Dreaming of a Cottage Life

This time of year, I can’t help but dream about living in a little holiday cottage, either by the sea or in the countryside. I yearn to spend every minute of my summer outdoors, enjoying greenery, flowers, butterflies, breezes…and coming inside only to prepare a simple meal or go to sleep (The Simple Poppy beautifully articulated similar sentiments in a recent post).

Of course, this is completely at odds with the urban environment in which I’m currently living, so I’ve had to be content with Google searches and digital photos (and perhaps a short stay in one later this summer).

I’m traveling this week to attend a wedding, so instead of a long, wordy post, I’m simply going to share some of the cottages I’ve been swooning over (click on the link below each set of photos for more pictures and details):

I’ll leave you to ponder this:

* If you lived in one of these tiny houses, what exactly would you need?

* How would you pare down your current possessions to fit?

* Would you be content with the barest of furnishings, a handful of clothes, and some basic cooking implements?

* Would you miss the rest of your stuff, or be relieved to be without it?

* How would it feel to live every day like you’re on vacation?

I hope these little beauties fill your soul with a sense of peace, simplicity, and serenity—and perhaps inspire you to pare down, unplug, and do a clean sweep of the clutter in your life.

69 comments to Dreaming of a Cottage Life

  • J

    Hmmm. Interesting.
    If I lived in one of these, I don’t think it would be very different than how I live now, in terms of possessions. I wouldn’t have to pare my current possessions down to fit any more than I would pare them down and jettison the kipple before any other move. I have been moving once a year or so, from one rented and furnished one bedroom flat to another, and often from one country to another, for the past 10 years or so.
    I would RELISH having the barest of furnishings, as I am always mildly distressed by the over abundance of furniture in furnished rentals. Really, who needs a credenza?!?

    • This might be a dumb question, but what’s a credenza?

      • Peta

        Joie, I think a credenza is a wall you can fold back on itself to turn two adjoining rooms into a single room.

        • crunchycon

          Actually, a credenza is a low (waist-high, maybe) piece of furniture with a flat top and cabinets or cupboards underneath. Most often, they’re found in dining rooms and might be called buffets or sideboards. In offices, they’re found behind the desk and provide counter space and storage underneath.

          OTOH, it might also be a name for one of those folding walls; I don’t know.

          • J

            I have the same idea about what a credenza is as crunchycon. A sort of low, cabinet sort of thing that people seem to want to put in entryways, hallways, or sitting rooms. They seem to have been used for entertaining, as in, usually hold the good china or table linens in the cabinets and have a tray with tumblers, an ice bucket, gin and a seltzer dispenser on top.
            But I don’t get it at all. Much the same as I don’t get why so many homes have a basket of potpurri or sea shells on the back of the toilet. What is it doing there?!? Why?!?

  • Wow… nice post. I guess for the first time you have included so many pics. :) I also dream to spend summer in such cottages. Well… in India currently its rainy season and there are no such cottages available anywhere here.
    BTW.. I liked the first cottage very much. :)

  • tordis

    when you just eat and sleep there, why bother about how the cottage looks like?

  • I would miss a few things, but I believe I would quickly acclimate. I would definitely want to be sure to have a few books along! The simplicity of it all would be amazing!
    Unleash your inner two year old

  • Sandy

    Be still my heart…. I adore cottages like these!! I already live with few possessions, but could live with even less if it meant I could live in a cottage near the coast surrounded by gorgeous countryside. It would feel amazing to live everyday like I was on vacation. I traveled to Prince Edward Island, Canada several years ago and stayed in a small efficiency cottage with an adorable, super tiny kitchen. My grandmother traveled with me, and we had everything we needed in that small cottage. Here’s the link to where we stayed. http://www.cavendishbeachcottages.com/gg_cottages_types.php?subpage=TypeA
    Great post!

  • Unfortunately, vacation houses like that are not legal houses to live in, in Belgium.

    They cost a lot, almost as much as a small house and they have a seperate status (vacation home).

    So it’s not worth the effort, although it would be nice to be able to live in one.

