Can Five People Really Live in 1,000 Square Feet?

The simple answer to this is absolutely! Are there sacrifices? Yes. My family and I think they’re worth it to save energy (money) and to have a home that is paid for.

For three years we have lived in a manufactured home with a mortgage. It’s twenty years old, won’t last until it’s paid off, and is too big for us. It’s a little less than 1,200 square feet.

When my husband and I started designing our dream home we knew that we didn’t need a big house. We don’t do much inside, especially our kids. We basically need a place to stay dry when it rains, places to sleep, and somewhere I can write and do other hobbies. I don’t need a room for this, just a desk.

We are praying that our house is done in March because we are ready to move in. I’m excited to share it with you all. My goal is to eventually write a book about the process because I don’t want to fill the blog with it. At the same time I want to encourage others to take a leap of faith and see where you end up. You may be surprised!

Try Something New!

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About eight months ago my mom and I started going to a monthly painting class. We go out to eat and then spend two hours working on our masterpieces. She and I had never done anything like this before, but we wanted to get a break for a couple of hours. Our teacher is amazing and she not only teaches us how to paint but also how to fix any mistakes.

Eight months later and our paintings are not only improving, but now we’re talking about doing this on our own because we love it and two hours a month aren’t enough. You can see in my painting at the top that it’s not perfect, but it’s fun and relaxing.

If you have ever wanted to try something then go for it! Don’t be afraid that it won’t be perfect, that comes with time and practice. There are YouTube videos for everything these days! You can learn to crochet, knit, cook, or even do home repairs! Just relax and give it a chance. A hobby isn’t about perfection, it’s about relaxation and having a great time!

My next project is going to be painting the Berry Cottage on my own because I have always wanted a painting of my old house hanging in the living room. Even before I actually had an old house. I envisioned one day having a two-story farmhouse, but with my husband’s disabilities, a one-story is better for our family. It will also be easier for me to paint.

Here are a few ideas in case you need inspiration for a hobby:

  • Blogging (you can start for free on WordPress or Blogger)
  • Drawing
  • Journaling
  • Dollhouses/Miniatures (This is a goal of mine)
  • Quilting/Sewing
  • Pottery
  • Gardening

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some suggestions to get you started. Don’t worry about perfection, just have fun. I also highly recommend trying a painting class. You may be surprised at what you can do!

Progress at Berry Cottage

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We got the floor installed in the kid’s bedroom and I was so excited that I couldn’t wait for the tools to be put away before taking pictures. Look closely at the flooring. It looks like hardwood, even in person, but it’s not. It’s sheet vinyl that I bought from Lowe’s for $.37 a square foot. It’s grooved and has knotholes just like real hardwood, but for a fraction of the price.

We also put in the window unit. The house has never had central heat and air and we chose not to put it in to save money. We’re planning to buy a natural gas heater before it gets cold. We were told that the gentleman who owned the house before us kept the house warm with one brick on a natural gas heater. He only had one air conditioner so we’re assuming he liked the house very warm, which we don’t, so one brick may force us outside until nightfall.

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We also had a new wall put in. The old wall had been eaten by termites. Fortunately, there wasn’t any new damage or evidence of living termites. We are going to have the house treated as a precaution since most of our walls are going to be the original shiplap that hasn’t been destroyed. This wall will be getting trim put on it to hide the seams and add interest since it’s vinyl and can’t be painted easily. The black on the left is the five panel door we had installed months ago.

Our next project is putting in new flooring and paneling in the hallway. I will share that with you once it’s done. We are doing this remodel on a super tight budget, but we’re so excited with how it’s turning out. I can’t wait until it’s finished, it’s going to be my happy place.

Remodeling on a Budget

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Recently my husband and I were talking about what our trailer needs. It’s twenty years old so the list is pretty expansive (and expensive!). We still have a long time left until it’s paid off (which is a long story), but it’s not worth much. So we agreed that while we want to make it comfortable, we don’t want to invest a fortune.

The above picture is our home a year ago. It hasn’t changed much, but we are hoping to fix that with shutters and some paint. Along with a few other ideas we’re tossing around.

A big thing is the outdated and undersized HVAC system. Add that to the aluminum siding and lack of insulation and you understand why it’s hot inside and our electric bill is high. In case you don’t, I’ll add the missing piece, we live in Alabama.

