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Teeny homes with charm

While modern homes may be getting smaller, they still have a ways to go before they are as small as the homes our great-grandparents lived in. If they came from the old country, they were likely living in cottages or row houses.  I remember seeing the little row house where my great-grandparents lived, as gardeners and servants to the neighbouring estate.  Three up and three down — and they raised six kids!

And many were even smaller.

Even when they moved to North America, our families lived in little houses (at least in the cities).

NOLAThanks to Gizmodo for that picture of houses in New Orleans.

And of more pictures of adorable little homes.

By building our home smaller, we’re not just embracing the future, we are saluting the past!


440 square feet in Brooklyn

By now you may have noted my interest in other people’s small spaces — and more importantly, what they’ve done with them.


This story on Apartment Therapy is about a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York, that still manages to feel (in the words of the article) “comfortable and roomy”.

That bold shot of colour emphasizes the other white walls.  If they’d tried to put it elsewhere it would have made the “choppiness” of the other walls very obvious.  But now, everything flows. And keeping the curtain that blocks off the bedroom area of this studio the same colour as the walls adds to that flow.

In this shot, you see that the main room only has two smallish windows, 


But it still feels light and airy.

Read the article and see all the rooms in this home.  It’s a good lesson in living with less.

Create your own micro-apartment right in our own home town

Micro-apartments are finally coming into their own.

Of course, the idea is not just to move into a tiny space–we’ve all done that at one time or another.  Futon sleeping in a studio apartment–been there! Along with the milk-bottle-case bookshelves and the wine-bottle candle holders.  But we’re grown-ups now and we want some style.  Small style.

But let’s just say that you want to live in a very expensive part of town (this is Vancouver–every part is expensive). Or you spend a lot of time out and about and you just can’t see why you need to pay top dollar for space that sits empty for most of the day. Then get the smallest apartment in the nicest neighbourhood and create your very own micro-apartment.

The idea is to get the very most out of the least amount of space.  And according to Life Edited, it’s doable.

In their guide to 8 tips for making your own micro apartment,tip 1 is

Pick a good address. We think small spaces work best when you use your city or town as your living room.

This is a no-brainer.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean moving to the pricier areas like Kitsilano, Kerrisdale, Gastown or Yaletown. Cambie Street has lots of great shops and restaurants.   And Commercial Drive has always been a pretty happening place. A few years ago, Main Street was not a particularly great area — but now it’s very hot.

Pick a good size:

about 250-400 sq ft for singles; 300-600 for couples; 500 + for families

And shape:

 In general, square and rectangular spaces are ideal.

Then furnish it — thoughtfully.  As in tip 4:

Get a Murphy Bed. It’s the single easiest way of creating space without sacrificing function. A queen size bed is about 35 sq ft.–i.e. 10% of a 350 sq ft space; a 10% used exclusively while unconscious.

They advise that while opting for a really gorgeous unit like the Swing Bed is a great solution.

SwingBedIt’s also 10 grand.  American dollars. But relax, they also point out that you can build your own for around $275.

Lots of great ideas at the site.

And remember the folks who always encouraged us to live in small spaces, IKEA

Inspired to create your own little space yet?  Remember — you can live large in a small space. Right in your own home town.

Mid-century modern inspiration

Man oh madman, I love mid-century modern decor.  Uncluttered, sleek, lots of natural light and wood.

I don’t have to tell you that’s what I want in our new place.

Over at Small House Bliss, Frank and Mili have a great story on the historic Hailey Residence in the Hollywood Hills.  Go to their blog for the full story (BTW, are you following their blog? because it is a never-ending cornucopia of great small-house ideas). But here is a shot that is truly inspiring:

richard-neutra-hailey-residence-dining-to-den-via-smallhouseblissLook at the light, the style — the space they’ve put into a small area, without sacrificing that clean aesthetic

I dream of sipping my pre-prandial martini in a room with that much style packed into a tiny space.


Decluttering — does it ever end?

Keeping in mind our new lifestyle — less is best — I am continuing to toss stuff right, left and centre.  But it’s not without pain.

