Mortgage Refi – Don’t Make My Dumb Mistake!

Thinking about a mortgage refinance? That’s all well and good, but don’t make the dumb mistake that I made whenever

Mortgage Refinance

Thinking about a mortgage refinance on your house? As much as it drives me crazy to get a new loan, with the interest rates at an all time low, we really have no choice but to consider refinancing our home loan, right?

That’s all well and good, but don’t make the dumb mistake that I made whenever I got a mortgage refinance.

Quite frankly, even with the current low interest rates, I was ignoring the possibility of refinancing my mortgage, until we got a ‘looks too good to be true’ letter in the mail about refinancing one our investment houses.

Rats! Now we needed to consider a refi.

Let’s break it out before the interest rates start climbing back up again.. And they will, you know! Remember when 6% interest was considered to be good? Heck, we got a 9% interest on our first house and were thrilled about it. So don’t fool yourself thinking that these ridiculously low mortgage rates will last forever.  Trends turn.

Should you refinance? Look at your options here.

First, a disclaimer:  I am not licensed.  I am not an expert.  Hopefully this article will get you thinking about if you should do a mortgage refinance… and avoid my past mistake! Consult with a professional before making a decision.

Whew.. now that that is out of the way.. let’s move forward. There are two key points to consider.

Mortgage Refinance – Point 1

How much is it going to cost? In the past, refinancing your mortgage cost as much as it did to get the original loan.. Not necessarily true today.

But you still need to know pretty much the exact cost to obtain a new mortgage.  Mortgage companies tend to classify the costs under a whole variety of names. It they state your closing costs will be… let’s say $3000… you still need to dig a little deeper. Let’s pretend you currently owe $200,000 on your mortgage.  Ask what the total costs are to get the refi.. don’t say ‘closing costs’, but ‘total costs.’

If they still say $3,000 I ask one more time but it in a different way like: “You’re saying that if my mortgage is $200,000, and the closing costs are $3,000, I don’t bring a penny to closing, AND my mortgage will be $203,000 plus the better rate?”

My point here, is that it’s imperative to get the true (total) costs for the mortgage refinance so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.

I’m including a home loan calculator so you can do a little figuring, because once you know the cost to get the new loan, you still need to know if it’s to your benefit.

You’ll also want to know the break-even point of adding the closing costs to your original loan.

For example, if the closing costs for the refi are $3,000, and you’ll start paying $150 less per month, it will take 20 months (3000 div. by 150 = 20) before you actually break-even.

After this break-even point, you’ll benefit for every month you live in your home.  So if you’re planning to be in your home for a minimum of 20+ months, a mortgage refinance might be a good idea.

But, wait! Not so fast, because there is one more piece of the puzzle.

Mortgage Refinance – Point 2

How many years are added to your new loan? Dumb mistake alert! Most people don’t even consider this. They simply base their decision off the break-even point. Big mistake! Let me tell you why.

Say you started with a 30 year mortgage and now you have 23 years left to pay on it. So you go out and get a new 30 year loan. Do you see where I’m going with this? Adding 7 years to the life of your mortgage is probably not going to save you money in the long run.

So what should you do? How about a new 20 year loan? Or even a 15 year mortgage.  Check out refinancing here.

The embarrassing fact is that while my husband and I are in the business… investing and building homes almost our entire adult lives… we didn’t figure this out until a few years ago. Can you believe it? We should have known better! And it cost us big time.

If you want to learn from our mistakes, I highly encourage you to consider the length of your new mortgage.

Ideally, you want to reduce your monthly payment AND the time left to pay on the loan. Quite frankly, with the interest rates where they are at the time of this post, that may very well be possible!


30-Year Fixed, FHA Loans, VA Loans

Lighting for Small Spaces

Lighting for Small Spaces. Get fresh, bold and new lighting ideas for your small spaces. From modern to classic lighting to whimsical

Lighting for Small Spaces: Furnishing small spaces can be challenging, especially figuring out the lighting. Use too big a lighting fixture and it could give off too much light. Go too small and you might be living in the near dark. Layering small fixtures at strategic places within the room will help give a nice even lighting to a tight space.

small space lighting
Photo Credit: Blog.lumens.com

This lovely swing arm lamp works perfectly in a small as it can be adjusted easily to read or for mood lighting.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: furnitureandhomefashion.com

Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you can’t make a big statement. For example, this bedside table lamp seems large on its own, but put it in a tight corner and it works beautifully.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: Yakal.net

This room is quite large. However, the focus here should be on the possibilities of that incredible lamp/table combination. It would work well in a little living room between a chair and sofa.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: casacullen.com

Wall sconces in a tiny bathroom shed enough light without taking up much needed space.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: casacullen.com

Blink and you might miss them. These might just be the tiniest pendant lights I’ve ever seen. I bet they give a nice glow to the vanity area below.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: squidoo.com/small-space-living

This brilliantly colored living shows how successful a small room design can be when elements are layered.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

I would love some of these Ostrich egg pendant lights on each side of my bed. Aren’t they just so sweet and perfect for small spaces?

