Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Second Place

When Kevin and I sold our first house, on Hermitage Drive, we bought a brand new house, across the street from his Mom and Dads place.

This is the only NEW house I have ever lived in.
It was tiny, at just under 1200 square feet.
Somehow, the builder managed to squeeze in three bedrooms and two full baths.

Four months after we purchased it, we decided to make the move to Prattville, so we put it up for rent. Two weeks later, a couple of school teachers moved in.

I never got around to decorating or painting the Master Bedroom or Bath...

Both bright, blank canvases, with lots of potential. (The knobs on the vanity weren't right...too much contrast and too ornate for the space. I probably would have changed them to these stain nickel ones instead.)

We did paint the Living Room- but never fully accessorized it, and never purchased a rug...

The Kitchen was open to the Living Room, and I had plans to switch out the laminate countertops with some kind of natural stone material...

The front of the bar needed some sprucing up, and the light fixture would've been changed out before long too.
But, the Lettered Cottage was calling our we packed up our paint brushes and hit the road to Prattville instead! :-)

It does make me want to throw out a few questions though- for those of you who live in (or have lived in) spaces under 1200 square feet.
What do/did you love about it? What don't/didn't you love about it? Do you have any great space-saving secrets you can share?

I look forward to reading all of your comments.
Thanks in advance for sharing!



Anonymous said...

I had a 2 bedroom loft in an old mill. I loved the huge ceilings, and because it was an end unit, one entire brick wall with huge arched windows.

I miss it. It was like having my own chunk of the city, but in the suburbs.

The negative would have to be not enough storage space. My daughter was young at the time and there just wasn't anywhere to put all her toys, etc., without giving up critical sq ft.

The positive was that I cleaned it in no time, lol.

I love how you had decorated it...really gorgeous,


Kellye said...

Our first house was a little over 1200 sq.ft. and I, like you, are wondering how in the world we ever did it. We sold it when my oldest daughter was 2 and I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter, simply because we didn't have room for another person in that house. We only had 1 kitchen drawer (typical 1st time homebuyer mistake) and a living room that was so small we had to put a chair in front of the door just to have another piece of furniture in there besides the sofa. And as an added bonus, you couldn't open the dryer door when the laundry room door was open so you had to open the door, go in, and squeeze in to be able to shut the door and then squeeze over to open the dryer, put the clothes basket on top of the dryer and then squeeze the door back by you to get out!! WHEW...that was difficult laundry days!! But, there were lots of good memories in that house and it will be cherished by me forever. I still can't drive by it without tearing up!!

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to see the kitchen picture. The other ones look great

Anonymous said...

we've never had an apartment bigger than 1100sqft. We hide things under the bed...have a TON of shelving/containers (the container store is our friend). We also make sure we don't buy anything that doesn't have a purpose.

Anonymous said...

I currently live in a 900ft2 bungalow in Toronto. 2 bedroom + 1 bath. but it's cute, and functional for two. Luckily we're finishing out basement this spring (drywall going up as I type!) so we'll technically double the space.

What I hate the most is the fact there's no storage. My master bedroom closet is only 1/2 the height it should be since the stairs to the basement head under the room and so I can't fit anything in there. Oh yeah, and our master bedroom is 10x10- it feels like a dorm room. ha!

I can't wait for the basement to be done, but something tells me once we up and move away, I'll miss this little house (it's our first, and we moved in 3 years ago when we were 24!).

Ps. your decorated 2nd home is/was beautiful. Do you still own it or did you sell?

Anonymous said...

probably the best space-saving advice i have for small space living [which we military families get to do a lot!] is to have furniture do double duty! coffee table/ottoman, desk/sofa console table, daybed/window seat or even daybed/guest room. also, i am a HUGE fan of the elfa shelving from the container store. we have moved several times, and used them in different configuations in each space. very versatile! the best thing about living in a small space, it's hard to collect too much clutter! ;)
best of luck to you on design star.. we can't wait to vote for you!!

JHNickodemus said...

I like smaller space because theres less to clean and no room for clutter or things I don't need! It forces me to be thoughtfull about what I keep around!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I live in a small 900 sq ft cottage. Only one closet in one of the bedrooms. The house was built in 1890. People didn't have many possessions back then. We love it. It's simple living at it's best. Everything in the house has meaning. There is no room for junk/clutter. I don't ever want to go back to the way we used to live, mindlessly filling rooms and walls with trendy fads. It was hard parting with some things but now that it is done it's truly liberating!

