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Creating A Simple Home Design To Live With Less – Comfortably

Creating a simple Home Design. This article is parts of our “Building The Simple House” series. 

This series covers the entire process of building our simple home from start to finish. From permits to plans, construction of the foundation, walls and full exterior, to finishing off the interior – our hope is to document the challenges, trials, tribulations and excitement of building “The Simple House.”

Our goals for the house are simple and straightforward:  Design and build – as much as possible on our own – a minimal cost, energy-efficient, low maintenance home that utilizes only the space we need. A simple home that allows us to live and enjoy the farm now and forever.

solar panels

We hope to use solar panels to help power our homes energy needs – keeping future energy costs down. (photo courtesy of Shutterstock/zstock)

There is a tremendous amount of freedom in living with less. In reality, it will allow us to live with so much more.  More freedom to travel, garden, spend time with family and future grandchildren – and not be held captive by the space, energy and expense of a larger home.

When it comes right down to it – every person, every couple and every family has different needs for what works best for them. With that said, one thing is for sure – there is an awful lot of wasted and unused space in many of the homes built today, and that space is costly, time-consuming and increasingly difficult to maintain as we all grow older. We hope that by eliminating the wasted space and only building what we need – we can create a home at the farm that allows us the freedom to enjoy life.

How small is too small? The disadvantages of a “Tiny Home” concept…

Although the “Tiny Home” concept seems to be all of the rage right now – the reality is that for a lot of people, including us – it simply wouldn’t work long-term. It might be perfect for a young individual or a couple starting out – but perhaps not for two people wanting to create a space to retire to. I don’t think either of us want to spend the later years of our life climbing up a folding ladder into a loft bed each evening – or pulling out a 2′ kitchen table to have our breakfast on with a grandchild. 🙂

We hope to spend much of our time at the farm outdoors - not inside!

We hope to spend much of our time at the farm outdoors – not inside!

So that is where it all begins in creating a simple home design. To truly think about what we space we need to live comfortably – and what that space should look like.

First and foremost, we knew we did not want a big floor plan. The whole point of this project is to create a smaller space – to live with less “stuff” – the unnecessary junk that fills up unused space in homes – and depletes your wallet at the same time. A smaller home has tremendous short and long-term advantages. It is less expensive to build now – and way less expensive to heat, cool and maintain in the future. So the real question becomes for us, how small can we make it to take advantage of all of those savings – without feeling as though we were living our life in a tiny home.

Eliminating underutilized and useless rooms…

For starters, we will completely eliminate the rooms we do not use in our current home. For us, that includes the basement, a living room, dining room and a growing number of spare bedrooms as our kids head to college and beyond. Our current dining room and the living room have essentially become what amounts to an unused show room – filled with furniture, decor and “stuff” that we look at, but rarely ever use!  The same goes for our basement and much of the 2nd floor bedrooms. By eliminating both of those we take out the need for any steps in the future – a huge key to getting around when our legs might not quite be what they are now.

Making the best of the space we do use…

So that leaves us with the space we do use. The fact is, we spend the majority of our current waking hours in two rooms – the kitchen and the family room. It is where we prepare meals, talk, read, visit and entertain. The new plan uses nearly 75% of our space for those activities.

Other than a bed - we don't need to utilize a lot of floor plan space in the bedroom

Other than a bed – we don’t need to utilize a lot of floor plan space in the bedroom

The rest of the space will go to a small master bedroom – (we don’t require need much space to sleep) – a multi purpose attached full bathroom, laundry room, and a spare loft bedroom for when kids, future grandchildren and friends stay.  All in all – right around a total of 1000 square feet.

For our next update in two weeks, we will share the finalized floor plan – and the features and strategies we are trying to incorporate into our 1000 sq. foot “Simple Home”. We hope you enjoy the new series – and as always – we welcome any comments or suggestion you have as we head through the process!

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary

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