Big family in a small house, part 1: bedrooms

A lot of readers have expressed curiosity over how we manage to fit a family of 10 (soon to be 11) plus an occasional brother-in-law into a house of less than 1200 square feet.

How can a big family live in a small house?

The short answer is the same answer we give to many other questions: life style choices.

  • We don’t think every child (or even every 2 children) needs her own bedroom.
  • We don’t think we need a huge master bedroom with a walk-in closet and a master bathroom.
  • Although we would very much enjoy having a 2nd or 3rd bathroom, we don’t believe that we need it. In all fairness, some of the children don’t quite agree, especially in the morning.
  • We don’t need space for an extensive seasonal wardrobe for each member of the family, particularly in South Texas. There are only 2 seasons here anyway, and one lasts for 10 months of the year. A summer wardrobe plus a few warmer items is perfectly sufficient.

And so, here’s how the bedrooms work:

Larg Family, 3 Bedrooms

We have 3 bedrooms for our large family, each roughly 12 x 12 including the closet. Hubby and I share a room (of course. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many children to fit into the rest of the rooms). The newest baby shares our room until he/she sleeps through the night, usually around 2 months. Then the playpen is moved into a children’s room.  We did away with the bulky full-sized crib many babies ago. Yes, my babies sleep through the night at 2 months. Don’t hate me.

4 Children in 1 bedroom

Each of the other rooms is shared by 4 children. We used to have them segregated by age, but decided to mix things up with the latest room arrangement. In one room, we have child #1, #3, #5, and #7. In the other room we have all of the even-numbered children. This way each room has an “overseer,” a relatively responsible middle child, and 2 smaller ones.

Each room has a set of bunk beds with a twin on top and a full size bed on the bottom. The oldest child has the twin bunk on top all to herself. The middle and two small ones sleep crosswise on the full size bed below, which gives them plenty of space. The Boy sleeps with his sisters. This will change at some point, but we feel it’s perfectly appropriate right now.

In the past, when we had 6 children and all were relatively small, they shared one bedroom. They had a set of bunkbeds with twin-sized mattresses on top and below, and we slid a 3rd mattress under the bed. It was pulled out at night like a trundle bed. With this arrangement, each child shared a twin bed with one sister.

Each room has a single dresser with 4 drawers. This is primarily to hold underclothes, since most of the outer clothes are hung in the closet. Each child has one drawer. A child’s drawer often contains personal possessions other than clothes: letters, trinkets, drawings, etc. I’m afraid we tend toward pack-rattery, though the size of our home forces us to keep the tendency firmly in hand.

Each bedroom closet is roughly 5.5 feet wide, and just over 2 feet deep. The closets have nice shelving/hanging systems, and are divided into 4 areas so each child has a place for his/her own clothes. Each child has perhaps 10-12 outfits, and 3-4 pairs of shoes. We could do with less, but this works for us. Shoes are arranged in various ways: some children have a hanging shoe caddy in their closet area, some share an over-the-door shoe contraption, one has hers in a large basket. The shelves hold board games, blankets, etc.

Each children’s bedroom currently holds 2 large bookcases, side by side. The top shelves are fiction, 2nd shelves are history, 3rd shelves are science, 4th shelves are picture books, bottom is more pack-rattery. On the very top of each bookshelf, the older girls keep their own personal books not for general circulation.

Under the bed, each child has a “treasure box,” usually either a cardboard box or a rubbermaid-type container.  The size of the treasure boxes has varied over the years, but it’s big enough to hold most of her personal possessions that she doesn’t want in common use or general circulation: puzzles, notebooks, birthday gifts, dolls, etc.

Like the children, hubby and I have a single dresser, 2 large bookcases, and our bed, which is queen sized. The big bed makes our room more crowded than the childrens’, and we also have a nightstand and the TV stand with a 19 inch television. The occasional movie night happens in our room with the entire family gathered on and around the bed. I’m not convinced that this is ideal, but we do like having the TV out of the main living area. The ideal situation more likely involves getting rid of the TV and DVD player, but we’re not quite there yet…

Lest I give anyone the wrong idea, let me say that keeping a small bedroom neat when it has several occupants is quite a challenge. They do not stay neat, but keeping the amount of possessions under control makes it easy to clean quickly.

part 2: Storage

part 3: Floor plan

part 4: Entertaining Guests

part 5: Finding personal space


  1. I found this series on Pinterest and we are going to be doing something different at the beginning of next year. One thing we are seriously considering is building a “temporary but long-term,” as you said, home. We are currently a family of six. So, do you have any update posts about your small house? Did you ever expand? Is there anything you would have done differently, some advice for someone possibly going into a similar situation?

