Making Small Homes Fit for Large Families

Over one Thanksgiving break a friend of mine went home with me from college. We were only about ten minutes from my hometown when we struck a deer and had to push my car off the road. I called my parents, who promptly came to pick us up and take us the rest of the way home. Once back in town my dad jokingly made a comment about stopping at a small trailer, to troll my friend into thinking that a family of seven had to live in a tiny, cramped trailer (as we actually live in a three-story house). This was much to my friend’s dismay, as her family (a family of eight) actually does reside in a trailer.

This complex has always amazed me. I’ve grown up thinking that my family’s house was the perfect size for us. It’s a four-bedroom, four-bathroom (my dad’s philosophy has always been that you need one bathroom per female, plus one more for all the males to share). It’s the perfect size; small enough that we see plenty of eachother, but big enough that we can cloister ourselves to get work done. So, I find it crazy when a large family lives packed into a tiny house, or when a small family (of four or less) lives in a big house. Financially it makes sense because a family with fewere mouths to feed and bodies to dress can afford a larger house, whereas a large family has many more expenses, so a small house is a better fit, financially. Back in the day, living many people in less than 1,000 suare feet didn’t seem so farfetched. But since the 1970s, the size of new homes has increase by about 50%. So how do large families make living in a small house work?

Some simply accept a cramped living space, but you certainly don’t have to. Saving up and using some of Melissa’s DIY tips can help you transform small living quarters into an open, airy home. But if the finances simply aren’t available for some remodeling, family members can still follow some easy rules to respecting others’ space. For example, family members should pick up after themselves immediately to keep spaces clean and usable. It also helps if everyone tries to be quieter than normal. Headphones might be an essential component for multiple people, all trying to do different activities in the same room. Families may also need to cut down on the amount of stuff they have. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough storage space for everyone’s unused clothes and toys. (Old clothes, toys, books, etc. should regularybe circulated out and donated to local shelters or sold at a yard sale.) You can suggest to extended family members to only give your children small gifts on their birthdays, etc. As far as storage units go, you can put in lots of vertical shelving, hang baskets from the ceiling, or even divide up dressers, giving one or two drawers to each child. But the most important part of making a small space feel larger is keeping it clean!


About Sarah Cordonier

I am a junior Television Journalism and International Studies Major at West Virginia University. I am currently taking Beginning Television Reporting and I plan on taking Advanced Television Reporting in the Spring, as a member of WVU News. Someday I would like to work abroad, as an overseas reporter.
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