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

A little galley kitchen has four light sources in one small space—the desk lamp by the door, then down to the counter top and a little red topped lamp, over to the hanging lights above the table and into the natural light.

[note color=”#f8f8f8″]Guest Post from ArcadianLighting.com: Visit Arcadian Lighting for inspiration and a large array of gorgeous lighting fixtures for every style![/note]

Leave Lighting for Small Spaces for SmallHouseLife.com Home

IKEA Small House Plan 621 Square Feet

Once again we go inside an IKEA Small House. This time the IKEA house plan is 621 square feet. Pictures from Austin store shows IKEA




Web Analytics





Check out the IKEA house plan that’s 621 square feet.  Everyone seemed to love our first 376 square foot IKEA floorplan article so much that we decided to bring you more.  

This small house is almost twice the size as the first one!

And once again IKEA shows how you can get a whole lot of living in a very small space. You’ll get great IKEA storage ideas as well. FYI…just cuz a lot of you have asked, I don’t sell IKEA floorplans. I just took these pictures at our IKEA store.

We like to start out by showing you the actual floor plan so you can get a visual as we walk through the different IKEA rooms.

This particular small house has a nice open living, kitchen, dining area.. along with two bedrooms and one bath.

There’s even a washer and dryer in the bath so you don’t have to leave the house to do laundry.




Downsizing is not about doing without..but living abundantly in a small space.

IKEA 621 Living Kitchen

Cozy living room with a comfy sofa which could definitely be a sleeper sofa for overnight guests.

IKEA 621 Living Room

Obviously you’re going to enjoy your smaller house better if you’re organized. One of the great things about IKEA is that they have storage solutions for every room in the house.




This is an absolutely gorgeous kitchen, small house or not. I am hooked on the white subway tile, and the glossy 4×4 tile that is featured in this IKEA kitchen.

IKEA 621 Kitchen

IKEA 621 Dining

Perfectly workable dining room for four. Again notice the storage.  Remember you can always go up with storage with you’re trying to use your space most effectively.

IKEA 621 Master Bedroom

Lovely IKEA master bedroom. I don’t know why I didn’t think to take a picture of the storage in this room, but if you’ll refer back to the floor plan, you’ll see that an entire wall is devoted to storage in this bedroom. 

And of course you can see the storage over the bed in this picture.

IKEA 621 Bathroom

Here is the small IKEA bath complete with double sinks and even a washer and dryer.

IKEA 621 Extra Bedroom

They managed to squeeze in a secondary bedroom in this tiny 621 square foot home. You could do bunk beds for a much more efficient use of space in this kids room.

IKEA 621 Extra bedroom Storage

Three areas of storage here.. The storage closet, underneath the bed storage.. and shelves at the very top near the ceiling.  Imagine the efficiency of this small bedroom if it had a bunkbed with storage underneath?  Plus it would look much more streamlined than with a plastic box under the bed.   Hey, how about the night light?

Get Free Shipping on Any Order (No Minimum) at DiscountMags.com!

New Braunfels TX Craftsman Bungalow

Charming Craftsman Bungalow vacation rental in New Braunfels TX. 1200 square foot craftsman style bungalow lives big with

[adrotate banner=”30″]You can test drive a charming Craftsman Bungalow by vacationing in New Braunfels TX.

Craftsman is one of my favorite styles, and we have lots of pictures to show you.

Fun way to see how a 1200 square foot, two bedroom, two bath small house actually lives.

Direct link to this Charming Crafstman Bungalow.

New Braunfels Cottage to rent

It doesn’t get any better than this!  Notice how they coordinate the steps with the windows?  One of the beauties of wood windows.  FYI, for those of you who don’t live in TX, we rarely use wooden windows.

Typically you’ll find vinyl or even aluminum.. with only the more expensive (like a million+) homes with wood windows.

New Braunfels Living Room

What is great about this living room is that it’s tastefully modern.. Plus light and bright.  Just goes to show a bungalow does not have to be dark and drab.. as we often see.

Love the stain glass windows.  FYI, when I first started building homes in Texas, I had stained glass custom designed for each home as my signature.

Hmmm, I’m assuming they have a TV attached to the brackets you see over the fireplace?

New Braunfels Dining Room

A perfect blend of traditional and new in this craftsman dining room

[adrotate banner=”29″]

Gotta have those amazing hardwood floors… And the transoms over the interior door.  Nice!

New Braunfels Kitchen to Outside

Craftsman Kitchen – Simple and lovely.. Only elements I’d change are the appliances.  Imagine stainless steel.

My guess is that if this was not a vacation home, but a full time residence, they have added stainless appliances.

New Braunfels Kitchen

Better view of the ‘baby’ tile as I like to call it.  Comes in full size sheets typically 12×12 or 13×13.. and it’s pretty easy to install.  Notice the traditional cabinet door pulls.

New Braunfels Master Suite

Comfy master suite.. Design Tip: If you’re building new, as much as I love transoms over interior doors, I would not put one over a bedroom or the master bath.

[adrotate banner=”29″]

Hall bath would be fine.. but imagine you’re in the master bathroom and someone is trying to sleep in the master bedroom.  The light from the bath will shine through the transom. Same with that hall light you see.

