Author Topic: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?  (Read 27201 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:44:10 AM »
My girlfriend and I just purchased a move-in ready one bath, three bedroom ranch for $127,500.  The kitchen has new appliances and a great sink, everything (windows, roof, back porch, furnace, water heater, etc.), is less than five years old, etc.  It's really in top shape and all we plan on doing when we move in (next weekend!) is to put in new carpet on the first floor, paint the cabinets white, paint one of the bedrooms, and paint the basement.

I'm excited, so here's some pics:











The only issue is that it's 1100 square feet. All three bedrooms upstairs are also relatively small, and one is comically small.

But, as shown above, the basement is about 1/2 finished. Behind the wall with those storage bins is a pretty big bedroom. To the left of the chairs is an unfinished laundry and storage that goes the length of the house. Importantly, it also has a toilet and showerhead in there, just completely unfinished.

So the plan is to turn that back room in the basement into a master bedroom and connect the master and a new bathroom. I'd also like to finish more of the unfinished side of the basement to make more efficient storage and increase living space.

Pretty much everyone we know says, "You'll grow out of it," but we really feel like we can make this house work. And we both know that if this is the only house we buy, we will not only save a lot of money, but we will be forced to be "minimalists" and not hoard and buy stuff for the sake of filling rooms.

All that said, any tips for making a small house work?

Edit for clarity:

(1) The listed square footage does not include the basement. So the total square footage of the house is 2,132 square feet with the basement. I too agree that this is a very comfortable amount of space, but I was more hoping for creative ideas to help make the space feel bigger.

(2) Obviously this is a ton of space for just the two of us--but I was talking about the house being small for when we have kids (we plan to have two). Pretty much everyone says we will move out as soon as we have a second kid because they will run all over the place and take up way more space than we could imagine.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 11:34:24 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

Pooplips

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 09:48:04 AM »
I live in a house of similar size. All you have to do is prioritize the things you own and stop yourself from accumulating clutter. I am a huge fan of small bedrooms. My family jsut doesnt spend alot of time in them, basically just sleeping. The larger family/basement area is where its at.

AZDude

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 09:51:17 AM »
1100 sq ft is more than enough. Lived in a house that size for years and never had an issue. Just make sure you don't buy excess furniture and don't store random crap just because.

KCM5

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 09:54:40 AM »
"Make it work"? You probably have 1800 sq feet of finished living space.

Sounds like you're excited about your new house! Have fun with it. But seriously, those people that are implying it's going to be some sort of hardship for two people to live in such a house are crazy. Sounds like you could fit a few kids in there just fine, too - if that's your plan.

Also, agree that small bedrooms are great. We just use a bedroom for sleeping, it doesn't have to be huge.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 09:56:27 AM »
You are off your rocker. This thing, small? Your basement looks great. I would move the TV down there, antenna reception permitting.

Our apartment is 780sqft, and I marvel daily at all the extra space, even while storing two bikes, a piano, and a giant dining room table inside.

sirdoug007

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2015, 09:57:05 AM »
Pretty much everyone we know says, "You'll grow out of it," but we really feel like we can make this house work. And we both know that if this is the only house we buy, we will not only save a lot of money, but we will be forced to be "minimalists" and not hoard and buy stuff for the sake of filling rooms.

All that said, any tips for making a small house work?

Here's what you need to do: Stop listening to the people that say "You'll grow out of it."  They don't know what they are talking about.  They are trying to make themselves feel better about their exploding volcano of wastefulness by getting you to join them in their dollar bill bonfire!

You have a beautiful house with friggin' stone countertops, new appliances, and a huge deck for parties and fucking slide in the backyard!!!  Enjoy the hell out of it and don't listen to the naysayers.

PharmaStache

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2015, 10:08:57 AM »
Since you have a basement, that's a fine size.  I don't think you need to do anything to make it work, other than not accumulate a TONof crap. 

JROH

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2015, 10:12:53 AM »
I agree with all the comments thus far.  You have way more than 1100 sq ft with the finished basement

My house is 1100 sq ft without a basement and we love it!  We have two adults and two kids in the 2 bedrooms.  It is tight at times but that is just a good reminder to declutter.