  • anne

    I dream of such a space/life. We have a great deal of greater paring down to do, but one of these days…

  • Caroline

    I like these for a vacation, but I’m not sure I’d want to be there to live. Maybe if I tried it I would change my mind. I think I would get rid of some of the stuff in these places, not to make it more minimalist, but because “shabby chic” is not my style. If you can find stills of the house boat from “Munich” (the movie, not the city :P), that’s a place I could see living in very contentedly for awhile, or forever.

      • Caroline

        Those are neat, but it’s not the houseboat that I like. It’s the style from the movie – the 1930s-70s(ish, I’m just guessing) Germanic / Nordic (whatever) furniture and decor. My grandparents came from Germany in 1957 and brought ALL their stuff with them. Not very minimalist, but very cool looking. Munich has similar stuff, except even better. It was one of those movies where I was appreciating the background more than the action..not that it was terrible..

  • It was the fact that we loved living so simply while on vacation that has inspired us to live daily as if we ARE on vacation! This is what we strive for and it is almost a reality. Still ridding myself of excess furniture and other things I no longer want. An added incentive to this right now is figuring out what we own to renew our rental insurance next month–it’s so much LESS than last year since we’ve pared down our possessions, our insurance will now be lower! So exciting!

  • I am currently actively investigating ‘micro houses’ with the aim of eventually owning one of my own. I love the idea of a sleeping loft that literally just has a matress, after all what is a bedroom for? Room to prepare food, get clean and chill out – what more do I need? It will need me to get rid of an awful lot more stuff (my 1 ned flat is still on the full side) but I am enjoying the process.

    If you or any of your readers have any tips or sites re micro houses I’m keen to read up.



    • The Graduate

      Rowdy Kittens has a fantastic blog about simplicity and microhomes. she and her husband are building one! The blog also has many of links to other microhome ideas from others! Happy reading!

  • Deborah

    I am strongly drawn to a simpler, less cluttered living space, no question.

    But I am an artist and crafter. I have supplies. Not a roomful mind you, but those things are my tools. I need them.

    If I don’t create, I wither.

    Where does craft and art fit into minimalist living?

    • The Graduate

      I think craft and art fit into minimalist living perfectly. The blog Becoming Minimalist has some excellent points about paring down to the point where what you own honors the life you want to live. It is not so much about the “amount” of stuff that you own so much as having the things you use and enjoy without excess. Minimalism to me means that we clear out all of the clutter to make room (both mental and physical space) for creating the life we want to live without distractions or hurdles. I am the same with photography. I could not care less about books, clothes, sports equipment…but I keep my vintage camera collection as well as the tools I currently use. Minimalism has allowed me to let my hobby shine, to be the focus of my life…with the physical, financial, and emotional freedom to pursue it with my whole heart. Minimize the excess and let your craft and art shine!! Best wishes on your artistic adventures :)

      • Nicole

        Totally agree with the Graduate. I have two young girls who love gluing, pasting, drawing, playdoh, painting, glitter, anything made out of toilet rolls etc etc. We have cleared alot of visual clutter and have made our craft easy to get to. We don’t have many toys because they simply don’t use or need alot since they are more craft orientated. So minimalism has let the light in on what we need as a family and we have let go of what other people think we should have.

      • Another artist here, with a room devoted to my studio. Oh yes, I sooo agree it’s about what adds value to your life, to your happiness, to your soul. I struggled at first thinking the same thing, Deborah, but then I realized that there were so many other things I didn’t care about owning and if I couldn’t create I wasn’t living, not to mention it’s my livelihood.

        I am paring back on my materials, as I write this, once I did some soul searching and found my focus (in my craft) which is allowing me to get lean and mean about it. It actually helps my creativity flow when my studio is NOT cluttered and over flowing with piles of stuff. I’m working on how to make my process, tools and supplies be more compact and flexible for moving around and adapting to small places. And how to store things to get the most for the least space AND be packable. That way I’m not dependent on a certain amount of space that may not work in the future. (I hope to move overseas this year, which means fitting into an apt. about one quarter space of what I’m used to) It’s feeling really good!

        • Deborah

          I hear you about a well thought out workspace and manageable supplies. I just went through my craft and art supplies recently and pared it down to some stackable containers that I can see through so I don’t have to dig around to find things. For me, if my workspace gets TOO chaotic, I can’t focus on what I’m doing. So I have a built in minimalist in my head! ;-)

          We have to work it out one way or another because…

          No Art, no life.