New Braunfels TX Cottage bathroom

Speaking of master baths.. You know how much I’m partial to black and white baths!

New Braunfels Texas Bedroom 2

Rare that you find a bed setup like this in a vacation but personally I love it when you do because it just gives a lot more sleeping options.

[adrotate banner=”29″]

OK, moving right along.

New Braunfels Cottage bathroom 2

Do you see light blue walls?  I like that soft touch to the traditional white bath with black  and warm-wood accents.

New Braunfels Backyard of Cottage to rent

Talk about a huge yard!  Isn’t it great when a small charming home is nestled in an amazingly large outdoor living space?

Remember if you want to vacation in New Braunfels,
get all the Vacation Bungalow details here.

Fab location close to all things in quaint New Braunfels which is between San Antonio TX and Austin.. the music capitol, btw!  Fully furnished craftsman bungalow circa 1930. High ceilings, transom windows, romantic fireplace, oversized backyard & deck.  Complete renovation in 2010 for extra special comforts and conveniences.

[note color=”#F9F99F”]Like this article? You never have to miss a thing when our Weekly Magazine is delivered straight to your email just in time for Sunday morning coffee.[/note]

Five Unique Beds for Small Bedrooms

Five Unique Beds for Small Bedrooms – A collection of beautiful beds that you can buy or use for small bedroom ideas.

While searching for unique beds for small bedrooms, it occurred to me that Home Decorators Collection has not only cool beds, but big, bold pictures of them! So the five beds featured here can all be found at the Home Decorators store. In the spirit of full disclosure, SmallHouseLife.com is an affiliate of theirs so we do (or should, I should say) get compensated when our visitors purchase through our links. Thank you!

BTW, you can use your Home Depot consumer credit card at Home Decorators Collection and receive special financing!

[divider top=”0″]
Port Bed - Queen, Brown

Port Bed – Queen, Brown
– The Port Bed is a platform bed that is perfect for any small bedroom. A modern take with a classic sleigh bed design, and rich, warm finish that blends easily with almost any decor. Crafted of tropical hardwoods and mahogany veneer.
[divider top=”0″]
Midnight Bed - King, Glossy Black

Midnight Bed – King, Glossy Black
The Midnight Bed is great for a small bedroom becasue the thin, finial-adorned bed posts create a gentle airy feel.. not heavy or over powering at all.  A glossy black finish completes the look.
[divider top=”0″]
Kendall Faux Leather Bed - King, Brown

Kendall Faux Leather Bed – King, Brown
– Personally, I absolutely love this style.  Why, well first off because you eliminate the need for a box spring or bed skirt.  Secondly, the headboard is soft and comfy for reading in bed.  And I just like the sleek look of it, also.

Here’s what Home Decorators say about it >>  This platform bed features clean lines and a sleek design.. Huhumm! See, I told you!  Upholstered in faux-leather, this vinyl bed is great for the master bedroom or a small guest bedroom.  Fully-welded construction features foundry-poured aluminum castings, heavy gauge tubing and a solid bar wire.  Flex-Deck support allows for a reliable base without a box spring.
[divider top=”0″]
Button Tufted Upholstered Bed - Twin, Velvet Buckwht

Button Tufted Upholstered Bed – Velvet Buckwheat
I love comfy headboards, and this button tufted upholstered bed is beautifully crafted and elegantly finished.  The headboard is upholstered in the same fabric as the rails and foot board.  You can select your fabric from a wide variety of beautiful, top-quality options to create a piece that fits your style and current bedroom decor.  Free fabric swatches! Made to order & delivered in about 15 days.
[divider top=”0″]
Canali Poster Bed - King, Mocca

Canali Poster Bed – King, Mocca
– Slick, straight lines and a floating top enhance the luxurious feel of this lovely piece. An intimate mocha finish for a charming final touch. Crafted of solid, hardwood mahogany and veneers. Durable bolt on bed mechanisms. Hand-rubbed finishing process.

Remember you can use your Home Depot Consumer Credit Card at Home Decorators Collection and receive Special Financing .. Sweet!

[note color=”#f8f8f8″]If you like these unique beds, then please share them with family and friends at Twitter and Facebook just below. Thank you![/note]

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

A Reverse Mortgage can put cash in your pocket in your senior years but before making the decision, you’ll want to explore reverse mortgage

A Reverse Mortgage is a government-insured mortgage commonly known as a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). It’s a program designed for homeowners over 62 that allows you to access your home’s equity like cash but instead of making payments, you receive income.


There are pros and cons to a Reverse Mortgage… just like most things in life.

Reverse Mortgage Benefits

Income and credit are not factors – Your age and the amount of home equity determine how much income you’ll get.

You don’t make a mortgage payment as long as you live in your home.

Insured by FHA, and available in adjustable and fixed rates.

Reverse Mortgage Negatives

Loan limit of up to $625,500 for your Reverse Mortgage,.
Reverse mortgage are typically more expensive than ordinary mortgages.