Take advantage of your wall space and utilize lots of great storage tactics- think ikea shelving, etc.

Try and acquire dual purpose furniture to get the most bang for your buck.  Take cues from people who live in even smaller spaces and try to adapt some of their ideas for your home, i.e. Sofa beds, hidden storage, etc.

Most of all, enjoy your new space!  I have been in my "starter home" for six years now and never imagined I would be here this long.  Intentionally living small has changed my perspective on a lot of things....I wouldn't change it for the world!

The Pigeon

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 10:15:48 AM »
Lucky you! That thing would cost no less than $850k where I live. I'd *love* to have 1100 sq feet! I think that is the sweet spot for a house. Congrats!

James

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2015, 10:18:26 AM »
"Too small" really depends on you, not them, ignore what other people say about the house and see how it works for you. I wouldn't make changes right away, really think about what would work before making changes. If you put a master suite in the basement, consider adding some good windows in those basement rooms, you can put light curtains on them and it will feel much more airy down there without having bright lights on all the time. (What is your "finished sq ft"? If the 1100 is only the upstairs you are really in plenty of room! Unless you plan on more than a few kids anyway...)

In hind sight I really wish we had stuck with something about that size. It would be tight with all the kids, but being forced to avoid building up a ton of crap is a HUGE benefit. My wife and I plan to down size once the kids are gone, but it would be really great to have a house that was just big enough for a family, but not so big you had to move once the kids are out.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2015, 10:21:50 AM »
I have a smaller house, I find it suits the three of us. I also liked smaller mortgage payments, it was fun not being house poor. Try calculating how much interest they pay vs. you pay and then decide if the bigger house seems tempting. In my case the difference between myself and my peers could pay for an annual tropical holiday.

Since moving in I did add some space saving stuff mostly because it improved how things were done.
1)Wall mounted TV, no need for a stand these days - less dusting
2) Extra shelves in the closet going to the top (mine had a 2.5 foot gap between the shelf and the top) - less crowding, the top is good for photos and memorabilia that you don't use often
3) Cupboard above the washing machine for storage of detergents - stock up on sales
4) I use a reel mower instead of a gas mower, its smaller to store in the shed - no more annual maintenance of the gas mower is a bonus time saver
5) Book shelf in a random spot at the bottom of my stairs - this one is so that my child will be surrounded by books (hopefully encourages her to read as she grows)
6) Under the stairs storage in the basement - I currently store my brewing supplies there between uses, also good for storing root vegetables to keep them cool

The big one:
Garage sale - less stuff makes life simpler

ketchup

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2015, 10:28:06 AM »
I'm sure you can make an 1100 square foot house work.  You'll eventually find use for all the extra space, maybe even get a little more furniture for now-empty rooms.

It is possible to live in such a large house and you'll figure out how to make it work.

All joking aside, 1100 square feet for two people is perfect.  That's about what my girlfriend and I have right now for two people plus dogs.  And with that partially-finished basement too!?  You've got lots of space.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2015, 10:38:54 AM »
Our house is 1000 sq ft with no basement. I don't understand what tips you need? That's lots of space for 2 adults.

If you can't make it work walk over to a mirror and start punching yourself in the face. Seriously.

zephyr911

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2015, 10:43:26 AM »
We downsized from 1900 last year to 1144. The old house was never even quite full (it predated our marriage and I had rented out the upstairs) but we still had to get rid of a few things.

What I'll say about 1100 for two people - contrary to the popular perception, it's way more space than two people need. In 1144, we have an overly large master bedroom with wasted space, a perfectly adequate living room, and two other bedrooms that double as offices and guest rooms. One also houses my music gear, military uniforms, costumes, and other fun things. We think we could easily live in 6-800SF with only minor continued adjustments, and may do so in the future if we move to a higher-COL area.

Advice? If you really think it's not enough room, you have too much shit. Give some away, and do it with a smile. :)

Overlay multiple uses for as many areas as you can. Focus on not crowding your space, and using it efficiently, and if anything, you'll find that it feels like more than you need.

MayDay

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2015, 10:44:19 AM »
Our first house in Mpls was in a neighborhood of all 3 bedroom 1 bath ranches (most with a 2nd bath added in the basement) around 1100-1300 sq feet. 

