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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Cottage - How small is big enough?


How much room do we really need 
to live joyfully?

That's the question Captain and I have been asking ourselves and each other the past month.  

I knew when I entitled my last new cottage post "Our New Cottage - Is This It?" that the chances were very good that it wasn't "It"; that we hadn't yet arrived at THE cottage.  By that I mean a pleasing, livable cottage design that wouldn't break the bank.


"Piggy Bank/Breaking and Entering?"  Photo by Pascal  Some Rights Reserved

Even with excellent credit and a big down payment, when we saw the costs from the lender to build the "Is This It?" design (construction loan and closing costs + final mortgage and closing costs), we knew we wouldn't be moving forward.  

We're not comfortable with spending that much cash now, plus incurring the burden of the final mortgage.


"If Mamma Ain't Happy" Photo by Patrick Q  Some Rights Reserved
Not at our age.

In truth, we'd like no debt at all.  Which means in order to meet that goal we'll have to build small. 

Very small.




Now, I love small homes.  Cozy has always appealed to me more than spacious, so I don't consider downsizing a punishment.



"The Entrance" Photo by Nicolas Boullosa  Some Rights Reserved
But I'm also realistic enough to know that there is a point at which "tiny house" loses it's appeal for me.  I've followed the Tiny House Movement for the past four years, and I greatly admire people who can live debt free in 102 SF of space, but that's not me.  

I know this to be a fact.

So. . .


How small is big enough?




Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

When I saw this Welsh cottage I showed it to Captain and said, "I think I could live in a cottage floor plan like this."


Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

An open floor plan.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House


Kitchen open to the living room and dining nook.



Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House



Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House


Small, functional kitchen.


Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House


No corridors.


Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

Bedroom directly off the living room.


Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House


The bathroom is off the living room, on the opposite end of the cottage from the bedroom.  I'd change that to make the bath accessible from the bedroom.

My friend Magali at The Little White House on The Seaside pinned this floor plan for me.  (Isn't she thoughtful?  I just love her, and her blog.)


1st Floor Plan
The Weekender by Home Design Central

This is a 600 SF cottage which, coincidentally, has similarities to the 528 SF one bedroom cottage plan we just finished, and which is now in the hands of our builder for pricing.  

If that plan flies, I'll show it to you.

In the meantime I've been connecting with small home dwellers; people who have chosen to live simply, many of them debt free. They're smart, kind, creative people and I'll be sharing their homes, lifestyles and tips for small space and simple living right here at A Joyful Cottage in a new blog series:


 "Living Large in Small Spaces"  


We'll be touring Tim and Leslie's 540 SF cottage this Saturday.  

If you're not yet a follower of A Joyful Cottage you may want to become one so you don't miss any of these fun and informative posts.

So, what do you think?  I'd love to hear your thoughts about downsizing, living in small spaces, simple living, etc.





I party with:
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
The Homemaking Party at Hope In Every Season
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

The Art of Homemaking at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth

44 comments:

  1. Nancy, I think this is fabulous! I love the entire tone of your post. Who wants a big house and no money leftover to live? We started our married life in home that was less than 900sf. Our friends said that we bought an "apartment sized home" and when my husband told his coworkers that he was buying a house they asked if he could afford it. When he said yes, they told him, well then it's not big enough! Can you imagine? I think you new plan looks perfect! Fingers crossed for you and I can't wait to check out your new series!

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    1. Thank you, Kim, for sharing. Your husband and you made good choices, and your current home is perfectly charming. I love it. Most of my life I've lived in small spaces; the smallest was a one bedroom apartment that my late husband and I lived in when we were property managers. It was 320 sf. We were young and not yet parents. The apartment and all utilities were part of our compensation, and I must say that time was one of the happiest, carefree periods in our life. Of course, being a parent trumps that any day, but nevertheless we were content. That's really what it comes down to. . .learning to be content with less. And in that less becomes more. Hugs.

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  2. I for one could live in a tiny house and when I was still married I tried to get my ex-husband to help me build one. NO WAY! My only problem with a tiny house is --- I would need two. One to live in and the other to put my clothes in.

    I'm all for downsizing. Getting rid of all the things I don't really need or don't absolutely love. I like the plan you picked and having a porch makes it even better.

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    1. Pat, your comment about needing a second tiny house for our clothes made me giggle. Since retirement my wardrobe has shrunk considerably. Jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies and one dressy outfit for special occasions. Even our church is super casual, so I can pretty much live in jeans if I want. xxx

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  3. Hi Nancy ... I so enjoy your post. Our little cottage is less than 1000 square feet. We have lived in and raised our son in our little home. We have been married 46 years. I think the one thing that is different for us is that for the length of time that we have lived here we have accumulated over the years, but we have a place for most everything. It is the one thing about small living that is important to me. I find I want to be organized and keep our little cottage tidy. I love the different photos that you have shared. I love the idea of porches to add "living space" to little homes. We love our front porch. I am looking forward to all that you share here. Warmest Blessings ♥ Teri

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    1. I'm with you, Teri. My space has to be organized, too. Very important. Our last home was 640 sf and it was very easy to keep clean and tidy. Like your home, there was a place for everything. Thanks for sharing! Hugs.