NOTE: If the deed to your home has only one spouse’s name on it, then add the other spouse to the deed.  A reverse mortgage is repaid when the last person on the deed moves out of the property permanently or passes away.  Which means the reverse mortgage would become due if the deeded spouse died or left the property even though the other spouse is still living in the house.


One Reverse Mortgage

Reverse Mortgage Eligibility

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage a borrower must be 62 or older, own their home without a mortgage (or have a low loan balance), and have no other liens against the home.

The borrower continues to be responsible for property taxes, homeowners insurance, and upkeep of the home; failure to do so can result in foreclosure.

How do you receive Reverse Mortgage Payments?

There are five options available:

  1. Tenure – equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower lives and continues to occupy the property as a principal residence.
  2. Term – equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected.
  3. Line of Credit – unscheduled payments or installments, at times and in amounts of your choosing until the line of credit is exhausted.
  4. Modified Tenure – combination of line of credit with monthly payments for as long as you remain in your home.
  5. Modified Term – combination of line of credit plus monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected by the borrower.

Alternatives to a Reverse Mortgage

Because reverse mortgages can be complicated and expensive, they are not an answer to every 62+ year old’s situation. You might want to consider other strategies before committing:

  • Take out a home equity loan
  • Decrease expenses by moving into a smaller home or a condo.. or even an apartment
  • Seek property tax credit or abatement based with your senior status

money for reverse mortgage houseNOTE: We are not experts at SmallHouseLife.com. Do not use the the information in this article to make a decision about Reverse Mortgages. Consult with a professional first! We’re affiliates to some of the links found on this page.

Some of the information found in this article was obtained from occc.state.tx.us and hud.gov

Leave ‘Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You’ to Small House Life Home

Fifteen Tips to Increase Furniture Life

15 things that you can do today to increase the life of your furniture. Help save money over time and also keep your furniture looking good.

hall tables for small spaces
Photo Credit from HallAndFoyerTables.com

Guest Post from Christine at HallAndFoyerTables.com

When purchasing furniture, you are aware of the fact that furniture is not cheap! In fact, it can take a while to save up to purchase the perfect sofa for you living space. With this in mind, taking care of your furniture is essential.

Protect your investment by doing what you can to keep it in the best shape possible. Below are 15 things that you can do to increase the life of your furniture. Following these tips will help save you money overtime and also keep your furniture looking good.

Fifteen Things you can do for your Furniture

    • Clean furniture regularly. You can’t expect to get the most out of your furniture if you are not cleaning it regularly. Choose to spend some time cleaning it at least once a week. If you have pets, you may have to clean it more.
    • Ensure that cleaning products are safe for the surfaces you are cleaning. Don’t just use any common household product on your furniture. Be sure that it has tested safe for the surface you are cleaning.
    • Remove stains immediately. The longer you let the stain sit, the more difficult it will be to get the stain out. Remove stains as soon as the happen. Remember that warm water will set stains.
    • Do not eat on furniture that has fabric. Avoid eating on furniture that may be difficult to clean.  Protect your furniture from children who can destroy it with one meal.
    • Furniture, especially couches, are not trampolines. Again, children can cause major damage to furniture. Remind them that couches are not trampolines and foyer tables are not made to jump off of. Have rules for your furniture to help prolong its life.
    • Repair holes. If your couch or chair gets a hole in it, choose to sew up the whole instead of throwing the couch out. The quicker you fix the hole, the less likely it will be to expand and potentially ruining the entire couch.

Dog on a Bed

  • Keep pets off your furniture. Just as you want to protect your furniture from rowdy children, protect it from pets. Do not allow pets to soil or ruin the surface of your furniture. Pets with claws are notorious for ruining great furniture. ‘Dog on a bed Photo’ from BigDogBeds.com
  • Vacuum cushions to remove excess dirt. Just as your carpet will get dirty, so will your cushions. Use a hand vacuum to help get rid of excess dirt. There are products designed specifically for removing the dirt from you furniture that may have fabric.
  • Keep nail polish away from your furniture. Nail polish is hard to get out of furniture. Keep it away from your investments.
  • Avoid doing arts and crafts projects on your furniture. Glitter and glue can also be hard to remove from your furniture. Designate a table for arts and crafts instead of allowing it all over the house or on your couches and chairs.
  • Keep furniture out of excess sun. Sun can ruin furniture. Keep fabrics that may fade out of direct sunlight. Move it away from windows that get hours and hours of sun each day.
  • Watch out for plant drainage. If you have house plants, be sure that they aren’t ruining the surface of your plant stands or table. Use a plate or other device to catch the drainage of excess water from your plants.
  • Don’t overstuff drawers or cabinets. Drawer and cabinets have a limit as to how much stuff you can actually put in them. Avoid overstuffing help increase the life of your furniture.
  • Be sure to clean and condition leather. Leather furniture needs special treatment. A good conditioner will help prolong the life of your leather and keep it look just as good as the day you bought it.
  • Take care of the furniture! Lastly, just take care of the furniture. Care for is just as well as you care for your home or vehicle. After all, it is an investment.

