Friday, April 9, 2010

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Can I be real today?  Sometimes I hate my house.  Sometimes its size drives me crazy and its quirks are no longer charming.  Sometimes I wish I had a huge playroom so that I could shut my kids in when they have sleepovers so I don't have to hear them giggling and playing their music.  Sometimes I get tired of thinking of creative ways to entertain more than five people in my little abode.  Sometimes coming up with ways to store things efficiently makes me stomp my feet in frustration.  Can I just be honest, since we're being real today?  Sometimes I hate it that everyone I know lives in a bigger house than my own.

Photo Courtesy of Rathmullan Cottages
My best friend and her husband just built their dream house.  I am honestly, to the very tips of my toes, ecstatic for her.  But as I toured her new home with its cathedral ceilings and huge chandeliers and massive amounts of closet space, I got jealous.  Sigh.  Sometimes I want a big house too!!!

Photo Courtesy of Busy Boo
Its so funny that in America we put a lot of stock in the term "Bigger is Better".  We all know that this is not necessarily true in every situation, but in years past it seemed that houses just got larger and larger.  In 1950, the average size of a new single-family American residencewas 983 square feet. Today, it is nearly 2500 square feet. As home sizes ballooned over that time, family size shrank. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 1950, an average American family consisted of 3.8 people; today’s average family contains 2.6 people. 
We are using more space for less people!

Photo Courtesy of Blue Johanna Cottages
But as the economy struggles and our desire to be more eco-friendly and families are working toward "living green", Americans appear to be scaling back!  Making a conscious decision to scale down the nest is hard for some, but garners many rewards in the long run.

Photo Courtesy of Enchanted Cottages
Some special advantages to living in a small home:

  • Our small house makes us closer. We are forced to cooperate, and spend lots of time playing together.
  • Staying in our small home saves us money on our mortgage, enabling me to not work full time and spend more time with my children.
  • We can clean our house well, if we all work together, in about an hour!  Can't beat that!!
  • We don't "need" as many things.  This provides protection from impulse buys. Sometimes when I'm shopping, I see the most gorgeous things. I would love to buy them on impulse but I can't, because where would I put them in our small home?
  • It is cheaper and easier to heat and cool a small house.
  • The children play outside more and get lots of exercise.
  • It is easy to know what the kids are up to. We can easily monitor their computer and TV habits and who they are spending time with in regards to friends.  There is no need to buy baby monitors for your infant-you can hear them wherever they are. And it's much safer, too.
  • Items in our house go through a process of natural selection; only the most used and loved items stay. This means everything we use and play with is high quality.
  • There is less maintenance involved in a small home.
  • When living in a small home all of the space is utilized. Power isn’t wasted heating and cooling unused rooms.

Photo Courtesy of A Snail Pace

Oh sure, irritation overcomes me sometimes when I start feeling bad about keeping up with my friends and their McMansions, but it always passes when I go home and walk in the front door my tiny space and think of how much love, fun and memories have been created in my little Jewel Box®.  



  1. Thanks for sharing. I feel frustrated at times with our small house because of storage issues. I have no closet space and I spend a lot of time clearing out closets to make room for clothes as my kids outgrow them. My house looks cluttered, most of the time, and this is my biggest problem with a small house. It is tough seeing our friends and families with so much space. But, truthfully, I wouldn't want their mortgages! Our house is almost paid for and I feel guilty for not being more in love with it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. i love your blog. i just posted pictures of my favorite 'jewel box' homes in my little town of anacortes. someday when i'm not renting, i hope to have one someday. until then, i can dream. right?

  3. What great timing! With my daughter just starting school (kindergarten) I get very sheepish at times about having playdates at our house if the weather isn't nice and we have to be inside. I get jealous of friends who are able to see furniture, storage solutions, etc. and implement them because they have the space to do so. I get really frustrated - in large part because I have not decorated/designed things to our taste and we haven't really come into "our own" here (hi, still have gross 70s wood paneling in the tv room).
    Thanks for the reminders on why bigger isn't always better, and that people have made do in this space (we're just under 900 sf) for generations!

  4. Love your honesty! A big house does have "stuff" as an advantage but is having a bigger closet or junk really a plus? Its just something people have bought into.
    The Financial freedom
    with the cottage jewel is worth the sacrifices. I couldn't agree more with your blog!
    Thanks for all the inspiration!!

  5. Thanks for sharing!! It is soooo difficult to see friends, as you mentioned, going bigger and decorating with such beautiful things. It's nice to know you are not the only one feeling a bit "jealous" (ok not just a bit) of friends - feeling guilty because you don't want those feelings to take anything away from the relationship. I too hate my house sometimes. But I cannot handle anymore cleaning then I have and in the McMansions - everything you have to keep up with - where's the time for life? Loved your comments. Thanks for being honest. Kelley

  6. It's good to be real sometimes! Everyone has her ups and downs when it comes to home. Sometimes it seems like it will never be enough... As a person undergoing eternal renovation at home, I really envy those who buy ready-made apartments / homes at times. I'm often at the end of my tether, but on most days I feel lucky to have a home at all. Thanks for sharing xx

  7. ..are we going to hear more from charlie? your blog

  8. This was a great post. Our home is only 1600 sq. feet and I have often found myself yearning for a bigger home, especially as our family grows. I will say that every Monday when I clean, I am highly appreciative of our small home because it is easy to clean! :) And the closeness that a small home conduces is also another benefit. Sure I'd like a bigger home at times, but staying at home with my children is more important. Thanks for sharing!