Why We Fell in Love with Small House Living


When I was a kid, my family and I would faithfully travel to Door County, WI every July to vacation on the peninsula. We rented a spartan cabin on the shores of Green Bay, and my childhood memories are thick with the sounds of the water slapping the rocky shore late at night, the thick quiet of endless rounds of Solitaire (with a real deck of cards, well before cell phones existed), and the thunk-thunk-thunk of a dull basketball bouncing on the aging court on the property.

The cabin itself was just enough: two sparsely furnished bedrooms, a tiny but functional kitchen and bathroom, and a living room with a wood stove and funky furniture from the 1950s and 60s. My two older brothers, my parents, and I all shared this small space, and it was the foundation of some really wonderful memories.

So what does this all have to do with buying a small house? Well, as I've talked about in previous posts, we felt overwhelmed living in a larger home in the past. When we were living with my parents in the fall of 2015 (after having moved there from OKC), we tossed around so many different ideas for what would be next: living full-time in an Airstream, building a tiny house, or finding an existing home to move into. Although cutting our living costs was certainly part of the appeal of living small, the desire for closeness ran deeper than that.

You know that feeling you have during a really good vacation where everything feels right in the world? You feel calm and at peace with your life, the tension is gone, and you feel close and connected to your family.

THAT feeling is why we bought our house. When we toured our house in spring 2016, I had that same feeling I had vacationing with my family as a kid. And no wonder--our floorplan is almost identical to the cabin we stayed at in Door County. I had this hunch (which seemed sort of silly at the time) that if we bought this house, we could maybe somehow recreate that closeness and sense of peace. Instead of being harried and stressed all the time, perhaps we could have a sample of that vibe in our daily lives.

The truth is that although living small can be difficult, it has also exceeded my expectations of how it would feel. I love laying in my simply decorated bedroom, the gauzy sheer blowing in the wind as I listen to children playing at the park, distant trains whistling sounding similar to the horns on a boat crossing Green Bay at night. I love hearing my girls whispering in their bunks, and the sound of Kirk filling up the kettle for coffee in the early dark of the morning.

Owning a small home is financially advantageous, but the benefits are far greater than extra dollars in my bank account. I can't recreate my childhood memories perfectly, but the closeness and comfort we've achieved in the last year lets me know I've gotten pretty damn close.

This post was written for inclusion in the July collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Minimalist Meg-- "Our Story Behind Small and Simple Living" : Sometimes living simply and living small doesn't happen because of a grand event. Sometimes it just happens and it's not until after that you decide to keep it that way.

Little Bungalow-- "Accidental then Intentional" : A visual tour of all the small homes we didn’t buy before we bought our most recent smallish home in beautiful Victoria, BC.

Fourth and West-- "The Home That Chose Us" : Realizing the home we had was actually perfect all along.

Tiny Ass Camper-- "Casita Life" : How and why we chose a 17' Casita Spirit Standard as our home on wheels.

600 Sq Ft and a Baby-- "How We Ended Up Living Small" : Looking back on why living small stuck for us.

Fancy Pigeon-- "Why We Live Small" : A vlog on why and how our family has consistently downsized over the years.

The Streamlined Life-- "Why I Fell in Love with Small House Living" : Sometimes our earliest memories have the strongest impact.

This Lovely Day-- "Tiny Transitions" : Follow along with Kate Shaw, a retiring Air Force pilot, as she transitions her family of five from living in a 3200 ft.² century home to a 900 ft.² downtown high rise condo in the city.

The Justice Pirate-- "Minimalism: My First Tiny House" : Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of having her own tiny house and her dream came true...temporarily.

Family Pedals-- "Finding Abundance in 1500 Square Feet" : In our culture it would be easy for us to view our house as a stepping stone to something bigger, something nicer. For us, the next step we’d like to take is to something smaller, something simpler.