As of when we moved away 3 years ago, it was mostly families with a few kids.

The small bedroom thing is a non-issue.  What does a kid need in a bedroom other than a bed and a dresser (get the tall narrow kind) and a small desk or toy shelf when they are younger?  In fact they don't need the dresser at all if you keep their clothes minimal and put them all in the closet.

I wouldn't put the master bedroom in the basement.  But I have no need for a master bath.  And I would want to be close to the kids.  I would use a basement bedroom as a guest room or eventually as a teenager's room. 

That looks like a great house.  As long as you don't have a ton of crap, it will be plenty of space for a family of 4-6.  If you have more than 4 kids, sure, a bigger house makes sense. 

zephyr911

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2015, 10:50:13 AM »
I'll add that the people we bought our 1144sf, 3br/2ba house from had raised multiple children in it, and only moved because their kids were now coming back to visit with several grandkids.

Here's what you need to do: Stop listening to the people that say "You'll grow out of it."  They don't know what they are talking about.  They are trying to make themselves feel better about their exploding volcano of wastefulness by getting you to join them in their dollar bill bonfire!

You have a beautiful house with friggin' stone countertops, new appliances, and a huge deck for parties and fucking slide in the backyard!!!  Enjoy the hell out of it and don't listen to the naysayers.
SO MUCH THIS.
Just a couple of generations ago, this house was palatial by middle-class family standards. It looks like a great deal, and you should feel free to laugh at the mindless drones who can't understand your failure to stampede off the cliff with them.

maco

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2015, 10:59:16 AM »
Is that 1100 plus the basement or including the basement?

My house is 1296 including the basement (so "officially" 648). It's 2 bedrooms.

We put our bed in the smaller of the two bedrooms (8x10ft). We have Shaker-style peg rail on one wall, where I hang things that don't need to be washed yet. We had a chest of drawers, but it was hard to stand between the (queen) bed and drawers with the drawers open, and our door is on a diagonal so got caught on the drawers all the time. We switched to shelves to hold our clothes, in addition to the little closet in the bedroom.

As my husband put it: all you do in a bedroom is sleep. There's no reason to have anything in there beyond your bed, some clothes (my mom and my husband both prefer to hang their laundry to dry in the laundry room, then retrieve it right when they get dressed), alarm clock, and the light.

The larger bedroom has our computer desks, a reading chair, and book cases.

The main room has an L-shaped couch from IKEA that transforms into a queen size bed. We have a Stakmore expanding table (bought as a factory second on ebay) and 4 Stakmore dining chairs. When we convert the living room to dinner party mode, we do so by expanding the table to full size, which will hold 8 people, 3 or 4 of which are on the couch.

Oh, ceiling shelves! We put shelves above head height in our living room (which has a vaulted ceiling) to hold board games, and we got shelf brackets similar to these to put shelves over doorways. We keep saying "shelves are magic."

The basement is weirdly shaped, particularly because someone thought putting a second bathroom down there sounded like a good idea, and they tried to add 2 bedrooms down there, without fire exits (*facepalm*). Those "bedrooms" are 8ft square and where I do my crafts. The remaining space down there has our projector, a blank wall, and a couch. The laundry room is also down there. I just put an IVAR cabinet (more IKEA) in the laundry room to function as a pantry.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 11:04:41 AM by maco »

Mrs. PoP

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2015, 11:14:11 AM »
I'll echo the chorus that 1,100 sqft is more than enough, especially since your giant basement isn't included in that total.  Our house is 1,100 sqft with no basement, and it's more than big enough.  I don't know where you live, but it looks like you've got a nice wooden deck and backyard, so make use of those in as many seasons as you can if you ever start to feel crowded.  We spend a lot of time out on our lanai (screened in patio) year round and for the past 6.5 years our only dining table big enough to sit more than a couple people has been outside on this patio.  It didn't stop us from hosting dinner parties, though! 

