The value of space

Zooming puppy

Every morning, I take my nutjob puppy (she just turned two, so she’s not exactly a puppy anymore, except she’s a lab mix, so she’s 100% nutjob) out back to get her some exercise. I used to take her for a run, but I’m a slow old lady and scared of running on sidewalkless streets filled with imagined murders and bears before dawn. It’s less scary to wander around our back yard while she zooms around me chasing rabbits and birds off leash, and she gets a lot more exercise.

In the summer, the sun comes up at 5:30 and the kids don’t have to go to school (so I sleep in a bit), so it’s usually light by the time I get started. Also in the summer, there is never-ending tinkering to do in the yard, as weeds and vines and pruning just don’t stop. This works out well – puppy zooms, I weed. But it means that my “surf the internet or write a blog post while puppy zooms” is on hold.

Today it’s rainy. I’m kind of walking from the shelter of one tree to the shelter of the next. No weeding today. Hello, blog post.

A few weeks ago, I relented and agreed with my husband that 1300 square feet for the six of us was small. We are finally making headway on our debts, we have an emergency fund set up. It’s possible to imagine a newer, better, bigger, more expensive house.

But there are some clear non-starters. Unless we are moving across the country to be nearer family, we will not change school districts (not because ours is excellent – it’s fine – but because I think it can be damaging to kids to rip them away from their friends). There is no point moving unless there are at least four bedrooms, even though “3 bigger bedrooms” is tempting. I require a yard, a decent-sized one, and usable.

In our school district, there are currently four houses on the market with four bedrooms. That’s the same as last week and the week before. The houses around here are older, modest. The ones that are available just aren’t that great. And the yards – you could barely fit a trampoline in there, much less a decent-sized garden and a 4-foot above-ground pool and solar panels and blueberries and raspberries and a cherry tree and an apple tree and a lemon tree and a million birds and rabbits to chase.

So the good news is, we are never going to find a better fit for us. Or maybe we will, but not soon. The bad news is, we are never going to find a better fit for us.

So I’m putting effort (and money, although not more than a couple hundred dollars) into making this house fit us better. Our basement has been used primarily for storage – it isn’t really usable space. We waterproofed it a few years ago, but the floor is cement and somebody at some point painted it with crappy paint, which is forever peeling and crumbling and sticking to your feet.

I bought a couple of shelves to store our bins of holiday stuff and hand-me-downs. I also bought foam flooring pieces that fit together like a puzzle. For a half second I entertained the idea of just going whole hog and actually doing the floor, but I think if we want to finish the basement, we need to do it in one fell swoop rather than choosing a floor now without knowing what rooms/walls/ceilings we will want and where.

At any rate, I am shocked at the difference the flooring makes. I’m going to set up a room for MIL and, while it seems kind of jerky to send her to the basement, with the new flooring and a king-sized bed, I think it will be okay. I am also setting up a space for the kids to play, which I’ve done before – but the flooring I think makes that more realistic.

And, ta-da! Our house is still small – the dining room furniture barely fits in the dining room and I’m constantly constantly purging toys, but this will free up a bedroom for Sonya and give Viv and Amelia some breathing room in the other bedroom. It means that when kids are over to play, they could conceivably play in the basement.

And it means I don’t have to compromise on the outdoor space just because the indoor space is cramped.


3 thoughts on “The value of space”

    1. I was just going to suggest the same. Could you just expand your existing house instead of buying a new one? That way you’d get to keep your awesome yard too. I live in an old neighborhood with tiny houses (~1000 sqft) and most of them have garages converted into additional bedrooms or additions built in the back.


      1. It’s possible – somewhat. We’ve discussed it. I think it could be tricky because of the layout of our home, but I think we could add a bedroom on the first floor if it came to it. It’s a good idea!


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