We have a new small space living feature for you today! The Ginger Home is living in a 1300 square foot bungalow in Beaumont Canada with her husband and two “ginger” girls, who are darling! Amanda invited us into her home and answered all of your amazing questions on living in a small space. She gave some amazing tips to stay organized no matter the size of your home. Excited for you to see how you can entertain and really love and enjoy a smaller space.
What is your home Motto?
I don’t think I can pick just one answer to this question! So here are my top 5 tenets to live by:
1. The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.
2. Our house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy!
3. A well loved home will always be a bit of a beautiful mess.
4. It’s not the home I love, but the life that is lived here.
5. Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Why do you live in a smaller home?
When we were looking for a house we knew we wanted to live in the country, but we didn’t want to be too far removed from town or work. In order to afford a few acres close to the city we had to compromise on the size of the house. Our little bungalow was 1350 sq ft with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms and a small kitchen/dining nook and living space. The front door opened directly into the living space with no proper entryway and the layout was awkward. It was definitely not my dream house! But the location and price were perfect and there was a pond as well as 4 fenced and treed acres and a large garage/workspace for Mark. And for some reason when we drove down the driveway it just felt like home. So in 2008 we took the leap and bought the property and we’ve been slowly making it ours ever since! I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at how we organize and use the spaces in our home!
Small Space Living- Mud Room Idea!
I love how she added this piece of furniture to separate the front room- it feels like a separate space! This is SO smart!!! You can create a mud-room anywhere!! No, coat closet? No problem!!!
Small Space Living- KITCHEN
Where do you keep all the small appliances?
We keep small appliances in a variety of spots depending on how frequently they are used. We keep the toaster and Keurig on the counter and everything else is put away. We keep the pressure cooker, food processor and bread maker in cupboards on the back side of the island and we keep the Vitamix blender in a pullout in the front of the island because it gets used pretty much every day. Other specialty appliances that we use infrequently such as the waffle maker, electric grill and ice-cream maker etc… are kept in a cupboard downstairs. Our microwave is a high speed oven that is built in above the oven. It functions as a second oven when cooking large meals, but it can also be used to microwave!
Do you have a pantry? Where is all the food?
When we renovated our kitchen we demolished the free standing pantry cupboard to open up the space so we had to get creative when adding storage back in to the design. At the time open shelving wasn’t trendy yet lol, so we have more traditional full upper cabinets installed in our kitchen and I actually love all the space to keep things hidden!
To keep clutter to a minimum we only keep what we need and use regularly in the main kitchen area. We decant staple items into clear storage containers so we can easily see what we have and we keep anything extra downstairs. My Dad built some super sturdy shelving in a downstairs closet. It’s perfect for long term storage since it stays cooler in the basement and it’s right at the bottom of the stairs from the kitchen for easy access.
I use lots of containers to organize the fridge as well. I like to use produce containers with filters for fresh produce to help it keep longer! Above the fridge we keep all our supplements, protein powders etc… and yes we have a lot!
When designing a kitchen, especially a small one, my number one storage tip is to incorporate as many drawers as possible! It’s so much easier to see everything by pulling out a drawer compared to reaching into the back of a cupboard! We have one large set of drawers in the island where we keep pots and pans and utensils and gadgets that we use often. We also have another large set under the cooktop although the middle drawer is actually a hidden warming oven! It’s one of my favourite features and I think it proves that your kitchen doesn’t have to be huge to incorporate a little luxury! We also added a pot filler faucet above the cooktop with the same mindset…just because it’s small doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate the features you love!
Small Space Living- KIDS TOYS
What is your approach to kids toys?
We try and keep toys to a minimum in the house by doing a purge of anything that is broken or has missing parts every few months and donating toys that are no longer played with. Realistically the girls only play with a few favourite toys at a time.
How do you store or keep the kids toys and games organized?
We have dedicated storage in the basement, and the girls keep only their current favourite toys in their rooms. This stops the toy clutter from spreading to the main floor.
The girls rooms are both small so we try to keep clutter to a minimum. They both have lots of bins and baskets to keep things organized and we utilize every square inch! Hannah has a daybed with built in drawers on the bottom and Elizabeth has rolling toy storage bins under her bed.
Small Space Living- CLOSETS
How do you keep the kids clothes organized?
I go through my kids clothing at the start of every new season and we get rid of whatever is worn or no longer fits. I used to buy clothing on sale at the end of a season for the next year, but most of it wasn’t fitting! So I now buy only for the current season and I usually still find some pretty great sales. We keep their off season clothing on the top shelves of the closets so I don’t forget we have it! I used to store it in bins in the basement, but I was finding that I would forget about it by the time the next season rolled around. So by trial and error I’ve found that keeping the kids clothing minimal and visible works the best for us! I don’t mind doing laundry more often if it means less stuff in the house. I hang as much as I can so that it’s easy to see what they have (shirts, sweater, dresses and coats). Whatever I can’t hang goes in the dresser (pants, pjs, socks and undies). I like adding little baskets to the dresser drawers for smaller items. It keeps sock and undies corralled! And I keep their dance and gymnastics gear right in their dance bags so it doesn’t get lost!
Are you able to fit all your clothes in your master bedroom?
Our master suite is now one of my favourite spaces, but it didn’t start that way! We maximize storage in our bedroom with the usual assortment of bins and baskets like the ones tucked into our nightstands, but it took a little more than baskets to make this space work for us!
Our master bedroom and bathroom space was very strange in the original layout of the house. The sink and vanity were in the bedroom and there was only a toilet and tiny shower in the half ensuite! And I won’t get started on the pink carpet and yellow walls!