[note color=”#Fff666″]Share these tips with your family and friends via Facebook or Twitter! [/note]

Five Easy Tips to Expand Your Small Space

Easy tips for your small space. Super simple ways to expand the use of your small spaces while making them feel bigger, too!

Your small space does not have to feel cramped or be inefficient. Remember, living in a small house is not about doing without. Here we’ll show you super simple ways to expand the use of your small spaces while making them feel bigger, too!


1) Declutter

First and foremost, you gotta get rid of all the extra stuff. This one tip alone can make you think your room is twice the size. If you need an objective ‘eye’ have a friend come in to help you sweep some of it away. Be ruthless because all that clutter serves no good purpose and it’s filling up your space making it less functional… and pleasing.. and comfortable!

Of course, along with decluttering, comes organizing. If you need a quick tip guide to declutter, you’ll receive one once you sign up for our Sunday morning Magazine. Look to the right sidebar for signup. Can’t get motivated? There’s help at >> Kick the Excuses and Get Organized

2) Multipurpose your Rooms

We touch on this at 5 Mistakes not to make with your House Plan.  It’s Tip #2.

Gone are the days that we use our homes like we’re ‘supposed’ to. Formal dining room? Who says that space has to be used as a dining room? Or you can use it as a formal dining room but multi purpose it as a library also. Guest room double duties as an office or music room. Screened in back porch can be unique sleeping porch for occasional over night guests. The list is really endless.

Bunkbed with desk underneath
Photo Courtesy of Bunkbeds.net

3) Multipurpose your Furniture

Ahhh.. This is one of my favorite small space tip because we can find all kinds of multipurpose furniture in the marketplace. What are we talking about?

Bunkbeds come to mind. But not just any bunk beds; we’re talking about the ones that have double beds underneath, or desks, or futons. Extremely efficient.

Tables that have shelves underneath. Or even something as basic as having a drawer in the side table instead of just the table.

Chests used as coffee tables so you can store items in the chest. Headboards with built in bookcases.  Breakfast table that doubles as a game table.

4) Get Rid of Unnecessary Furniture

Is your room over stuffed with furniture that you aren’t using? When we’re talking about living in a small house, even one unused piece of furniture can be one too many. Really think about how you are using your space (or how you want to use your space.) If you have extra furniture that does not serve a purpose, get rid of it!

Take bedroom bureaus as an example. How much do you dig around in the drawers? Get rid of the big, hunky dresser and put those clothes in your closet. Whatever was on top of the bureau can go A. to charity, B. on top of bed table, C. bathroom vanity.

Can you imagine how much bigger your bedroom will feel? ..and I’m sure if you think about it, there are other furniture pieces you can live without.

5) Mirrors

Decorative mirrors as seen in this gorgeous small space, expands the visual of the room while adding a fun decorative touch.

HGTV Mirror - Decor by Erinn Valencich
Mirror Photo: HGTV - Decor by Erinn Valencich

Mirrors are an easy, inexpensive way to instantly add visual space to any room. Lean a large mirror against a wall and it will not only increase how big the room feels but you also have a place for a full length check before you head out the door.

Hang a mirror on adjacent wall from a window and it feels like you have two windows! I actually do this trick any time I have the opportunity because I love the feeling of expanding outdoor views.

In a tiny bathroom, extend a mirror across the entire wall for big visual pop like you see in our small black and white bath.

Please share these tips with your friends at Twitter and Facebook. We always appreciate the ‘share’ love! Dee 🙂

Bunkbeds Make the Most of Your Space

Small space? No problem. Bunkbeds with futons or bunk beds with desks, double beds or other living creations make the most of your small..

Bunkbeds.net-Slatted twin bunkbed over fullGuest Post by Robert Lobitz with Bunkbeds.net

Living in a small house or apartment presents some unique challenges. The most obvious of these is the lack of space and how to optimize your use of the few square feet that you have.

I have been living in small spaces and learning new techniques to solve this problem for many years. Here are my best suggestions for others in similar situations.


Combination furniture such as bunk beds, futon bunk beds and desk loft beds are the ultimate solution to small space woes. The most unused space in a home is vertical and you need to make use of that. You can build higher shelves but that only does so much. What are you supposed to do if you live in a studio apartment but want to have guests over? You can’t exactly spruce up the guest room for them. A classy set of adult bunk beds is your best bet. You can effectively double the sleeping space without taking up any extra floor space.

Bunkbed with desk underneath

If you’re not too concerned about having guests and increasing sleeping space then a desk loft bed is a great option. They are a perfect solution for kids’ rooms as they provide a bed and a work space for school work and projects. Using a desk loft bed in an office will help that room double as a guest room rather than just being taken up by work.

Contemporary bunkbed with futon underneath
Futon bunk beds are a great option for studios or living rooms. Every room can double as a sleeping space, even the kitchen, so don’t overlook any potential space saving solution. Placing a set of futon bunk beds where a couch would normally go doubles both the sleeping and seating space. The futon is an obvious choice for both, but with the right cushions you can turn the top bunk into balcony seating for the showing of your favorite DVD on movie night.