I look at things and think “I can’t throw this out — it has too much value.” But then I wonder if it only has value because I’m imbuing it with the value I think it should have.  Sounds complicated (Oh. I. Am. Complicated.) but what I’m saying is this, “I don’t own crap, I own valuable objects. I own it, therefore it has value.”

But then I say “Don’t be an idiot.  Toss it.”

Now I have found support in this article at Houzz.

It’s okay to feel pain, and worry, and concern and anxiousness.  That’s normal.  But it’s IMPORTANT to move beyond that.

The truth is, as you declutter, you will probably make mistakes. You will almost certainly get rid of things you’ll later regret, but I’m here to tell you it’s going to be all right. Don’t let the fear of potential regrets get in the way of a new lightness and freedom.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed?  Get help.

Now, who do I know with that kind of organizational skills?

(Of course I’ll have to clean out my closets before I let them look through them).

Friends collaborate on vacation retreats — 350 square foot each

Hands up everyone who had a vacation cabin on a lake!

Anyone?  When I was a kid it was no big deal for a family to have a cabin on Christina Lake.  (Yes, I was one of the luckiest kids on earth.  I still am.)


Our handy-man Dad built two cabins, an a-frame, then we sold that and he built one with a flat roof. They were built on land leased from the government, on the west side of the lake — that is, the side with no road.  Every board, every nail, the wood stove and every stick of furniture had to be loaded onto the boat or made into a raft that could be towed.  A lot of the materials were salvaged from shacks that the railway was tearing down.  We spent every weekend away from the heat of our BC interior house, in the beautiful cool woods and warm water of Christina Lake.

Those cabins have been passed on to other families to enjoy, and I hope they love the memories of those halcyon days as much as I do.  But I’ve always thought a cabin retreat, far from one’s daily life, is a wonderful thing.  It doesn’t have to be large, and the less fuss required to keep it up the better.  Just something the whole family can enjoy.

Four Texas families had the same idea, and built their vacation homes close together.

The woods are a little sparser than those of my childhood, and the river is nothing like that beautiful pristine lake.  But they have the rustic charm I remember (although we did without electricity.  And running water.)

And they are small.  To me, a real get-away does not include extensive housekeeping.  A quick sweep-out, an occasional dusting.  Cabins are for relaxing.

Where will you put everything?

When I show people the plans for our place (which I am apt to do at the drop of the proverbial hat) one of the first things they ask is “Where will your stuff go?” And I say “Mostly the Salvation Army.”  Because, of course, we have to get rid of SO MUCH.

We have already begin this winnowing process, and it’s like getting rid of a huge weight ounce by ounce as things disappear from our cupboards and our closets.   I think I’ve mentioned it before, but this is more than a change of address, it’s a change of lifestyle for us.  Buy fewer, better things.  Throw stuff out.  Keep just what you need, not what you think you might need next year, or what you needed two or three years ago.  Come on, I know I’m not the only person who hangs onto winter coats long after they should have been passed on to some deserving soul at the IODE shop.

How many of us have closets for the clothes we wear now, and closets stuffed with clothes we used to wear and might again if we can lose 15 pounds or if shoulder pads come back?

But we will still need to put things away– or more accurately we need to HIDE things away.  Dishes, books, cat food.  And that means built-ins.

Built-ins are the go-to choice for small-home decorating.


Super built-in apartment, with storage under the bed loft and in the stairs.  That other room you can glimpse down the hall is the kitchen — completely built in, of course.

Storage under a built-in bed. Good idea for a very small bedroom.  We’ll have storage under our bed, who could ignore that great storage area?  But we won’t have room to pull out drawers on the side (bed fits snugly with just a foot of space on either side), so we’ll have a lift-up hydrolic arrangement that will give us access to the space beneath.

20130201-3Here’s a nice wall of built-ins from Apartment Therapy.  See that blank space between the windows with just the small green cut-out?  That entire panel flips down and rests on the little green cabinet you see on the right to make a large dining table.

Have you seen any great built-ins?  What do you think?  Keep them the same colour as the walls, or make them stand out?


Skinny house!

While we ready ourselves to live in a much smaller space, someone has moved into a home that’s only four feet wide!

See it here.

I don’t think I could stand too many rainy Sundays in such tight quarters.

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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.

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