Instead of looking for problems, think of all the benefits of a smaller home.  Lower utility bills, less to clean...  Just be picky about what comes into your house (which really is the better financial move anyhow) and don't hesitate to say "no" even to free stuff if it'll crowd your life. 

norabird

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2015, 11:19:26 AM »
I have a 906 sqft 3 BR/1 ba, teeny bedrooms (mine is the biggest natch) and a roommate in each. You will be all set up with your basement on top of everything! Just prioritize what you want your living space to be, and don't accumulate too much stuff. Seriously, this is so much space!

forumname123

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2015, 11:31:13 AM »
Wasn't the average American house size in the 1950's something like 983 sq ft? The fact that it's now over 2000 (with less inhabitants no less) is ridiculous.

1100 is over 3 times the size of my current place, and over 4 times the size of my previous place. That's for 2 of us. Right now we have around 300 sq ft, and the solution is simple: have less stuff and keep things clean and organized. The fact that most north Americans consider 1100 to be small boggles my mind. (I'm from north America too)

Stop listening to the rat race muggles and enjoy it (along with the multitude of other things you'll be able to enjoy because of your "sacrifice")! Nice looking house.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2015, 11:33:03 AM »
Wow, thanks for the compliments and advice thus far.

Edited my OP to make two things more clear:

(1) The listed square footage does not include the basement. So the total square footage of the house is 2,132 square feet with the basement. I too agree that this is a very comfortable amount of space, but I was more hoping for creative ideas to help make the space feel bigger.

(2) Obviously this is a ton of space for just the two of us--but I was talking about the house being small for when we have kids (we plan to have two). Pretty much everyone says we will move out as soon as we have a second kid because they will run all over the place and take up way more space than we could imagine.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 11:35:06 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

forumname123

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2015, 11:37:43 AM »
Kids are like gas, they will expand to fill their container. They don't NEED thousands of square feet.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2015, 11:42:43 AM »
If you're looking for ways to make things feel bigger, there's a ton of websites that you can get ideas from. Problem is, I can't think of them offhand at the moment...argh... and really should be working or I would look them up for you. But, Google space saving ideas/furniture/small house designs (not that you're actually in a really small house)/etc./etc. and then prepare to waste your afternoon pouring over the tsunami of sites, articles, and pictures solely devoted to this sort of thing. I do this often as I frequently fantasize about having a smaller home (wifey's not onboard...yet). I love the idea of smart design and maximizing the space you have.

maco

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2015, 11:49:01 AM »
Kids are like gas, they will expand to fill their container. They don't NEED thousands of square feet.
haha yes! If you keep the toys to a minimum and are diligent about grown-out-of-clothes, though, that'd really help. My parents went with pointing to one room in the basement and saying "that's the toy room. No toys outside that room."

Valetta

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2015, 12:07:24 PM »
I grew up in a house about the same size - 2 kids, 2 adults. I certainly don't think we ever had issues with the amount of space. In our area, our house was actually considered to be very large. Most of my friends had smaller homes. I think things are really out of whack now with the all the McMansions. It's just a bunch of wasted space.

My one piece of advice would be to only purchase things you really love. It will force you to not fill it up with extra stuff and you'll only be surrounded by things you treasure or are very useful. Don't feel like you have to go out and buy things right now just because you have a house now.

zephyr911

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2015, 12:10:35 PM »
Obviously this is a ton of space for just the two of us--but I was talking about the house being small for when we have kids (we plan to have two). Pretty much everyone says we will move out as soon as we have a second kid because they will run all over the place and take up way more space than we could imagine.
People do it to themselves by buying the kids piles of needless shit. How they don't see this is beyond me.
Like I said, the previous owners of my house - which is your house MINUS the basement - happily raised multiple children in it and never felt crowded. They owned it for 29 years and only left because they were old, rich, and now hosting multiple generations of offspring at once. :D

Sibley

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2015, 12:20:48 PM »
The only thing I'm going to add is you may want to reconsider painting the cabinets white. That's a kitchen, it's going to get dirty, and white will show everything. Plus, I'm not 100% that white will be what you want with that counter, given the colors. A lighter color neutral, sure.

Just my opinion though - I don't like WHITE. And even if you don't like it, it's repaintable.

Get good quality paint, and do the prep work right. Don't skimp time/money here, otherwise it won't be what you want in the end.

