Living Big After Years of Living Small

I was asked to write about this topic quite a while ago, but I didn’t feel like I had any information/experience at the time to write a detailed post. Now, at over a year of living in our “big” house after living in our 900 sq. ft. home for the last 7 years… well I’ve got some thoughts.

Before we begin, some caveats on my usage of the words “big” and “small.” Everyone quantifies these words differently so here’s my definition. For me, “living big” refers to our 1600 square foot home we live in now, with three floors, three bathrooms as well as a basement. And “small” refers to our previous home, which was an 900 square foot home with two bedrooms and one bath.

So here are my observations:

I STILL CRAVE SMALL

Living Big After Living Small
This is perhaps my biggest “ah-ha” over the last year. With lots of space and rooms in our current house, I find myself gravitating towards the smallest spaces in the house. It’s soothing and it makes it feel more like home. After the boys go to bed and I need a little time to unwind, I’m often in the guest room, which is our smallest bedroom. When I’m in the kitchen, I tend to still stick to the small corner nook between the fridge and the oven, despite the big island for prep. Close walls are comforting, likely because it’s what I’ve been used to for much of my adult life!

EVERYTHING IS SO FAR AWAY

Living Big After Living Small
Before, if I needed Chapstick or some lotion while in the living room, I could reach back from my spot on the couch and grab it off my bedroom dresser. I’m laughing as I’m writing this because this may just turn into a Confessions of a Lazy Person post ha. In this new house, I’m constantly at battle with the stairs… up/down, up/down… as I make my way through the house grabbing what I need. And in the morning, when I’m late trying to get out the door with work, there’s always something upstairs that I’ve forgotten.

OUR GUESTS CAN GET COMFORTABLE

Freshly Painted Guest Bedroom
In our old house, having people over could get awkward. There wasn’t much space to mingle (my living room furniture set-up was also at fault) and most of the time we’d all end up huddled together in the kitchen. Which would have been fine, but there was only seating for 3-4 comfortably. And overnight guests? Forget it. We had a few, but the tight sleeping arrangements plus the bathroom situation (jack and jill between the guest bedroom and our “master”) was always really tough. Now, they’ve got their own space, their own bathroom, etc.

MORE TIME, MORE MONEY, MORE EFFORT

Living Big After Living Small
Time, money and effort all saw a huge increase when we moved to the bigger place. Before, I could deep clean our little house in about two hours. Now? Well first, there is no deep cleaning happening these days (no way!) but a standard cleaning takes days! Floors one day, bathrooms the next, etc. It’s just a lot of work.

Dealing with the size of our home really hit me in the Fall when the leaves had finally fell off the trees. This is usually the time where we’re up on a ladder cleaning gutters. At our old place, which was just one level, this was an easy task I could do myself with a standard ladder. But now? I would have to have a death wish to clean out our gutters. We had to pay someone to do it! To the tune of $200. Yeesh.

I DON’T KNOW WHERE ANYTHING IS

Living Big After Living Small
In the smaller house, we did not have the luxury of storage. Everything was designed and organized perfectly to fit a small space. For example, nearly all of the cords, markers, envelopes and typical oddball things had a home in the under-desk set of drawers in our office/bedroom. So obviously, it was easy to find everything. Today, our crap is all over the house in random storage spots. We’ve got the junk drawer in the kitchen (never had one of those before!), the drawers in the bathrooms, the shelves in the closets…. there is just random stuff everywhere. Getting organized, re-streamlining and defining spots for each thing is a big goal for 2016. I’d rather avoid going into a Hulk rage over an iPad charger again. Sigh.

WE GET TO STRETCH OUR LEGS

I’m not saying that literally, but you know what I mean. It has been so nice to have the flexibility of more space. If I want to work on some sewing, but I don’t want to muck up the kitchen table, I can set up a little workstation elsewhere. Just the other day I had a Skype interview and I needed a quiet spot to chat and focus, so I headed up to our third floor. In the old house, I would have had to leave or take the interview at a coffee shop. It’s been nice to spread out a bit.

THERE’S A PLACE FOR OUR COATS

Tricorn Black Door

I’m thinking back and I cannot for the life of me remember where we hung our winter coats and scarves every day at the old house. Certainly I did not allow them to lay around. But I know there was not a physical place for them to go. And granted, in the current house, some hooks over the basement stairs isn’t the perfect solution (fixing that in 2016!) but it’s so much better than having to look at coats and winter accessories out in the open. My mind cannot handle that visual chaos. Dramatic I know, but true.

What about you? Have you done a similar move? What do you like/dislike about moving to a bigger place?