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  4. We raised our two kids in a home that was 800 square feet. This house is 1400 square feet and it is just too big for Hubby and Me. I would like a smaller home, but just a tad smaller. When it comes to homes I think there are several things to consider. How many people will live in the house, does family come to visit often, do you have lots of parties with friends. The most important one is money.

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    1. You're right, Betty. As Captain would say, "Form follows function." Our children are grown, have homes of their own, and are scattered all over the country; and we don't have large parties. Just a few friends over, or we meet them at a restaurant. Which is one reason why I don't want debt. . .I want to be able to go out to eat now and again. :) Thanks for your comments. :)

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  5. I've dreamed of having a small cottage on the beach....some day! I love looking at floor plans! Hugs, Diane

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    1. Owning a small cottage on the beach would be ideal, but it's not going to happen for us, Diane. If this works out though, we'll definitely be able to rent a cottage on the beach for a vacation with the money we'll be saving on a mortgage. We like to visit the Oregon coast, and love to stay in the little village of Yachats. Hmm, now I'm craving seafood. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

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  6. Nancy, I can't wait to follow your new series! My husband and I have slightly different ideas of what downsizing entails. He sees us near a golf course in a small, no-frills home or living as snowbirds with two modest homes. I, on the other hand, would like to downsize in square feet but upgrade in quality, and I'm not too keen on that snowbird idea. It could be quite an interesting little debate ;) I'm sure I'll gain some insight as you post about small homes...looking forward to it!

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    1. As your husband is a golfer, I can understand his snowbird philosophy. ;) I feel as you do, and feel quality trumps quantity. As a retired architect, Captain has some pretty strong feelings about quality in a home, too. I'm thankful for that. Thanks for joining in the discussion, Julie. xxx

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  7. The cottage you shared this time looks perfect to me. No halls with beautiful rooms connecting....those windows up high make it feel open. All of that porch space would be wonderful too.

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    1. Thanks, Stacey. Our version has an eat-in kitchen and a larger bathroom to accommodate a stacked washer and dryer, and a clean up sink for my husband's artist brushes, etc. And we've got a front porch planned, which we hope we can include in the build. It's all $$$. xxx

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  8. Gosh that's tiny. I could live in it by myself, but I don't know if I could handle living with someone else in a space that small. I would recommend either building an attic room or having a basement, then you can always get away from each other!!! lol

    Smart idea to keep costs down though. We really don't need huge homes...

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    1. It is small, Anne, but our last home was 640 sf, so we're used to small spaces. I agree about having private space, and we've got a shop on the property that we plan to divide into studio space for Captain and a craft/quilt/writing space for me. I'll be sharing more about that in the future. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend. :)

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  9. Love this post. Our 3,000 square foot home is on the market. We have a 1,100 square foot condo being held for us. This house was fine when there were 6 of us. Just not cozy enough now. So wish our house will sell soon.

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    1. Thanks for sharing with us, Debby. I think a condo is a good way to downsize. We considered it, however, we both like to garden and we want to be able to sell Captain's art from our home, if we choose. So for us a small home makes sense. Good luck with selling your home!

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  10. The Wash House and The Weekender show such wonderful use of space! I've always believed in living below your means. I have confounded realtors (and car dealers) for years when I refused to buy as much as I was approved for. :) It is profoundly liberating to be mortgage-free. I do not have the nicest house on the block, nor the newest car in the garage, but I am happy. :) And free. ;)

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    1. You're wise, Joy. If more people thought like you we wouldn't have much of the foreclosure problem in this country that exists. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  11. I'm looking forward to the series, Nancy!

    Answering the question "how small is big enough" depends on you. We found a great solution, mortgage-free, and couldn't be happier. I'm sure you will find the answer too.

    Hugs,
    Lin

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    1. It's funny, Lin, but as we explore this question it always comes back to the fact that we need more creative space than we need living space. We certainly like the prospect of being free of a mortgage. xxx

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  12. I just deleted my original comment since I had put down a wrong figure! We downsized from a 2,600 sq foot home to 1500 sq ft condo. This really is a perfect size for us. It has two bedrooms , a living room, day room, porch and a dining/ kitchen areas that fits a full sized dining table. This has worked great. We had one son that needed to come back home for a year (su rprise , surprise!) and it worked out fantastically. We have also had our 3 kids and 3 grands with spouses and friends camp out --fitting 12 for over night! I never would have guessed --we do have 3 bathrooms which I thought was not necessary----however I have found it is perfect and allows flexibility for sleepovers of the family.

