Small House Homeschooling

Moving back to Idaho opened the outdoors to us, but it cut our living space indoors almost in half. We were perfectly comfortable learning and living in just over 1500 sq. ft. Now we have 888.

It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It has taken some getting used to though. Here is what I do to ease the squeeze.

1. Get rid of everything I don’t use regularly

(or replace it with something smaller)

Before we moved, all the stuff stored in the garage to fix someday was immediately purged. The television and entertainment center were given away. We’ve never had cable, so the computer suffices to watch movies.

I have a going out/give away pile that grows almost daily.

2. Keep toys small and few

My son is content with one huge box of Lego that slides under his bed.

My girls each have a shoe-box sized drawer to store all their little stuff: tea sets, dolls, and ponies.

One large wicker trunk holds all dress up clothes and a basket corrals their stuffed animals.

3. Hang up as much as I can

I hung hooks by every door in every room.

Pegs in the girls’ room hold their coats and bags. My son hangs up his music bag and sweatshirts. I thought of running hooks all the way down the hallway, but I dream of shallow bookshelves there instead.

The kitchen received the same treatment. A pan rack created out of a metal shelf and s-hooks freed up a cupboard. Cup hooks screwed into the edge of the kitchen counter create a place for towels and pot holders.

Inspired by this post, How to have open shelving in your kitchen without daily staging, I hung two shelves to display my dishes and freed yet another cupboard for food.

The brackets aren’t pretty, but they are what I had.

4. Decorate with creative containers (and books)

There isn’t room for lots of stuff to set about prettily, so I consider storage containers decorations.

  • Jars showcase the rice and pasta.
  • Small wooden boxes are stacked on a shelf.
  • Suitcases work well as storage.
  • Even my pottery usually has something inside.

My coat rack wouldn’t fit behind my front door, so I put it in the bathroom.
By hanging a bag on one of the hooks, I have a container for my make-up bag, brushes, and hair accessories.

5. Solve the issue of NO closets

I”m pretty sure the previous owners used one of the small rooms as a large closet. That won’t work for us, so I found some closet shelving on clearance and pounded it into wall to hang our clothes.

It’s not exactly pretty, but it is practical. And it creates a shelf for a bit more storage.

Wardrobes would be nice, but they might make our small rooms seem even smaller. The doors would have to slide or else hit the bed. For now, I’m calling the issue resolved.

6. Try to control clutter where it happens

A beat-up wicker laundry basket sets inside the front door to collect shoes.

My girls always have something creative happening, so baskets next to the craft table trap their art supplies. The largest basket I have stores their artwork.

I’m still working on corralling the laundry, but when we get the bathroom remodeled that will help. We’ll put in a closet for a laundry hamper. (I can’t wait! I’ll have a closet, a real closet!)

7. Embrace the process

Even though our house is still ugly on the outside, the inside is taking shape. It feels like home because we have the things we use and enjoy surrounding us.

Perhaps, these walls help shape us from the inside out, too. We have so many opportunities each day to prefer one another. We stumble over each other’s messes, wait in line to use the bathroom, and work together to improve what we’ve been given. Our closeness clarifies the importance of being family.

40 Responses to Small House Homeschooling

    • AF Wife99,
      Thank you so much!

      When I realized that little shelf would work probably better than the $50 racks I was finding, I was so excited. The shelf is much smaller and my tea tins fit perfectly on top. :)

  1. Wow! You are doing such a great job of making good use of your space! I am impressed and inspired. I’ll try not to envy that extra 8 sq. ft. you have over me ;o).

    It is so important for us as moms and wives to embrace the space we have and make it a home. It looks like you are well on your way. It looks orderly, yet very homey and lovely.
    .-= Sue´s last blog ..If You Do Something Twice, It’s a Tradition =-.