Imonaboat

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2015, 12:21:51 PM »
House looks very cozy! Grats!

justplucky

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2015, 12:29:52 PM »
My husband and I bought an 1152 sq. ft. house a few months ago. One whole bedroom has nothing in it but stuff ready to go to Goodwill. I think 1000 sq. ft. is plenty of space for up to at least four family members.

KittyFooFoo

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2015, 01:26:14 PM »
dude chill out your house is huge.  We spent the past year with two dogs, two adults and one toddler in a 700sqft Manhattan apartment.  We adjusted to the space in a couple weeks, after which it seemed big.

Looks like an amazing price for a great house, though.  Congratulations!

Tester

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2015, 01:48:17 PM »
I will just repeat what others said:
You have 3 bedrooms right now - one small as you say.
Even without the basement I think it is enough.
I built a house with 2 bedrooms - 1100 sft, no basement.
One of the bedrroms was too big for us, 200 sft, the other around 150 sft.
Unfortunately we left to move to the USA before we managed to move in but I think it would have been more than enough.
Right now we are living in an  950 sft apartment - 2 bedrooms one bath.
We have enough space for everything, even storing 3 bicycles.

You, having the basement and having a house with a yard should have enough space.
Even if you have guests.
Even if you have more than 2 kids.

I agree that YMMV, but for me this is a great house you got.
Both regarding the space and the price, without mentioning the yard.
If I would find something like that I would even consider commuting one hour each way to work daily.

EDIT:
I saw that you are asking for tips for making this work - my tip: start using it and you will see what you have to do.
I really suspect it will work without any adjustments at least until you have more than one child.
Just enjoy your house :).
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 01:49:49 PM by Tester »

jengod

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2015, 02:35:38 PM »
Jeff Yeager's number-one all-time piece of financial advice is "stay in your starter home." You're winning! :)

Read Zero-Waste Home and similar for advice on voluntary simplicity, minimalism and the generally managing the exploding volcano of wastefulness.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2015, 03:03:27 PM »
Just a few random points:

1. When your children are very small, you will not want them sleeping on a different floor from you.
2. Make sure that your children have a safe, convenient, dedicated space to play when the time comes. When we lived in an 1100 square foot townhouse, the kids shared a room and it was too small for their toys. So their toys were awkwardly placed in the living room and always underfoot--it made the place feel TINY. In retrospect, we should have just given them the master bedroom and put their toys in there. Problem solved. (Now they have separate bedrooms, and that's where they keep their toys.)

I think it's totally doable. We have about 1700 finished square feet for the four of us and it's really more than we need.

MrSal

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2015, 04:39:47 PM »
The only thing I'm going to add is you may want to reconsider painting the cabinets white. That's a kitchen, it's going to get dirty, and white will show everything. Plus, I'm not 100% that white will be what you want with that counter, given the colors. A lighter color neutral, sure.

Just my opinion though - I don't like WHITE. And even if you don't like it, it's repaintable.

Get good quality paint, and do the prep work right. Don't skimp time/money here, otherwise it won't be what you want in the end.

I on the other hand love white kitchens!

Nothing looks better than a full white kitchen along with some warm tones... Swedish designers really have something going on there!







I'll include mine by the way :D



...


On-topic,

That is more than enough space, especially if you have a backyard. Any european can live off with a whole family in apartments that size! The trick is to use your space correctly.

We also live in a ~1100 sq feet ranch - and we still ahve the basement but is unfinished. And we feel its more than enough space.

Only one thing we are going to do is join both the kitchen and living room space which will make it even bigger. As of now, the living room and kitchen are separated by the stairwell that takes you to the basement. That stairwell takes a lot of space... we are thinking of knocking it down and make that stairwell into an island... kinda like this"



but where the island will be hollow and still keep the stairs to go into the basement... this alone will add a lot of "perceived" space in the house...especially considering an island where you can sit 12+ people comfortably
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 04:45:34 PM by MrSal »

Spork

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2015, 04:50:05 PM »

For comparison, wifey & I lived in 600 sqft for 5 years very comfortably.  That does not include a basement... and 600 sqft actually included the closets and walls.  (In other words the outside walls were 30x20.