You’ll be surprised as to how much space you open up if you use these simple suggestions. You can also stay pretty classy with the new designs that are on the market. Just make sure that you are buying adult sized bunk beds. You don’t want to be sleeping with your feet hanging off the end of the mattress an neither do your guests.

[note color=”#FFf666″]Please share this fab article with your friends on Facebook and/or Twitter.. Thanks![/note]

Small House Plans – 936 Square Feet

Small House plans analysis! We take a 936 sq.ft. small floor plan and critique the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s important to find a good

Small Floor Plans – 936 Square Feet – Review #2

Yoohoo! Our second Small House plans review! This is where we take a 936 sq.ft. small floor plan and critique the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s important to find a good plan but the true enjoyment of your home is in the details.

It’s so easy to miss ‘little’ things that end up being a huge disappointment later. We are here to hopefully help you avoid these mistakes.  Architect’s details of small houseplan.

ArchitecturalDesigns.com W266668GG Small House Plan

There are many things to love about this little cottage plan. Typically, for me when I see a plan I like, I start out thinking ‘oh, this house is perfect.’ ..And then I start tearing it apart. LOL But that’s not a bad thing because if the plan looks really good at first glance, often the undesirable aspects are easily rectified. But first you have to know what they are, right?
[adrotate banner=”29″]
One quick note: As I mentioned in our first analysis, just because I think a feature needs to be changed, doesn’t mean you want it fixed. My objective here is to simply point out what I see.. The good points you might want to keep in mind as you look for your own house plan.. as well as potential problem areas.

Small House plan Highlights:

  1. Very little wasted space – few hallways
  2. Nice entry with little foyer and closet.
  3. Interesting dining & family room ceiling details.
  4. Great big breakfast bar.
  5. Refrigerator strategically placed around a corner & against a wall.
  6. Although this is a small living room, there’s still a cozy sitting space with entertainment wall because of the design.  But do switch the door as I outlined under the “Negatives.”
  7. Like how the secondary bath cannot be seen from living areas.
  8. Secondary bath – Big shower, good size vanity, no linen closet but you can add cabinet over commode.
  9. Laundry closet has room for stackable washer/dryer plus small storage space.
  10. Decent size master bedroom tucked away, with good closets and roomy master bath.

Small House plan Negatives:

  1. The front door is placed sideways so you don’t see it from the street.
  2. Entry is directly into dining room. Personally I don’t mind it, but a lot of people do.
  3. No pantry in the kitchen
  4. Kitchen – I’d flip the stove and sink. Definitely!
  5. Family room: Have the exterior door swing from the right door because you’ll probably have a sofa against that right wall,and you want the door to swing out into an open area.
  6. Secondary bedrooms are pretty darn small; but this is a small house.
  7. Secondary bedroom closets are really tiny.
  8. No bathtubs in the house.  Not necessarily a deal breaker (or a problem with resale) but I like to have at least one.
  9. No garage, which means if you want one, you’ll have to buy a garage plan

Small Cottage

Charming elevation for this small house, don’t you agree?  Steep roof adds to the cottage look.  If you’re on a budget, you might want to bring the roof pitch down some to save materials cost.  That’s it!  I hope you enjoyed out 2nd small floor plan analysis.

[note color=”#ffffcc”]Small House Plan INFO:Purchase details for >> Cottage House Plan[/note]
Do you want me to critique a houseplan that you are considering? I’d be glad to! If it’s a question, send me a tweet at Twitter.com/SmallHouseLife. But if you want a detailed analysis like we have on this page, then contact me here and we’ll see about adding you to our ‘House plan Analysis’ series.

5 Worst Colors to Paint Your Bedroom

What are the 5 Worst Colors to Paint Your Bedroom? Get paint color tips from Mark, an interior design specialist. Paint color can make..

While there is no right or wrong color to paint your house, or your bedroom for that matter, there are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to painting your  bedroom. After all, it’s your bedroom…the place you wake up to in the morning and the place you relax and sleep in at night. So while the color of your bedroom depends on your own personal taste, here are a few things you should consider about certain colors, before you pick up the paint brush. You should also take into account your room’s lighting throughout the day when choosing a bedroom color.

Modern Red Small Bedroom
Very Red Bedroom

Bright Red

Pardon the pun, but this color should set off alarms. When you want a space to be relaxing and stress free, the last thing you want to do is to paint the walls an alarming color like red. If you absolutely must paint something red, use it on an accent wall or a small area of the room. If you’re going after a romantic feel for your room, try soft mauves, lavanders, corals, and soft pinks.


Yellow

This may seem like a cheery, sunshiny color to paint your room, but if you use the wrong shade, it can have the same jarring effect as bright red, not to mention make you feel as if you’re sitting inside of a giant lemon meringue pie. If you want to use yellow, use softer shades like , butter, camel, and pale ochre, especially if the room is already well lit.

White

Okay, you can do much worse than painting a bedroom white. But if you don’t have anything else visually significant going on in your bedroom, your walls will look very boring. Off white or pale yellow would be more calming, welcoming and interesting. If you really want to use white, color an accent wall or use interesting furniture and wall hangings in the room to make it more personal and inviting instead of sterile.