    • I agree with The Graduate. Minimalist living and being an artist CAN go hand in hand. It seems like a paradox, but it isn’t to me. I like flat, clean, colorful spaces, and I only keep the art supplies that I use all the time. I still feel like I have too much “stuff” but like The Graduate said, it isn’t about the AMOUNT of stuff so much as what makes you shine as a person.

      Finding that perfect balance can be challenging, and I’m still learning as I go. I wish there were more minimalist artists to share their workspaces and lifestyles so we could get inspiration from them. I just think we’re a rarer breed. :)

  • In 2008 when I lived in Paris for four months, it was in a space of 250 sq. ft.: living, dining, study, storage, laundry, and sleeping allllllll in same space. It was glorious. One end of dining table was dining, one end was study. Clothes stored in neat piles on shelves (one suitcase only). Groceries in 1/2fridge or one cupboard or on table. Fantastic. Would I love it forever? Not sure… but worked out far better than I thought for 4 months… as long as there was a big window that opened into street.

  • Julia

    Great post, and good timing! I just got a wonderful little book from the library, “Tiny Houses” by Mimi Zeiger, published by Rizzoli. 200 pages of photos of splendid little, tiny houses in ideal settings, and wonderfully minimal. I immediately thought of you, Francine, when I started flipping through it! Really worth a look! Makes me say ahhhhh.

  • Sarah

    Peace, simplicity, serenity; what else do we need in life :) Only to make room for these three…If I were to live in a cottage or a tiny house, I would choose to pare down even further with pleasure and have only the basic stuff; I dream of living that life almost daily. What I will absolutely need, though, is a piece of land where to grow my own vegetables and herbs. And I believe we’ll make it happen when my husband’s children grow up and leave their half-a-nest with us :D

    Great post, once again!

    @Sandy: Same with me, and I adored the Anne of Green Gables books as a teenager! It would be lovely to visit Prince Edward Island some day.

    • Sandy

      @Sarah – I am a redhead (although it’s become browner/more auburn as I’ve grown older) and adored Anne of Green Gables as a teenager as well! Visiting PEI was a dream come true. I hope you get the chance to go someday. It was a lovely, lovely trip!!!

  • Heather

    * If you lived in one of these tiny houses, what exactly would you need?

    * How would you pare down your current possessions to fit?
    I would just take my clothes, a few personal items, some toys for DS, our bikes and the pets. : )

    * Would you be content with the barest of furnishings, a handful of clothes, and some basic cooking implements? OH YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!

    * Would you miss the rest of your stuff, or be relieved to be without it? I would be relieved to be without it. It’s just stuff. Happiness is more important.

    * How would it feel to live every day like you’re on vacation? SWEEETTTTTT!!!!

    Thanks for this post. It is really making me rethink a few things. : )

  • My grandparents have an adorable historic cottage that I’d love to live in one day. I don’t think I’d have to pare down much beyond what I’m already doing, actually – I’ve never lived in a place with a lot of space. That cottage would probably actually be the most spacious place I’d ever have lived in up to that point. For me though, I also like being downtown in the middle of the city, so I guess I’d want to split my time between the two.

  • Beautiful, simply beautiful!

    What does one need in a place like that.. if it’s surrounded by nature, all we need is the extreme basics to enjoy ourselves :)

    best wishes from the Netherlands

  • Linda Sand

    These one bedroom condos overlooking the Pacific Ocean are on my list of places I could live once we move out of our RV. http://www.seasidebeachclubcondos.com/ I would likely have to get rid of the existing furniture to get simpler things to suit my taste but I loved having a great room overlooking the ocean when we vacationed there. And I loved being able to walk the prom along side the beach to the restaurants and shops downtown. Yes, we would likely have to pare down even more as these units were built to be motel-type rental lodging so don’t have as much storage space as even our 35-foot motorhome has.

