Keeping your home organized is important, but in a small house it is critical. If you don’t put things back where they belong then your home is going to become cluttered very quickly. This is going to be the hardest part for me because I am not naturally organized; I thrive in chaos.
The first part of organizing is getting rid of anything you are not using. It’s a lot easier to prevent clutter when there’s less of it. So, grab a box or a trash bag and start getting rid of everything you have not needed in six months to a year. Go room by room. Declutter every closet, too. It’s amazing how much junk ends up in our closets.
If you are a book collector like me this is going to be hard. I have plenty of books that I have either never read or I haven’t read it in a long time. I keep them because they mean something to me. Just make sure that they stay where they’re supposed to and don’t start taking over your house. Actually, living in a library doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
If your obsession is clothes, shoes, etc. I want you to get rid of anything that does not fit first. If it has needed repairs for six months or more and you have not had time, it’s a lost cause. Toss it or give it away. Now look at what you wouldn’t wear to spend the day by yourself, but it was a gift. You aren’t going to wear it when you see them. Donate it. Someone else will love it. Probably.
The last place I want you to declutter is your kitchen. Go through your junk drawers and start throwing stuff away. If everyone in your family has iPhones and iPads you do not need Android cords. Throw them away! Get rid of extra plates, silverware, cooking utensils, and pots and pans. I’m not talking about the good stuff Grandma gave you. I’m talking about the worn out broken stuff you don’t even know why you still have it. Now is the time to get rid of it. You only need one place setting per person. If you have company buy paper products. As a bonus you’ll clean up after big family meals faster.
I hope that this has motivated you to clean up and get organized. I’m going to read it to myself again later to motivate me. I’ll be honest, I hate cleaning and getting rid of stuff, but I know that sometimes I have to. This is one of those times.
You can find inspiration anywhere, but my family tends to find it outdoors. When my husband and I were younger we lived in Virginia and we loved the mountains. That was our happy place and we were content to stay there and never leave. Especially not for the beach.
Then we grew up and God called us to Alabama. We love the mountains here, they’re beautiful, but Gulf Shores is our happy place. While visiting we got the opportunity to stay in a beautiful beach house that is similar to The Berry Cottage.
It’s not identical, obviously, but there were a lot of similarities. It is a good bit bigger at just over 1,100 square feet, but there were six of us staying there so that was a good thing. It was a two bedroom, two bathroom with a sleeper sofa in the living room.
The Berry Cottage isn’t near the beach, but we decided that we didn’t care. We can still add beach charm to our little piece of paradise. We are doing this with colors inspired by the sand and water, decor of sea creatures, and various marine items like crab traps and fishing nets.
This was the interior of Bon Vie. We loved how it felt like a farmhouse on the ocean. Ours is going to feel like a beach cottage in farm country. I just wish that I could find a front door like this one for our home, I loved it.
I am hoping to have The Berry Cottage completed in August. As we complete these projects I will tell you what we did, how we did it, and I will share before and after photos.
The Berry Cottage still has a few months to go before it’s complete, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Of course there are still a couple of must dos left, but there are plenty of fun things, too.
I love painting so one of my goals is to paint shiplap on the walls lacking tongue and groove boards. The oldest part of the house was built around 1918 so the original wood walls are gorgeous. The old ceiling is also coming down to reveal the wood there.
The exterior needs landscaping and shutters. I don’t have much of a green thumb so I’m researching hardy plants. We’re also supposed to be getting chickens at some point, but I haven’t had time to think about that.
On top of the want-tos there are a few have-tos. Like the bathroom needs updating, the windows have to be replaced, and the porches need new roofs plus paint. We’re blessed that the house has a two year old metal roof and new vinyl siding. That cuts down on projects greatly.
My husband and I love vintage pieces so we are trying to use as many as we can. We have a 1940s Hoosier cabinet, a 1950s dinette set, and a 1920s tea cart. Each piece is usable while adding charm and character to our home.
I’m not sharing interior pictures on the blog yet because we have a long way to go, but I will share before and after pictures when we’re done.
I thought it would be fun to answer a few questions so that you know where my family and I are coming from. If you have a question that I haven’t answered here please ask in comments.
Is The Berry Cottage your first tiny home? No, actually it’s our third tiny home. Our first was only 144 square feet plus a loft. We still own it and we are hoping one of our children will want to live in it.
Why do you and your family choose to live in small houses? We choose to live in small houses because they are usually less expensive and utility bills tend to be cheaper. Repairs and maintenance don’t cost as much and are much easier, too.
How do your children feel about living in a small house? Our oldest is the only one who complained, but that was when he was going to share his room with his siblings. Now that he’s going to have his own room he’s happy.
Do you have any hobbies? Where do you work on them? I enjoy reading, writing, crochet, and painting. My goal is to eventually get a she-shed so I can work on my projects and have a little peace and quiet. Something that doesn’t happen with three kids running around.
Where do guests stay? Since The Berry Cottage is remote we can’t put friends and family up in a hotel. Our goal is to buy an antique camper and fix it up into a guest cottage. We don’t get visitors often so we figure a small camper with comfortable beds and a bathroom is perfect when someone does show up.
This is our current home, a 1996 16×80 (roughly 1, 280sq ft) manufactured home. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a large room consisting of the kitchen/living/dining rooms. It has a separate laundry area in front of the back door, but I wouldn’t call it a laundry room.
I told you all of that so that you know where we are and where we’re going. I honestly don’t feel like we’re losing anything because of how much we’re gaining once we move. I will talk about that later.
My first big idea is to use as much multi-use furniture and items as possible. Old dressers work great as TV stands and they can store almost anything. The right dresser will look classy in the living room. This is going to be especially beneficial to us since the kids will get the bedrooms leaving us in the living room on a fancy futon or pull out couch.
This one is easier for me than some others, but don’t keep things you don’t use. What-nots, furniture that doesn’t really serve a purpose, etc. Look around you and see what you haven’t used in the last six months or longer. If you haven’t used it yet then you don’t need it. In the words of Elsa, “let it go!”.
My last tip is to use your decor to tell your story. Use pictures, favorite pieces, and handmade items to achieve this goal. When you live in a small home you want to keep everything meaningful. Instead of buying a throw at Walmart, use one a family member made or make one yourself. It will change the look and feel of your home.
What helped you downsize? What are some favorite pieces in your home?
This picture is what The Berry Cottage looked like when we first bought it after we cut the grass. We started calling it The Berry House at first while referring to it as a cottage because that’s what it is. It has 752 square feet of living space not including the porches. Eventually, we would love to enclose the back porch so that we can have a master suite. Even with that addition, we will roughly have 952 square feet because we don’t want, or need, a big house. Our soon to be twelve year old will have his own room, the younger two will share the bigger room, leaving me and my husband in the living room.
The berry part of the name comes from a goal my husband and I have. We would love to homestead on our half an acre of land, which means berry bushes, vegetables, and chickens. Berry Cottage sounds a lot better than Corn Shack.
There is peace when we’re there working or just spending time sitting on our porch. It’s in the middle of a small town, but it’s quiet. Except for the occasional rooster crowing across the street. I love that, though.
I am praying that God will allow us to complete all of our projects so we can move soon. It’s quaint, but it’s home. In the short time that we’ve owned it, we have made beautiful memories and I know that’s why God led us to it.