Small Home Tours: Amanda of Motherhood Northwest and her family of 5+ in 900 square feet

The Sun-Filled Shared Bedroom - All Photos by Amanda of  @coldcupoftea

The Sun-Filled Shared Bedroom - All Photos by Amanda of @coldcupoftea

I can’t remember when I first connected with Amanda, whether it was because her clever handle @coldcupoftea caught my eye, or that she had a Theo almost the same age as my Theo. Or was it that she always managed to get outside with her kids no matter the Pacific Northwest weather. It’s all of the above. I’ve been a long time follower and love her warm and creative home. She makes her small space work on a tight budget while fulfilling many needs for her family. Thank you for opening your home to us here. And if you get a chance, get your hands on a copy of her beautiful quarterly magazine Motherhood Northwest, created, designed and published by Amanda.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am a mother, designer, and publisher of a new magazine focusing on Motherhood in the PNW. I also started homeschooling this year.

Who lives in your home with you?

My partner and I, our son, Theo (5), daughter, Fiona (3), baby Benedict, (5 months), and sometimes my step son, Graham (10). 

How big is your home and what is the layout?

Our house is about 900 sq ft. It was built in 1913 and was originally just two rooms and the attic space. In the 40’s (I actually had the woman that bought it in 1946 stop by a few weeks ago) they closed in the porch creating a small entry way and a little room and then built another room on later. When you enter through the entry you are in the living room and every other room is off of the kitchen. We play musical rooms around here to make things work for our growing family and what was once our bedroom is now our dining room/school room. 

The little room has been a few things in the 3.5 years we have been here. An office, a toddler bedroom, and currently our family closet because we don't have any other closets. 

Upstairs is one room where we all sleep. It’s like a bunk room for the whole family. There is a dividing wall so on one side the kids have a small play area and on the other side is where our beds are. 

I currently don’t have a bed. We sold our sofa to get a day bed in our living room before I had my most recent home birth. I wanted to have a place to sleep downstairs for a while near the bathroom. In the mean time an air conditioning unit flooded upstairs and ruined out mattress. Since Isaac, my partner, is working in a different city all winter, I have been sleeping either in the living room on the pullout or in my 5 year olds bed until we get a new one. 

Who lives there?

My partner and I, our son, Theo (5), daughter, Fiona (3), baby Benedict, (5 months), and sometimes my step son, Graham (10). 

Tell me about your choice to live small as a family. Was it a conscious decision or did it just evolve?

It was a little of both. I became a strong advocate for living small when I was in design school. The way we ended up in this house was sudden though. We didn't seek it and it’s smallness out but I do like that it’s small. Most of the time.

Another angle of the Shared Bedroom

Another angle of the Shared Bedroom

How would you describe your home style? ex) modern, minimal,  bohemian, vintage?

I would say minimal with a mixture of vintage and bohemian. Honestly we don’t have any “real” furniture. It’s all hand-me-downs, from Ikea, or something Isaac built. As an interior designer I struggle with this but the last 5 years have been really tight financially so buying the sofa or artwork I love has had to wait. 

I love things to be sparse and simple but also love adding in farm house and boho elements.

The charming kitchen

The charming kitchen

What is something you love about living small?

That my family is always close together. 

What is something you hate?

I need solitude and quiet to function properly. I am an introvert and highly sensitive so among other things, clutter and noise really affect my mood. Living with 4-5 other humans means little quiet and often too much clutter and I end up acting less than kind and patient.

Home Schooling Shelf

Home Schooling Shelf

What are your best ways to beat the winter blues and keep from going crazy with kid(s) indoors?

We live in a small town without a lot of places to take the kids to play indoors. Winters can be difficult so we tend to make things as cozy as possible around here. I am really intentional about the toys my kids have so they stay occupied with toys that foster imagination. Making hearty soups and comforting meals that make the house smell good helps. We keep things simple in the winter, walks to the bakery, time at the park. beautiful books, audio books, and the wood stove help too. 


Do you see yourself and your family staying in your small space for a long time? 


I do see us staying in a small space forever but re-designing and renovating our house as the kids grow is vital. The layout of our home isn’t great but you can do a lot with 900 sq ft - so I think if we rebuild in the same footprint with a different design. It will be great. We will likely add on a little bit but I don’t want to live in a space that is more than 1200 sq ft. I am a strong believer in living in a small footprint. The plan has long been to fix our house up enough to airbnb it and travel with the kids.

Main Living Area

Main Living Area

Can you share a bit about how you homeschool and live and thrive in a small space?

We changed our bedroom into a dining room/school space. The dining table used to be in the living room and it always felt too tight that way. 

It would be great to have a separate school room for the sake of table space but this way works. For us, homeschool isn’t school at home. I think people often think that if you homeschool you are acting like you are in traditional public schooling system but at home. I know I used to picture it that way. In reality it’s just living our lives and learning as we go. We go the park, take our art journals to the bakery, cook, do a lot of art, talk about nature or animals or numbers - but Theo mostly plays with his sister. As mister Rogers says, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is the work of childhood.” As they grow things will change but for now I am focused on letting them play, read, and spend time in nature. 

Even if we weren't homeschooling we would still have all the art supplies, books, games, etc that we have now so it doesn't take up really any more space in our home. 

Living Room with the pull-out couch

Living Room with the pull-out couch

One of the reasons I started this blog was to have a positive space about living small with a family and hopefully have people let go of the shame associated with it. Thank you soooo much for being open with your beautiful home and life here. Is there anything you would want to say to someone who wants to stay in their small space with a child/baby but are nervous or feeling external pressure not to?

Stay in your small space and get creative. When you children are small they are going to be close to you all of the time anyway so there is no need to move into a bigger space and have more to clean when your time and energy is already limited. Living small makes you get clear on what your values are and live more intentionally. I think it can create tighter bonds between family members when everyone doesn't have a different room to be in. You are forced to communicate more. 

Dining Room and Home Schooling Centre of the Lovely Home of Amanda @coldcupoftea

Dining Room and Home Schooling Centre of the Lovely Home of Amanda @coldcupoftea