Walk down memory lane brings surprises

I don’t have to tell anyone that homes, at least here in the US, have grown in size over the years.  We think we need bigger and better.  The reality is that we aren’t just spending our time and money buying those bigger houses but for all the stuff we want to put in our home.

I spent some time today going through some pictures my brother scanned after the death of my grandparents.  They weren’t of much use to me in their current format so I took the time to convert the ones I liked and wanted to keep.

Bed given to me by my great grandmother, now my grandsons bed
Bed given to me by my great grandmother, now my grandsons bed.

I noticed a something in viewing some of the old pictures, there was very little every day clutter and nick-knacks sitting around.  What I found were pictures of people having fun in the spaces of the home, and lots of outdoor and travel photos.  By travel photos, I don’t mean what I call “vacation stops” like Disney World but rather the little places that didn’t cost much money to visit.

my boys on the right enjoying a free parade on Memorial Day.
my boys on the right enjoying a free parade on Memorial Day.

Our homes weren’t anything you would find in a decorating magazine, but we loved our lives.

Open spaces allow for horse play in a 900 sq ft home.
Open spaces allow for horse play in a 900 sq ft home.  The TV isn’t the focal point.

Families held on to things, but not in storage lockers.  The high chair purchased for me as a baby, along with my crib, were passed on to family from distant cousins, to aunts needing a chair for visiting grand children, until given back to me for my children.

Temporary Directory 41 for Family Photo's 1Kathy has a post this week where she shares her experiences when down-sizing.  She found the one question asked was whether she and her husband were okay.  Really why would anyone sell a large beautiful home with lots of land and a pool unless they were having financial difficulties.  Kathy feels it is the terminology that is the problem and maybe we should be calling it “right-sizing” our lives instead.  I think she’s right, I hope you will check out her post here.

Rather than thinking about how much space we need for all our things, why not think about how to accommodate the living we want to do in our lives?  My grandparents loved to entertain, family and friends came by regularly. There was Friday night card games where the entire kitchen was filled with relatives playing pinochle, and the children who played in the other room. We had cookouts, and neighborhood get-togethers.  So the thought that went into the furnishing of their home was focused on enough seating, not how to decorate those rooms to have the most beautiful home.  Not that I want to give you the impression they didn’t care about the home, it’s just they used what they had.  Dusting must have been a breeze!

A large sectional with an ottoman to pull up for a table worked for us.
A large sectional with an ottoman to pull up for a table worked for us.

I have been introduced to people today who are rethinking where and how they live. Bethany and her family realized they bought a house that was too big for them. To save money in the winter months they move into the basement.  This may not work for everyone, but it works for them and gives them the added benefit of being physically close to each other.

The family bed was popular as well.  I’m not talking about the family bed we talk about today where the children sleep with the parents, but where several siblings shared the same bed.  This continued in our home, when my boys were little and both would spend the night at their grandparents home (They always called it grandma’s home, why is it that it’s always referred to as the woman’s home?).

Getting read for a nap
Getting read for a nap

The boys used to sleep sideways on the full-sized bed to give them more room to toss around while they slept and prevent falling out.

Today, we can find plenty of people who are finding happiness with the same values past generations used to have.  Caitlin, at 24, has found she needs very little.  She recently posted pictures of her apartment here. Even in a small apartment she has made the room (without a cluttered feel) to pursue her passion of painting.  While you are there don’t forget to look for where she keeps her magnetic knife holder.  I never would have thought of that!

Christmas presents under the tree for 8 people doesn't have to overfill a home.
Christmas presents under the tree for 8 people doesn’t have to overfill a home.

Carol and her husband wanted to simplify and be closer to the beach.  They too found it made their lives so much better, even if some people they know won’t accept their small home.  Their home is beautiful and comfortable, much more to what we would expect to see in a magazine. You can see a few pictures of their home here.

Chores are more fun with help.
Chores are more fun with help, and yes this is all the cabinetry we had in the kitchen.

Some people think I’ve gone too far in “right-sizing” my life.  I would argue that others have found the same 300 sq ft to be perfect for a family of three.  Check this out to see how a couple and their teenage son live in the same space I do, you will need to scroll down to view the video tour of their home.