Small Space Living- SEASONAL DECOR
Do you have a lot of seasonal decor? Where do you keep it?
I don’t have a ton of seasonal decor, but I do seem to be accumulating more now that the house renovations are finally slowing down and there is more time to actually decorate and enjoy our space! I keep most seasonal decor in containers in our “storage room”, which is actually just a few shelves by the furnace downstairs. We access the storage room through our laundry room, which also acts as my crafting room, office and workspace. When you have a small house rooms need to be multifunctional! I do keep a few party supplies and decor items in this space as well. The table comes in handy for laying out decor each season and seeing what I already have and what I need to add!
Where do you keep your broom, vacuum, cleaning supplies?
We also keep cleaning supplies in the laundry room downstairs. We have some high cupboards that allow us to keep anything hazardous safely out of the reach of the girls. Just a few things like dish soap and dish washer tabs are kept under the sink in the kitchen (with a child lock on the cupboard door).
Our vacuum is a Rainbow so it usually sits out cleaning the air when it’s not in use as a vacuum and its accessories live in the hall closet. Currently our broom and dust pan hide behind the china cabinet in the dining space!
How do you organize all the papers? Bills, school work, mail etc.
We use the fridge as a mini bulletin board in the kitchen for anything that needs to be immediately dealt with and we have a family calendar on the side of the fridge cabinet as well. I usually take all paperwork down to my office space in the laundry room where I have a filing system on the wall and a bulletin board where I post things that require special attention such as bills that need to paid etc…I have a filing cabinet under the desk and I keep all the girls school work and art in bins in the cupboard beside my desk. It’s not organized inside the bins yet, but at least it’s all in one place and ready for me to sort through later.
How do you or do you Entertain in a Small Space?
We usually save larger gatherings for the summer when we can utilize our outdoor space to entertain. As part of our exterior renovation and addition we extended our deck all the way across the back of the house and added a three season room with living and dining space! Although the screen room is technically outdoor space we put in a high output natural gas fireplace, which has allowed us to extend the seasonal use of that room dramatically. We’ve had several kids birthday parties and dinners with friends out in our screen room and it’s really quite magical sitting out listening to the birds and the wind in the trees with the twinkle lights on!
During the winter if we have parties we just make sure we have lots of seating available, especially at the kitchen island as that’s where people tend to congregate. We usually light a crackling wood fire in the living room and that lures some people away to sit on the couches and chat in that space! And we stick to appetizers rather than a formal sit down dinner! This years goal is to host a skating party when the pond freezes over with as many friends as we can squeeze in so I’ll let you know how it goes!
What is the hardest part about “Small Space Living”?
The hardest part about small space living is learning to be content! To not always want bigger, better or more. I think this is applicable in so many areas of life and learning to live happily in a smaller space is a good exercise in practising gratitude not greed in your daily life!
Living in tight quarters does have its challenges. For example, I work shift work and it’s hard to get ready and get out of the house early in the morning without waking everyone since the bedrooms are so close to the kitchen! And we can’t make too much noise watching a movie or cleaning and cooking in the kitchen after the kids go to bed either.
What is your favorite part about “Small Space Living”?
There are actually many things I love about owning a smaller house…
It costs less to heat and takes less time to clean! You are forced to live a little more simply and only keep things that are useful or that you really love. There’s just no room for clutter! It also promotes closeness as a family, and reminds you that time together is your most precious possession!
Where do you keep keepsake items? How do you decide what you hold onto?
I’m not someone that’s sentimental about things or objects. My keepsakes are photos, which is why I’ve loved starting an instagram account and blog so much! Most of my memories are right on my laptop! We’ve kept a bin of baby toys and a bin of baby clothing from when the girls were little and my husband and I both have a few boxes of things from our own childhoods as well. Oh, and I still have my wedding dress. I wanted to sell it, but Mark is more sentimental about those things and wanted me to keep it. We keep all these things in our downstairs storage room along with the seasonal decor, suitcases etc…
So if I had to summarize my tips for small space living they would be the following:
1. Find ways to maximize every nook and cranny in your house. Use vertical space. Install cabinets and storage wherever you can and think outside the box to tuck things away in unexpected spaces. And use baskets and bins, lots of them!
2. Keep only what you need, use or love. Let the rest go! I truly believe clutter is bad for the psyche and holding on to possessions too tightly is bad for the soul! If you buy something and you realize it was a mistake, don’t hold onto it because of misplaced guilt over money wasted. Take it as a lesson learned and give it away! Do some good with it and let it go to someone who needs it.
3. Be organized. Have a system to keep clutter and mess to a minimum without losing your sanity! I find when there’s a designated home for everything (and it’s labelled…I looove my labeller!) it’s much easier for everyone to help keep things tidy!
4. Look for ways to maximize your existing space! For us that meant finishing our basement even though the ceilings were low and the layout was tricky. And eventually it meant adding an addition to the house and extending our outdoor living space. Even though the interior square footage has barely changed the house feels about three times the size it used to!
5. If you are designing or remodelling keep in mind that light is all important. Make sure you have lots of natural light sources so the space feels airy. High ceilings help as well. Our house has a small footprint, but we have white planked vaulted ceilings in the main living space and I think it makes a huge difference. I’ve been told several times that our house looks much larger in photos and I’m sure the high ceilings and brightness are the reason for this “illusion”!
Thank you so much for sharing your home and all your wonderful ideas with us on Small Space Living! You can find The Ginger Home!