The Blushing Hostess said...

5 years in Boston: First was 800 square feet. I painted it in provincial French schemes and tried not to hate the lack of character... stayed less than a year and moved to Charlestown, just over 1000 sq. ft with exposed brick and the old wall ovens recovered, fabulous heat-pine boards, and a terrace and garden. It was a city paradise. The outdoor living ability made it seem my world was so much bigger han that little square in a city that definately is crowded and always in your personal space... it was a four year joy. I miss it still...

Angela said...

When my husband and I were stationed in AZ in 2007, we rented a 3/2 house that sat around 1200 square feet. It was brand new and in great shape. We loved it, the size was perfect for us because we hadn't yet had a child (but even with one, it would have been fine) and had plenty of extra space. My one HUGE beef with such a small house is that they always seem to cut square footage on the kitchen. It was HORRIBLY small, and we never cooked anything larger than a basic meal in there because the oven and fridge couldn't be open at the same time, and only one person could stand and cook.

The best advice I can give for space saving is to simplify your life. Being raised in and now married to the military, you just can't be a pack rat. Take what you need and what you love, and that's it. There's nothing that irritates me more than a cluttered home! We had a large leather storage ottoman we used for a coffee table so I could hide my husband's XBOX obsessions in them.

We had a hanging pot rack in the kitchen too. We had just about no cabinetry, and it also added a nice element to the room because some of our pieces are ancient - old cast irons belonging to great-grandparents and such. Gave us more kitchen space to hide my husband's 4563 coffee makers!

Cottage Rose said...

Well hubby and I rented a very small house I mean very small. The kitchen was like a walk in closet it you opened the stove the fridge would not open. lol We had out two kids with us then only one bed room and bath, the girls slept on a pull out couch, which worked out pretty great. It was a very cute house, down side not enough storage, we did have a long wide closet so that worked out pretty well, I just used one side for us and the other side for the girls the shelfs on top too one of them and one for us.
Family and friends were so surprised that we had so much in a small place. They did not believe that four of us lived in there. That was a great complement..


Emily Dykstra said...

Greetings! I just started reading your blog and LOVE your design ideas.

My husband and I bought a 1929 Chicago bungalow for our first house. It was really small so we added cabinets with columns for storage in our living room... both beautiful and functional. Here's a link:

But now we have a newer home and I have struggled to put the charm into it. Here's some of my decorating thoughts:

Laughing... and YES... I do go through stages of color. Right now it is citron.
Emily D.

The Working Housewife said...

Hey, you're in Montgomery! That's my hometown! I grew up like a mile from Hermitage Drive.

HeyMiemie said...

I love looking at those exhibits in IKEA. Scandinavians know how to live fabulously in small spaces! They do things like storage all the way up to the ceiling in kitchens with a step stool to get to them, storage under beds, inside coffee tables and side tables.

Our first home was a tiny one story, end terrace just outside Cambridge in England. The English call it a bungalow. It had two bedrooms, a tiny bathroom, kitchen and lounge. So five rooms and a passage way. It was very easy to redecorate, easy to clean, easy to heat. The main drawback was being able to hear the next door neighbor use the loo. (Not kidding!)

Kelly B said...

I live in an 1100 sf house with my 5 kids. It really isn't as bad as you would imagine. I do plan on moving when the housing market gets better, but since we have a good space outside, we seem to be fine. It makes you live up to the cottage motto of never living with anything that is neither useful or beautiful. I will be a clutter bug in my next house, but this one is teaching me to only keep what I need. The downside is that, with 5 kids, it can get messy really fast. We use a lot of benches with hidden storage and under-bed storage. Closets are a blessing as well. If I had a tiny kitchen, I would have moved last year. Ours is a galley style but it has a pantry and I can fit everything in it including lots of pretty things without going insane. The bedrooms are small, but the living areas are large. That is how I survive. That and the kids are only allowed 5 toys every week. We trade them out once a week. Otherwise there is way too much chaos. They like it, though. Every weekend is like Christmas morning. :)

DomesticDivasFancy said...

My husband and I bought our first house in Alaska...mind you the cost of homes there is astronomical. Our house was a 720 SF. house that cost 165K! That was all we could afford as newlyweds, not only to mention the military does not pay extremeley well.
I loved the fact it was cozy, being small but it lacked in storage. I put closet organizers in all the closets, under the bed totes and lots of shelving and baskets anywhere I could. In the living room I had a coffee table that doubled as seating and the top opened up and I stored all my pillows and blankets so that made more space in the hall closet. I made it work.
I also used very light neutral colors to make the space feel warm yet bigger.
I love what you did with your space. Thanks for sharing those pictures.