We could replace the furnace, exterior unit, and the broken ducts for around $5,000. That we don’t have. Instead, we are going to use window units on the back and portable units on the front since they’re not as unsightly. We discussed propane for heat, but our floorplan isn’t set up where it will work well. Basically, our TV and Xbox will melt while our bedrooms and bathrooms freeze. We are looking into infrared heaters and an infrared fireplace for the living room.

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We’re also looking into window awnings and shade cloth until we can put on vinyl siding and a good metal roof. Our current roof requires cool sealing which is what you typically do with an RV. We are hoping to eventually put on a real metal roof.

Another problem is the furring strips on the walls that they do in manufactured homes to save money instead of spackling and putty. We’re going to take them off, spackle, and putty then repaint. It will feel like a house and a home then.

If you live in a manufactured home and you’re in need of inspiration I highly recommend going to Pinterest and putting in your dimensions along with “manufactured home”. In my case I put in, “16×80 manufactured home”. I found a similar floor plan that with minimal effort would give me a full laundry room and a pantry. So we are going to take down one wall and build two plus add two doors to our home. I’m ecstatic! This will give us two things that we have wanted for about $1,000 or less once we’re done. This also makes our space more usable.

What I am looking forward to most is my children’s bedrooms. We decided to put our 12 and two year old boys together in the large 15×9 bedroom and give our daughter the 8×9 bedroom. To maximize her space we’re going to build her a loft bed with a desk and a swing where she can sit and draw or do her school work. She’s four so she pretty much designed it herself and I think it’s going to be an amazing space. Our oldest is getting my 90 year old mahogany bed and the little guy wants a John Deere tractor bed. I’m going to try to build it for him.

I will write posts as we accomplish goals and let you know how things are going and how things are working. I’m hoping to put a lot of pictures on Pinterest, too, in case anyone wants to copy our ideas. We’re hoping to get started soon, but it may be November with everything going on. Which is fine since it gives us time to make sure that we’re doing what God wants and not just what we want.

 

What Makes a House a Home?

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This is a pretty simple question that could have millions of answers because home can mean something different to each person. It could be something as simple as where your family lives, your address, where your belongings are located, and any combination of these things.

For me, it is where I worship and talk to God the most (I’m only at church four hours a week), where my family lives, and our piece of land. The past few days I have realized that in spite of the problems our current home has, I love it. It may be an old tin can, but it’s where I brought my last baby home, where my kids have pretty much grown up, and where I have grown in Christ the most. To me, that’s worth far more than I’ve paid for the house.

If God chooses to allow us to stay here, I will be grateful for the rest of my life. If He doesn’t, we own the land and we can figure something out. My husband loves alternative, preferably off-grid, housing.

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My point is, home is what you make it. It can be an apartment, an old house, a manufactured home, or even a tent. If you’re glorifying God that’s all that really matters. Yes, your home is a way of glorifying Him because that’s where you spend most of your time with Him. Or it may be your car if you travel a lot.

Of all the things that we as a society take for granted, I think the home is the biggest one. When was the last time you thanked God for the space you live in? Or do you think the size isn’t right, it’s not perfect, or you don’t like your neighbors? I have said those things about almost every place we have lived and we have moved as a result. I can’t remember the last time, before now, that I just thanked God for the blessing that is my home.

As a final note, if your house has problems, you will feel better if you fix them. Organizing does wonders, too. I’m horribly disorganized and our home was a mess! It’s still not perfect, but I love it anyway and I’m fixing it.

Three Bedrooms in a Cottage?

Three Bedrooms in a Cottage

For those who don’t know me, I love Pinterest. I spend more time there than I probably should. Especially since we bought The Berry Cottage. There are so many amazing ideas there and it’s so easy to find inspiration in an instant!

Last night I was looking at cottage plans (because that’s what I do) and I found one that looks a lot like our cottage. It’s the Bayside III by Beaver. What really struck me is that, unlike our home, the Bayside III is three bedrooms. All we have to do to achieve this and have our own bedroom is remove a bookcase at the end of the hallway. There are only 16 square feet of difference between the two.

This means that my husband and I can have a nice, cozy bedroom and a comfortable living room. Yeah! This means more time on Pinterest looking at creative decorating ideas! Especially for my daughter’s room. She has some great ideas (especially for being four), but I think we can take her ideas and make them better.

Now, I did say bedroom and not a master suite. So we will be sharing the bathroom with our three children until we get tired of it and add a bathroom off the kitchen.

Preparing to Downsize

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?