    • Sue,
      Whew! I don’t want you to be jealous. ;) Some of our space is a weird unheated laundry room with a large cellar door in the floor. I think I’ll put some shelves in there, too.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. (Did you know your comment comes as a “no-reply”? The Valentine’s Give Away has past. I am working on my Etsy shop. Almost any piece you see on my blog is for sale. The Green/Pink piece is simple to sew using the remnant bin. I like your creative organization in your new place.
    .-= Julie Bagamary´s last blog ..Mini Landscapes @ JCCampbell School =-.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Renae. I’m so inspired. Before we moved to our current place, we lived in an inefficient 700 sq. ft cabin. Reading your post and looking back, I can imagine how I could have even optimized the space there. We are now in the process of “downsizing” and your entry is further confirmation that it’s “doable.” As always, you are an encouragement. Hugs.

    • Miiko,
      It is a challenge, but how many people in the world don’t even have homes? We are so blessed to have TOO much stuff. Blessings on your new simpler life!

  4. Bless you for posting this! Even though we moved into a house with adequate storage, I lack a sense of style and space utilization that I so clearly see in you!!! Oh, if only you could come spend a day with me and add your touch. I feel very utilitarian. And that works for us, although, I also have a growing need for a little beauty, which I know doesn’t have to be expensive. I love how you solved your closet needs. Very clever and I don’t think it is one bit ugly. I am working on getting rid of anything we don’t love, use or have a space for.
    Well done! (And I bet once people come inside they learn not to judge a book by its cover,eh?) You are a skilled, talented woman!

    • Jenn4him,
      I would enjoy helping you so much! I’ve always liked organizing and redecorating, so I’ve collected all these storage ideas throughout the years.

      And thank you, yes, my sister told me we should hang before pictures on the front door. ;)

  5. Renae,
    You have made the most out of a small space. By the smile on your little girls face it seems like she does not mind the small space. Your family is all together and you have made a lovely home.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..It’s inventory time! =-.

  6. Love this post! Thanks for sharing your beautiful home. What great ideas. The six of us live in about 1000 sq ft so I know the crowded feeling. Some of your ideas I use and some are going my to-do list.
    .-= Anna-Marie´s last blog ..The weight of legacy =-.

  7. I think your home looks cozy and charming. A good friend of mine lives in an 800sf house with her husband and two kids and she has good storage ideas, too. Good job!

  8. Hi Renae, my name is JoAnn, and I found your site from a twitter friend, Jenn. I love your ideas about living in a small house. We are currently renting in Idaho (Southeast area, moved here 6 years ago from Chicago) and I keep thinking its a bit small, 1100 sq ft. There is only four of us, but with two teenagers, it feels tight quick. But I love your idea about the shelf with hooks in the kitchen for pans. I’ll have to look into that.

    Thanks for sharing your tips. :)


    • JoAnn,
      Hello! Yes, I’ve seen you visiting with Jenn on Twitter. Isn’t she such a great friend?

      May I ask where in Southeast Idaho you live? We are in Jerome. Maybe we are neighbors!

      If you have a higher ceiling than mine, you could put cup hooks over the sink to hold pans. I did that in one of my apartments and it worked very well. I could even hang them up wet.

  9. Thank you for your gracious compliments! I’m thankful you are finding some inspiration.

    More of us than I realized live in modest homes, so let’s continue encouraging one another to focus on what is truly important, the relationships fashioned within and without our dwellings.

  10. I love it. My problem is I just get our’s organized and we get more kids LOL and have to reorganize it again.

  11. Thank you for posting this. We have our home for sale in hopes of moving to where my best friend (since we were twelve years old) had to move to get a job. I am thankful that my husband works from home and I homeschool. The only thing that is holding us back is that our house is not selling. There are so many homes for sale around this area. We are thinking that we might have to drop the price again, which might mean that we would have to downsize for our next home….any tips on life with less is appreciated.
    .-= Phyllis´s last blog ..Thursday, March 18: Scenes From the Day =-.

  12. I understand the closet feeling! Our first house – that we lived in for 10 years – had no closets except one in the bathroom that was 1 ft. wide. Even now I only have one actual closet. The kids clothes are hung very similar to yours.

    So nice to see you writing again!
    .-= Jendi´s last blog ..First Eye Exam =-.