Ashley Nichole.

Anonymous said...

We just moved from a 1200 square foot penthouse condo, to a 2400 square foot house. What I didn't like about the condo was that it was pretty much built for a single person to have a roommate, not for a married couple. I had to put some of my clothes in the guest room closet, and there just wasn't enough room in the kitchen for all the gadgets that I wanted. We sat on the same couch each night to watch tv. But I did love our big balcony and how I could let our cats and dog go out there when I got home from work.

I also hated having one parking spot and it was in the middle of the parking lot, not right in front of our building. I love parking in our garage now and not having to start the car when it's cold.

I'll have to agree with Natalie that it was clean in no time.

With two cats and a dog, we needed more space. Though sometimes I see the hardwoods so dirty on the first floor, and I get stressed and wonder why we needed a house this big when it's my husband and me. Good thing is that if we have kids we won't need to move, we can pretty much grow into this house.

Lulu and Co. said...

My most special memory is living with my husband and 3 year old daughter in a 700 sq foot, 2 level, 2 bedroom one bathroom traditional Japanese home in Japan. We had a 2 burner cook top with only a fish burner to cook anything in. Bascially we either grilled or I had to cook using 2 burners. Tiny washing machine and no dryer, they hang their clothing on a clothes line on the balcony of the homes. But I loved it. Less was so much more. they have amazing storage in the homes.. they have cabinets built in everywhere so you don't need dressers etc. i've probable written too much, it just brought back great memories.

Dana and Daisy said...

I grew up in a house that size, with mom, dad and three siblings and a dog. We used to pile arms and legs and bodies on the floor in the family room to watch tv. There were two kids in each bedroom, no rooms of one's own then. Funny but we had a formal living room which only got used on Christmas day which further reduced our actual living space.

So, I would say in a house that size, to make no room sacred. Allow every room to do it's duty every day. And I would use furniture that serves more than one purpose, ie: an ottoman that serves as a coffee table, that also opens up for game storage in the family room.

it;s funny, our family never felt crowded, but my sister and her family of four later lived in the same house, and they were busting at the seams. I think families have become more accustomed to more space these days. But a small house is a viable option, but you need to be tolerant of one another.

Brenda said...

In our second home, we had some serious space limitations. The eating area/family room was all of 11X17 and included a kitchen table, a built in desk, a closet, a window, two entrances into the room, a rocking chair and a small sectional. Needless to say, it was a nightmare to work around. But, I found that the scale of the furniture was key to making it work. I made it work for 9 years then bought a big house!

Nancy Hood said...

We are presently living in a 2/2 1113 sq ft apartment and love it. There ARE drawbacks, especially when one is used to 2800-3000 BUT maintenance is easier and life simpler.
With a textured gray color and ivory trim, it's been easy to use browns and blues to decorate. We are on the bottom level and able to use the under-the-stair closet as a pantry and it works out real well. Thanks to Lowe's and ClosetMaid, our laundry is outfitted with shelving and front loading machines which enables us to utilize the tops of both appliances.
We now share a walk in closet and came to realize upon moving that we truly did NOT need sooo many clothes! Giving away, donating, and cheaply selling 25 years worth of material things left us with such a free feeling.
Did I miss decorating with a large tree and massive decor? Yes, a bit but being able to relax, laugh, play, and NOT spend the next week cleaning up made it so worth it :)
We are hoping/praying that loft apartments will become available in our downtown area. We just don't see ourselves going into another house with a yard.

Unknown said...

We moved from a 700 2ft Condo, to our first house. 1050 2ft. I have so much more room at 1050! I don't think I would go much larger. So much easier to keep clean when the house is small!
We just finished building in a ton of floor to ceiling shelvimg, it holds all our books and DVD's along with all our entertainment systems. We make sure we have double duty everything and only have what we need.
We do have a great kitchen which helps.

Anonymous said...

