home chic ~~ the art of living smaller

Hmmm.  Not sure if there is an “art” involved with what I am going to share.  But there was a necessity.  Allow me to explain.

I have alluded to the fact that there were some big changes hitting the Bliss House in previous posts.  I didn’t want to share anything until it was fait accompli.  So here is what has happened:

The Kiddos moved in upstairs.


(upstairs guest room awaiting permanent guests)

YIKES! Right??

Without divulging too many personal details, Belle Fille and her husband tried to make a go of living in a “developing country”.  Since saying their “I dos”, they have shared the goal of having a simple life and using their youth/education/energy by doing volunteer work and working part-time.  However, the foray into third world living, took a toll on Belle Fille’s health and they needed to come back to the States for her to get well.  But they don’t necessarily want to stay in Michigan long-term.  They still have goals and they aren’t letting her unfortunate health situation (she is already doing much, much better) completely derail them from other opportunities.

When they first returned they rented an adorable cottage very near to Lake Michigan.  They got a great deal on it because it was off-season and they were able to lease it until May 1st.  As the months ticked by, it became apparent to the “parents” , that finding an affordable rental was going to be tough.  That realization lead to another…we kind of, sort of have the space to accommodate them (blast!).  It was a realization that took a little time to really sink in…to actually accept as truth.  Because that realization could have profound effects on everyone.


…ever since we bought our home, I have felt that we bought too much house for two people.  Is it insanely huge?  No.  But our moving here also coincided with me starting my love affair with minimalist living blogs and books.  I couldn’t read enough and many purges have resulted from this.  And I was in the perpetual thought of “HOW CAN WE DOWNSIZE?”.  I didn’t necessarily want to sell/move again (unless it was to France) and there were undisputable pluses to having this house.  Like:

1.  It is cute.

2.  It is historic.

3.  We have a perfect guest/bath room situation.

4.  We have an exercise room.

5.  If an aging parent (like 85yr old MIL) needs accommodation, we can do that.

However, married adult children moving home never really entered into the thinking processes until March 2014.

And it was weird.  Brett and I both started thinking of this possibility separately but at the same time (because we have been married 20 years and evidently my mind stopped thinking independently long ago–unless of course I need to buy something he doesn’t see a need for).  He and I talked about The Kiddos situation and took an honest look at ours.  Yes, it was possible to have them live upstairs.  Fine.  We could even have separate entrances (they would use the front and we would use the back). After more discussion, head examinations, etc, we presented the idea to The Kiddos.  Surprise, surprise!  They accepted the offer.

However, if this was really going to work, and I was going to be able to keep a level of sanity, there was an absolute truth I knew I couldn’t do–EVER–if we were going to have them move in:


No way.

But the upstairs didn’t have a kitchen.  And we didn’t want to sink too much money into putting one in knowing that they may not be here that long.  Plus, should we ever move, doing anything like that and making it too permanent could devalue our home.  What to do?  What to do?

Get ideas from Pinterest.

I started thinking that doing something with a vintage feel would be fun especially since the house is almost two hundred years old.  It has established “integrity”, you know?   So I started searching for retro/vintage sinks and cabinets.  Brett called a plumber.

We decided to put the kitchen in the exercise room.  We were able to “easily” plumb this room because it was next to the bathroom.  Next we tore out the carpet to reveal the not so pretty pine floor.  There was no time to re-finish so we painted it.  In the mean time I was searching listings on  Ebay and Craigslist looking for the perfect kitchen cabinets.  I was fortunate to find the pieces we needed locally:  a sink/metal cabinet, another metal cabinet with counter top, a metal pantry.  It all started coming together nicely.


We bought an apartment sized refrigerator.  The Kiddos agreed to contribute by buying a convection oven and double burner hot plate (we decided against having a full-blown stove).  And then I had a stroke of creative genius.  This doesn’t happen often so I don’t mind bragging a bit about it.  I thought it would be great if they could have a butcher block island…not only for looks but to provide more work space.  And since I am always looking to purge something from my home I noticed a little, ill-used cabinet in my kitchen that could be transformed into something better.  Brett took the top off it and replaced it with a nice piece of butcher block (a 2’x3′ scrap piece I found on Craigslist left over from a couple who did  their own kitchen makeover with new block).  He put new wheels on it, I changed out some hardware, we added baskets on the side et voilà!  They had an island for practically nothing.  It is sooo cute and they love it!


Before we knew it, everything was done and the kids moved in.  Ironically, the day they were to move in, I turned the TV on that morning only to see the sitcom “Too Close For Comfort” being aired.  Do you remember that show?  Ted Knight starred in it and it ran in the early to mid 1980s.  It is all about the middle-aged parents sharing their home with their adult daughters, who live in the downstairs apartment.  But to make it even “funnier”, the writers decided to make the 40 something matriarch pregnant too.  Sadistic.

