Friday, October 24, 2014

Living Large In Small Spaces - Simple Living In A Small Cottage

Sixth post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces"

(Teri and Bill's Sweet Cottage)
I'm so pleased to welcome Teri of My Homespun Kitchen  to A Joyful Cottage today. 

Teri and I became friends back in September when she stumbled upon A Joyful Cottage and introduced herself. Through emails and reading her blog I've come to admire the simple, authentic, large life she and her husband share in their small cottage.  I invited this very special woman to share her story with us. Enjoy.


Welcome to our little cottage.  We are Bill and Teri.  We have been married 46 years and have lived in the same little cottage throughout our married life.  We have one son, a daughter-in-love and our grand doggy.  They live just a few blocks from us, of which we are so very thankful.

Our little cottage sits on one small lot on a corner in our little town.  Our home was built for my gramma.  My gramma only lived here a short time.  Due to health issues she was no longer able to be by herself.  Bill and I were newly married and looking to buy our first home.  At that time, it was a starter home; needless to say we are still living here and love it even more now than when we first chose this little cottage to be our first home.  I grew up next door, so I didn’t venture far. 

(Our Little Cottage)

Our little home was built mostly by my parents, my uncles and aunts for my gramma.  It was very small.  It had a living room, kitchen, bedroom, laundry room and bathroom.  It was a very basic design.  We knew that it was built well, but again very basic.  We have added our little touches to it and it is our HOME SWEET HOME. 

(Home Sweet Home)

We built on a second bedroom and hallway with a basement under those two areas.  Our basement is used for storage and if we have stormy weather it is a safe place for us to go.

Our living space is 876 square feet and with our very small basement area our total space is around 1000 square feet.

Our situation is a bit different from the others who have shared here.  We have lived in our home forever it seems.  We did not plan or build our home ourselves.  All those years back, we paid what now seems like a very small price for our little home.  It fit within our budget.  My hubby was in law enforcement in our town for 35 years of our marriage.  I was the keeper of our home.  I was a stay at home wife and mom and would not change that for anything.  Our plans were for my hubby to take an early retirement.  With much planning, much budgeting and living within our means, he retired at 59.  We have enjoyed over 11 years now of being together each and every day, of which I would not change for anything either.  We continue to plan, budget and live within our means. 

We are both homebodies.  We do love out and about days, little getaways, but we love coming home to our little cottage even more.  As we are used to living in a small home, we were able to save for our small “home away from home” for our little getaways.

(We live small even when we travel)

(This sofa is made down into our bed at night)

 (My little kitchen space)

We have always found it to be of great importance to live within our means and to live simply.  We have always lived small and have been content with what we have.  It is on our hearts to live a more simple life, living a God centered, purposeful life.  We wish to live each day enjoying what God has given us.  We want our home to be comfortable for us, as well as those who visit.  I want to cook real food that not only tastes good but is good for us.  We want to be in control of the food that we put on our plates.  We have a small kitchen garden on our little plot of land. We enjoy our flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables.  We want to have control over where our money goes.  We cherish the simple pleasures of each day … a good cup of tea, a favorite book, quiet moments together, watching the birds in our garden and yard, plants on our windowsill.  We like to spend time with our family and friends.  We enjoy those simple conversations around the table.

We look back now about our retirement and how we planned for it.  We have been able to make ends meet, even putting money into savings.  There are even more ways that we could cut back if need be.  We are so very thankful for small and simple living.

I thought that I would share a few reasons why we have chosen to live small and simple.

Little houses are budget friendly.  They are easier to heat and cool, so smaller utility bills.  During the heat of summer, a small window air-conditioner is all we need to make our little cottage comfy from the heat.  In the cold of winter we use an electric heater to keep us warm and cosy on most days.  We also have a gas wall furnace that we use if we have extreme cold.

Small houses cost less to purchase.  When we purchased our little cottage many years ago, our payments were affordable and we were able to pay off our mortgage in a short amount of time.  I might mention that we were able to do this on one income. 