  2. I’m curious about floor plans for small houses. We are a family of 6 (4 kids) and I would love to build a smaller house (we currently have 1800 sqft). Thanks for any links you can provide. The floor plan link in the post did not work.

  3. Thanks for your blog , and this post in especially. My family of 7 lives in a 3 bedroom 980sq ft home. We have to make the most of every inch

  4. I am so relieved! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t think we need to go broke getting a larger place for our growing family. I love where we live and I love our yard; I would hate to give those up. Suddenly 2 kids plus us plus 2 step-children who come for visits no longer seems so daunting in a 2-bedroom 1 bath home. We love this place, it’s adorable, affordable, and location is great. So we’re going to simplify. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  5. I so appreciate this post. We’re cooking child #2 right now and live in a one bedroom one bathroom bungalow with an unfinished attic (that is 6′ tall in the middle) and unfinished partial cellar (that is 6′ tall period). Most people think we’re crazy that we’re not planning on moving and are even planning on more. But we figure the attic is instant dorm room…once it has a floor and ceiling instead of joists and roof. There is nothing wrong with mattresses on the floor. Its what the Japanese do all the time. With just the three of us, the cellar is where we sleep now; cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. My 13 year old brother schools at home with us Monday through Friday so we give him the bedroom on the main floor so he can have a little privacy (and so we can too…as your great explanation says above, that’s where the need for fitting children comes from).

    We love living in a small space. It means that we are forced to prioritize our things, forced to think “outside the box”. About half our official floor space (for some reason the cellar and attic aren’t counted) is taken up by one large living/dining room, which was the one major criteria we had when house hunting (I’m the oldest of seven kids so a big dining table was a given). Our kitchen puts out more food than most of the large “gourmet” kitchens I see in other people’s homes. Its so reassuring to find another family who embraces this sort of life as well!

  6. carrielotsofboys says:

    I’m glad to find this site. I live in CT and everyone with more then one child seem to have these gigantic homes.
    First let me introduce myself, I am a mom to four boys and we have another child due in September. We aren’t sure what that one will be…hopefully a girl!!! But I bet it will be another boy.
    Having all same gender children may help with the room sharing though. My children’s ages are 15, 8,6, and 12 months. As you can see, my oldest is a lot older then my others. I wasn’t going to have anymore.

    I live in a 1100 square foot house that really doesn’t meet our needs. Its become a source of stress between my husband of 16 years and I. We have only lived here for a year and a half but a lot happened with the economy and he was sick so we went through savings. We wern’t able to build our dining room or extra bedroom.

    My kitchen is so small that a dining room table for 6 cannot be comfortably placed in there without blocking the entrance to the living room. That will leave me with a tiny bit of room to squeeze by and by early summer it will be hilarious to watch me try to make it into the living room. I don’t have 6 chairs I only have four. My husband and I eat in the living room, the kids at the table, except for Jacob. Theres no where for the poor kids highchair, in fact he doesn’t have one. He eats on the couch and thank God its microfiber and easy to clean. Maybe I’ll get a fold up highchair. Ikea is usually good for that.
    So for the bedroom situations…My oldest has his own. He has bipolar and he needs to have his own space. My 8 and 6 year old share a room. They have these gorgeous sleigh beds and thats all that fits in their room besides a dresser. They have a tiny closet.

    My husband and I share a room of course with Jacob. We have one bathroom.

    We have an unused three season that functions as my attic and basement. I have a garage, but get this, its at the top of a really steep yard with no road to go up there. I guess they built it from scratch up there. Its really useless because to haul all the boxes from the three season porch would be too hard. I guess it can get done, though. We have a small pull down attic.

    My wish for our three season porch would be to have all the boxes organized and moved up the hill and have that porch split into two parts. A bedroom and playroom. We have heat and my husband is an electrcian and knows some framers so we may have some hope there.This would be a huge help.

    I have weaned Jacob and he’s sleeping in a tiny crib instead of our bed.