MoolahLula

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2015, 05:15:44 PM »
Yes, put shit away!  Don't leave shit lying around or in places shit doesn't belong.  The pics are lovely, BTW.


All that said, any tips for making a small house work?


Jellyfish

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2015, 05:37:48 PM »
Someone once told me about the "60 second rule."  If it would take less than 60 seconds to put something away where it belongs instead of just laying it down on the counter, table, couch, floor, wherever...then put it away.  This has stuck with me for years and today when I am tempted to drop mail on the dining room table or a coat over the back of the chair I think "60 seconds" and put them where they belong. Makes my small house seem so spacious when it is tidy and neat! 

vhalros

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2015, 05:49:17 PM »
The only thing I would add to what others have said is: Use your yard. Its like a free room with very high ceilings.

MBot

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2015, 05:52:43 PM »
For specific tips about space use and tidiness, I would peruse the "Small Cool Spaces" competition and contenders on ApartmentTherapy.com . great ideas submitted from all over the world!

The blog YoungHouseLove suggested storage ottomans to control the kid stuff. I also find that's great for papers, fabric storage, and files.

I would suggest thinking ahead about off-season and out-of-sight storage: kids clothes in future sizes/hand-me-downs, Christmas decorations, tents, paint, tools, animal carriers,  etc.

A place for all that stuff helps hugely in not having the main floor get cluttered.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2015, 06:07:30 PM »
Very nice house! :D

The only thing I'm going to add is you may want to reconsider painting the cabinets white. That's a kitchen, it's going to get dirty, and white will show everything. Plus, I'm not 100% that white will be what you want with that counter, given the colors. A lighter color neutral, sure.

Just my opinion though - I don't like WHITE. And even if you don't like it, it's repaintable.

Get good quality paint, and do the prep work right. Don't skimp time/money here, otherwise it won't be what you want in the end.

I agree about holding off on painting the cabinets. Painting cabinets usually is very hit or miss and requires lots of prep work and may turn out to look very amaturish.  I personally like the dark wood, and think it would make a difference to paint the walls a lighter color (like a cream or very pale yellow or green) rather than the really too dark color. Actually, painting any dark walls in the house with lighter colors and using light colored rugs/furnishings will make all of the rooms feel bigger. Dark=cozy, light=airy in decorating. Walls are WAY easier to paint/repaint, and you can always paint the cabinets down the line if you can't stand them. (and the pics just posted by MrSal show lots of DARK cabinets with white/cream accents - pretty!)

That dark red in the kitchen is one of my most hated wall colors, so I'd be paint that if it was my place ASAP. I personally just loathe red on the walls... red furniture or rug? Pretty! Red walls? Ugh, so ugly and claustrophobic. I like light bright kitchens. But just my 2˘.

And while I know this is a house, not an apartment, I'd suggest checking out ApartmentTherapy.com for some tips on small home living and decorating. Some stuff is uber-expensive or impractical, but they have some really good ideas on how to decorate things to maximize the space you have and some DIY stuff that is pretty nifty.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 06:15:17 PM by Frankies Girl »

use2betrix

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2015, 07:30:37 PM »
I live in a 300 sq ft 5th wheel with my fiancé and chocolate lab. I'd love 1100 sq ft lol.

Fortunately, I will not perpetuate the common theme around here of people who criticize any other person who lives with more than someone else regarding anything (food, house, car, etc.)

I'd just fix it up and make it nice. In regards to a house in far more of a "quality over quantity" kind of guy. I'd take a nice and updated 1100 sq ft place over a rundown outdated 2000 sq ft place anyways.

Congrats on the new home! 

kite

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #41 on: November 07, 2015, 03:33:48 AM »
Jeff Yeager's number-one all-time piece of financial advice is "stay in your starter home." You're winning! :)

Read Zero-Waste Home and similar for advice on voluntary simplicity, minimalism and the generally managing the exploding volcano of wastefulness.

Hadn't heard this before, but that's what we did.  Best financial move ever. 
Our home is similar to OP.  Quite livable at 900 Sq feet.  Cozy when ever we host parties, spacious when we're alone.  Very few steps from bed to coffee pot.  I aim to keep it like a hotel suite so I always feel like I'm on vacation.  That means clean & uncluttered.  That's goal, anyway.