  • Brenda

    I am definitely a proponent in living in smaller spaces, but feel that the increasingly-popular “tiny houses” would be too cramped for me. However, these cottages would be the *perfect* size! I would more than likely have to pare down my current belongings, particularly my kitchen supplies! But one aspect of living in vacation cottages that I would miss, depending on the location, is the proximity to groceries, etc. or a sense of community. On the other hand, the added bonus of living in such beautiful, peaceful surroundings might be worth it!

  • Some of us already live in spaces much smaller than those lovely cottages, though I presently struggle to fit in my current dwelling. So far I haven’t missed any of the things I used to have in my larger house. My biggest problem is learning to stop accumulating things I don’t really need. I’ve no problem with furnishings (mine are built in), clothes (I’ve never been a clothes horse; I wear them when needed for comfort or when society expects me to), nor cooking implements. My biggest vice and what I find the hardest to give up is tools and technology. OTOH, I’ve found technology quite helpful to downsizing – Iit enables me carry a roomful of music or books in the palm of my hand, for example.

  • Mayfair

    I have always wanted to live in a small cottage, all white on the outside & inside, with lots of rose bushes blooming near a large open porch. I love sheep, so I would want a few of them grazing in a lot outside. Really appreciated the pics of the first cottage you showed.

    I am still at the paring-down possessions phase of my life right now, but I could foresee a day when all I needed to bring would be one closet of clothes, my sewing supplies, a bed & comfy white slip-covered sofa, husband, and pets. Right now, I have way too many clothes & a mountain of sewing fabric. (I am a quilter, so it became a guilty habit to collect fabric. lol) My husband & I also have way too many books & we’re trying to weed them out & find them new homes:)

    * Would you be content with the barest of furnishings, a handful of clothes, and some basic cooking implements? Yes—if only I could get there sooner. This is my daily goal & I try to do something toward this every day.

    * Would you miss the rest of your stuff, or be relieved to be without it? I think I would be relieved to be rid of about 70% of the stuff I currently own. The only thing I regret getting rid of (ever) is one pair of black wedge shoes for which I have been unable to find a replacement pair. I wish I still had them so I could at least look up the manufacturer or code # to find a replacement pair. Throwing those out about 3 years ago has been a constant source of irritation for me. They were well-loved, worn often, and in the end, worn out…but they were the best shoes I have ever had.

    * How would it feel to live every day like you’re on vacation? It would be great…I always feel like I have just the essentials with me on vacation, and if I need something else, I can find a replacement or make do without.

  • Kathleen Moscato

    I would love it! But would my DH and two lively boys… they probably would end up loving it. I could see myself living in a tiny house, hubby isn’t so sure, but he could probably do one of these. My boys are growing and they are only going to get bigger, so at times I worry about them fitting into the small places I would love to live. I don’t think I would have any trouble getting rid of most of my stuff, I have gotten rid of so much so far. It is learning how to live my path while living with my “three boys”. I would love tolive on the beach, it would feel so freeing to me and I think it would be a great place for my boys to get out and be free as well. I am going to work on this. We currently live in a 2000sq. foot house (actually small compared to many of the houses in So. California), I think I could do about 1200sq. feet less as long as my boys had a place to RUN RUN RUN!!!

    • Kat

      We live in 1200 sq ft now with 3 daughters & I love it!! It’s so much easier to clean & you have to keep things picked up & pared down. I do wish it had 1.5 bathrooms instead of 1 some days because with 4 females in the house, sometimes it’s hard for my hubby to get a turn in the bathroom. LOL What really helps is that we train horses & we spend almost all our time outdoors & in the barn. By the time we get home in the evenings, all anyone has the energy for is to shower, eat, & sleep.

  • If I were to live in one of those little cottages, I wouldn’t need to be changing much of what I own now. Interestingly, just today my husband and I were just talking about what it would be like to live on Coronado Island in San Diego; we were walking the streets of this wonderful little beach town and dreamed of living there.

  • I love that everything is included in one space. Even if you lived mostly outdoors, I can also imagine cozily reading a book and sipping tea inside on a day when rain poured down or a gale blew in.

    When I was in college, I lived for a while in a totally charming small studio cottage in a backyard of a larger house that was similar to these. It had a tiny kitchen, the size of a closet, with a miniature sink and miniature oven/stove (there was oddly a normal American-sized fridge–that is, giant–in the main room). It also had a separate bathroom with a claw-foot tub. An artist had lived there before and there were many beautiful little touches.