Celebrating a birthday in our kitchen, with the view of the entire room.
Celebrating a birthday in our kitchen, with the view of the entire room.

If you want a home of your own, not an apartment like I did, you can see how one person worked around the zoning to build his dream home in Hawaii for cash.

Weekly Friday nights with my uncle.
Weekly Friday nights with my uncle.

Are you thinking about “right-sizing” (love that phrase Kathy!) then you may want to check out this article How to downsize without losing your mind.  Are you attached to your current home with all it’s memories but know it’s too large for you. You may want to read Grief to Happiness.  And finally, if you want more inspiration you can take a tour of a small home that may not qualify as small but was the right size for this family of 5. Watch for the storage that blends right in under the stairs, and what boy wouldn’t love that artist done bedroom.

All I want to do is be more like me and less like you ~~Numb by Linkin Park

Did you decide to “right-size” your life?  What were the benefits you found as a result?

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24 comments

  1. You know, I remember playing with my friends, while our parents spent hours standing in the driveway, talking. People were a lot more social, more connected, and less worried about having their houses looking perfect. And as we get rid of stuff, I’ve noticed that we are able to socialize a lot more, and bring back some of that sense of community that has been lost.

    I have a lot of friends who have a “sibling bed” for their kids–it makes sense and helps their kids sleep much better. (My daughter doesn’t have any siblings, and she has taken to joining us on the fouton, in the basement. Definitely a cozy situation!).

    P.S. Thanks for the mention! 😉

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    • Any Time:-) So I’m not the only one who remembers families socializing with friends more than people do now. While my grandparents weren’t worried about having the best of everything they were very much concerned with how clean the house was when people came over. But instead of having to run around and hide everything they took the time to put things away when done with them and tidy as they went so they could always have that clean house ready to entertain.

      When I was in grade school (late 60’s) my best friend lived in a two bedroom home with her parents and older brother. The sister and brother shared a ful-sized bed and everyone thought that was scandalous. Of course while I was with my mother, during that same time period I shared a room with all my siblings. At the time there were 5 of us sleeping in one room, although we each had our own bed.

      When my grand daughter sleeps over with me she wants to share my bed, it’s something I didn’t do with my children often but it’s something I love now. She goes to sleep by playing with my hair, it soothes her.

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  2. Love the Linkin Park lyric! Like most people of my generation, I grew up in a 1000 sq ft home, 6 people, shared kids bedrooms, and one bathroom. The only negative I remember is that a lot of those small homes had a formal living room that was saved for “company” and rarely used! And of course, kids were expected to play outdoors most of the time. Although kids were competitive about what toys they had, all the adults in the neighbourhood had similar incomes and lifestyles.

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    • I love that lyric as well, it’s a good reminder to live our own lives.

      I bet you have fond memories of your childhood home, I still remember us kids talking about who was going to wake up when to have the bathroom. I enjoyed time to myself, even then, so I would get up early to have the bathroom unrushed then time to read before school while as the morning progressed you could hear knocks on the bathroom door telling someone they were running over on their time.

      We didn’t have a formal living room, but I do remember a few homes built that way. Most of the families that had that second living room turned it into space for the kids or the men. My grandparents before they moved to their smaller home had the second living room that they put a pool table in so their son would spend more time at their home with his friends. We spent a lot of time outside, but not because we were forced to, we just enjoyed it, plus that’s where all our friends were.

      I don’t recall if everyone had the same income around us, but I can’t remember anyone talking about wanting what someone else had, we just had what we had and that was life.

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  3. We’ve raised 4 daughters in our 1200 sq ft home. We’ve been here for 25 years. We’ve hosted oyster roasts and cookouts and dinner parties and showers here. We’ve had birthday parties and anniversary celebrations. Never, in all these years, did we need more space. All I really need, is for the husband to clean up his ‘stuff’. LOL

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    • Good luck with the husband part of that equation 🙂 You must have so many wonderful memories of those years in your home. I love smaller homes, having grown up in one I feel as if I am entering a safe cocoon when I come home. It’s strange because I do get claustrophobic in really tight things like a MRI machine. Guess there is a limit to how small I can go.

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  4. Thanks for the mention!