Astatine

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #42 on: November 07, 2015, 03:51:23 AM »
We're 2 adults, 2 indoor cats living in about 750 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. We're both also working from home at the moment and it still feels plenty big enough. 

We haven't done anything particular to make it look bigger because it doesn't actually feel small to us. But, I have seen tricks with framed mirrors that do make a room feel bigger. ApartmentTherapy has some suggestions:
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-ways-to-use-mirrors-to-make-113181


Squirrel away

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2015, 05:19:12 AM »
It looks quite big to me.:P We live in 650 feet with the two of us and 7 pets.

Freedomin5

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #44 on: November 07, 2015, 05:33:20 AM »
We tend to compare what we have to people who have more/better/bigger/pricier stuff, which then makes us feel that our own stuff is not good enough. So, tip to make a 1100 sf house work? Compare your lifestyle and space to a family who lives in a smaller space. Guaranteed to make your house feel roomy and spacious. It's about shifting your paradigm.

Case in point...

I lived in a 600 sq apartment with DH for a year. It started feeling tiny after our DD was born, so we moved to a two bedroom in the same building. Well, we recently made friends with another couple who also have a daughter about the same age, and we were invited to visit their apartment. And that's when we found out they had moved into our old 1-bedroom unit!

A few months later, we met a grandmother and toddler (about same age as our DD) and were invited to their apartment. And that's when we found out they have FOUR people (mom, dad, grandma, and toddler) living in a 1-bedroom unit (same layout, different floor).

Needless to say, when I returned home that day, my 1000 sf two bedroom apartment felt mighty big, and I didn't have to spend a single dime to make my apartment "work". Paradigm shifted. :)

MayDay

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2015, 06:14:56 AM »
Having lived in a similar house with 2 kids, here are my practical tips:

-Keep the kids sleeping on the same floor as you until they are 3-4-5ish.  This is because even when they are sleeping all night reliably, there will be times they have nightmares, or wet the bed, or puke.  You want to be near them when they are little- you don't want them going up and down stairs in the dark to find you, or crying for a long time until you hear.  Save the potential basement bedroom for guests, or an office, or for older kids.

-Minimize their clothes.  Kids do not need a million clothes.  Their closets should not be packed full.  Use the empty space in the closets to store off season clothes and extra toys.

-Toys:  do not keep them all out at once.  Have half (or more) in rubbermaid tubs in the closet.  Every 2 weeks or month, switch the out toys with the put away toys. 

-Figure out where toys are going to be.  Realistically, the kids will want to be in the same room as you until at least 3-4-5.  If you like playing in the basement with them, cool.  Try to imagine whether you really want to be down there all the time- I personally like to be tidying up or cooking or whatever upstairs, so we always had some toys on the main floor- either the living room or their bedroom.  The key to having some in the living room is to have a SMALL number of toys.  This is why you keep lots of them packed away.  If you have them in the bedroom, you want a small number because they are small rooms.  Too many toys out becomes a mess on the floor, and once it gets to that point, they don't get played with anyway.

-Skip dressers for the kids- put shelves in the closets. 

-Each of my kids has a small 3-4 shelf bookcase by their bed.  This is the "nightstand" and all there toys fit on it.  Then clothes are in the closet.  So a small bedroom still has plenty of room, and they can clean up quick.  Messy toys like a million legos, put those in the basement family room, so if they want to leave stuff out no one is annoyed by them. 

-Keep the main living areas tidy by not having a ton of stuff in them.  Have a specific place that stuff like mail gets dropped, and keep it to that small area.  Keep the coat closet cleaned out (off season jackets in the basement or bedroom closets) so all the coats,school bags, work bags, shoes, etc fit.  This may seem impossible with a small coat closet, but its worth keeping that kind of clutter under control.  Alternately, if you have a clear wall by the door, hang baskets (or a shelf with baskets on it) and a hook for each kid.  Mittens/gloves/hats go in the basket, then 1 coat and the backpack hang on the hook.  If you only buy each kid one pair of shoes at a time, the coat closet stays tidy.  If you buy each kid 5 pairs because tiny toddler shoes are adorable, your small coat closet will become a giant shoe pile in the living room.