    Besides clothes and textbooks, in the cottage I had a futon couch-bed, a small round table and three chairs. It felt like living in a dollhouse.

  • Dawn W

    Anyone interested in living in a really tiny space,much smaller than a cottage,should check this out:http://www.care2.com/causes/the-cube-project-when-small-means-home.htmlne – But I love the cottages in those pics.Beautiful.

  • jenifer

    I can’t tell from the pictures how big the cottages are, but our cottage is probably about 500 square feet. it’s technically a “two bedroom” but it’s all opened out. I will describe. :)

    You come in the front door into a tiny hall way. it’s as wide as the door, and as long as the door if the door were laid on the floor. :D once you squeeze around the door to get in, immediately to the left is the “second bedroom” which is 10 ft by 7.5 ft.

    The first bedroom is to the right of the door, but the door to this room is on the “far end” of the hall. This room was also 10 by 7.5, but the 7.5 ft wall was removed (all but about 2 ft of it) and opens out into the lounge.

    coming down the hall, and the edge of the bedrooms, there is a lounge. it is about 12 ft by 15 ft — if that. And then just to the left of the hallway is the kitchen, which is 12 ft by 10 ft. the long wall between the kitchen and lounge (which probably would ahve just had a small opening) was also removed, so it opens out into a sea view.

    just beyond the kitchen is a mud room and bathroom — these rooms are not at all large really, but I haven’t measured them. And they lead out into a courtyard garden.

    we own:

    a table and 6 chairs. the table technically seats 4 and is an antique dutch oak table that we got used for $200. The chairs are french cafe chairs that we got used for $60 for all 6 of them.

    we had to buy our own washer/dryer and fridge. We got all three used for $230.

    we also have our bedroom furniture. Our new, sustainably made, organic king size bed and a tall boy dresser that holds all of our inseason clothes (DH, myself, and our 3 yr old son). Anything out of-season is stored in our suitcases, which are in the “second bedroom”.

    In the lounge, we have a day bed (with storage underneath) plus DS’s toys, and we’ll be bringing in some shelves for our books. we also have a fire place screen because our fire place is not pretty (1970s gas thing — very retro), but it’s great for heating the house!

    in the second bedroom, it’s designed to be used as a dressing room/closet. the far end of the room is set up with a shelf and bar just as a closet would be. underneath that shelf, we put up a rack that we had for our entry closet in our previous place. Here, it houses our in-use business files, home file, and our drop zone. on the shelf above, we have the child’s car seat (since we dont’ have a car, but sometimes rent one), and our suitcases (which hold our out-of-season clothes). we hang our coats and any hanging clothes on the bar (not many) and have our shoes below them.

    not too much stuff. :)

    We love living here. it is like vacation living all the time. I love the constant sound of the sea, and I can sit and watch the world go by from my bedroom and lounge windows (and from the kitchen too!).

    in the

  • AussieGirl

    What size cottage are we talking about here? I am moving into a 900sq ft home soon – 5 people + 1 pet living there. Does this count as a cottage? :)

  • Gil

    I love the cottage pictures at the top. Ideally, just what we need to live and that’s it. I would be willing to have even fewer possessions than I do now. It seems the outdoors seeps naturally into this house.

    Now you gave me an idea, Francine :)

  • Wonderful! One of these, with a sea view would be my idea of heaven. My husband and I are going to spend the next two years ‘downsizing’ our possesions, so that our dream can become a reality :)

  • Diane

    LOVE the first one! No problem living there, few possessions, simple pleasures, it would be a dream come true! My possessions have been paired down already, just give me a view of the sea, and I’m there.
    Jenifer–where do you live? It sounds heavenly!

  • jenifer

    I live in NZ. the day bed in the lounge has two mattresses (thin/firm and natural latex) so that I can have two guests — one on the bed, and one on the floor.

