Small Home Tours: Katie of A Dutch Life's 1000 square foot Home for a Family of 5
Recently I sent out a call for those open to share their small homes on 600sqft.com. I was overwhelmed by the response and your willingness to share. Looking forward to sharing some more small homes in the future. I couldn’t be happier to begin these home tours with Katie of @adutchlife and her beautiful 1000 square foot home she shares with her husband and 3 kids.
Katie has an inspiring instagram account, and a small, thoughtful home and lifestyle shop guided by her love for the Dutch lifestyle and aesthetic. All the items in the shop are made by hand, in small batches. All photos provided by Katie were taken by Stacy Keck.
How big is your home and what is the layout?
When we bought our house 4 years ago it was 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and about 800 square feet. We gutted the kitchen and living room, and took down the wall that separated them, which gave us a really amazing open living area that's really the heart of our home.
When our daughter was born last year, we started to feel the constraints of our space. My husband is an architect, and this summer we added a modern bedroom and bathroom to the back of the house, which puts us just over 1000 square feet. After living in a very small space for many years, our home now feels palatial!
Who lives there?
My husband. myself, and our three kids - Leo (8), Nelson (3), and Holland (1). Plus our twelve year old lab and our fifteen year old tabby.
Tell me about your choice to live small as a family. Was it a conscious decision or did it just evolve?
We rented a small apartment in the urban core for many years. When we were ready to buy a house, we wanted to stay as close to the city as possible. That desire and our budget dictated the size of the house. So I guess both - a natural evolution but also a really intentional assessment of our values.
Sleeping arrangements :) ?
The boys share a bunk bed in one of the bedrooms. We moved Nelson in with Leo when he was about 6 months old. They've generally done well together - right now we have a lot of silly talk at bedtime, and Nelson is an early bird, so Leo probably wakes up earlier than he would if he had his own room. Holland has her own room, and that room functions as a makeshift playroom, with a play kitchen, a dress up drawer, and musical instruments. We installed a sliding wood door between the living room and bedrooms last year and that's really helped separate those two spaces, protected naps, and made us feel like we can have friends over for beers after our kids go to bed :)
My husband and I share the new bedroom, and sleep on the couch when we're renting it out (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/29436239).
How would you describe your home style? ex) modern, minimal, bohemian, vintage?
Our house is an old 1950's bungalow, on a raised foundation, which is really common in San Diego. The architecture is clean and simple, and we did our best to stay true to that in our renovations. Beyond that we really just fill our home with things we love, old and new. I'd like to think of our style as minimal but cozy. My hope is that our space is always welcoming and calm (or as calm as it can be with three kids!)
Is there a piece of furniture or accessory that you couldn't live without that makes living in your space easier?
We co-slept with our daughter for the first several months of her life, but at about 6 months she made it clear she wanted her own place to sleep (maybe she's an introvert like me!) and effectively kicked us out of our bedroom. We traveled to Sweden in 2013 and noted that in most places we stayed, the kids took the bedroom, and the parents slept on a pull out in the living room. That setup made a lot of sense to us, so when we got pregnant with our third, we invested in a nice sleeper sofa from Crate and Barrel. Needless to say it came in really handy when we were evicted from our room. After sleeping on that pull out for a year, it's not the most beautiful sofa, but it sure is a workhorse.
What is something you love about living small?
I love that living small forces us to live in a really thoughtful, intentional way. And maybe it's silly, but I love that I always know where my kids are.
What is something you hate?
There are time when I feel like I can't find anywhere to be alone - I'm an introvert - but my guess is this is true even in a bigger space with kids. They find you! We always laugh that all 5 of us are inevitably in the bathroom at the same time.
What are your best ways to beat the winter blues and keep from going crazy with kid(s) indoors?
We don't really deal with winter blues in San Diego, but my kids are total homebodies. When we need to change it up our go-to is baking something and inviting friends over, or heading to Balboa Park, which is our home away from home.
Do you see yourself and your family staying in your small space for a long time?
I hope so! As our kids grow we'll reassess, of course, but now that we have a third bedroom I feel like our space is so ideal for our family. My husband wants to be closer to the beach, which means if we buy another house it will probably be even smaller, and I'm ok with that.
I think Small Space-ers need to stick together and share all their best tricks. Do you have any storage or organizational tips you want to share?
I've come to accept that I'm not an organized person. I honestly think I've been able to fake it for so long by simplifying. I get overwhelmed by stuff - so for practical and philosophical reasons I buy less. My one tip would be to make sure everything has a "place". A small space starts to feel cluttered quickly, so we're constantly tucking things away. I find this to be especially true with toys, and we bought an IKEA Besta systems a couple years ago that's been a godsend. We use these really simple lidded boxes to keep toys organized inside.
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?
We really felt this pressure, and we still get a lot of leading questions, especially since our daughter was born. But the home is such a personal, intimate space, and a reflection of a family's values. Living small allows us to work less, be with our family more, and explore the city we love. And hopefully our kids are learning important skills like sharing and conflict resolution, and that happiness is not dependent on things.
I asked Katie to share a few links to some of her favourite home items. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your beautiful life in your small home. I especially love the creativity in making a slightly bigger space but renting it out at times, so smart!
Our Airbnb is "shopable" so we have a section on the Dutch website where we link to products we sourced for the Airbnb (which includes those ceramic lamp shades you liked!)
The barn door is just a custom sized solid birch door, and we used this rail!
Our kitchen backsplash is Heath
Our couch is this one from Crate and Barrel
Chairs on deck are the IKEA/Hay collab
If you’d like to share your small home on the blog please get in touch by email :)