Orange

Painting a a room orange falls into the same category as red and yellow: Jarring, stimulating, and not very good for a relaxing room. Dark orange or burnt orange might work since they are less intense, or pale orange colors like soft marigold or Yuma.

Brown

Brown is a warm color, but on its own can make your room very drab. However if used correctly, it can make a bedroom look very chic and sophisticated. If you paint your bedroom walls brown, use contrasting accents like dark red or white furnishings to round things out.

Cool colors like blue and green are usually favored when it comes to bedroom painting since they are relaxing and calm. Overall, it’s up to you how to shape your bedroom to make it unique to you. When undergoing this process, it’s helpful to know which colors are best to avoid in order to make your spot the nicest it can be.

This is a guest post from Mark at PaintPlace.com.au
Mark is an interior design specialist, recommending that you spend as long as possible deciding on the right interior paint, as it can truly make or break your room. The wrong decision and your room could look terrible, the right one and you will lay down in bliss every night!

Keeping Your Home Safe

Every home should take extra precautions against intruders, and the good news is that most of these measures are easy to implement and..

Keeping your family safe is a top priority obviously, and that usually means keeping your home safe.  Every household should take certain precautions to make sure that the home is as safe as it can be and, ironically, most of these precautions are easy and inexpensive.

Burglar at your Small HomeInstall deadbolt locks in your doors. The traditional locks that are installed in most homes and apartments are fairly simple and flimsy and can easily be jimmied by even the most inexperienced burglar.  Deadbolt locks are built to be longer and stronger and therefore more impervious to manipulation by an intruder.

Install motions detectors. This is especially important in areas of your property that are not exposed to the public view.  You can put in a motion detector that goes off with an alarm, but in most areas, this would cause problems in case it went off by mistake. A motion detector that turns on a light will deter all but the most determined of thieves, and it may also serve as an aid if you are getting into your own back door at night.


Install exterior lights.  Even the small “we’ll keep the light on for you” porch light serves as a deterrent to intruders. Never mind the small drain on the electric bill (use energy saver bulbs); keep a light on low so that everyone knows that someone is at home. This is even more important when you go away, and no one is at home!

Keep entrances to your home clear. Make sure you have no large bushes or trees blocking the doorway or windows of your home.  Foundation plantings that become large and obtrusive are a perfect place for a burglar to spend some time cutting windows or jimmying locks.

Keep your windows locked.  It amazes security professionals to find out that so many burglaries occurred because the intruder was able to simply open a window and walk in.  All modern and even older windows have lock mechanisms. Use them.

Install a security alarm system.  This is the only expensive precaution that you may consider using, and if you feel that your home or neighborhood may be especially targeted, it is probably well worth the additional expense, even once you have taken the other low cost, common sense precautions.

Start today, and go from easy (keep your windows locked) to high (install a security alarm system), but any of these steps that you take will take you one step closer to keeping your home and from easy (keep your windows locked) to high (install a security alarm system), but any of these steps that you take will take you one step closer to keeping your home and your family safe.

We think of keeping our homes safe by keeping the ‘bad’ people out, but what if we are letting them in unknowingly? Before hiring a plumber, babysitter or even a cleaning lady, use a background check to find out just who will be entering your home.

This is a guest post by the folks at FinderMind.com

[note color=”#EBEBEB”]Do you have friends and family who would benefit from these safety tips? Then please share via Facebook and Twitter below.[/note]

Kick the Excuses and Get Organized

Have you ever noticed the messier your house is the less you get done? So why can’t you get organized? We debunk the excuses and help you

Have you ever noticed the messier your house is the less you get done? Or even the more clutter, the worse you feel… So why can’t you get organized?

You have to get rid of the excuses before you can get rid of the clutter. It’s just that simple. All the organizing tips in the world will not help one bit if you are still holding on to your reasons (code name for excuses) as to why you can’t get organized.

We all have priorities of what matters to us. And no matter what we say, our actions really do speak loud and clear about what’s in our hearts. If it’s important enough, we’ll find a way. But sometimes we need to kick some junk out (in this case, excuses) before we can focus on what we want.

I have a free article I want to share with you called Get Organized in 5 Easy Steps, but before we can get to that, let’s address the variety of excuses that we use to hold us back from a little organization and simplicity in our lives.


One of my neighbors in Houston.. hello Barbara if you’re reading this.. had eight children ranging in age from about fourteen years to a newborn. Her husband worked fulltime while she was a nurse (I think 72 hours straight, then off the rest of the time).. Anyway, my point, and I do have one!

My point is, she had one of the most organized (and clean) homes on the block. I remember she had a laundry system where each child had their own basket. Whoever was doing the laundry..and all the kids pitched in.. would simply fill up each basket for the owner to retrieve and put away. Of course each basket was neatly stored on a built-in shelf in the laundry room before it made its way into the kid’s rooms. I suppose Barbara and hubby had a basket too, now that I think about it.

The reason I illustrate the story of my Houston neighbors, is because I knew that would be one of the first excuses to pop up! “Not enough time.”  So let’s lay out some of the most common excuses first:

  • Not enough time
  • I’ve always been this way
  • Everyone else in the family is a slob
  • It’s too overwhelming
  • I don’t know where to start

Let’s tackle them one by one.