    This is our story and layout of our home and I’m here to find suggestions on how I can make this work for us instead of be upset about it.

    • Hi Carrie!

      I feel your pain with the kitchen table. I’m the oldest of seven kids, though the youngest wasn’t born til after I was married. My husband came for dinner every night for the two years before we were married though. The same kitchen table that comfortably seated four of us when it was just my sister and I kept getting more and more crowded until there were 9 of us sitting there every night until the day I was married. (That got rid of two of us!) Us older kids truly sat two kids to every three chairs (the middle one straddling the crack between the chairs), every night, for years. The littlest ones stood on narrow kitchen chairs (one per each) as soon as they were old enough to stand. Before that it was a tiny 1950’s era highchair in the corner by the stove. For holidays, we’d clean out the living room and set up the big dining room table there. It was so much nicer except that the table was so wide it took up too much room. My sisters and I kept trying to convince my mom to get a narrow dining table big enough for everything and just ditch the whole concept of living room so we could eat in comfort. It never happened, though.

      My biggest recommendation is to give up any thought of having a “normal” house and instead make a “functional” house. There’s also a great book called Little House on a Small Planet, which is all about people who intentionally chose to live in less space. It can be inspirational. Also, watch this video: . It really changed my concept of how much space a family needs.

      Good luck!

  7. I am curious we have a combined family 10 (8 children and me and my husband) And now it is sad to say that we are giving up our room. My daughter is going to share our room with me. He gets the couch and his oldest daughter and son get there own room and we are renovating garage in to rooms for the 4 youngest. It bothers me. But his oldest son can not get along and is very mean to his younger siblings. His oldest daughter just came to live with us, and has pretty much moved my daughter out. How do you do it none of the kids seem to get a long here which causes so much stress for everyone else. His oldest just carries so much jealousy and hate that it carries over.

  8. Michelle says:

    Thanks for writing this. It is not far off from what we have done so far. But, I needed some new inspiration, and found your site. I am excited to read the rest of this. We have 8 children in a 3 bedroom. We have made a play area in the unfinished basement, as well as my hubby and I have our bedroom down there too. He works from home so his office is in the 3rd bedroom. We are also blessed with a finished garage that we use for school, it is totally open to the rest of the house so it would not work well for my hubbys office or a bedroom. Thanks for sharing your life. It is very helpful to me. Blessings.

  9. What a refreshing post to read! We also live in a small house compared to so many (about 1300 square feet) and we also have 3 bedrooms. Of course, we have quite a few less children than you do. We have 4 boys. And, sometimes I feel so crowded and I long for a family room or a game room to send the children to when they get especially rowdy. I have to remind myself that the previous owners raised a family with 9 children in our house and it starts to put things in perspective.

  10. Thanks for sharing these ideas! Our family is still growing (although we are hoping for a large family), and we have a 1600 square foot row home with VERY limited closet space, which means that about 400 square feet of the house is lost to stairwells and such and the rooms are very small.

    We have two full size (2′ deep x 5.5′ wide x 10′ tall) closets plus two half size closets (13″ deep by 48″ wide x 6′ tall) in the house and we’ve added 2 half size wardrobes with drawer space on the bottom for additional hanging space in the rooms where there is no closet at all or the closet is half size.

    I’m always looking for ideas on maximizing living/sleeping areas. I agree that children do not not need their own rooms, nor even two children to a room–I love how you have addressed these issues in your home!

    I wonder if you would be willing to share photos of your children’s bedrooms (either privately or by post) just for reference?


  11. Kim,
    Advice needed….
    We have 6 children now. Girl 11, Boys (8,6,4,2) and new baby girl 2 weeks old. I was hesitant to put the baby with the 11 yo as there are soo many years between them. Baby will be w/ us for 5 months most likely. We are set to move around Feb. What do you think? The 3 oldest boys are together now and all 4 will be as soon as our 2nd bunkbed is ready for pickup. What about the girls though??

    • Jeanie,
      You’ll probably never read this reply since your post is two years old, but for anyone else reading this later as I did…
      Don’t worry about the age difference. My family tried all sorts of different age arrangements and often the widely different ages worked better than the closer. My sister (age 27) is still closest to the brother that was in the next bed over for years (he’s currently age 11, I’m 30). I’m still closest to my 13 year old brother who often fell asleep IN my bed before I hauled his sleeping carcass to his own. My 27 year old sister is closest in age to me and yet we fought like anything for years when we were the only ones in our room.

