifts and camera equipment in there, it will be mayhem and you might as well put a “for sale” sign on your front lawn right now because you are not going to make it.

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