I couldn’t believe that of all days, and all campy 1980s shows, that’s the one I saw that morning.

And since they moved in, how has it been?

Really good.  Dare I say it…it almost feels…


Sure there have been “things” to get used to.  Mostly for us it has been the noise of walking and things dropping on the floor above us.  It is all hardwood upstairs so that stuff is going to happen.  Brett and I have adjusted to our smaller living quarters.  His office is now in the foyer (the only shared living space as the Kiddos have to walk through it to get to the stairs).  Most of the exercise equipment is in the (cramped) basement excepting the treadmill which is now in the family room (I like it better in there because I can watch “Andy Griffith” and “Family Ties”–current TV loves– while walking in the mornings).   I feel like we have finally downsized and I love taking care of just 1200 square feet instead of twice that.

As time marches on we don’t know what changes the future may bring.  The Kiddos may leave.  A parent may have to move in.  Or maybe we will sell and really go to France.  But in the mean time, we are content and happy living smaller.



18 thoughts on “home chic ~~ the art of living smaller

  1. The space you “gave” them is so pretty! Also, in case you ever decide to move, for whatever reason, having those pics is a bonus because people can see what’s possible in this house!


    • That’s a good thought! I think too if future buyers see it can be used as a second residence but doesn’t have to be, maybe it would open to a new group of buyers. I think the multi-generational living under one roof thing will only increase as time goes on.


  2. Eeeek! was my first thought – but I think you’ve done a great job accommodating them! I love all the pieces you’ve managed to find and I’m sure they are very appreciative of your wonderful generosity and kindness. It looks so comfortable and restful, How is Rockefeller dealing with the extra folk running around his house? x


    • Eeeeek! was my first thought too!! Thank you for your kind comments. Rockefeller is handling it well. He is getting use to the noises overhead but he still has a lunatic fit every time he hears someone at the front door. I don’t think we will ever get over that!


  3. What a fabulous makeover and solution for temporary long-term guests! You have a great sense of style and made it so cute and comfortable for them.


    • Thanks, Juhli. One never knows when everything can change. I know you have struggled with similar feelings about you and your hubs having too much house. At least this has helped me to see that I can live in a smaller place…and I prefer it. Once they leave, and if we are still here for a while, we will probably just close off the upstairs and continue living on one level.


  4. Congrats on making this work in a way that is beneficial to both parties! That’s a tall order and you did a fabulous job. Thanks for sharing the pics of the space – so cute and inspiring for those aspiring minimalists like me!


    • A labor of love! The space upstairs is actually bigger than the cottage they were renting before moving in. So now they have more space at a fraction of the price. So far it is a good fit for everyone.


  5. 🙂 Now I know what has been keeping you from writing for such a long time 🙂
    What wonderful people you are – fantastic that things are working out for you and that you had so much fun with your project! And the TV story…some things are just meant to happen.
    Andy Griffith show? I can still whistle the tune 🙂
    Have a very HAPPY weekend, my dear 🙂


    • Yes between this project and the forest that grew up in our back yard, things have been busy. As for the TV, thanks to Netflix I can enjoy TV again. The Andy Griffith show is a new experience for me. I didn’t grow up watching it and have only caught a few episodes in my lifetime. But I have been thoroughly enjoying this series…adore it! You have a HAPPY weekend too!


  6. Our late-40’s son moved into our basement apartment two years ago. He shares the public tv area with my husband. It won’t be a permanent arrangement be we are very happy with it. Of course he spends week-ends with the woman he is engaged to so that gives us private time. I believe there are some really creative ways for different generations to live together.


    • I agree. And I think this scenario is becoming a very common one. I can not believe the price for decent rentals in our podunk area. A better option is to buy but our Kiddos don’t want to be tied down right now. Our latest AARP magazine had an article about different family living situations and how it really is becoming the new norm to have either elderly parents living with their children or the adult children are moving back home because of loss of job/high cost of living. Interesting times, no?


  7. You’ve done a beautiful job for them!! It’s really a very loving gesture. I wish you much success with this adventure. When our children need our help, a great parent steps in to help. Bravo Heather!!!


    • Thank you. I took the pictures before they moved in. I didn’t want to do too much and not leave room for self expression. I think we should add open shelving above the sink and other counter top so belle fill can put plates/cups/etc on it giving more space in pantry. Maybe that will be the next little project. And I think the island could use a towel bar. You see? I can’t stop!


  8. You really did a great job with this. I LOVE the kitchen pieces you found, and your kiddos should be very happy! What do they have, a kitchen/dining, living area, bedroom and bath? Hey, and now you have built-in house-sitters for when you go away! : )


  9. Pingback: vintage ~~ kitchen desk | chez bliss

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