This post is part of the Small Family Homes Blogger Network. All the writers in the network are sharing a post this month on the topic of "small home necessities." Check out the links at the end of my post to see what other writers had to say.
What are the essentials for creating a livable home even in a small space? This was the question pondered by the Small Family Homes writers this month. As I thought of what would be on my list I realized that these are things I would want in a small or big house.
Here's what I came up with:
To me, ample natural light and a view of the outdoors is a non-negotiable element for any space where I will spend significant time. In a small space, good natural light can add the impression of square footage by making a room look more open and airy. To let in as much natural light as possible we have simple cellular shades on all of our windows. This was the most affordable and best looking option when we wanted to replace the old, stained blinds that came with the house. During the day we can push them all the way up for maximum light and views of our backyard, front yard, and neighborhood.
It can also be helpful to think about what's outside of a window and if changes could help to improve the light or view. We have two west-facing windows at the front of the house and the Arizona sun blazes through in the afternoon. We'd like to have trees planted in the front yard aligned with the windows so that eventually we'll have a view of full trees and get some shade cast on the house while still letting in lots of light.
Horizontal surfaces like tables, desks, and counters provide places upon which living happens: eating, work, cooking. When the default state of these surfaces is to be clear they are ready to be used when the opportunity arises. These surfaces are less likely to be ready for use if they are cluttered or used for storage. Keeping one or more horizontal surfaces clear in each room creates space of living and makes a room look less cluttered.
A home for everything
Making rooms easy to tidy is essential to us. We use every room of our home and, although we keep our toys simple, with two small boys a room can quickly become messy. When every item has a designated place or home to return to, picking up the house is significantly easier. If something or a category of something, like children's artwork from preschool, doesn't have a home it ends up in multiple places and makes a space feel cluttered. I speak from experience! Currently our laundry room shelf needs some attention to figure out what is accumulating there and where things should actually live.
Easily accessible broom and dustpan
I've noticed that the cleanliness of my house is directly correlated to how much I love my house. Keeping it easy to tidy with "a home for everything" is essential but making it easy to clean is important, too. We have our house professionally cleaned about once a month and on those days our house is my dream home. When the floors are dirty and things are strewn about I am much less lovestruck. The kitchen is at the center of our house and we cook nearly every meal at home so there is a lot of activity - and crumbs and spills.
To make daily cleaning easy we keep the broom and dustpan on hand in our small pantry. The boom hangs on an over-the-door hook and the dustpan is on the floor of the pantry. To quickly wipe up spills in our paper-free kitchen we use a damp flour sack towel. We keep a stack of them in a basket below the sink where they are easy to grab.
An attitude of perspective and gratitude
I will admit that I can get caught up in comparing my home to the endless ideal homes on Pinterest or Instagram. And I have an entire spreadsheet of all the home projects and updates I'd love to do. We have been able to make some updates over time, like painting inside and outside and this year we hope to landscape our front yard. But there are still so many things I would change or things I would buy to decorate our home. But when I dwell on wishful changes I'm left seeing only what's missing instead of all that our home offers, which is a lot.
Because the truth is that comparatively we are wealthier than the majority of people in the world and live in a bigger and nicer house than most people. I am not saying this to boast but only to offer a bigger perspective.
A few years ago I started being proactive about cultivating an attitude of gratitude towards our house. When I start to lament over something I'd like to buy or change I try to switch my thought pattern to instead list things that are great about our house. These include: the space works well for us; a big, open kitchen; enough bedrooms to have an office; being close to neighbor friends and several parks; being able to walk to our future elementary school; close to things we love to do in our town. When I think about these things I am filled with gratitude for our house, neighborhood, and town. And the more I practice the more I focus on how well our house works for us.
I would love to know what your home essentials are, whether your home is small or not.