    DS is only three, so he sleeps with us, but as he gets older, he’ll likely move to the day bed. Then he’ll get the floor (as kids are fine with) when we have two guests. :)

    • Mayfair

      Jenifer, your cottage sounds wonderful! I would love to have a cottage by the sea. What a lovely home atmosphere you have described for us. Thanks! :)

  • I work as an au-pair at the moment and the family I work for just moved from Belgium to New York. I had my suitcase and they shipped a container. The mom keeps telling me how useless it feels to drag all this “stuff” around when she doesn’t really miss it when it’s gone.

    But at the end of August I will downsize from a suitcase to a carry-on and live “on the road” instead and basically go where the wind takes me (the post about your brother really inspired me – that’s how I want to live my life).

    Having only a little “stuff” really makes life easier. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want. No hassle.

  • It would be FABULOUS to live in something like one of these! Especially if it were in a quiet, pretty area! I would love being by the beach the most, I think, but I could also do something in a wooded area by some mountains, or even in a field.

    * If you lived in one of these tiny houses, what exactly would you need?
    What would I need? Clothes, toiletries, cooking equipment, my computer, my dog, and my art supplies! Maybe some gardening stuff because how could you NOT have a garden in a place as fabulous as this?

    * How would you pare down your current possessions to fit?
    Oh absolutely. If it came furnished I’d sell off all my own stuff. If not, everything I own would probably fit will into one of these with room to spare.

    * Would you be content with the barest of furnishings, a handful of clothes, and some basic cooking implements?
    No, but that’s because I’m an artist. I will need my computer and art supplies. If I’m surrounded by beauty how could I NOT paint in it? So really, not too much else would be necessary.

    * Would you miss the rest of your stuff, or be relieved to be without it?
    Even if I pared down from what I had now, I’d be happy. Just so long as I’ve got the basic necessities, art supplies, and maybe even my Xbox (I know, how minimalist of me… :X) and I’d be happy.

    * How would it feel to live every day like you’re on vacation?
    Fabulous. Just fabulous!

  • Peta

    I live in one of these now! It is a beautiful 1 bedroom timber cottage in the mountains… I look out to large trees, and rolling lawns..and luckily I am still reasonably close to the main city (50mins away).

    It is a rectangle and has:
    1 living space
    1 U shaped kitchen open to living space(smaller benches than regular)
    1 Double Bedroom
    1 Bathroom with shower, vanity, loo and washing machine/dryer facilities.
    All windows are timber sash, and in all directions I see the beauty of nature. The ceilings are plaster with exposed timber trusses.

    I have pared down my stuff, so that all I have is what is needed for today’s living…no remnants of the past, no things for the future, just what i need now, the tools for becoming who I want to be so I can experience the things that nourish my soul.

    When I first moved in here, I felt I had to psychologically shrink to fit, if that makes sense. I did feel cramped. But I adjusted well, and I think I would need to adapt a lot to be in a big home now.

    It feels small, easy, secure, clean, perfect here!

  • Cynthia

    I’m in an exciting waiting pattern right now. Spent the last year craigslisting everything and got rid of 80% of my stuff. Even the outhouse and chicken coop. I want to sell in a year. I’ve singleparented 3 kids and the last will graduate in a few years but I plan on selling next year and hanging around until she graduates locally in an apartment. Although it’s liberating without all the stuff, I might have gone overboard by ditching all the curtains. I miss the coziness. I noticed I’m drawn to curtains, tablecloths, linens that make a home cozy but am glad of getting rid of the clutter that came with it. So I’m torn. I hope my kids notice by example things don’t make the person, like I learned from my dad, but I do want them to like their home. We live in an upper middle class town with wings on the houses and circular driveways except us. We have a 1200 ft bilevel which is too big now that the kids are leaving. I need simplicity, beauty and coziness. If anyone has a suggestion on how to make a place cozy without reverting back to clutteriness, I’m open. Curtains maybe? But they get dusty and are really not necessary. See, I’m stuck. I even put a few pictures back on the wall and am afraid of losing all the hard work I did and regressing. How can you make a room cozy. By the way, the cathedral ceiling don’t help in the coziness department. Looking forward to hearing from you guys!

    • Heather

      I like my curtains..I bought enough to match in all the rooms. Makes it seem more comfy to me. Also, I like candles. I also hang up my own pictures that I framed. I picked my favorite 5 an have them all in matching frames. If you have high ceilings, hang the curtains rods higher and use the picture frames to go up the wall, maybe on a diagonal. I use larger pieces, keeps out the clutter. Can you paint? Paint helps cozy things up if you are not a white wall gal. : )

      • Karen T.