  13. Wow! You’re so creative with your small space. We did a toy purge after Christmas, but I think we could easily do another one!
    And your dd sure is cute! Looks like you!
    .-= Sandpiper´s last blog ..The List Continues =-.

  14. Pingback: Carnival of Homeschooling |

  15. Loved this post and all the practical ideas! Moving from our home and living in an RV has been a wee bit difficult but we’ve also managed. I’m thankful that the Lord allowed us to travel in and out of hotel rooms for 3 years with my husband’s job before plunging us into the RV. Talk about a shock! Though it was hard to get used to intially, it is so freeing now. I love the fact that I’m no longer tempted to spend money on something unnecessary because simply put, we just don’t have the room for it.

    On another note, my family is much closer than we were when we lived in our much larger home! Much can be said for raising a family in small quarters!:)

    • Tonya,
      I can’t imagine squeezing in an RV, but I can imagine the freedom. And that is more precious space. Your children will have wonderful memories!

  16. Your creativity really shines through in this post, Renae! We downsized greatly when we sold our big house and moved to a small rental in 2007. But last summer we moved to a big rental…..and now I’m getting spoiled again! If the next house is smaller (very likely, especially if we buy instead of rent), I’ll have to come back to this post to be inspired :)

  17. Hi Renae,

    Seems to me like you had a birthday this week. Hope it was a happy one! How does it feel to be 21? Do you feel grown-up yet? ;)

    We are still using the bookmarks from the Valentine exchange — they are so cute! And thanks for the link to the open shelf article. I am not good at organizing and even less good at keeping things that way, but after reading that I went into the kitchen and organized all my shelved the way the article explained (even though I have closed cupboards!) and they have stayed that way (which is really a miracle). It looked so nice that I seriously contemplated removing the doors (which are in desperate need of refinishing) and painting the insides of my cabinets a nice color
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Shutterbug =-.

    • Rebecca,
      Aren’t you a dear? 21? Ha! And yes, I definitely feel grown up. That’s why I guzzle coffee. ;)

      Are you going to post pictures of your newly organized kitchen cupboards? I never really thought about having open shelves in my kitchen, but they opened up a whole cupboard for food. Plus, they are fun to rearrange, so that’s a bonus.

  18. Dear Renae,
    Thanks for this creative post! I love your can-do attitude and your reminder of what is truly important — not the house, but the people who live there.

    I am enjoying talking with you on Twitter!


  19. What an inspirational post!

    You know, we rented a tiny 2 bed, one bath house for years that was very cluttered. Then 2 years ago I was so thankful to buy our current home. Over 2100 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, 2 baths. But I swear it’s STILL cluttered!

    This post has inspired me to go through our clutter and get rid of things we don’t need and make it pretty and useful! Thanks!
    .-= GAPeachHomeschool´s last blog ..Book Review by Ephram- The One That Got Away =-.

  20. We are also in Idaho!
    Where are you?

    We moved from 2400Sft to 1750(-ish). so while our space is bigger than yours, we still are having to figure out how to do this.

    Also, our house is old– built in 1940 and so I can’t just go sticking nails in walls due to the fact that drywall was not in use yet when the house was built, and things can’t really be hung where they will look good or be functional.They have to be hung where there is no plaster. Very Strange!

    Anyway, if you are anywhere near Caldwell, please email me and maybe we can help each other work out our spaces together.

    We are using BJU for homeschool, so we have to have TV’s as we use the videos, but I am trying to think what we need to purge that I thought we could use someday. Our kids are still little. My oldest is 6, so it’s not like she can play lots of logic games with brother etc…

    gotta go… hubby is kicking me out of basement so he can paint the floor!

  21. Pingback: Imitating Me | Life Nurturing Education

  22. We lived in a small apartment for six months when we moved to a new city. We were very happy in such close quarters. After moving into a larger home, it’s more of a challenge to get us all together. We tend to spread out to our own corners!

  23. Pingback: Dave Ramsey Would Not Approve | Life Nurturing Education