Not enough time

First of all, you do know that time is the one thing we all have the same amount of on any given day, right? Obviously we fill our time up differently, depending on our priorities.

[adrotate banner=”29″]

I’m not going to get into a big debate about this because here’s the bottom line: It takes less time to be organized then to be disorganized. Yes, you know it’s true! If you take five minutes to hang your clean clothes up, you’ll save that in one morning of desperately searching for a particular garment. Now multiply that by several mornings of searching and you get what I mean. Or how about searching for keys or misplaced school books? You know I’m right. 🙂

I’ve always been this way

Girl, this is probably the lamest excuse in the bunch! Do not use this one, because it holds you back on so many levels it’s not even funny. Your past does not have to equal your future IF you make a decision to change your actions. Different actions get different results, period.

Everyone else in the family is a slob

OK, even I will admit this can be challenging. If you get in gear and start organizing but then everyone else throws stuff around, it can get frustrating. If it’s your kids, perfect! You have the opportunity to teach them to be good stewards of their belongings. After all, you’re the mom. If it’s your spouse, ya’ll can either have (what we like to say in Texas) a ‘come to Jesus talk’ or an understanding that you don’t see eye to eye.

But all is not lost if your spouse refuses to change his/her messy ways! There are plenty of areas that you can declutter and keep organized. Your purse, your car, your papers, your closet, etc. Even getting these spots in order will bring you tremendous relief and clarity. And there is always the possibility that your organization will encourage your spouse to keep the house a bit tidier.

It’s too overwhelming + I don’t know where to start

These two go together because I’m giving you the free organizing article I told you about earlier that will address both of these issues. I have some very simple tips in there so you can get started today towards organizing your life!

[adrotate banner=”29″]

When you sign up for our free magazine.. that’s delivered directly to your email each Sunday morning.. you’ll receive a link that takes you to Get Organized in 5 Easy Steps.

If you already receive the Sunday email, but can’t find your copy, just contact me here and ask for the link.

OK, so sign up right NOW in the footer!  Dee 🙂

Small Bathroom Ideas

Small bathroom ideas for your bath, big or small. It’s essential to get smart with how you use your space with small bathrooms. Creative ideas




These small bathroom ideas are sure to perk up any bathroom, big or small. From built ins to creative use of space. This page has some of our more popular photos! Enjoy.

There’s clever use of small spaces, as well as cool new trends you might not be familiar with.

It’s essential to get smart with how you use your space when we’re talking small bathrooms. There are a lot of different ways to organize a small bath so it works as well as a larger bathroom. So, jump in and have a look.


Small black and white bathroom with amazing storage idea. SmallHouseLife.com
Remember your bathroom does not have to be big to be amazing! Especially when you have great storage ideas like above.

Small Bath from HGTV Remodels
Small Bath from HGTV Remodels

The small bath above has an ideal detail for small or large bathrooms.. the built in shampoo and storage area in the shower.  Really, the way a home lives is in the details.





I like the rich coffee wood that is mimicked in the rattan and wood drawers next to the sink.

Small-Bathroom-Ideas---Kohler-Frameless-Shower
Photo Credit - Kohler.com

Crisp, modern bath courtesy of Kohler.  Oh look!  They also feature the built-in storage area in the shower.  I like the kind of half sink also.  These are fairly inexpensive at Lowe’s or Home Depot.. and give a luxurious look.

Small Bath design
Photo credit: One of our fav designers: Donald Gardner

Donald Gardner is an architect that we use sometimes when we build houses, and this picture was taken of one of the homes he designed.  This particular bah has some interesting elements.  The vanity is not your run of the mill cabinet, but more of a furniture piece.



Then the sink definitely makes a statement with it’s unusual shape.  The faucet is one I used in a bath I called my ‘farm’ bathroom.  I’ll have to do a post on it so you can see how I used that faucet.  Lovely small bath, although I will say, it’s a bit trendy.

Bath at Horseshoe Bay
Lovely small with lamp.

Warm, traditional bath.  The beauty of this look is it’ll never go out of style.  Granite counter tops with complimenting tile backslash.  Not too crazy about the floors but they work.

Bath Design from ModernFurnitureDesign
Photo Credit:ModernFurnitureDesign

Who says a small bathroom has to be boring?  This tiny bath is crisp and clean with minimal feel.  FYI, the faucet seems to be mounted too high for me.  I think it’ll make quite a splash into that sink.  What a cool chandelier!

Tropical Small Bath design
Tropical Small Bath design

What a fun bathroom!  They didn’t miss a beat did they?  Great job in creating a tropical paradise.  Even the old timey ‘blind’ windows.  Boy, you don’t see those anymore.  Use of pebble tile continues the rustic oasis.  BTW, this pebble tile typically comes in 12×12 tiles and are laid just like any other tile.  Interior wood posts.. and a fan complete this casual, rustic bathroom.

Leave Small Bathroom Ideas for Home

Did you like this article?  Then please share with friends!