        Simple, washable curtains or valances can be dusted with a wool or feather duster, and washed and hung up slightly damp (to remove wrinkles) every spring. I also like candles to add coziness, since I don’t have a fireplace. I find that wood floors, wood furniture, and wood window blinds add warmth as well. Like Heather, I’ve picked 4 favorite family photos (8 x 10) and matted and framed them alike.

  • Ariel

    The insides of these are just like what hubby and I had when we lived in Ireland, the only difference being the outside (we were in the city). We had studios or TINY bedrooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom. Before we went we got rid of all or our furniture, put the gifts we had received at our wedding two weeks before in our mums’ attics, and took a suitcase each with clothes, shoes and our laptops. He brought a CD wallet with movies and I brought stationary and jewelry. When we arrived we got the basics at IKEA (one pan, 2 glasses, 2 mugs, a chopping knife, etc). I was in school so really only needed the bed or couch to read on, then a surface (kitchen table) to write on. I didn’t miss anything! Except I think a cheese grater a couple of times, and when I wanted to make an apple pie I couldn’t find a proper pie pan, and made it in a cake pan with no lip, oh well. The experience was so liberating and life-changing! Now we are back in California with a 665 sq foot apartment, and I like that too. It has a big kitchen because I love to cook and make a mess everywhere, and it is nice to have two different areas (bedroom and living room) because hubby and I have different bedtimes, so we don’t bother each other. Our minimalistic year stayed with us though, and we don’t have much more than what we did in Ireland. The only things we have that we don’t need are now a hamster, and lots of serving platters I got from the wedding, but I still try to use them often, as I really do love them…just not ready to part with them yet! (the platters, not the hamster, she stays ;)).

  • Leela

    I have been following your blog for quite some time, and even turned some friends onto it, but I haven’t commented before. I just wanted to say how in love I am with the second cottage pictured (the one with the white exterior). I just wish it was meant for permanent living, because I really do want a house that size and that simple. It is just so beautiful!

  • Honestly I tried to think about what it would be like to get rid of almost everything I have now and I could feel my heart racing. I don’t know why it’s so hard to part with stuff, but it is. Granted, we got rid of a lot of stuff last year and continue to do so but for some reason we still have a houseful of items.
    I remember the previous owner of our house saying she was amazed at how much stuff her family accumulated in the four years they lived here, and said “the bigger the house the more stuff you find to fill it with”.
    It’s amazing how much space we can fill in a 1600 square foot home.
    In Greece, where my family is from, many 4 and 5 person families live in 1-2 bedroom cottages or condos. My mother grew up in a two bedroom small home with one tiny kitchen, a bedroom she shared with two other siblings and a sitting parlor. There was one small bathroom they all shared, and they were luck to have indoor plumbing.
    My father grew up in a tine cottage with 2 younger sisters. Again it was two bedroom, and they didn’t have indoor plumbing. Every time I visited my grandparents there growing up and had to use the outhouse I came home so grateful to have a bathroom with a toilet!
    It definitely helps to put things in perspective when we see how other people in other parts of the world.
    I’m inspired now to go fill more bags and boxes with unnecessary clutter!

  • runi

    I looked up “credenza” on dictionary.com. It said sideboard or buffet. It also had a second definition–something about office papers.

  • runi

    Yikes! The interior pictures suggest that these cottages have a LOT of stuff in them.

  • I’m looking at tiny old houses by the sea. They used to build these 40-80 sf houses, many of them have been added to but there are still quite a few original small ones out there popping up for sale and they are so much cheaper and the “normal” size houses.

    We now live in a 600ft one-bedroom apartment (by the sea), the three of us, and our apartment is quite spacious. I’d still love to downsize more of our possessions though we could easily fit what we have now to our future small home.
    I love having only the basics and anything more irritates me. Getting rid of excess is liberating.

