While this family isn’t living anywhere close to “tiny” in their 1,500 square foot home, they intentionally purchased a small home (did you know the average size of new homes in the US is 2,687 square feet?) after looking at many large opulent homes and being inspired to live more simply by Marie Kondo.
I love this story because it shows that even if you aren’t ready to squeeze your family into under-400 square feet, you can still choose to live more simply and reap the benefits of minimalism. Bigger isn’t always better! Mom, Elena, said she was stressed out thinking about keeping up with the housework in the larger homes they were touring, so when she came across a small gem, it clicked!
We got to interview Elena (@elena_winn) about their choice to live small and downsize, so be sure to check out the Q&A at the end of the post!
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From 2,200 to 1,500 Square Feet: Intentional Downsizing!
What a lovely entryway! This was later transformed into a screened-in porch.
Mama and her little bears! Love the porch swing.
The house came with the name “Edgemere” and this is the original sign!
Doesn’t this look like a lovely place to eat?
The lovely Master Bedroom.
What a serene spot!
Here’s the lovely Master bathroom.
View from the kitchen to the living room.
Indoor dining area.
Love all the chairs at the island!
The stairs leading to the second floor.
Here’s the childrens’ bathroom upstairs.
Such adorable bathroom containers.
I wish my bathroom was this tidy!
Everything is so bright and light.
Looks like nap time is over!
Don’t you love the wallpaper in the daughter’s room?
The landing upstairs has space for an office.
Kids’ bedrooms upstairs.
Interview with Elena
Tell us a little about your journey: You said on Instagram that you deliberately chose a smaller home even though you’d been looking for larger ones. Why is that?
It sort of happened organically. When we started looking for homes in our favorite location, I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed with work, kids, housekeeping. Then I watched Marie Kondo and a little seed of simplifying life was planted. I looked at a ton of houses but the thought of keeping up with them made me hyperventilate. When our agent showed us an itty bitty house in our favorite location, it was like fireworks. I totally saw myself living small. Our current house came along soon after that and to this day I feel like we made the right decision.
Where do you live? How long have you lived small? Before going small, what was life like? Is there anything from your old life that you miss?
We live in a beautiful town of Winona Lake, along the shore of a large ski lake with the same name. We moved into our current home in August of 2019. We used to live in a 2200 sq ft home and although it wasn’t huge, it felt a whole lot bigger than our current 1500 sq ft, especially considering the fact that the littlest member of the family has gotten older and is taking up a lot more space than before.
I do miss having only one floor. Our kids’s bedrooms, bath and playroom are all upstairs now and it’s harder to keep an eye on them like that. Plus, everyone except my daughter has fallen down those steps. It’s not a huge thing and not something I miss terribly, but I’ve realized that I like single-floor homes better.
How many people (and animals) are living in your house?
My husband and our 3 kids (8, 6 and 2yo). The kids are begging for a pet, but I don’t think there is room for even a beta fish.
And you renovated the house: How has that process been? How much have you had to DIY? How long did it take to finish your tiny house?
It took about 9 months to renovate our house. Considering that it didn’t even have a foundation, that’s not that long. For over 100 years old this house was used as a summer vacation house, so it also had no insulation.
My husband and I are not handy, so we didn’t do a thing ourselves. We had an awesome contractor who went with all of our ideas. He added on to the back of the house and built us a spacious garage. We were able to save a couple of original walls and we worked hard to restore some original flooring, which adds a lot of character to our otherwise simple and minimal home.
What are you hoping to get out of living in a smaller space?
The biggest thing is the ability to prioritize family and experiences, rather than things. At the end of a work day or on weekends, I don’t want to have to stress about housekeeping and instead spend time with my people.
Did you have to downsize significantly? How was that process?
We sold practically all of our old furniture in order to replace it with more compact things. I had simplified my closet a few months before the move, so that was an easy part. Right before the move, I held a huge garage sale and was able to get rid of all the little things. I wanted to take only the most important and necessary things to our new house, so at the end of the 2nd day I made a FB post announcing that everything in the garage was free. It cleared out within an hour. It was the best!