I’m not sure if we’ll always live “big”. In fact, I can see us returning to our small roots when the kids are grown. Those shipping container houses look pretty cool. 😉

xo,

emily

p/s: My boys turned 10 months old yesterday. Eeeeeee!!! They are so fun and basically I’m having the time of my life (minus the teething part). 

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Kim says:

    Oh my gosh, the boys are 10 months old! Not possible!

    I love your take on the big vs. small conversation. I am looking forward to more space, but mostly for the “stretching our legs” point. I need some room to breathe (or get away from people for a second). But there really are some wonderful things about living small. I love that you are so honest about the ups and downs.

    • What are you going to do with the barn once you move out? Rental? And you should do a similar post when you move into your big house. I can imagine you going “ahhhhhhhhh” as soon as you walk in. You are in need of some space!

  • Jen says:

    We have three kids in a 2 bedroom 1 bath. All on one level, less than 1000 sq feet. I long for more space but at the same time feel like it will be a double edged sword for all the reasons you mention – running up and down stairs, more to clean and keep organized, and I fear the loss of connection for us as a family. When the kids all have a room to go to then they won’t be forced into interaction with one another or with us. I’m not sure I’m ready to upsize.

    • I think those are all great points to stay put! Some people manage living small beautifully and actually get a lot out of it rather than be frustrated…. and you seem like one of those people! I say carry on!

  • Kim says:

    I agree with all of your points! I rented for many years before buying a 4 bdrm four square in Norwood (because it was so cheap and we’ll grow into it!). For two adults, that’s A LOT of space. I love having designated spaces for everything but it is so hard to maintain and keep clean. And I feel like we don’t snuggle as much as we used to, because we have two living spaces with two sectionals, and we upgraded from a queen bed to a king. Ha!

    • Good ‘ole Norwood! I lived in an old home there when I was undergrad at XU. I loved it! Your house sounds amazing (I’m partial to four squares myself) and now that you’ve got the space, you might as well learn to love it! We’re also in a King and I may go a week without touching my husband. Lol. Plus, there’s usually a baby or two in between. Thank goodness for Kings!

  • Stephanie says:

    great points! We’re in about 1300 square feet and starting to think of a move in the next 1-2 years. I want to stay the same size or go smaller on the inside (we have no plans for kids, and I try to stay minimalist) but expand big time on our plot of land, but my husband wants the opposite. I don’t know what on earth I would do with more indoor space besides fill it with more stuff- that costs more money, and takes more time to clean and find! 🙂

    • If I could change anything about our current home, it would be the lot size. We have zero flexibility in terms of building out or having more space for the kids to roam outdoors. I agree with you… go with the bigger land!

  • Interesting! For me, I think I’ll take as much square footage as I can get (within reason), but I do get overwhelmed sometimes about how many ROOMS this house has. I can’t stand having rooms that never get used, so I kind of go out of my way to invent reasons for different rooms to exist sometimes. I wouldn’ mind fewer, bigger rooms, I think.

  • Vanessa says:

    When we went from 852 sq/ft to 1,400 plus a basement on three levels, I noticed I could not just stand there and say something that my husband would be able to hear. I had to figure out where he was generally, then get closer, then yell. Never had to do that in the little house!

  • Kate says:

    So interesting! I recently moved from a very small house to one that is more than twice as large, and I also crave the smaller, cozier spaces. The extra storage is nice, as is having a garage that can actually fit a car, but sometimes I miss the smallness of my old place. Word on the gutters—we do our second story gutters ourselves, but having just one set that was reachable on an 8 ft. ladder was so nice!

  • I love your take on this! There are lots of downsides to living big – cleaning, maintenance, organization. Things just seem to get out of hand very quickly when you have lots of space to let things spread out!! I’m working on all of that in 2016 too! 😉

  • I’m still living pretty small and my son said recently that he never ever wants to move into a big house which was very odd for a 13 year old to say LOL.

  • SClark says:

    Like everything – there are positives and negatives. I agree with all of your perceptions. We’ve had quite a few different arrangements – from a tent and camper for 5 of us (while we built a house) to a tiny one bedroom apartment for us empty nesters, to a 6 bedroom, 5 bathroom McMansion. Next we will have a cozy cottage, and I’m really looking forward to cozy. I LOVE having a small place to keep clean and organized!

  • Haley says:

    We’re looking to move from our one bedroom apt and all of these reasons make me want to stay here forever. I also love how there aren’t that many places for our toddler to hide… If she’s not in the room I’m in, there are only 2-3 places she could possibly be.

  • Ashley says:

    I recently made the shift from an 800 sq ft apartment to a 1500 sq ft one and it’s such a change! Love this post — you’ve perfectly encapsulated how I feel about our new space (thank goodness for extra coat closet space).

    Xoxo,

    Ashley || Sed Bona

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