I live in a small house. By big city standards (and the Small House Movement), my 1800 square feet might be considered huge. But, by the standards of my community our home is relatively small. Regardless of the size, my home is perfect for me and my daughter, Maggie, the occasional evening babysitting for my new granddaughter, and a rotating cast of overnight guests.

However, earlier this year, where it once seemed the perfect size, my little house began to seem small. It felt that we were bursting at the seams; my life felt disorganized and it seemed I could never keep up with the constant tasks of washing clothes, feeding our (75 pound and growing) poodle, and the endless dishes to be washed. So, I started cleaning house. This process is still going on today and is executed with the ”William Morris Test”:  “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

So, my house began to feel bigger again. Slowly, piles of well-loved things (stuff) have been finding their way to the curb, the local thrift store, other friends, and, in some cases I am sorry to say, the landfill. But I must say that IT FEELS GOOD.  Lighter. Cleaner. More room to think. Those are the quips that come to mind.

The more I thought about it over the last months, I realized that there is a strong desire in me to homestead. The books that land on my studio table  have mostly been about making things for oneself, sustainable buildings, cooking, growing. I found myself obsessing over internet sites and images with little cabins, big views, and strong viewpoints.  When looking at our Pinterest Boards, I realized that my “Landscape + Architecture” board was mainly small houses. When looking at my library, I saw books like Mini House and Small Houses. In fact, all of the houses I loved were perfect for homesteading.

That’s when I realized that I AM homesteading… in the city: growing vegetables, slowly transforming our small home into the perfect sanctuary, utilizing the space that I HAVE to the utmost. Don’t get me wrong, I still dream of a farm with horses, dogs, and chickens; however, I realized that my dream is a small one: small, beautiful, crafted, filled with useful AND beautiful things.

6 comments on “LITTLE HOUSES

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  1. Ashley Woodson Bailey

    When Byrdie and I came to visit you years ago, I felt so warm and welcomed in your home. You have such a wonderful sense of style, as well as community. I hold you in the highest regard in so many ways-as a story teller, a mother, a business woman, an artist, an individual. Thank you for always inspiring me. I hope to see you soon.

  2. alexinmadison

    I, too, have had the feeling of mess and clutter in my 1,500 sq ft home lately and have been considering a major purge. Reading your post has inspired me to make it happen (instead of just thinking about it). The William Morris quote will be my guide and you will be my role model. Thank you!

  3. Sharilyn

    You have beautifully summed up just how I feel- I too live in the city- but in an apartment- recently our family of 4 has been undergoing what I refer to as a major purge- which can be difficult for small kids- but I think they intuitively understand beauty and all the plastic toys have slowly been leaving our life. I wish we could live in the country- have horses and chickens- but until that day comes we have our Homestead in the 8th floor!

  4. jeanne kuskowski

    my husband and i purchased a piece of land in nh near our daughter and her family. we currently live on long island, ny in an old, small home that my husband has totally redone. the land in nh used to have a house on it, but there was a fire and it burned to the ground. there is a barn with a second floor and we have decided that when we make our move (hopefully in about a year) we will just put an apartment in the second floor space and use the ground level to work. we feel we are going to be crafting a wonderful, simple life! and we are really looking forward to it!

  5. Monica

    I have been purging and purging and purging, I have a 30 year collection of anything related to fibers…..after my most recent move (there have been 8 in 30 years), I realized I have have been moving boxes and boxes of this stuff. Well, I have decided to focus on a few areas of creative work, and while it is difficult for anyone who is creative or who repurposes to part with anything, much has been donated, sold, put out for anyone who stops by the curb, or, as you say, sadly finding its resting place in a landfill. I, too, have felt that it is freeing….I’m free to create more, to think and design easier without distraction.This is my smallest home, and it’s simplicity is wonderful and I’m enjoying making it beautiful too. This was a monumental task, but one that was tremendously releasing. I’ve lived in city, suburban sprawl, rural country and now outside of Buffalo, on the Erie Canal, in a sort-of rural area. There is a farm across the road, but the city is 15 minutes away. A perfect blend.

  6. india

    i dream of this. at present i seem to be only coming home to empty and refill suitcases
    quickly throw together something to wear, when i would much rather be doing the latter more slowly and spending time in the blossom-filled garden
    a girl has to earn a living
    and at present that involves wandering and storytelling
    …BTW i have given you a bouquet on my FB page, for your fabulous dress pattern…