Thursday, November 13, 2008

Advice Needed From Those in the Trenches

Warning: This is not a witty post, a wise post or an informative post. This post will not help you become a better parent, citizen or person. It does not offer an amazing recipe that your family will adore. It does not promise wealth or free digital cameras or diapers for a year. You will earn no points toward future gas purchases or hammers. Upon reading to the end, you will not be sure of seven days of good luck or blessings to all in your household. This post does not contain the secret formula to ending strife in your home or in the world. It does not have photos that bring tears to your eyes or that capture the way you feel about running or shopping or history. You will not suddenly understand the computer programming directions that only recently baffled you. It will not remove pounds, firm breasts or strengthen fingernails. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

This post is about me and my needs.

A few days ago, I introduced you (or maybe reminded you) of the Katrina Cottages available through Lowe's. There are several quirks in my nature, and one of them is obsession. Since I was introduced to the concept of a super-tiny house, that is where my thoughts have lingered. What if I designed a 700 square foot house? What if I put this tiny house on a basement foundation that doubles it's size? What if I made it so that, as money is saved, we add on (instead of buying an already big house on borrowed money)? Here are my questions for you:

  1. How do you feel about spiral staircases?
  2. What are essential parts of a highly efficient kitchen?
  3. If cooking for seven was your regular three-times-a-day job, what would you have in your kitchen?
  4. Fireplace or wood stove?
  5. What is the one thing you wish you had in your house or have that you could not do without? (I'm not talking about basic necessities like dishwashers or toilets or, ya' know, floors.)

Please leave your feedback. I only have six more days of my free trial of some very expensive design software!


The Mothership


  1. I feel very good about spiral staircases...very good. When my family was building a big house (that they borrowed money to build) we lived in a little cabin on Newman lake- do you remember that place? Well it didn't have a basement but it had an upstairs and spirals stairs- big chunky wood ones- it was charming and practical for such a small place- it is funny but all of us kids (besides Bryon, because Mom kicked him out- another story) all say it was the best Christmas ever. There was a huge fireplace and we made homemade ornaments and stockings- and we were literally all smashed together in this little place and we loved it. All 6 of us were upstairs in 2 bedrooms. I love that little place and I love the talks Joette and I would have at night.

    A highly efficient kitchen in my mind must have a bar our a counter where people can sit- but can also be used as a food prep place- my first floor in my house is only 900 square feet- so the kitchen is really small- but I love the counter so I can talk to my kids when I cook- they can color when I am doing dishes, and it makes for great gatherings in the kitchen- which I think is important- we hardly use our table because we all fit around the bar-

    and a pantry- a nice size pantry...everyone I talk to who has a nice pantry in their kitchen loves it and everyone who doesn't have one close to their kitchen- hates it.

    If you are building a house I would put a fireplace upstairs and a woodstove downstairs and have them share the same chimney- Wood stove you can cook on if there isn't electricity- but can be dangerous for little ones- I love our woodstove- we hardly turn on the heat-

    I wish I had a laundry shoot- because my laundry room is in the basement- then there wouldn't be a big laundry basket in each room taking up too much space

    and I wish I had built in shelves all over for books and storage without having to buy bookcases and more furniture that gets in the way- you can really use up a lot of unused space this way

    cold space for food storage

    a garage- oh how I wish I had a garage- you can make the garage with an A frame roof and make the top of the garage into another room for more storage or for a teenager who needs his "space" -which could help if you need more room in the house for an unexpected "baby" you never know.

    oh and pocket doors are great in small homes- for closets- bathrooms, bedrooms- because a door that swings open just takes up a lot of space- but remember a pocket door frame is quite large- even though half of it is hidden behind sheet rock-

    I wish I had a master bathroom- but that isn't a necessity- just nice to have

    I think kitchens should be in the back of the house with a window to the backyard- and have more than one way of traffic through the kitchen- and like my old house- you actually have to go through the kitchen to get to the back bedrooms- isn't yours that way too?

    Emily, ok I wrote a lot- how funny- sorry- I draw house plans for fun- I love looking at them- I love functionality- sometimes I stay up at night dreaming up of the must functional house- I'm weird- but it is seriously so entertaining to me

    ok I am done

  2. @april--I do remember that little cabin on the lake!! I had a friend who sold her great big house and bought small because she missed her kids. It was too easy for them to be at different corners of the house and they hardly interacted.

    Thank you for your tips!

  3. Love the small house concept!!Something I couldn't do without is the LAND to put it on. The size of the house doesn't matter as long as you have a nice chunk of land to spread out; for kids to play, a big garden, etc. It also allows for you to add on to the house as needed like you mentioned. Although our house isn't quite as small as 700 sq feet we are definitely already looking at sharing rooms, adding rooms (in the future), and love keeping things simple! Now for the specifics:

    1) Love the spiral staircase idea
    2) A gas stovetop - So much nicer for canning! And a nice sized pantry.
    3) Again a gas stovetop - this is something on my wish list :)
    4) Wood stove for sure! You can totally cook on these if ever a power or gas outage - great for emergency preparedness.
    5) A nice sized food storage area.

    Have fun playing with designs! I love this kind of stuff. xoxo

  4. Definitely a woodstove - much more efficient and warmer. We use our woodstove in the living room as our primary heatsource. I occasionally cook on it as well. However, get a gate to put around it to protect the little ones. We have a freestanding gate made just for this purpose, and we can take it down in the summer. And, design a convenient way to handle the wood. We have an antique wooden shipping crate next to our woodstove. It is located under a window and we load the wood through the window. It's much cleaner than carrying it through the house.

    Becky (who just found your blog)

  5. First... OMG, I haven't heard the Happy Fun Ball thing in forever -- it just made my night!

    Ok, answers.

    1. Groovy.
    2. Big freezer, maybe? I am not known for my culinary skills, so I'm shooting from the hip here. But I like the idea of being able to make stuff ahead of time and then freeze it for whenever you need it on the fly.
    3. A hired chef. (see culinary skills comment above) Seriously, the idea of cooking for four keeps me hopping. Seven is just outta my league. You rock.
    4. If I understand correctly, a wood stove is more efficient for heating, right? Or am I mistaken? I would go for whichever is more efficient for heating the room.
    5. Closets. There are seven of you. Storage, even if you're scaling down in lifestyle, is essential. Closets.

    Sounds like an interesting project. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  6. I am so glad I asked! I was leaning toward the fireplace (ambiance), but will take a second look at the fireplace.

    Thanks to all for your input. I will check out the chef idea, Urban Mom!