Benefits to Small House Living

If you are considering small house living, you are not alone as we see Americans downsize in record numbers. The McMansions’

small house with white picketSmall Houses are ‘in’:
If you are considering a small house, you are not alone as we see Americans downsize in record numbers. The McMansions’ glory days are gone.. becoming a distant memory as more people trade in their large, trophy homes for smaller, more modest dwellings.

Since 2007, the average square footage of new homes built has trended down.

There is an important distinction to be made however with the smaller homes. We might be ready to dump the over sized showplace of yesterday but we certainly are not willing to forgo the conveniences and amenities to which we have grown accustomed.

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[highlight bg=”#DDFF99″ color=”#000000″]Going ‘small’ does not mean doing without!![/highlight] I repeat, downsizing (or rightsizing as we like to call it) is NOT about doing without.. Far from it actually, because living in a small house can be liberating. It can even be a chance to redefine our lives if we are so inclined.

Let’s face it, living in a small house can be much less expensive than a larger one. Not just in the price of the home or the taxes, but utilities and upkeep as well. It might even be possible to pay cash for a smaller home or at least get it paid off much faster, or to have a smaller mortgage to start with.

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Small HousesIf you cut your mortgage financial responsibility down by half, what would that mean to you?

Could one spouse afford to be a stay at home mom/dad? Maybe, retirement could come earlier. Or maybe the reduced financial burden would mean you’d travel more, or pursue a dream that’s been shelved for far too long. We American’s have a tendency to get ourselves strapped with debt, living our lives from paycheck to paycheck. Downsizing can break that cycle.

Oftentimes, when we make the decision to have a Small House Life, we open up a variety of location options. A three thousand square foot home in the city might be unattainable, but a small bungalow? Now that might be doable. Odd little ‘throw away’ lots (read cheap) can become the ideal spot for a small house. You can go more ‘urban’ and your small home can be a condo or small townhouse in a highly desirable neighborhood within walking distance to restaurants, shops, cultural events and concerts.

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Downsizing into a small home can even be the perfect opportunity to move to a completely different town or state.. heck even another country if you’re truly adventurous.

Simplify your lifeSimplicity:
Small house living is an opportunity to simplify our lives. We can take a good, hard look at where we are and where we want to be. Do we really need all the clutter? Are three sets of dinnerware that important? Or all our gadgets, tons of Holiday decorations, items we no longer use, clothes we don’t wear, books we don’t read.. you get the idea.

The day I noticed Kindle, and decided to clean out an overabundance of books, was a happy day. Now of course I kept the books most near and dear, but to go from 1000+ books to approximately one hundred treasured books was a day for celebration.

Downsizing can be downright liberating if you want to know the truth. We actually downsized from our big house recently..

When you get rid of that furniture you no longer need, give it to someone who will really appreciate it. I remember giving away an oversized dryer to someone who had never had a dryer. Never! They were thrilled to get mine, and so happy not to have to time their laundry with hang drying.

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Green Living:
Our footprint on God’s green earth matters. We don’t have control over what our neighbors do but we can certainly make a personal decision to be a good steward of the land by living greener.

A small house life means our mark on earth is less invasive. We use less fuel to heat our homes, less electricity, fewer materials used in building which includes less trees felled for lumber, less furniture to buy, less cleaning products… you get the picture. This is a perfect example of when ‘less,’ is really ‘more.’

small house lifestyleSmall House Big Life:
With less financial burdens and less clutter, we have an opportunity to look at our lives and go big in the areas that matter to us. Create a different lifestyle.

That might be to give more, travel more.. have money to go back to school (or put our kids or grand kids through school.) Maybe we build up our savings account, or make some investments that we didn’t have the means before.

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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

[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.

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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!

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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 🙂

Is Downsizing the Right Size for You?

Downsizing your home is definitely a lifestyle choice.. and many of us go into a small house with both boots forward. But is downsizing the

Downsizing your home is definitely a lifestyle choice.. and many of us go into a small house with both boots forward.

But downsizing should feel liberating, not restrictive, and if you do feel deprived, maybe.. just maybe, downsizing is not the right size for you. Gasp!