Little houses are easier to decorate.  We have a rather simple style of decorating.  Our little cottage is rather old fashioned, a bit country and what we would call homey. 

(This is the bay window in our living room
looking out to our front lawn)

(Our living room … our cosy, comfy, quiet reading space)

(The window over my kitchen sink where we enjoy doing our dishes by hand    
The kitchen curtain is most always open, just wanted to share with you the vintage look)

(We eat all of our meals at our kitchen table,
as well as tend to many little projects there)

(My vintage cupboard, a birthday gift from my hubby,
which has much storage space) 


(Another vintage cupboard, another gift from my hubby, which is used for storage as well)

(Our bedroom)

Small houses share family togetherness.  When our son was small it was easy to keep an eye on him and I loved to hear him play as I tended to my home keeping chores.  If I were puttering around the kitchen or the laundry room, I knew what was going on in each small room of our cottage. 

Small spaces help us to enjoy more time outdoors.  Fresh air is good for us.  We cherish our time outdoors on our front porch, patio or puttering in our lawn and garden.

(Our front porch, a very cosy and comfy place
where we love to spend time)

(A little corner of our front porch where
I love to decorate for the different seasons)

(On our patio we have double washtubs that we use to grow herbs and a salad garden some years and pretty flowers in other years, and also a rain barrel to harvest rain water)

(Kitchen garden just off of our patio)

(Another part of our kitchen garden)

(Our patio and garden area
We also have a garden shed and compost bin in the back corner 
of our little plot of land which is not shown)

Little houses are easier to keep neat and tidy.  Being clutter free is always at the top of my “To Do” list.  We find that having a place for everything and keeping it there works best for us. 

Small houses are cosy.  I love the cosy feel of our small space, especially on a cold wintry night when we are snuggled inside.

Small houses are easier to clean.  I love a clean cottage, not perfect, just clean, tidy and comfy.  I am thankful for less space to tend to.

This is what has worked for us for over 46 years.  During those years that our son was growing up, our home was snug and cosy.  Now that our nest is empty, it is working well for our retirement years as well.  It is still snug, cosy and easy to tend to.

Home Sweet Home

A home is much more than a house built of lumber, brick or stone. A home is made 
of love, sacrifice and respect. We are responsible for the home we build. We 
must build wisely, for eternity is not a short voyage. There will be calm and wind, 
sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of 
heaven on earth.

~ Thomas S. Monson ~

Thank you so much Nancy for inviting me to share our simple and small space living.  I have enjoyed all that has been shared and look forward to those yet to come.

Happy Harvest and Simple Blessings 
from Our Little Cottage to Yours


Thank you, Teri, for sharing your cottage, lifestyle and wisdom with us.

Visit Teri's blog 
where you'll find
more on "small space living, small budget spending, and basic simple pleasures".

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

Would you like to share your small space story
 or have your small home
featured in this special series?
Or perhaps you'd like to participate as a
guest blogger.
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for email address.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Living Large In Small Spaces - Colorado Cottage - The Log Barn

Fifth post in the series

"Living Large in Small Spaces"

1880 Log Barn in Fall

Last week I gave a tour of the 640 sq ft Colorado cottage Dennis and I purchased, remodeled and sold within a 2-year span. 

Our Colorado Cottage

The 1926 cottage sits on 1/2 acre along with an 1880 log barn that we converted to Dennis' art studio.

The Homestead

The Art Studio

Today I'll show you the barn's transformation.

The barn when we purchased the property.

We know from the property's title work that our parcel was once part of an original homesteader's site claimed around 1880. The log barn probably started life as the family's cabin.

Primitive Cupboard Before
Among the junk and rubbish inside the barn stood this old primitive cupboard.

Repurposed primitive cupboard in the corner.
I cleaned it, sanded off most of the paint, and brought it into the cottage.  The cupboard occupied a corner of the living room until we moved it to the bathroom for a storage cabinet.

The barn conversion

The well-maintained barn was a big reason we bought the property; with a small home we needed a separate art studio. Having the barn meant we had a structure in place for that purpose.