I live in northern lower MI in a an800 sq ft home. It holds 3 bdrms, 1.5 baths, a nice eat-in kitchen and a family room. The basement is unfinished at this time; however, it is where we store excess pantry items as well as do the laundry. Hubs also has a workshop down yonder.
I have had to be extremely creative when it comes to storage. I work storage into EVERYTHING that I do. For instance, our mid-remodel kitchen is receiving a banquette with storage beneath it. Our kithcen cabinets, uppers and lowers, though not new (all recycled from a reusable building material store, 2 have been customized to match the rest of the set) have been retrofitted with interesting space-saving and organization aids such as Modular Mates by Tupperware for the pantry cupboard, a pot hanger above the wall on the stove (since 8' ceilings and a 6'8'' hubby don't allow for a ceiling mounted hanger!!), and neat gadgets to use otherwise wasted "dead space" in cabinet corners.
In other rooms of the home, the creative storage carries on:
1. Closets were built in rooms that had none. If floor space was limited (bathrooms) a shallow shelf was crafted between studs in the wall.
2. Closets are fitted with completely custom organization units (mostly built by hubs rather than costing us a fortune in-store).
3. Under-bed storage is utilized with rolling carts that hold fancy or seldom worn shoes, season clothes or sweaters, duffle bags, etc.
4. Baskets are utilized in many areas to hide unsightly storage in open areas such as book shelving.
5. In our tiny foyer, a mere passage really at 4 x 4 ft, we decided to take storage higher! We placed beadboard all the way up to a shelf that sits above the doorways (so it does not impede their opening fully as this is the only way in our out for furniture!) and basket storage is used here for storing dog items (leashes, etc), season items (hats, gloves, mittens, etc), husbys ball caps, and more.
6. We purchased HD pallet racking (like what is used in stores for storing inventory) from an auction for cheap. We put it up in our basement. Our heavy storage is all organized into totes that are clearly labeled and easily visible!

The list could go on... basically, storage is a forethought with every project we do. Function over beauty sometimes but if I think long enough, beauty usually finds it's way into the mix!

jennifer black said...

It's funny, isn't it, that 1200 SF is considered small. My daughter lives in the SF Bay area, and her 500 SF 1-bedroom apartment is quite normal.

The 1st house I bought was 875 square feet--an adorable cottage. I bought it from the family that had built it in 1940--for two parents, three children, and a grandmother. Everytime I thought of that, I felt lucky to share the space with only my daughter and our pets. And we built a 500 SF covered deck on the back and side.

Our next house was 1100 SF, then 1400 SF. Now I'm in an 1100 SF condo. I'd like to go smaller, even though my 6 house guests over the holiday were a tight squeeze for sleeping arrangements!

Small = paring down, closeness, thoughtfulness, less waste in terms of utilities and so on.

When my daughter was a teen, I got to know all of her friends because we didn't have a separate room for them to hang out in. Interestingly, no one seem to mind, either.

No drawbacks here. I love it. Small is beautiful, as the man said.

Lettered Cottage said...

Hi JBlackDesigns! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

I do consider this 1150 square foot house, small because of the way this home was built to function. It has three bedrooms, two baths, and is categorized as a single-family, detached, newly constructed, home.

Now if you're talking apartments, cottages or condos...that's a different story. I wouldn't consider an 875 cottage small, nor would I consider an 1100 square foot condo small. Those numbers sound about right.
It's all relative, ya know? :-)


Corinne said...

I have lived in small, 900 square feet, to big, 4600 square feet and I have to say that I love the smaller spaces. Warmer, cozier, more user friendly. Every space, every nook and cranny gets used in a smaller space. I now live in 1475 square feet and we use a lot of large wicker or wood trunks/chests, as coffee tables, end of bed, for all kinds of storage...yarn, toys, blankets, books. Our family is closer and I always know when something is up with any of my kids, because there is no hiding. We are all together, always and I love it just like that. Thanks for sharing your homes with us.

Kami @ Home of 5 said...

I really just have a question for you! The TV in your living room - we just got one and so far only have the console underneath. I want to do shelves on each side, but can you tell me what that is over the tv? Is it something you've repurposed? I love the way it looks, separate but together. :-)


Lettered Cottage said...


The whole entertainment unit came from IKEA. :-)

The thing above the TV is called a "bridging shelf".

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I live in a 780 sq ft little house with my husband and our 7-year old son. The small size is an issue until you figure out what you really need and want. My husband is brilliant at creating beautiful spaces out of nothing, and finds ways to build storage into underused, overlooked space. Our little landing closet houses coats, pants, jackets, and has room tucked away for sheets, blankets and towels. Best of all, it's all hiding behind a curtain I bought at Layla's blog sale!

MimiG said...

Your second home looks like those in Halcyon Oaks, although I'm sure the floorplans/outside resemble others as well.
I think you have the "best" now.