    At one point, my mom, sister, brother and I all lived in a two-bedroom apartment. My brother had his own room and my sister and I had bunk beds in a room with our mom’s twin bed. This small abode was due to finances, but looking back I really don’t think we were lacking much (besides privacy!). We had a bookshelf in the kitchen for canned goods instead of a pantry — you just make do with what you have. Maybe living in such a small space prepared me for my minimalist lifestyle now.

    I plan on making my kids share a room for sure. It helps them learn how to share and deal with other people. Assuming I have more than one, of course. I never know what the plan is anymore!

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    • I’m sure your early memories helped you define the way you wanted to live now as an adult. I too had a book shelf for a pantry a couple of times. I’ve had a couple of good friends who when money was tight rented a one bedroom apartment and put the children in the bedroom turning the living room into their room at night. If you set your priorities on what is important you can live just about anywhere happily.

      Good for you for deciding to have your children share a room, it is good to learn how to share, and there is usually a spot somewhere in the house or outside that they can use when they want solitude. My favorite spot was under a huge weeping willow in our back yard. I loved being under there, no one could see me and we had wild strawberries so I could snack when I wanted as well, I would sit there for hours with a book.

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  5. I love your observations and photos so much! You got me thinking about my grandparents’ home, and what a warm and comfortable place it was. Your reference to your grandparents’ Friday night card games really resonated with me, too. Such simple pleasures! I bet those evenings were fun for the kids, too. Thanks so much for this post – you gave me a lot to think about.

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    • Eliza, I’m glad you enjoyed it, I try to incorporate things into my life that I enjoyed from childhood. We were so much more connected to people and activities a couple of decades ago. They were in bowling leagues, signed me up for a league when I was only 9 which I loved. We also had a traveling swimming pool that went from neighborhood to neighborhood in the summer (free of cost), although I grew up by a lake so I had that as well. And yes, us kids loved Friday nights as well. We knew we were always welcome in the kitchen, we were never ignored or told to go away, the couples who came to play brought all kinds of home made snacks for adults and children alike, it was like a party you knew would be back soon.

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    • I still remember the worst arguments we had when all 5 of us shared one room. I was the oldest and slept between two beds, my younger brother on my left, and a set of bunk beds on the right. My sister closest in age slept on the top bunk but she hated the guard rail, insisting she was too old for it. She would move it to the side by the wall, and for some unknown reason in the middle of the night she would sit up and rock, the problem was that after a while she would just fall over, always on the side without the guard rail, which means she would fall out of bed and land on me! It was a rude way to be woken and quite painful some nights. So our arguments centered on yelling at her to put the guard rail back where it belonged to protect me and my sleep.

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  6. I remember my brother and I sharing bunk beds. He slept on the bottom as he was such a deep sleeper he would fall out of bed. He used to love annoying me by pushing my mattress up with his feet. I loved looking at your old family photographs, they’re special to have.

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    • How funny, trust me if I was underneath my sister I would have been kicking her mattress too! 🙂

      I am so thankful my brother scanned all the pictures we could find. He did them in photoshop, which doesn’t work with the newer versions of windows nor be uploaded onto wordpress, so I’ve had to convert them to gif to get them to work.

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  7. Hi Lois! Thanks again for the great links to people sharing information about right-sizing! (and mine too of course 🙂 I think it helps us all to encourage one another and share ideas–I know I am always inspired to read what others say. And I love your quote, “Rather than thinking about how much space we need for all our things, why not think about how to accommodate the living we want to do in our lives?” That is definitely the essence of “rightsizing.” My husband and I are so taken with the idea that I’ve got a book in the works about it–and the next blog post on my website site will be, “Rightsizing Your Finances.” Thanks again for your great website and your generous sharing with others….. Kathy

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    • Thanks, Kathy, I look forward to your next post, the use of the term rightsizing was perfect and I just had to incorporate it as well, hope you didn’t mind. I love reading about how you and your husband found the perfect lifestyle for yourselves. Good luck on your book.

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  8. There is so much good stuff to read in this post, and thank you for all the links. I have to go out now but I will be back to it upon my return and check out all those links. I enjoyed the insight into how we used to live, I lived a similar life to your own.

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