Category Archives: beach homes

Juan says….”Our house is too big”

Yup! That is what he said…Our 900 square foot home is too big! We have too much space…too much room…too much stuff! Are you kidding me??!!! I said surprisingly (There is no wink wink smiley face here).
Okay… I must admit that this was after spending some time in the redesigned area of IKEA. They have created these cool spaces within the walls of the store. If you haven’t been there lately, they have produced small space living spaces within the store. A true dose of reality of living in a 375sqft…405sqft and the one that Juan fell in love with…a 212 square foot home. They built a 212 sqft home complete with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living space. The space provided all the elements you needed, just add your own clothing, linens and toiletries…and you are home!

So you think to yourself, is it possible to live love in such a small space? Juan does! Heck he’s at the beach in this 212 square foot casita of fun! (Wink wink smiley face) Again I ask the question…how much space do you really need? AND…for each person out there it will be different.

Kitchen of 212 sqft home

View through living space to kitchen

My goal is not to try and convert everyone to teeny tiny house living. Just take some time and really think about how much space you and your family truly need in a home? For me and Juan, we could go smaller than 900 square feet. However, I would want some extra outdoor living space to add to our square footage.
On the walls throughout the small space living, they had great words of wisdom I wanted to share with you.

“Limited space creates unlimited creativity”
“Don’t give up your dreams.Just shrink them”
“Sharing a small space means to show love and respect, to compromise and transform.”
“When you have half the space you need, make sure you double the function.”

They had several sayings like these throughout the store and I really loved the ones that I listed above. I truly believe that if you live in a small space, organization is very important…it makes small space living manageable. Purchasing or creating storage solutions as well as dividers and other organizational tools will make small space living easy and fun!  (Yes I said it….fun)

IKEA is the “one stop shop in a big blue and yellow box with all the right-size furniture, décor and tools to make your small space living F-U-N! Fun!

I love IKEA and remember… sign up for their membership. You might receive a free frozen yogurt!

This “Small Space” Living Stuff Is Catching On….Or Rather Is On!

My orange vintage patio chair

 There is a huge trend where living small is going BIG! (I know I know trying to be funny and clever with my wording) Anyway…it’s true. I continue to research on the subject of small space living and finding so many people embracing it. Not just “Middle Class America”…architects, developers, custome home builders…the list goeas on.

First off… back in the 1950’s the average size of a home was less than 1000 square feet.  Fast forward to the early 2000’s the average size grew a little over 2,300 square feet….a big climb over 50+years.
According to the American Institute of Architects, floor plans and lots continue to decrease (over the last couple of years) due to people wanting less maintenance and less worry. I am originally from Texas…everything is big there. You own a BIG house, you have BIG land, and you have BIG Texas hair! (wink wink smiley face!) You are also brought up with the idea that having and owning BIG means living well. You are successful…you are prosperous…you are someone people need to know.
It is great to see this trend of small space living and what I have termed “right-sizing” your life really catching on. However, I am a late bloomer on this subject and as my desire to learn more about living in small spaces, I have found so many people (experts at small space living) who have been doing this for quite some time. One person in particular is Sarah Susanka, FAIA. Sarah is an acclaimed architect and truly “gets” small space living. This is nothing new to her as she wrote a book called The Not So Big House back in the late 1990’s. She states “Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live”. That’s how I feel about the term “right sizing”…it’s not about downsizing or losing everything but right sizing to adjust to you and your family needs.
Sara is working on a project in Libertyville, IL called the Not So Big Showhouse being built on School Street in Libertyville, IL.  This taken from the School Street Libertyville website;
SchoolStreet Homes is defying national housing trends by bringing high-quality, architecturally designed homes to the marketplace at value driven prices. In just one year, 24 of 26 homes have been purchased by eager buyers. The Front Porch Revival homes blend almost seamlessly with the neighborhood’s existing turn-of-the-century homes — along with a historic school that will be transformed into 15 urban lofts. Each design offers a tailored floor plan with classic architectural style including American Craftsman and Bungalow. SchoolStreet Homes is connected to Libertyville’s vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown and just blocks from a commuter rail train station”.
Yes, the Showhouse Sarah created is a much larger home (2,450 sq. ft.) actually…the house I sold was smaller than this yet I moved to an even smaller space which is our current 900 sq. ft. home, however they are creating other smaller sized homes including the 15 urban lofts that will be in the historic school building. Some of the lofts will start at 710 sq. ft.  up to 3,100 sq ft (the penthouse). I would want the 700 sq ft -850 sq. ft. myself! The goal is to connect the neighborhood with the community, you must check it out.
Our friends from Resource Furniture are also involved in providing furniture in the Not So Big Showhouse. I will follow up with another blog about the furniture being used …..Stay Tuned!
Final thoughts… I like to live in 1000 sq. ft. or less… for me and Juan this is perfect. I do not think I would like to go smaller than 700 sq. ft. however, some of you might relish in the challenge. For others, you could never think of living in 900 sq. ft. However, I would ask you to take on a challenge. On a weekly basis, check mark how many times you come into a certain room and the length of time in there. You may be surprised with the results. Just a thought! (wink wink )