So how do you know? How do you decide if you should pull up roots and go for a more streamlined approach to life with a smaller home, or stay put?

Well, let’s talk about that for a minute.

Question:  Are you excited about the prospect of moving to a scaled down home, or is fear more dominant?

Let’s face it, most people don’t like change.. Now, personally I embrace it wholeheartedly, but I know I’m not the norm.. So understand that a little bit of apprehension is to be expected. Especially if you’re moving out of the family home or to an entirely new town. What I’m asking is if your reluctance is just a bit of fear of the change, or if it’s because you really don’t want to go..

On the flip side, you might be pretty darn excited about downsizing and all it entails, and it feels right for you.

Does the idea of getting rid of a bunch of junk sound liberating?

Obviously we can rid ourselves of clutter and still live in a big house, but it’s a different feeling when you’re decluttering to downsize versus staying put.

For awhile (and actually I’m still up for it) my hubby and I talked about ditching it all and sailing on a boat for a year or two. So for several years whenever we were in a store and wanted to buy something for our home, we’d laugh and say, “Well, will it fit on the boat?” First off, we saved a ton of money! But it also got us to thinking about how much stuff we really wanted or needed. So we started ridding our bigger home of unnecessary ‘junk’ way before we even thought about downsizing to a small house.

Will downsizing to a small home put you in a better place financially, and does it matter?

When I decided to start, I assumed many of my visitors would be a lot like me.. Forty something, OK fine.. fifty something.. kids moved out.. money in the bank, a fair amount of assets.  Satisfied with life, yet at the same time, wanting more!

I mean we could have stayed in our big house, but to have what we really want in life, something had to give.  For us to travel frequently, get our house paid for, have more money to bless others, we had to take a good hard look at our finances.  Combine that with a desire to live a less wasteful live.. and the fact that I love to design and build efficiently, for us it was a no-brainer.

I don’t know where you are financially, and if it matters that downsizing will most likely put you in a better place financially.  Only you can decide that.  I can tell you what helped my husband and I decide.  We sat down and brainstormed our dream lifestyle.   What would our lives look like if we could do whatever we wanted to do?  And when we soul searched about what was really important to us, the preferred way to get there was to right size by downsizing!

Final Thoughts

Downsizing is not about doing without.. I want to be very clear about that.  Personally I view it as a strategic move to actually have more in my life.  More of what’s important, anyway.  And don’t forget, I come from a building background so I love pretty houses.. just now my pretty house is more modest in size, and more fitting with what I value.

I’d love to hear about your journey.. Do you live in a small house now, or are you just beginning to consider downsizing? You can catch me on Twitter > Let’s talk on Twitter

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Leave ‘Is Downsizing the Right Size’ for HOME

In ten years will you regret not doing it?

In ten years will I regret not doing it? That’s the question I ask myself as we begin a New Year. One of the most profound questions I heard this year..

The New Year is almost upon us, and as so many of you, I’m reflecting on the past year as well as what I’d like to do differently this coming new year.  One of the most profound questions I heard this year (from Marie Forleo) was:

[pullquote align=”left”]“In ten years, will I regret not doing it?”[/pullquote]

In ten years will you regret not doing it?.. Umhumm.. How about that?  Does that make you think or what?  It certainly got me to thinking about my life and am I living who I want to be.  For the new year, I want to do my “it.”  Or maybe several “its.”  Actually, yes.. several “its.”  So I’m writing this post not only to share with my readers what’s going on for me, but to also encourage you to explore what is most important to you.

There were many names I could have called  Stick with me here… there is a point.  The reason I added the ‘life’ in the domain name was to reflect that living in a small house was more a lifestyle choice than anything else.  That we might chose to scale back and ‘right-size’ because we are different people than we were.. say ten or twenty years ago.  We’re ready to start living our lives on our terms.  The idea of streamlining is to rid ourselves of the clutter in our lives (including the oversized house) that could hold us back from what we really want to do and be.

I have a New year's question

So what is “it?” What do we really want to do or be?  And what gave me complete clarity was to ask myself the question:

“In ten years will I regret not doing it?”