  12. We are a big family in a small house also, we have 8 kids and a girlfriend and granddaughter also live with us. Our house is only 3 bedrooms, one sleepout and a garage that we converted into a small flat like place for our son and his family. The kids rooms are always messy and it is really hard keeping on top of it. One bathroom is a real struggle but we manage. It was a real pleasure reading your story.

  13. Carrie S. says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and thought I’d say that God used you today to bless me. I am expecting baby #4. We love our 1450 sq.ft. house, but both my mother and sister’s first words (after congratulations) upon hearing we were expecting again were, “Where are you going to put it?” I was allowing myself to feel pressured and discontent when I really am not. Thank you for your candor and sharing how your family does it.

  14. Thanks – I’m glad you found it useful. I have several more ideas for this series but haven’t made time to flesh them out. I guess I should post on that again soon!

  15. You are awesome and I loved reading how you arranged the rooms, I am about the move my family of 3 kids + 1 in Dec from a 2800sf house into a 1600sf house and really struggling with whether this is enough space for us, but you gave me some great ideas.

  16. We had a family in our old church that had a 3 bedroom house with 7 children. They put all the children in the master bedroom using two twin bunk beds , a toddler bed, and a crib. The baby was still in another crib in their room, which was one of the 2nd bedrooms. The 3rd room was used by the father with 3 computers that he needed with his programming job. The good thing about the kids having the master is that they used the master bath and the hall bath stayed cleaner for guests.

  17. Please don’t make us wait too long for Part II !! :) I loved part I. It was very inspiring. We have 5 children, 4 are boys. we live in a 3 bedroom, almost 1800 sq ft. My extended family thinks we’re crazy, they think we need a bigger house and I haven’t even uilized all of the space this one has! I was just so glad to glean from all of these posts and to know there are others like us not giving into the bigger is better attitude of our culture.

  18. Thanks, Kim! This is very interesting!

  19. Kim,

    I am dying to know and mmaybe you will be posting it in part II, but what do you keep in your totes under your house? I remember a post about you having them under there but I just want to be nosey and to know what is in them ;). My guess is clothes? excess books? you and hubbies blue car in thousands of little pieces? 😉

  20. We have a four bedroom house and four kids. Our only daughter has her own room, as does our eldest son. My 9 and 5 year old sons share and *love* it. My 9 year old would not give up being the only one of his friends who gets a top bunk for anything.

    I always had my own room as a child because I was the only girl, but I remember wishing for a sister to share with.

    It’s worth remembering that before the 20th century children didn’t just share rooms, they shared beds!


  21. What I want to know is why I’m supposed to give my children their “own” rooms, then expect them to get married and self-lessly share a room/bed/house with a spouse? Is it any wonder that couples have such a hard time learning to cope with each other and need “me time” and “nights out” and “free time”?

    Okay, so my family is still small. :) We have 1400sqft – and this HUGE dining/living area, so we really have little storage space (all the linens go in the shelf in my small closet, etc) and it’s a 3bd, 2bth. Right now we are a family of 4 but I’m-pretty-sure-that’s-about-to-change; I think I’m due in Dec. :)

    Least our house sound huge, we had another family stay with us in our 9 X 12 “spare room” during March and another young woman is visiting from across the continent and will arrive tomorrow and leave the 30th. I’ve already figured out how to put Munchkin #3 in with the other two. :) It will be “cozy” but some of my best memories are of winters when me and my four siblings shared a room!

    One thing I like about staying here is that it forces us to bring in mainly what we “need” and not all that we WANT. We still end up with lots of what we don’t need, but my experiance is that when you have the space you fill it. :) I am learning to use what I have and simplify and it is a beautiful thing. My husband is thinking that one day we should end up with a “big” 3bd – one room for girls and one for boys though at first we had the notion that teens need their own rooms. But like I said at the beginning of this comment we’ve changed our minds!

    I declutter A LOT! When I run out of space, I go through what we have and take a bag or two to Goodwill to make room rather than to instantly asking dh just to build more shelves or something.

