Monday, May 23, 2011

Recommended Reading

I'm a book hoarder.  I admit it.  I love books.  I am that lady at the library who checks out stacks of books and returns half of them unread because I didn't have time to read that many in the allotted two weeks given by the library.  I love the library.  Where else can you "borrow" someone's property without paying a dime on the assumption that you will carefully return it unscathed at no cost to you?  I only purchase books that I am in love with and I know I will read again and again.  Over the past year or so a few have tickled my fancy and made it onto the "Books To Purchase" list in regards to small home living.  I share them with you, but you can't borrow them.  I'm sorry.  I'm very selfish.

"A Tiny Home to Call Your Own: Living Well in Just Right Houses" by Patricia L. Foreman.  While downsizing in this economy has turned into more of a necessity than a trend, this book reinforces the idea that turning away from the dreaded McMansion and toward a simpler lifestyle that increases your quality of life while decreasing your square footage and it lists the why's and how's to do it.  Read it.  I know you'll love it.

"The Small House Book" by Jay Shaffer.  After his whirlwind visit to Oprah, Jay Shaffer's book became a bestseller based on his theory that if you are not living in a small home, not only do you compromise your future by wasting your money, but that you compromise the integrity of the earth by increasing your carbon footprint.  He is a vocal proponent of the "Eco-Friendly" home.  I love this book.  I already own it.  Its wonderful.

"The Very Small Home"offers a forward by renowned architect, Kengo Kuma, along with detailed tours through a number of small Japanese homes. It provides great photographs and axiometric drawings that show how each house fits together. A purely beautiful book with great eye candy in the form of architecture.  It also has some great storage ideas.  A must read!

"Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home" by Sarah Susanka.  This book makes me so happy!  Sarah Susanka tells it like it is by contrasting the glamorous, glossy-photo house plans of vaulted ceilings and palatial living rooms with the livable, day-to-day pleasure of cozy window seats and comfortable breakfast nooks, and her conclusion is resonating with families across the country: bigger but shoddier isn't better than smaller and well made.  Things you and I already know, but it is so wonderful to see it in print and bound and copied. 

These books are wonderful go-to guides for small home living.  They made me think and look at my lifestyle in a new perspective.  I highly recommend them.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

House Tour!

Cozy oceanside charm abounds in this 800 square foot beach cottage.  This one bedroom, one bath house on Martha's Vineyard disproves the old adage that bigger is better.  Just one look at this small home inspires me!

This living room, with its 11 foot cathedral ceilings and big windows brings the outdoors in and lets light into a small space giving the feeling of depth and spaciousness!

Skimping on square footage doesn't mean skimping on luxury!  A beautiful cherry and soapstone fireplace adds character and charm to the living room. 

Cupboards in the kitchen are tailored around appliances to utilize the space more efficiently.

What a lovely storage spot!  Right off the kitchen this pantry provides ample space for linens and sundries.  I love the beaded board!

 Light and more light seems to be the key to creating calm in this tiny home. What better view than an ocean view?

I am green with envy over this space-saver dining nook!
I think I would trade a little square footage for an ocean view.  How about you??


Monday, May 2, 2011

Before and After Looks

Today I'd like to share some fun 'before and after' looks. But first, I have to tie up a few loose ends.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who comments, even though I so rarely get a chance to respond.  

During the week I'm often working until 7:00 pm and usually on the weekends as well.  I'm lucky to work at a terrific company with a lovely group of people.  But it doesn't leave much time to get back to all of you as frequently as I would like!

Laney, June and Judy, I owe you all emails and notes! I love reading your comments!  And thanks to all the Jewel Box® visitors... Ella, The Cozy House, The Cool Mom, Laurie, Mary, Kelley and Skooter8, to name just a few.  Most of you have blogs and I'd love it if you left links to your sites in the comments section. 

Now a big shout out to Joyce who asked if the Jewel Box® Home website is still up and running.  The answer is yes, but it definitely needs restyling for 2011.  With Amber's help, I'm hoping to get caught up on the newsletters and reader stories.  Joyce, I promise to post your story soon.  I loved it and know everyone else will too! 

And 'Friendly Fridays', are starting up again after Memorial Day.  If you would like to have your house featured, send a short email and photos to  I'd love to share your beautiful homes and tips.

Paging through 'before and after' looks is one of my favorite things to do.  Today's looks are from Chicago Home + Garden Magazine. Most of these are larger homes, but the colors and furniture styles would work well in smaller rooms. 

The colors in this room are so refreshing and elegant.  I actually like this wallpaper, probably because it doesn't look like wallpaper.

For those of you who want a bigger kitchen, but don't want to move or put on an addition, here is an idea.  Move the kitchen to the living room.  That is what these homeowners did. 

It seems like most houses have one of these ugly little powder rooms shown in the before photo above.  But replace the vanity with a cabinet and built in sink, add a mirror and sconce lighting and the space becomes a little jewel.
The apartment in the last two photos is 1400 square feet total.  Notice that the floor did not change, but the use of a cream wall color and spare modern furniture throughout, gives the space an airy pulled together look.