We’re Just Urban Hobos

Juan’s bike

 Several years ago, Juan and I got into bicycling. I found that when I’m on a bike it doesn’t feel like exercise. I can get on and go for hours.

For me….. one of the few things in life that can bring such wonderful memories of being a kid is getting on my bike. The world moves at a slower pace. It’s about you motoring the pedals and zipping through the neighborhoods listening to the surroundings, smelling the fresh air, feeling the breeze on your face….being free.

My bike

As Juan and I embark on almost a year of downsizing right-sizing our lives, we are learning to enjoy the simpler things in life. Since I recently posted mine and Juan’s perspective on becoming a one car family… what greater joy for us to embrace our bicycling and making it a part of our daily lives NOT just for exercise but a way of life.

We thought it would be fun to incorporate our bicycling into our blog to show you that living in a small space….right-sizing our lives and living a simpler lifestyle might get you thinking about what’s more important for you and your family. Not asking you to give up on the finer things in life (I have not given up on style, designer anything and my love of clothing) but to eliminate any excess you may have. Remember what I always go back to…. keep the things that are beautiful and you hold dear to you and use them. Use the nice dishes…use the silverware….use the fine furniture….enjoy your things.

I will add updates on our rides and how we incorporate bicycling into our daily lives. Today, we headed out for a ride to get some breakfast. The weather was perfect and we had an opportunity to see some frightening things along the way….


Beware all who enter!!!
Mwahh Haa Haaaaa (Must repeat in a scary voice)
I hope you will enjoy my quest for living in a small space, enjoying a simpler lifestyle and incorporating bicycling into our daily lives! In the meantime….I will enjoy my cup of coffee.


Yard Sale Is Upon Us!

Well, we are prepared and ready for our yard sale tomorrow (Saturday). We’ve gathered, dusted off and cleaned our “vintage goodies” for our perspective buyers to “wheel and deal”!
I am excited due to the fact that we are eliminating more STUFF from our storage and home and will soon be ready to decorate our spare room.
All the exciting things and ideas we will have at our fingertips from such great resources out there like;
These are just a few of the resources out there that “small space dwellers” la la LOVE!  In future blogs I will continue new discussions about many of the products and services out there dedicated to small space living.
Wish me luck on the yard sale!