    Anyways I really enjoyed this post and being able to share. :)

  22. Very inspiring post! We are expecting our 8th (don’t tell my kids!) and live in a 1 bedroom cabin. Our 2 oldest are out so we have 4 in the living room and our 2 yr old in the bedroom with us. We’re building a log home here on our land but it’s slow going. It has 4 bedrooms so we’re thinking about who will share with who…I love the idea of an extra room for projects, play, homeschooling. My teens really really don’t want to share rooms. Our kids go boy, girl, boy, girl, etc. so it’s a little harder.

  23. HeatherHH says:

    I’m an occasional reader. We also live in a house that is less than 1200 square feet. But, we have only four children, ages 6 1/2 down to 9 months. Most of our family does not understand why we don’t have a larger house, but this is what we could afford (without debt) when we were buying 3 years ago. Also, it is nice having less to clean.

    Right now, we have our older 3 children in one bedroom (6.5 x 13 ft). There’s a bunk bed for the older 2 and a toddler bed for the 3rd child. Our oldest is a boy, and the other girls. But, as they dress seperately and have modest nightwear, this isn’t an issue to us at this point.

    Our baby is in our bedroom (14.5 x 11.5) in a playpen. She sleeps through 7 or 8 hours, but still wakes up to nurse by 5 (and then heads back to sleep) while everyone else sleeps until 7. She’ll be in with us until sometime after her 1st birthday, probably when her older siblings beg to have her move in. My sewing machine is also in our bedroom, and our big closet has general storage.

    This leaves our 3rd bedroom (8 x 11) free for additional playspace, which really helps in making the living room seem bigger. So, when our 4th moves out of our room, she’ll move in with her older siblings, probably on a trundle. If we were in this house with a 5th, we’d probably have to start using the 3rd bedroom as a bedroom.

    Keeping stuff to a minimum helps immensely. I’m glad not to have a TV set up as that would make things seem more cramped. We do have a TV in a box in the basement that we’ll probably use occasionally in the future for some educational videos. Keeping toys to a minimum is the most useful of all the minimizing. If you have family that likes to give gifts, these multiply pretty quickly :-)

    It was nice hearing how your larger family fits in a house the size of ours. My husband will enjoy hearing your post. Honestly, while this house seemed perfectly adequate in size to me when we bought it (with 2 children), I wouldn’t mind having a bigger one by the time we (Lord willing, since I’m not expecting) have a 5th child. But, we still want to keep it “small” by most people’s standards for our family and not get used to anything too huge. We’d probably look in the under 2000 sq ft, which makes no sense to people when we’re in our 20s and hoping to have lots of children…. My husband grew up in a family of 5 (one child was a surprise!) in 3600 sq ft, and the house would seem huge to me even with a family of 12! I grew up in 2200 sq ft in a family of 4, but my tastes have been retrained well as I’ve never topped 1200 sq ft in 7 1/2 years of marriage :-)

    Heather (mom to 4 children under 7)

  24. Thanks for the inspiration! We have number 5 on the way and the house isn’t going to magically expand. I would really like a second toilet though: It doesn’t have to be a full bath.

  25. yes it can be done! Why does our society think every child has to have their own room. There is a family in our town that just came here from China. Their family will be the wife, husband, grandmother and 4 children. The wife is the only one here working on the home –it is Habitat for Humanity! So this one woman is putting in the hours for her family for her home being built here while the rest is still in China. She was on the news the other night going on and on about how nice it will be for her kids to each have their own room–They are building her a 5 bedroom house!

    Even extreme makerover makes it a big deal to allow most of their families shown get their own rooms. It just screams to kids like mine that they are being mistreated because dad and I wont go in to such huge debt for a much larger home to accomadate the next 6 or 7 years my kid will be living here–He is nearly 13 now so I can’t justify tryiing to accomadate him wanting his own room and putting myself and my husband in more debt with a larger home–to watch him fly the nest and leave me with more rooms to clean!

    I only have 2 to a room and knowing you have so much more comforts me in knowing they will survive!

    Great Post

  26. Thank you so much for sharing. Our home is the same size. And I often ponder how we will do things.

  27. This is great stuff! Even though we have more space and fewer people, I’m struck by how many of our lifestyle choices we share in common. We, too, place our 3 girls in one room with a limited amount of space for pack-rattery. It’s good for all, for so many reasons. :)

  28. Sue in Japan says:

    Thanks for sharing this! Over here in Japan making good use of small space is an art form! It’s neat to see some of you “over there” making wonderful homes in small spaces too!

