A black and white photo of a house in a residential area with trees

For the last five years or so, our family of four has lived in a 700 square foot little, blue house. While we call it the “little blue house” and it is a very tiny home, it is not one of the trendy small homes you see on Instagram with neutral colors and maximized storage and space. 

The home we live in was built by my husband’s grandfather. It was a retirement home for him and his wife. The first time I stepped into this house, I felt so much peace and love. There is no doubt that this feeling was left there from the previous occupants, their friends and even strangers as well. While “home” is often categorized by size and decorating style (cottage, rustic, modern, minimalist or bohemian), we’ve come to define our home a bit differently. 

While in many ways we considered this move to be an upgrade, a small space with a growing family provides its fair share of challenges but we’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way. 

Here are a few of the ways we learned to redefine the concept of home:

Home isn’t dictated by how much space you have.

Square footage doesn’t have to dictate the joy you find within your four walls. Home is determined by the character, dreams, hobbies and presence of the people who occupy it.

Our home looks like two small children running in circles in a small space making loud noises, musician using the living room as a studio and student writer studying at the kitchen table while dinner cooks or on the bed amidst piles of laundry. We have learned to embrace a multi-functional space as we are multi-faceted people.

We have learned to embrace a multi-functional space as we are multi-faceted people.

A small space doesn’t equate to a small life.

While we downgraded in square footage, it was a huge upgrade in life. The home sits on a few acres and there is outdoor space for our children to play, to grow and raise things. It’s been a dream. We found community and opportunity in what some might have considered an unlikely place.

We found community and opportunity in what some might have considered an unlikely place.

Home is where you do life.

Because a small space with multiple people has its challenges (aka there’s nowhere to hide), we have learned to retreat often to the outdoors in every season. 

We have spent so much more time taking long walks together, blowing bubbles, watching our children ride bikes and making back porch fires partially out of necessity. Less space indoors has meant more time spent outdoors. There’s something about a freshly mowed lawn, sunflowers swaying in the summer and lying on your back in a hammock while the spring breeze blows that I never appreciated before. 

Though we look forward to moving to a home in the future with a little more elbow room, I cherish the lessons our little blue house has taught us: to not be limited by a decorating style or size but to let the people who live in the space define it.

We have learned to expand our definition of home to include all spaces where life happens. The size of your home doesn’t have to dictate the joy you find within it. 

We have learned to expand our definition of home to include all spaces where life happens.

How do you define home? What makes a space feel “homey” and safe?

Image via Carissa Gallo, Darling Issue No. 13

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