We Are Now A One Car Family…For Now

Roughly 50 years of motoring have all added up this; Mini Cooper!
I was always opposed to the idea of Juan and I being a one car family. I don’t know…for me I felt like Juan was trying to limit my escape route options (wink wink smiley face)…Being the “little woman at home and asking her hubby for permission to drive the car somewhere” AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! I know  I know ….I’m a little crazy when it came to the thought of us with one car. However, trying to “right size” my life and incorporate a more sensible lifestyle, I finally made the decision to be a one car family.
Juan and I own a business, work together constantly, do things together always, and are best of friends forever. So it would make more sense for us to be a one car family. Well…we did it and so far so good. I am always fearful of an emergency, you know I am out and about and Juan is at home and there is a crisis…dog is hurt or something like that, how will we cope? I am constantly worried about these things that I wouldn’t worry about if we had two cars. Alas, nothing earth shattering or any sort of an emergency has popped up and I guess when they do I will deal with them.
So together we enjoy my Mini Cooper. Always wanted one and so glad I got one (last year). I have to tell you….for me it was like the same feeling I had with my first car. It’s simple yet zippy and sure darn easy to find a spot to park! AND, we are able to really pack up and go. For such a small car it does hold a lot and takes me and Juan everywhere from Point A to Point Z!
As always…”right-sizing” doesn’t mean you have to give up on the nicer things in life. I say why not get what you really want… just don’t need 3, 11 or 20 of the same things that are collectively less expesive. Spend the money once and use the one!  (wink wink, smiley face)  


Things I Enjoy In Life!

Update: Regarding spare bedroom.

As you know from my blog several weeks ago, Juan and I are trying to rid ourselves of more stuff! We’ve enjoyed the freedom we have found with less house to clean, less backyard to maintain, less stuff to deal with. We are approaching our next garage sale and we are “giddy” (I know don’t hassle me on the flowery words) with excitement. This right sizing is great!

It’s Friday and we are working from home and I am enjoying two of my favorite things…..

A Bicycle ride….

A soy latte

Enjoy your day however it may be!


“Right-Sizing” Is Truly About Living A Simpler Life!

“Right-Sizing” Is Truly About Living A simpler Life!

So many people have been plagued in our state (AZ), CA, TX and many others with fire. The severe drought has caused all the beautiful vegetation to become dry and become fuel for a simple spark of a cigarette, lightning strike or unattended camp fire.

Families interrupted in their lives by fire officials alerting them to a fast moving fire approaching their home. Time is of the essence and must evacuate the premises within minutes. What would you do? What would you consider precious enough to “Garb-N-Go” in a moments time?

For me….I would grab my animals (two dachshunds and one crotchety 31 year old parrot), Juan (Love that guy)….Hmm what else? What would I find that important? My iPhone, Laptop, iPad….(Okay, Okay, all my techy gadgets)…photos…however I have scanned all of them and have them safe and secure in my iCloud. (wink wink smiley face) Hmm what to take? I guess if I had more than five minutes, let’s say 30-60 minutes, I would think of immediate needs such as clothing, toiletries that type of stuff. I love my vintage school chairs, my father’s grandfather clock…some sterling… (Heavy sigh)…this is hard for me.

In my mind, I feel that I have the most precious things with me, Juan and my animals. Of the few other things I would take, what “STUFF” do I really need in life? So…did you try this little exercise with me? What would you take? THEN think to yourself ALL the extra stuff left in your home. No, I am not stating that you should live in a travel trailer…you, your spouse kids and pets. I am only asking you to think about what you have and what you need. Are there rooms full of clutter, heck…are there rooms that you are not using? Are there spaces in your home, storage, office, (life) filled with “STUFF” and clutter? Would it be possible to “Right-Size” your life? Yup, I said it…not downsize….right-size.

As I mentioned in the beginning when I first started this adventure in blogging, Juan and I were looking to get rid of clutter and right-size our life. When people heard that we were moving into a smaller space, we were greeted with sad faces and long hugs…concerned that we have “lost our spot on the social pedestal of life”, lost our status, Ugh..d-o-w-n-s-i-z-e-d!

Juan and I beg to differ… we “right-sized” to enjoy and live a simpler life. Yes, we rid ourselves of the extra baggage and “Stuff” (I know always my favorite word however using it a lot right now). We spent a lot of time thinking about the space we truly needed for ourselves and what’s important to us. Everyone might have different needs in life and may require a little more space or maybe even less. How about you? What would you do? I’ve had the opportunity to receive direct emails from great people reading my blog encouraged by what we have done and taking their first steps to right-sizing their lives… people who have successfully started living a simpler lifestyle with less square footage. I would love to hear much more from you. Respond anonymously in comments; email me (Shawn Smith) whatever you like. Tell me if you are feeling the way we did last year… Or if you have been doing this and why you did it. I would love to hear from you.

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