    The thing I like about this space is if my hubby wants to watch a dvd or something I still can go to another section of our space and not hear the noise. It all has been a perfect fit for us. We have the freedom to travel since we don't have to worry about outside upkeep too!

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    1. This sounds like the perfect space for your husband and you. Having family visit frequently requires space, that's for certain. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your downsizing. :) xxx

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    2. Ha, I saw your comment at my recipe blog where I inadvertently had placed a Hillsong song--it was supposed to be on my devotional blog where I stash songs and so forth ! Somehow when I posted it from youtube it went to the wrong blog---funny or what! Glad you enjoyed it ; now, I have placed it where I wanted it on my other blog, lol!

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  13. I think 600 sq ft might be possible.
    A dear friend of mine is looking into 150 sq ft.
    Not for me . . . I think she can pull it off!
    Wise decision I would say , to pull back and re-evaluate . . .
    I am just trying to downsize within my existing space, that is WORK!

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    1. Yes, it is, Lynne. I've moved three times in 18 years and have downsized considerably each time. There's not much left to get rid of. I'm happy about that. :)

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  14. You might want to consider aspects of aging. The steps up into the bedroom are not good as knees age and wheelchairs might be needed. The same goes for the bathroom. If this is your final "forever" house, create a large shower instead. I am in my mid 50's and having this conversation with my 10 year older aunt as we have had to move my grandmother into assisted living. Nothing in her house was planned for and there was no way for her to stay there. We need to make these decisons while we are younger.

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    1. Hi Bonnie. Thanks for your comments. The cottage shown in the photos is inspiration for the open plan layout only. Our cottage will all be on one level. Even the entrance from the porch is without a step up. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with moving your grandmother to assisted living. I've had to do that myself and it's not an easy task.

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  15. Love the plans so far, Nancy. Your upcoming posts sound interesting. I would absolutely LOVE to have a porch!!
    Debbie
    xo

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    1. I would love to have a porch, too, Debbie. It's in the plans, if we can work it into our budget.

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  16. I live in a small condo. And I love it. No worries. Down sizing was hard at first for me, but now I love living in a smaller space. More cozy, I feel more secure. I think people are crazy with their big mcmansions. I say small and simple. Good luck. Karie

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    1. Thanks, Karie. I'm perfectly happy with living in a small space, too. Glad it's working out for you.

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  17. I would definitely have to do a lot of downsizing to live in a small space. I would love to have a little cottage in my back yard for my own get-a-way (I am aloud to dream) :) Good luck to you on your perfect little cottage!

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    1. Thank you, Judy. Backyard cottages are kind of a new thing, I see. You may get yours yet. :)

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    2. I wish and wish Nancy but maybe if I learn how to spell correctly ("allowed" instead of aloud). It is funny how when you go back and read an old comment or post and see a misspelling...I guess that happens with age. :)

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  18. Nancy, this cottage does look wonderful! I think I could live in that space. Really, it's only when the entire family gets together that we use all the space we have in our larger than we need home. I especially love the paint color and the sliding barn doors leading to the master bedroom! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. Having grown children and grandchildren visit is a driving force in the size of ones home, Jann. We really have to consider our lifestyle when we design a home.

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  19. Great post Nancy! I will be featuring your post in this week's Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

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  20. Nancy,
    Somehow I missed this post, but I saw it featured on A Delightsome Life, so here I am! Thank you very much for mentioning me, that's very thoughtful. My previous place was about 500 square feet. I'm going to enjoy this series very much. The cottage I live in now seems huge to me with its 800 square feet, but on blogland it's a very tiny house!
    Magali

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    1. The apartment we live in right now is about 1,600 sq ft, and it's way too big for us. I'm anxious to get into something much smaller, Magali. 500 actually sounds pretty good. :) I'm happy to have you along on our journey. xx

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  21. Have you ever noticed that the words, 'charming, quaint, or cozy' constantly come up when people are asked to describe the atmosphere, decor, or feel of a place, only to find that the actual space of that place is really quite small, in the big scheme of things? I wonder if this has to do with the notion that 'making do' with something that is seen as a disadvantage forces people to be more creative and imaginative when defining that space as their own, encouraging them to put their personal signature on it, despite its imperfections, which in the end, are usually the things that contribute to its individuality, and thus, unique style.

    Love your series and all your pretty pics that go with it!

    Happy Tuesday!

    Poppy

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    1. Thank you, Poppy, for this thought-provoking comment. You're very perceptive, and I think you're on to something. I think it's interesting that In HGTV.com's article "25 Biggest Real Estate Mistakes" they caution, "Learn to decipher real estate lingo. For example, "cozy" means small." I've seen this in other real estate related articles, too. It would seem small is a disadvantage in the world of real estate. At least in some circles. Enjoy the rest of your week. xxx

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