I love that, because this one little question has a way of cutting through the BS and getting to what matters most to us.

When I first pondered THE question, one of the desires I thought of was to make SmallHouseLife into a successful online business.  But when I asked myself the big question, I realized no, I would not regret not doing this site in ten years.. well, maybe a little.  But what I did realize was that this little site here, that I love so much and totally enjoy, is a vehicle that could offer me two of my heart’s desire.

1) To leave a legacy for my kids.
2) To write and publish a book!

I’m not going to elaborate on the above.  Anyone who knows me, knows just putting out there two of my heart’s desire for all the world to see, is huge.  So I leave it at that.

And then I got to thinking about what else on my bucket list would stand up under the question “In ten years will I regret not doing it?”

So, if you want to have a little fun.. and possibly boast your life into a place more align with how you want to live.. do this:

1) Create your bucket list.  Get in a quiet place and write, uncensored, everything on your heart.  Every desire, big and small, crazy or practical.  Don’t edit!  Don’t be thinking what so and so will think. You don’t have to show a single soul this list.  It’s for you.

2) Now go over the list and put to each item the question “In ten years will I regret not doing it?”  You’ll be surprised how fast you get to the core of what matters.  It’s not that you won’t do all the items on the list.. heck, maybe one of your items is to complete your whole bucket list, but this exercise will get you to the heart of what’s in your heart.

For me.. this year, I want to live my life like there’s no tomorrow.. and DO what I will regret in ten years if I don’t!  Because seriously, it does matter.

I’ll leave you with Marie Forleo’s video where I first saw the big question she offers her reader.  Have a Happy New Year.  Dee 🙂

Watch the video!  Marie actually asks another question that you might consider to be as thought provoking as the “In ten years will you regret not doing it?” question.  Plus she’s absolutely hilarious.

[note color=”#FFf666″]If you like this post, please share the love with your Facebook and Twitter friends below.  I appreciate you![/note]

Downsizing from our Big House

Downsizing from a big house is a lifestyle choice my husband and I are excited to make. We take you from our big house to the decision to simplify..

If all goes according to plan, we’ll be downsizing from our big house to a smaller home. Yep, we have sold our beautiful Tuscan home and should close on the transaction on Halloween at the end of this week.

This is a picture of our Tuscan house.

Downsizing from this Big House
Downsizing from this Big House

Some people may not consider it a big house but 2600+/- was too big for just hubby and myself.

Shoot, we raised our two kids in a 2200 square foot home with both of us working from home. We certainly didn’t need a bigger house than that, now with the kids gone.

So how did we end up in this house only two years ago? By not getting clear on what we really wanted in life. Just kind of coasting along not putting a lot of thought into the lifestyle we wanted to life.

Some of you may know that my husband and I are home builders.. He builds the spec homes by himself now but of course I still get involved on our personal houses, and I used to build specs by myself years ago. So we’re constantly thinking about what we want to build next.

We hadn’t built an amazing house for ourselves in a few years so I got the idea that it was time. If I had stuck with the original plan I had designed, we would probably have stayed here. It was fairly modest but had everything we needed. We hired an award winning home designer out of Austin, TX. He is an outstanding designer, but the house kind of grew as we went along. And not just in size but in expensive detailing in the house.

Probably the two most expensive details we did, were the rotunda entry way and the bell tower leading to the front door. Here are pictures of other areas that we went over the top.

Living Room of big house The arches are actually a fairly inexpensive way to get a great look.

No, here the over-do was lifting the living room plate to 14 feet and adding extra windows. The window package in this house was double what most of our homes are.

Also, because of all the twists and turns in the design (along with the bell tower) our exterior stone was double the price. For me, now.. with the way I think, it was just overboard. If we had built this house without all the cuts, we could have used the extra money somewhere else.. like maybe exploring Europe for six months! Yeah, no lie.

Master bath of big houseAgain, as you can see in the master bath, we had an overabundance of windows. There were eight windows total in our master bath. Crazy, and unnecessary.

We also had a curved whirlpool tub.

Hint: Curves are cool in a house but anytime there’s a cut or a curve (instead of straight line) that’s going to cost you extra.

