Category: House Projects

How We Make Small Spaces Work With Toddlers

img_8335You may remember that our home is currently split into two separate apartments. We currently occupy the first floor and the basement; while someday we hope to make it back into one house and utilize all of the space for our family, for now we make it work and I think we do it fairly well.

It takes creativity to have four people live in approximately 700 sq. ft. (plus the basement), and it takes some time to figure out the best way to arrange things. We’ve been here 2.5 years and I’m still always thinking of new/better furniture arrangements. πŸ™‚ Everything must be multi-functional in order to live comfortably.

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One of the things we (by we, I mean my dad) did to make the living room (which had been split in half with a wall and a door to create a bedroom) more functional was to put in french doors. In the future, it can just be part of the living room/an office and not a bedroom, but it is currently the boys’ bedroom.

Until last weekend, the living room was also their playroom (which is fine, as we do not believe children should be confined to a separate space – this is their home, too, plus, how?).

We wanted to make better use of our available space so we took down the huge crib (where Caleb had been sleeping) and added another Pack-n-Play (with a good mattress, like Isaiah has been using).

This allowed us to move their play area into their room and make it an even better living situation for us all!

We also have a reading station and a music station in the living room, as well as other bigger toys (currently these tunnels) for them to enjoy.

They carry their toys from room to room and it’s never this clean (I quickly tidied up to be able to take a decent picture!), but that’s okay. We wanted them to feel free to have fun and to play wherever they want, safely. Toddler life is not a tidy life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While it isn’t always easy to live in a small space, it is possible, and it is worth it. It’s saving us money, helping us become debt-free, and it’s forcing us to be thoughtful about using every inch wisely. And there’s less space to clean πŸ˜‰

A Dream Years in the Making

Brennan and I have lived in four different ZIP codes since we got married.

17070 (New Cumberland) – above a (loud, busy) pub. On the third floor, with no air conditioning. Quite possibly the worst decision of our marriage (thus far)!Β 

(Photo credit: PennLive)

17033 (Union Deposit/South Hanover Township/Hershey) – perfect location, cute second floor apartment:

 

17109 (Lower Paxton Township/Harrisburg) – our first home purchase/flip/sale, the home where Tori lived and where she left this earth.Β 

17112 (Lower Paxton Township/Linglestown) – with our friends in their in-law apartment for four months as we waited to move to Hershey.

Two apartments, a house, and an in-law apartment as temporary transition space.

As our lives became increasingly rooted in Hershey, we knew this is where we wanted to settle. To be close to work, to Milton Hershey, to our doctor/chiropractor, nearly everything in our lives would be a true blessing.

Settling down and putting down roots is a daunting concept to me for some reason, but a few years ago I realized that I would be happy to live in Hershey for a long time. Brennan agreed.

So, we began to dream. We figured out the area where we wanted to live and “told God” the quadrant boundaries (haha).

We knew that it would take a miracle of sorts to be able to purchase a home in downtown Hershey given the market values of homes there. It’s expensive.

We refuse to have a huge mortgage because we don’t want to work just to pay for a house; so, we did the math and figured out our maximum purchase price. But, we also knew that our price limit would make it a challenge to find a home there.

After Tori went to Heaven, we focused on finishing our home and listing it on the market. It went under contract two weeks after we put it on the market and we closed on December 8, 2016. Once it was under contract we made arrangements with our friends, Lauren and Casey, to live in their in-law apartment until we could figure out what was next. We are so thankful for their hospitality.

On Thanksgiving day, two weeks before closing, we got a message from a friend of ours who owns several properties in Hershey. Steve said that he knew we were selling our house and wondered if we would be interested in one of his properties in Downtown Hershey. He said it was a two-unit property (that we could easily convert back into one home eventually) with a tenant upstairs and that the tenant’s rent paid more than half of the mortgage. His asking price was just a bit above the limit we had set, but we knew that with a tenant we could easily make it work.

Remember the quadrant we asked God if we could live in? This house is five houses outside of the boundaries we had set. We couldn’t help but laugh because it was a great reminder that God is in control!

We drove by the property the next day and fell in love – not only with the property but with the location. This was confirmed even in the littlest of details: a red tree in the backyard, hydrangeas in the front yard, a porch swing, and a charming house full of history.

This house was built in 1900 by Mr. Hershey for his supervisors. The entire original town of Hershey was built by him, because he wanted his employees to live in a model town, and he made homeownership a reality for his workers – something that was previously out of reach. We love Mr. and Mrs. Hershey so to live in a home that was built because of them is incredible.

After we closed on our house, we drove straight to Hershey to tour the house and immediately knew this was the house for us. And the process began.

It took (WAY) longer than we expected, but as of today, Brennan and I are homeowners again!



We were allowed to start working on the house prior to closing and we hired our friends, John and Briana, to help us with refinishing the floors, reorganizing the kitchen (read: essentially gutting and repositioning everything), tiling the bathroom, and eventually they will help us remodel the basement and add a bathroom down there. My parents painted the living room, kitchen (including cabinets), and bathroom and were a tremendous help with so many other things during their two week stay.

Here are some before and after pictures of the kitchen (click to enlarge):

The tenant upstairs moved out due to family situations, so we have decided to list the apartment on AirBnB for the summer to test the waters. Given our amazing location, it’s likely that we can bring in more income from AirBnB than by having a tenant, so we’re going to try! Plus, I’ve long wanted to run a “bed and breakfast” so this would be ideal.

We are finally starting to feel settled, and it’s a great feeling to know that we won’t be moving for a VERY long time (Lord willing). ❀ Hershey is now our home.

Preparing a Place for Our Baby…Part One

When we bought our house in December 2012, we knew we had a lot of work to do. Thankfully, we received a great deal of help from friends and family and were able to finish a majority of the house in just a few months. We didn’t take the time/energy/money to do the rooms we weren’t going to be using, including the bedroom that will become our baby’s room.

This is what it looked like when we bought it:

The Pink Room 178174_859492408730_1448902400_o

 

Lovely, right? It has affectionately been known to us as “the pink room” and I can’t wait for it to have a new name. πŸ™‚ “______’s room” πŸ™‚

The transformation began on April 19, 2014 when we were able to re-finish the hardwood floors in that room. We had done the rest of the house Β over a year ago, but the pink room became the storage area for all of the furniture that went in the other rooms during the process and we couldn’t really do these floors. We didn’t think we’d be using this room for a while… πŸ™‚

Now the floors look great and are protected by thick paper so that we can continue the renovation process!

Brennan removed the wallpaper border last night, and we’ll be patching/repairing the walls over the next couple of days. On Sunday a heavy coat of primer will be applied (thanks to some wonderful friends!) and then some fresh paint next week (thanks to my Mom who is coming all the way from California to help us prepare the room).

The preparation of her room is making this feel more and more real – in three months we’ll have a new family member!