What benefits are you experiencing after going small? Especially with children?
The upkeep is insanely easy. It takes me 4 minutes to clean the living room, for example. Can’t beat that.
I love that my kids are always near me. I can hear them at all times.
Sometimes we all need time alone and that’s where the location comes in handy – it is perfect for walks, jogs and bike rides. And it’s gorgeous!
What about some challenges?
Strangely, the one thing I find the hardest is not having a space to workout. I used to do it in our large sunroom in the old house, and now I have to put my yoga mat down between the dining table and the couch. It’s a little tight, but again, the house is located on our green trail, so I’m able to workout outside a lot more than before.
The acoustics of this house could be better. When my son’s paci falls down at night upstairs, I can hear it downstairs. Even though the hardwood floors are gorgeous, I wish we’d laid carpet upstairs. It would have helped with sound absorption.
What makes your little house special?
It has a name. The Edgemere. Isn’t it adorable? It means “the edge of the sea”. I guess it’s a lake in our case. We’ve refinished the original nameplate and it’s now proudly displayed by the front door. It’s over a 100 years old and even though I’m yet to research its history, it’s kind of a fun fact.
What is your favorite part of your little house?
Location, hands down, but our screened porch comes close second. My husband and I have always dreamed of having one. It is the epitome of lake living. You can be outside, enjoying the views, the passers by and the breeze without the pesky bugs.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in downsizing?
What helped me realize that this is something that would work for me, was going through that one little house we saw before we bought ours. I remember going to the gym afterwards and while I ran, I visualized my entire day, morning till night, in that little house. I thought of everything I did, everything my family did and how it would work and feel. I couldn’t find anything that didn’t work for me. That’s when I knew.
Do you have a website, blog, or social media page where we can follow along?
I’d be happy to connect with you on IG at @elena_winn.
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Natalie C. McKee
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Charming and most lovely. I wish I could see a floor plan.
Yes! I want to see a floor plan. 1500 square feet can be plenty for a family with three children, if it is laid out well. I do like how they’ve decorated. Calm and clean-looking.
I’ll ask if she has one!
Ok she had a floor plan and I just added it to the post above!
Are you seriously calling a 1500 square foot house a tiny house?
No not at all! A small one, though, compared to the average house size in the US of nearly 3,000 square feet.
This is how yuppies pretend to downsize (in a subdivision). 😛
My thoughts exactly! Hire a contractor, take photos and bring the city to the burbs.
Thanks so much for the floor plan.
Of course 🙂
This is a lovely new home and I wish them a long and happy life there. They will make wonderful memories there I’m sure. Many communities are full of older homes that come in at this size or slightly under though they may need renovation. I live in a 1,200-ish bungalow built in 1925. The -ish is because if there wasn’t an AC window unit in the finished attic that square footage wouldn’t count — or so some realtors tell me (not that I would ever sell). My neighborhood is full of homes similar to mine and several smaller. I’ve lived here as a single woman and as a mom with a son for almost 30 years. This dear house has shown it can contain numerous small kids and large dogs, rambunctious teenagers and large dogs and a budding rock band and more large dogs. I’d encourage people who can’t go full-on tiny to look at older homes and see if they can breath new life into them.
Love this, Mary! That’s what my husband and I did — bought an older 1,100 smaller home for our family which we renovated. We have an acre for our homestead and just enough space for all of us.
This is beautiful. I love this home.
Me too! It’s stunning.
Wow. I mean WOW!!!
An all white home and it works. Never seen an all white house that works… but this just does.
I agree, Eric. I’m not usually one for all-white but this is lovely. IF one can keep it tidy haha.
Oh yeah. Keeping. It. Tidy. That certainly helps. I think.
If I may ask, how much did it cost to build this house?, I’m thinking about building a house that size too
This is beautiful and very clean looking. Kitchen is to die for…… 😉
I totally agree!