Big House Kitchen

Next I want to show you the kitchen. I really like the kitchen and will take some of the components and downscale them when we build our small house.

I envision our downsized house modest in size and with simple lines (to keep cost down) but with some special detailing that will make it charming.

I don’t know that we’ll have room to make the arch over the stove top but I do want a hood like you see in this picture. BTW, the hood is a Cavaliere and I will not purchase that brand again. The main reasons I purchased it was because it was supposed to be quiet and whisk the cooking odors right out of the house. Not! It didn’t do either. So, for $800. bucks, I got a cool look but without the function I expected.

[note color=”#FFffe0″] If anyone knows of a great brand of range hoods that looks like this one BUT is whisper quiet and eliminates odor, please share with us. [/note]

I love the subway tile in the kitchen. What’s so special about it? The sheer simplicity of it, I think. In my new small house I’ll have a more glossy tile but I plan to go with subway tile, maybe even the same biscuit color.

Subway Tile in the big house

It’s farewell to our big house. In a way it’s bittersweet because it was fun living in it and we thought we’d live here indefinitely.

The truth is.. the idea of downsizing our home and simplifying our life is SO dang appealing that I’m super excited about it. Of course, we’ll take you along for the journey.

Top Reasons we decided to downsize our home

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  • We want a home that reflects more of who we are now.
  • We will either have a tiny mortgage on our new small house, or none at all.. oh yeah!
  • Downsizing will free us financially to enjoy life more.  Do I hear travel?


In the spirit of our new lifestyle choice, we are taking off literally on the closing day.  Hubby Gregg is taking me to the airport for a preplanned trip I had made with a girlfriend before we sold our home.  Then off he goes in the truck with pooch, Elvis as his traveling companion.

The three of us will hook up later in the week for a visit to his mom and an extended road trip.  Don’t ask me where we’re going or how long we’ll be gone because I don’t know exactly.  We’re putting our furniture in storage and taking off for fun and adventure.

Entrance to the big house

Bye, bye big house.

Hello world!

Small House Size

What is the best small house size for you? We explore tiny houses, mid range, and bigger small houses. There is a size for everyone as..

What is the best home size for you?

Here you’ll find a full range of small house size with descriptions to help you decide what works best for your lifestyle. And ‘small’ is relative, of course. We’ve seen people downsize to a 3000 square foot home, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

We consider an average small house size to be around 1200-1600 square feet.  Do you think downsizing is right for you?

Photo: Tumbleweed - Zinn

Tiny Houses

Tiny Houses are generally 100-160sq.ft.. can go up to 600-800 square feet.. but can be as tiny as 65sq. feet.  Wheewee, did you get all that?

You may have heard of the teeny house movement. The Tumbleweed Houses (owner Jay Shaffer) perhaps put tiny houses on the map.

Originally the tiny houses were between 65-130 square feet, but recently on his website, I’ve noticed the tiny houses go all the way up to a three bedroom, two bath cottage that is a whopping 874 square feet. LOL My guess is Jay decided to expand his ‘tiny’ idea to incorporate main stream America. Anyway, tiny house enthusiasts can chose from quite a selection of avenues as the wee homes become more popular.  Free house plans found at

Typical Small Houses

Typical Small Houses are about 800-1600 square feet: This size small house is perfect for those who want to live simply; maybe downsizing from a larger home.  My hubby and I were very happy to downsize from our big house.

This moderate range of square footage is not as radical as the tiny houses, and more people can imagine themselves in this size.. You’ll still have plenty of room to entertain and have over night guests.  And you’ll probably have decent resale value with this size.

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Bigger Small Houses

Bigger Small House Photo

Bigger Small Houses – Anywhere between 1600-2000: We had to include the larger small house because this is a true downsize for someone who has lived in a 5000 square foot home, for example. I mean size is relative and I can remember a time that I considered a 2000 square foot house as ‘moving up.’ Now? I just want to simplify my life so my husband and I have the means to travel and enjoy life more fully.

Being in a small home can free up more cash so we can get out and explore this beautiful world we live in.. and you get to decide what small house size is right for you!