Gatherings | Our Summertime Visit with the Risenhoovers

Creating Community, Small House Living

Do you have a gal pal that you talk to more than your family? Melissa Risenhoover is kinda my BFF and the mama that I turn to for advice, support, and lots of belly laughs. She’s got my back, and I have hers, and oh, we also happen to be business partners for Cohesive Home.

So earlier this spring she asked if she and her fam could spend their summer VACA with us in Indiana. My response? OF COURSE.

At the time we didn’t own a house and lived with my parents. But we definitely weren’t going to turn down a visit from our old neighbors from OKC. (Did you catch that? We all used to live on the same block in a post-war neighborhood nestled between the twin temptations of Target and Whole Foods.)

So back to their visit: they arrived on a Thursday, and we spent the weekend visiting the beach, getting ice cream, and hanging at the park.

Friday we play at the playground across the street from our house, walked around our small downtown, and ate lots of ice cream.

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Saturday we made a huge round of eggs for everyone for breakfast.  Melissa and I actually got ready so we could take new headshots for Cohesive Home while at the farmers’ market. Then we packed up our market basket and tablecloth so we could have a picnic in the park.

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Did you know there is such a thing as organic and dye-free cotton candy? Well, there is, and it is AWESOME. I may have bought a 1/2 lb. of dark chocolate sea salt caramels. And totally don’t regret it.

We also stocked up on our favorite locally roasted, fair-trade and organic coffee. It is so delish.

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My husband, Kirk, watched the kiddos so that Brandon could take photos of us on the lawn. I don’t have any to share with you (yet!), but I’m pretty sure people thought Melissa and I were having our engagement photos taken. #BFFS.

And did I mention my husband is a saint for chasing 5 kids around?

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Melissa and I knocked out some Cohesive Home-work in the afternoon, then ran to the local Italian deli to stock up on beach picnic fare. It was so hard to limit ourselves because everything looked amazing.

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We drove over into Michigan and let the kids play in the sand + surf while we toasted to the weekend with wine.wp-1472054568405.jpg

 

We watched the sunset from the beachside playground and let the kids burn off steam before heading back home. The weather was absolutely perfect, high-70s and sunny.

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Sunday we mostly hung out on the front porch drinking coffee and watching the kids draw on the sidewalk with chalk and make fairy houses in the neighbor’s flower bushes. Don’t worry–she didn’t mind.

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wp-1472054553854.jpgWe had such an AMAZING time with the Risenhoovers! We weren’t sure what it would be like to have 9 people staying in a 675 square foot little house, but it actually went so well. I think the key to entertaining in a small house is keeping your expectations low and your home welcoming. More on entertaining in small spaces in a later post.

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But for now, let me just say you don’t need to give up entertaining when you move into a tiny or small home. We all feel so much closer as friends having had this experience together!

We’re looking forward to more gatherings with their family, hopefully exploring a new location together. And now that they left, we’re getting back into the swing of things and settling back into our home just the four of us.

Until next time…….

4 Big Reasons to Consider Small House Living Instead of a Tiny House

Small House Hacks, Small House Living

 

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Several years ago I read a book by Tammy Strobel about living in a tiny house. Totally enamored with the idea of >350 square feet to clean and maintain, I set out to convince Kirk. Although we didn’t end up with a tiny house, we did find a compact and well-designed small house to call our own. Although we’ve only been in the house for about a month now, I already see the positives of this simplified lifestyle.

If you’re considering the leap to a tiny house, let me share with you a few reasons why I’m so happy we chose a small (>1,000 square foot house) instead.

Availability | We found our 675 square foot home in a regular neighborhood in a desirable section of downtown. Homes like ours are typically found in most communities and are usually post-war (1950s) or older. Ours was built in 1948 and the neighborhood is filled with charming small homes similar to ours. We didn’t need to hire a builder or buy land, just purchase an already available home. We were overwhelmed with the steps necessary to build a tiny home and find a place to park it, but buying an existing home allowed us to sidestep those issues.

Our town also requires new homes to be a minimum of 900 square feet and prohibits trailers from being parked on land longer than 6 months. I’m not much of a rule breaker and didn’t really want to move somewhere else for the sake of a tiny house. We got creative instead with our idea of living simply and found our home. If you look around your own community, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Affordability | Now, this is obviously relative to where you live, but less square feet often means a more affordable price. Many of the custom tiny homes we researched were not much less than what we paid for our already constructed home on a spacious town lot with mature trees, sidewalks, and proximity to restaurants and parks. The red tape surrounding tiny homes can also make it difficult to get a traditional mortgage. If we already owned land, we may have made a different decision.20160717_081005

 

Livability | I think we could have happily lived in a tiny house (probably.) But for the long-term, having a smidge more elbow room feels simply luxurious. Although we’re in a two bedroom house, we have room for house-guests (having already had guests our first week living there) as well as traditional furniture. I love multi-purpose furniture, but also appreciate being able to use traditional and widely available furniture instead of needing to create custom options.

Privacy | Although I haven’t lived in a tiny house (but have traveled with my family in an >100 square foot Casita travel trailer), I imagine privacy is scarce. While our house is small, the older construction has remarkably thick walls. There are also more nooks and corners for us to all retreat to when we simply need a break. Rather than having a tiny house loft bedroom in the mix (which sounds cool, but seems to lack privacy) we have bedrooms with locking doors. Definitely a plus with little kids underfoot.

But because the house is still so little, we can hear if our kiddos need us in the night or yell from the bathroom if one of us runs out of toilet paper. It’s the little things, friends.

If my husband had been on board perhaps we would now be living in a tiny house in Montana. Or a yurt in the mountains. Or something else totally unconventional that I previously believed would fit our family perfectly. If you’re intrigued by downsizing to something smaller, you may want to consider renting one on AirBNB to test it out. If you have land available or somewhere to park a tiny house, that may be a better option for you. But if you have a growing family, want a simpler process, or crave being in a traditional neighborhood (like we did) then a small house may be a better choice.