    The way I make our home cozy is by using wood and other natural materials like linen and wool. We don’t have curtains or art (though I’m an artist!) or knick knacks, but I “decorate” with everyday objects. Our daughter’s toys give splashed of color, and in the kitchen a vintage enamel bowl full of apples and my wooden cooking utensils serve as decoration. I find coziness in old, worn things, like our vintage rag rugs. You can be very minimalist and still have a cozy yet light and bright home. It doesn’t have to be cold or stark or look like you’ve just been robbed. I prefer a monastic austerity, but for our daughter’s sake we have a bit more :) But being a minimalist sure makes living with a toddlers easier!! :D

  • Jaime

    * If you lived in one of these tiny houses, what exactly would you need?

    Not much, the same stuff that I have now. Plus the internet. =)

    * How would you pare down your current possessions to fit?

    Not very much, everything I own except the bed and couch is very minimal.

    * Would you be content with the barest of furnishings, a handful of clothes, and some basic cooking implements?

    Yep. As for clothes, I need more than a few, clothes last longer when you don’t wear the same things over and over. As for basic cooking. Well we have a grill, steamer, and a crockpot. Our meals tend to be pretty basic. I would still use those cooking items to cook our food.

    * Would you miss the rest of your stuff, or be relieved to be without it?

    Since I’m a minimalist and don’t own that much to begin with there’s nothing to miss.

    * How would it feel to live every day like you’re on vacation?

    Awesome. I’d love to not go to work. lol. =)

  • Z

    Lovely. I’m already sort of this way – my house is 1375 square feet but I don’t keep a lot in it. It’s nice to have some stuff but I don’t miss it too much when I’m away where I like to go for summer, a studio apartment with just a suitcase of clothes and a few books. Internet access to libraries makes it possible to have a lot fewer books and papers, which helps me.

  • Henny

    I’m not sure if these are minimalist enough for your taste, but I rather like these:

    Ross Chapin has the lovely concept of “pocket neighborhoods”

    Only a minimalist could live in the Tumbleweed homes – they really are tiny!

  • Kathryn

    This entry came at the perfect time. I have just retired, and moved from a 3,000 SF brick rancher in a Virginia suburb of Washington to a 1400 SF 30+ years old, extremely cute-to-me Magnolia trailer (the kind with pull-out sides: pre-double-wide) on 13 acres in Texas. In the process, I went from a fully furnished standard house for a family of 5 to just me, the dogs and the horses. Got rid of tons and tons and tons of stuff – including about half my books, plus serious amounts of furniture, kitchen ware, dishes, clothes, bedding, etc, etc, etc. Ran out of time before the movers came and still have much to find homes for. But this entry inspired me to not tear down the trailer and build a regular house, but live in it as it is. It’s simple, sunny, and paid for. Previous owners had tried to turn it into a ‘real’ house, with fancy curtains (think Scarlett’s dress) with ornate rods, for example. I am giving these to charity and just keeping plain 1″ blinds that open the place up to the outdoors wonderfully, while snugging it down after dark. I will never be a minimalist in the true sense: I must have my books, and all the tchotchkes from a lifetime of world travel. But the dogs are allowed to bring in any sticks they want to chew; I am barefoot inside and out. It FEELS like a cottage, and think we’re going to be happy here.

  • Tina

    I am taking a big pile of books and magazines to give away. Hoping to downsize to fewer bookcases. I don’t own very much and my husband has been better about not buying. We
    Now share one car and walk more places. I was talking to someone this morning about buying more accessories second hand. I hope more people see beauty in used things and
    Empty spaces.

  • Tina

    There’s an ad on TV where the man trips over a toy on the floor and wakes the baby who wakes the grandfather. They want you to take out a loan for a bigger house, rather than pick up the stuff off the floor. We don’t live as tiny as we could because my husband wants to live bigger than we do. I could see us living in a smaller 2 bedroom without a den or a second full bath. I love the tiny spaces I have seen in decorating books and on decorating sites.

  • Tina

    I don’t think I would like to live in a cottage. We had a small house for about 25 years and there was a lot of maintenance. We live in a condo— it’s an apt but we own it. We have 1 car which we park indoors and we are close to public transportation and shopping. I would like to give away more things, especially my Mom’s books and clothes. We never turn on the heat as we are on a middle floor.

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