Framing the store room. 
A loft above the storeroom, accessed by a pull-down ladder, provides secondary storage.
We built a storage room to hold art supplies, as well as give us space to store tools, seasonal clothing, and odds and ends. The existing concrete floor was a distinct advantage.

We found the window on clearance at a local hardware store.
We wanted to provide the natural light Dennis needed for painting without destroying the historical integrity of the barn.  Our solution was to replace the more recent barn doors with a large casement window.  

Mountain view reflected in the glass.

Professionals installed the window and repurposed salvaged wood from the barn doors for siding.

A new roof was the only exterior work the old barn needed.  The previous owner left the wagon wheel, ladder and other exterior adornments, and we, in turn, left them for the next owner.  

The art studio

It's said a horseshoe hanging on the door with the open end up
brings good luck.  We liked its whimsical look and left it there.

Let's go in and have a look at the artist's studio and work.

Old door repurposed for the storeroom entrance.

A carpenter who worked on the studio's window installation noticed an old door we had removed from the basement.  He offered to cut it down to fit the storeroom entry and we said, "Sure!"  It suited the barn's mood perfectly.

Dennis retired from architecture to become a full-time painter.

New wood stove in the studio.

Dennis likes to paint poppies. There's usually at least one in our home at all times.

Scenes of Rocky Mountain National Park
are another favorite subject.

The ceiling (loft floor) and beams are original to the barn.  

The common wall between the studio and storeroom made a nice gallery wall.

We added cedar trim on the wall between the top log and the loft floor beams.

Lots of natural light after the window installation.

The new window gave Dennis a beautiful view of the eastern mountains.

Inspired living

Our neighbors' corral.

Living in the beautiful Colorado Rockies was a time of personal discovery for me.

Dennis had given me one of his cameras and encouraged me to explore photography.

Frolicking twins on our homestead.

Finding interesting subject matter was never a problem. (FYI, if you're interested you can see more of my photos on my Estes Park, Colorado Pinterest board.)

Elk running through our backyard.

I began writing again and launched Joyful Altitude, a blog journaling my life in the Rockies.

Back door friends are the best.

People often ask me, "How could you bear to leave such a beautiful place?"  Honestly, sometimes I ask myself the same question.

Equine neighbors viewed from my kitchen window.

Still, I know it was the right move.   We lived in a resort area where the cost of living is high, and we worried about having a mortgage as we age. Once we put our house on the market it sold quickly, and we felt very relieved. That in itself is enough confirmation for me that we made the right decision.

Our lot with an existing shop.
Soon we hope to build a small cottage here in Oregon.  Very small. Even smaller than our last home, so that we can pay cash and not have a mortgage.  We already own the lot free and clear -- a good start toward our goal.  Without a mortgage we'll have money for other things, like travel.

And I'll have plenty of time to explore and photograph this magnificent region we now live in.  

Tips for Small Spaces.

I promised to share some small space living tips this week.  Here are some things I did to make the best use of available space in our small cottage.

Think vertically.

All my cookware was stored on a wall mounted pot rack.

A magnetic holder below the pot rack kept my knives organized. 

Multi-task furniture.

I used the top portion of the armoire to store serving pieces, glassware and other items that didn't get daily use; bottom drawers held tablecloths, games and random items.  DVD's and CD's were stored in the blue chest.  The console under the double windows stored office supplies - some in the drawers and the rest in baskets. We used the antique trunk as an end table and storage for luggage.

Hidden Places.

Of course there's the obvious under-the-bed space for storage, but what about room for a pantry?

Dennis built a pantry in unused space at the end of a wall.  Though only 12" deep, it held a lot of dry goods.  I also used a very large basket atop the refrigerator to store stock-up items out of sight.

Living in a small home means less maintenance and more time to enjoy doing the things that bring pleasure.  I can't wait to leave this 1,300 sq ft apartment and get back to living large in a small space.

Join me next Saturday when I welcome another  guest blogger in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

Would you like to share your small space story
 or have your small home
featured in this special series?
Or perhaps you'd like to participate as a
guest blogger.
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for email address.)