Brooding On

Living Small in the Living Room and Kitchen

The five of us have been living in our 896 sq. ft. mobile home for a little over a month now.  I've yet to get valances up in the main living spaces (I tried picking out fabric with the brood in tow and quickly decided that would be a project better put off until school starts), but otherwise, I'd say we're settled in.

I have considered it a personal challenge to fit all of us and all our necessities into the small space.  And, I do believe we've done it.  Each item that made the cut when we moved from the larger house to this one did so because it was frequently used or of great sentimental value (and oftentimes, both).  

Let's begin our little tour, shall we?  


This is what you see when you step in the front door.  Yes. the sofa is the only real seating in this room.  (We do have a chair at the computer that can be pulled over, and the dining table is only about 2 yards away.)  But, the choice to limit seating was in keeping with Tip #1 for living in a small space.

Tip #1 for living in a small space:  Don't overcrowd with furniture!

John and I can comfortably share the sofa.  And all three kids can fit on the sofa.  If we were to all be in this room together at once and sitting down (does this ever happen?), the kids would prefer the floor anyway.  The only other arrangements I could come up with (and I had some other folks helping me try to figure this out -- thanks, Mom!) had you opening up the front door and nearly tripping over an armchair.  When MeeMee walked in for the first time and saw this current arrangement, though, her first words were, "My!  How spacious!"  I certainly never thought I'd hear those words about any part of this house, but I think it's due to the fact that we didn't overcrowd our common area.  

Moving around the above pic from left to right:  

The sofa is backed by low bookshelves that serve as surfaces for drinks and hide kitchen overflow like lunchboxes, cloth napkins, and cookbooks.  A small end table/bookshelf by the window (you can see the coaster set atop it) provides yet more space for books.  The floor basket corrals our library books and throw blankets.  The most frequently referenced books (mostly farm-related) are stored on the tall black bookshelf.  The white onion/garlic basket hangs by the backdoor and holds our headlamps and work gloves while making use of vertical space.  The fan near the entrance to the kids' room is turned on at night to provide a sound buffer to help the kids sleep since John and I are only yards away in the living room or kitchen.


Moving on around the room:

More bookshelves!  We just love our books! Oh, and some lovely etched-glass mirrors.  No, we did not hang these up.  They appear to be factory-install.  Lots of folks have offered helpful suggestions for how we could rid our living room of these dated mirrors.  Alas, they remain. I know they're not gorgeous, but I think our little dancer would be devastated if we took away her rehearsal mirrors.  (And, yes, I consider it a small house victory that she has ANYWHERE in this house where she has space enough to rehearse!)  The corner desk holds the computer while the wire shelf to its right holds (top to bottom) the eggs from the morning gather, a tub of kitchen pantry overflow, and the printer.


The front door is flanked by boot trays on the floor and 2 levels of hooks for jackets, aprons, and such.


Looking left from the front door, you see the kitchen (complete with cheese hanging from the cabinet door!).  A couple of storage solutions to note from the picture above :

1.  The cutting board hangs from the cabinet by the window.  I had to dispense of my large one.  There was just no accessible place that I could store it, and since I use this about 3 times a day, I need it handy. This spot makes it easy to grab, and it's stored just above the knives, near the sink, and near the compost pail.  

2.  The flyswatters are hung conveniently by the trash and recycling bins.  I mean, won't most flies hang out somewhere near there anyway?  No more hunting down that swatter!

3.  The microwave, which takes up a significant portion of the limited counter-top space, becomes a shelf for our most frequently used items -- dinner plates -- making them as easily accessible as possible.

4.  The bar area is very long, but we only needed two stool spaces, so the very end of it houses the coffee pot.  This gets it off the kitchen counter and, I think, creates a cute little coffee bar area.


Girl 2 and I worked together to whip up this little solution one evening.  I'm convinced that the house is slightly tilted.  Water from the edge of the sink runs around it and pools near the window.  It was swamping my compost pail and anything else I stored back there.  So, Girl 2 and I created this little stand out of pallet wood.  It sits just high enough off the counter that I can easily dry up the water that runs back there, and the shelf keeps anything I'd like to store back there up out of the water.  


Our pantry!  Basically all the shelf-stable food in the house is stored on this little rack.  No more bulk-buying for me!  (I briefly forgot this the last time I went to the store and bought the jumbo pack of toilet paper that I used to buy.  Now, I have rolls squirreled away all over the house because I have no place large enough to store it together!)  I think everyone should consider storing their food in plain sight from their main living space.  We'd probably all make healthier choices at the grocery store if we thought that our next dinner guests might judge us based on the contents of our shelves.  ;)  Just so you don't think we're THAT good, I will reveal that the food bin on the shelf in the living room houses our CHIPS!  ;)


The cabinetry has very few drawers, so we improvised and created our own.  These green bins stow neatly in the cabinet and can be slid out easily to access their contents.


Mugs are out of the cabinets and hanging from beneath them to free up more cabinet space.


Wire inserts in the overhead cabinets double the usable surface area.


Our tiny table seats only three (but we have the two bar stools for additional seating) and is pushed up against the wall to maximize space.  The window provides a view of the goat field and barn and is flanked by original artwork by my very talented sis-in-law.  ;)

To continue the tour of the house and how we've attempted to maximize its space, keep checking in this week!  If you prefer to read about the animals and such, this is not a good blog week for you -- check back with us next week. ;)