    We are a family of 6, so far, in 880 square feet, one bathroom, on the thrid floor of an apartment building (that means no yard, but we have a great balcony garden!). I really enjoy making our little place cozy, though, and truly can’t imagine cleaning some of the huge houses people have in the US – even with lots of little helping hands!

    I do sometimes wonder, though, what it will be like when these little kids all become adult sized! Thankfully, it is in God’s hands!

  29. Kim~

    Great ideas, and great post!

    We have 6 kids, and here’s how it works for us in a 1296 sq foot home: Sofia (2) slept in our room (the crib is still in there, and she sleeps in there for naps) till she could sleep at least 6 hours. Then she moved to the living room in a pack and play (she never slept all the way through the night, as our others did, till about 6 months ago!). Now she’s in the one room with all the girls! Yes, there are 5 of them in there and they love it! As you know, keeping the room clean can be a challenge, but they all spiffed up their room this morning as a surprise (and HUGE blessing) for me, and they did awesome!

    Our boy is the oldest, almost 13 in less than two weeks, and he has his own room. We believe, since he’s the only boy, this is appropriate. He loves this! We sure do hope to have another baby/boy someday!!!

    We also have one bathroom, and, although it can get busy, I’ve yet to hear someone complaining!

    No closet organizers yet, not sure how to do that……

    But it works for us! We recently had dinner here with another big family who have 6 kids too and used to live in a smaller house, but thought they needed a bigger one, so they sold and moved into a 3000 sq ft house. They hate it and realize the mistake they made!

    I love our home, it’s cozy!

    See you in two weeks!!!!!!

    Leanne in Longview

  30. The balloons thing is awfully cute. However, me and my big mouth…

    I just kind of blurted it out when he got home from work. I really wanted to make it special, but I couldn’t stop smiling. It was very funny. Now I have to decide whether to tell other people or just wait until they notice. Thanks so much for your blog, Kim. I don’t know you at all, but it is such a joy and an encouragement to get a little glimpse into such a big and wonderful family.

  31. Wow! Thanks for sharing, Kim. I feel like I’m very selfish now, but I must confess. We have a 2400 square foot house and I just found out I’m expecting #4. We’re looking to move out into the country (with woods, creek, etc.), but that would mean that we need to downsize. We’re not sure how we could manage it, so this is very convicting. What I’m curious to hear about is homeschooling (and all the books that accompany each child) and playspace for the kiddos. Thanks, and I look forward to future installments. :-)

  32. Our shoe is smaller. We have 12 people in 930 square feet-one bathroom-three bedrooms-very cozy!

  33. Cindy,
    I once had blue and pink balloons delivered to my husband at work to tell him the news. And, I did it inexpensively: I got the balloons myself and had a friend deliver them to the office for me. He didn’t see her and so all was a big surprise!

    I think that was when I was expecting #4….that was a long time ago.We have 12 now. =)

    And, back on topic, we lived in 1900 sq. ft with 13 of us, 4 bedrooms. It can work. My hubby also made a very cool set of mini-bunkbeds. They are for younger/shorter kids and take up much less space than a twin size bunkbed. Here is the link to my info about it:

  34. I treasure your input on this, as we live in a smaller home, and are blessed with three littles, so far. It is such a blessing to hear from the trenches, what truly works in this situation. I would love to hear how your family extends hospitality to other large families, as I find that to be a bit of a challenge, in having a smaller home. Blessings!

  35. Cindy,

    Oh my word, I can’t believe we know before your hubby knows!

    I would make a special meal. Maybe put three of everything out? Three forks? Three cups (better make it wine)? Three rolls on his plate?

    Or maybe a special candle-lit dinner just the two of you (and baby!) with suggestive hints throughout?

    I don’t know…we do it a bit different from most, I suppose. I “take” the test, and leave the bathroom. He goes in and reads it and comes out and shares with me if I’m PG or not. We like it – it’s our little tradition. So, technically, he always knows before I do!

    I would definitely make it a joyful time -set the tone of happiness and blessing! Share scriptures about his table becoming more and more encircled with olive shoots!

