Our backyard, looking out from our one-bedroom apartment.
The first house that my husband and I bought was a duplex. One bedroom on the ground floor, two bedrooms in the upstairs apartment. Both apartments were about 700 square feet.
We lived in the downstairs until Chicken was one, and then we moved upstairs. We lived in the two bedroom apartment another couple of years, adding Monkey to the mix along the way.
I really liked the forced simplicity of living in both of those apartments. And the apartments themselves were really cool. Hardwood floors, random doors that didn’t match each other, and (upstairs) feeling like you were in the penthouse suite. You could vacuum the whole apartment from one outlet. And I liked that we were all right there, no more than three strides away from each other at any time.
Now we’ve really upsized from those apartment days. We roughly doubled our square footage when we moved across the street, and we have what I think is a bizarre amount of closets in our “new” house. (Seven. Plus a full pantry. That’s a lot, right?). Plenty of storage. One would think.
A few weeks ago I was moving things around in one of our numerous closets and I was frustrated by how little space there was. It was the kitchen closet where we store our big dishes and our pyrex stuff, and everything was always on top of itself and annoying to deal with. I had come to dread pulling anything out of that closet.
I looked at the closet for a while and my wheels started clicking about how to better use the space. More shelves would be nice- wall to wall, instead of the shelving unit we put in there. We could maximize our storage space better. Fit everything in better.
I thought about our weekend coming up and if my husband and I could work on getting new shelves up on that Saturday. I was really hatching a stellar plan. Everything would be better with new shelves and more storage space!
Then I remembered how “install new shelves” is, inevitably, a project that takes us all weekend and makes us both cranky and frustrated with each other. And means we won’t actually hang out as a family all weekend. And always costs more than I think it will. And that, not too long ago, we used to have a fraction of the storage space we do now. And we made it work. And I loved it.
The solution was not more shelves. The solution was getting rid of a bunch of stuff that I don’t use very often, so the stuff I do use is easier to get to. It took me about 45 minutes and a box of stuff to Goodwill, and now I don’t dread that closet anymore.
My friend Megan said she watched a bunch of HGTV recently on a trip with her sister, and she was struck by how much stuff people had. So many couples were looking for a bigger house to accommodate their stuff. When I watch those shows I want to yell at them- just get rid of half of your kids toys and pare down your wardrobe, and you won’t “need” all those walk in closets you are paying so much for!
I mean, if you have the money and want a big house- great. And you love having people over and having the space for guests- great. And your family functions better with a little extra elbow room from each other- great. I mean it- GREAT!
But if you really can’t afford it… If it means both of you will have to keep working and you’d rather be home with your kids one day… If you rarely have guests hoping to spend the night… If it leaves no wiggle room for financial emergencies… Think loooong and hard before taking on more square footage and a bigger mortgage.
Maybe just get rid of some stuff and enjoy the space you’re in for a little while longer.
For small space inspiration, read about a family of five living in 665 square feet. Or if you are dreading the task of organizing that closet/desk/bedroom, consider reading this, on organizing versus decluttering first. Or if you are just fine with the size of your home (thanksverymuch and BACK OFF my walk-in closet, Katherine), you might enjoy this series on loving your home and what you keep in it.
End of rant.