Etc.

FrugalFan

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #46 on: November 07, 2015, 11:29:34 AM »
I love your new house and the white kitchens posted above (I dream of a white kitchen). We fell into a trap of "upgrading" our house and now it is too big for us and more expensive than it needs to be. I love our house, but there is a lot of wasted space. I don't think you need to do much to it unless you start to feel like it is feeling too small. If you identified a specific problem, like I need more space for x, we could provide more specific suggestions. But I echo what the others have already said. Don't accumulate too much stuff, use vertical storage, use mirrors art and light paint to make things feel more airy, etc. I also agree that you will want to be on the same floor as the kids for several years. Ours are across the house on the same floor and even that bothers me. We still use a monitor for our 3-year-old otherwise we might not hear her in the night. One last tip is to try to make less frequently-used rooms multipurpose spaces. We have lots of guests who stay for long periods of time so we love having a guest room, but it could also function as our office.

Lynski

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #47 on: November 07, 2015, 11:48:18 AM »
Congratulations! I'm moving in a couple weeks from a 640 sq ft condo to an 1,100 sq ft house, and I'm having the opposite problem worrying about an empty house!

I have to say, about a month ago I read the Marie Kondo best-selling book on tidying of all topics. There's a whole thread on the book here: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-book-club/the-life-changing-art-of-tidying-up/

It's really helped me organize my stuff and decide what I want to keep with me when I move. I agree with what previous posters have said - don't allow stuff to accumulate. Moving is the perfect time to go through all of your stuff, and be ruthless. Is it adding anything to your life to hold onto the item? Are there items like photos or documents that can be digitized so they don't take up physical space?

Also, make sure your furniture is sized appropriately for the size of the room. Don't try to squeeze a huge sectional couch into a space that doesn't allow you room to walk around it. Make sure you use everything you are putting into your house. I currently have a kitchen table that I don't use that much. I'm debating getting rid of it altogether and just adding stools to the kitchen island I'll have in my new house.

wtrfre

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2015, 03:00:35 PM »
We are currently in a 3 bedroom 900 sqft with two kids, no basement. We make it work. I do wish we had a second living space like a family room or basement space.  Our biggest issue is toys, the kids don't want to stay in their rooms and there are toys in my living room.  It's a rental so I can't build in some of the storage I would like, but collecting furniture with an eye toward storage has helped.  Even in a bigger space I would still want to be able to put things away.
Congrats on the house. Ignore the naysayers and enjoy it. I think it sounds like a good size with multiple living spaces.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Tips for Making an 1100 Square Foot House Work?
« Reply #49 on: November 07, 2015, 03:47:54 PM »
Wow, thanks for the compliments and advice thus far.

Edited my OP to make two things more clear:

(1) The listed square footage does not include the basement. So the total square footage of the house is 2,132 square feet with the basement. I too agree that this is a very comfortable amount of space, but I was more hoping for creative ideas to help make the space feel bigger.

(2) Obviously this is a ton of space for just the two of us--but I was talking about the house being small for when we have kids (we plan to have two). Pretty much everyone says we will move out as soon as we have a second kid because they will run all over the place and take up way more space than we could imagine.

Nice looking house.

I disagree with those who say you will outgrow it.  As has been pointed out, this was about an average home size in the 50s, when families were larger than they are today.

On a more personal experience note, I live in a 1300 sq foot house with 3 kids.  It has a 1000 square foot unfinished basement.  When the third kid came along, I finished two bedrooms in the 1000 square foot basement and moved the two older ones downstairs.  They even have an old television with a Netfix subscription and a couch and bean bag in the unfinished portion of the basement  They love it.

Keep in mind that a smaller home will have less expenses for maintenance and for energy usage. 

Ever see the utility bill for a 3500 sq ft home?  I have, and it's not pretty.

Congratulations on your purchase.  Not many people are posting about 100-127K house purchases these days.  Think about how much more money you will be able to save with that low purchase price.  People with 3500 sq ft homes find that they have no money left over at the end of the month.