  36. We reared a mere 4 kids in an 1100 s/f house with one bathroom and one closet and were endlessly asked how how how we managed to make it work. In our case the rooms were small, so everyone had their own room. Husband and I shared the only one with a closet. In the morning he had to sit on the bed and swing his legs sideways to open the drawers. We had a full sized bed. A queen would never have fit.

    No one died, everyone was comfortable. The kitchen had a big counter that served as schoolroom and dining room with stools around it. The kitchen table was usually covered with sewing machine, seedlings, monarch caterpillars in progress, and the occasional gerbil, but rarely dinner.

    We foolishly (sort of. we’re still trying to decide. there’s more land and more privacy, but…) sold out after our boys were gone and moved into a 1800 s/f three bedroom, three bath home with 9 closets that feels too big and requires way too much work. We thought we were “upgrading” and were both flush with the joy of owning a home that actually had storage space. But there’s only three of us here now (daughter and us) and we rattle around a lot. We often say that if we cut this house in half, it would be perfect. I am kind of hoping that if/when the Lord provides a husband for Meg, they’ll stay here for a while, so we’re not totally lost in this place!!

  37. Hannah C. says:

    And I thought my family was the only family fitting ten soon to be eleven people into a 1200 or less square foot house…

  38. Thanks for the advice on organizing the book shelves. I’m afraid to try and move any books around because there are too many, I’m not sure how they’ll all fit back on. Guess I’ll box up the excess and take ’em to 1/2 price books.

  39. This post came at a perfect time. I just found out I’m pregnant. Haven’t even had a chance to tell my husband yet…shhhhh! We live in a spacious, but not huge, 2 bedroom apartment. This will be our third child. I guess if you can fit that many into three bedrooms, we’ll be ok with what we’ve got.

    Also, not to hijack a thread or anything, but does anybody have any creative, non-heart-attack-inducing ways of telling the breadwinner he’s gonna have another mouth to feed soon?

  40. Thank you so much for sharing. I love hearing about how you manage your large family.

    We do the same thing with the TV in our room, for the same reason.

    I have 3 children and for a long time I was not happy with our apartment because I believed that each child needed his own room. Now all three share one room and the spare bedroom is used as additional living/playing space. My how my perspective has changed!

    I got a good laugh out of the line about you and your hubby sharing a room!

  41. Very interesting to read, you have sooooo many of the same ways as we do. I was amazed to read that others have systems that equal ours. We have 8 children and definitely a larger home, however, we still use the under-the-bed system as well as closet separations. We also limit the clothing although we have a lot more seasons here. Our bookcases are organized in a somewhat similar way. Neat to read.

  42. Whoa! That sounds like it really works! Thanks for showing us how it’s done. Keep this series coming!

  43. Caroline says:

    Well, bless your heart! There are three of us that live in a 1,000 square foot home, and while I would like a little more space, I love a small house. I grew up in a very large home, 4 of us in a 3,600 sq. ft., and I learned that it’s just more to clean and more room to keep stuff you don’t need!

  44. Thank you for sharing!! I’m working hard to simplify our stuff, but doesn’t work too well. In my defense, hardly any of it we actually bought. Almost everything is handme downs or gifts. But I am a packrat and hate to get rid of anything, especially stuff that is still good. LOL!

  45. I’ve been wanting to hear more about this – thanks so much for sharing! :)

  46. That is all fantastic advice. We came very close to moving into a home 1/3 the size of our current one about a year/half ago. It fell through (shockingly, we would have had a larger mortgage than we do right now!), so we’re still in a fairly large home. But the temptation with that (and one we’ve given in to with aplomb) is to fill it with clutter. We have struggled with the burden of cleaning and keeping tidy a large home, and have decided that simplifying to a great extent is what works best for us. We definitely tend towards being clutter-bugs, and it takes a great deal of self control to rein ourselves in.

    We will keep de-cluttering on a regular basis, and hope to someday live FREE.


  1. […] want to be a family that will have no problem living in a small house (like this family) or, better yet, be mobile.  I’d love to be able to easily transport all of our belongings […]

  2. […] mentioned before that I live in a small house, but this family has got me […]

  3. […] Big family in a small house, part 1: Bedrooms […]

  4. […] start here: Big family in a small house, part 1: bedrooms […]

  5. […] start here: Big family in a small house, part 1: bedrooms […]

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