t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


My Not-So-Big House

Lasting Impressions

Some people make lasting impressions even with casual friendships. Such is the case with our neighbors when Brent and I were newlyweds. We lived in a tiny 600 sqft basement apartment with a wonderful family from Mexico.

We were cozy, and blissfully happy, surrounded by adorable children upstairs and next door. For almost 4 years they were our surrogate children. They scoured the neighborhood for insects for my Entomology collection, bringing me dozens of crickets and cockroaches.

(I never mentioned to their parents, when with eyes shining with pride a 5 year old brought me a "cool big bug" she found in her drawer....those pesky cockroaches plagued our street...it took me about a year after moving away to not panic about the nasty things running around when I got up to go the bathroom at night...)

Back to where I started...our next door neighbors were youthful, stylish, fit, spiritual, loving parents with five gorgeous children (now eight). They treated us as equals, despite being 15 years ahead. We fell in love with their family. It was this mom, who introduced me to the "The-Not-So-Big House." For two years she drew up plans for her dream house, based on these principles. I fell in love with the concept and it has been a part of me since.

The Not-So-Big-House

The books are by Sarah Susanka. I recommend them to anyone. The essence of the idea is to value quality over quantity. Create a home to fit your family and not to impress anyone else. Find multiple, efficient uses for your space. People like to be close. Think of snuggling with your loved ones. The most comfortable homes are those which snuggle the family. My words clearly, not hers :)

We bought our home knowing it was small. At about 2500 sq feet, completely finished, it can feel like a tight squeeze, if we don't use our space effectively. Everything I do in my home, is built around the idea of bringing my family closer to me, and using the little space I have wisely.

Lately, my kitchen was feeling small. With my children's friends over, suddenly there wasn't a place for everyone to sit. Additionally, I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen and my children always want to be near...as they should be...

My solution...build a raised bar. Here is how we started....

Here is the almost completed project. It is still missing drawers. I am having 4 large desk drawers put underneath the counter top. Two on each side of the corbel. This will help with the crayon and workbook mess I constantly battle! I am so please with how everything has turned out. The finish work is beautiful.

In a stroke of fate, I found enough of my completely random, and quite unique purple tile left over in the basement from the previous owers, to finish off the new wall. Additional perks include 2 sorely needed outlets!

An exhaustive hunt for barstools turned up with these. I love the end look. It gives a whole different feel to my kitchen. Comfortable and inviting. And I love to change color schemes often, so now I am going with green...who knows how I will feel in a year!

The other thing I loved about this set of chairs, was the matching bench. Unbelievably, I found 3 darling little cushions to fit perfectly on the bench for my 3 little munchkins. How ideallyic. Seating increased from 5 to 11! Not bad. I only had to move my kitchen table over about 6 inches. I also replaced my french doors to swing out instead of in.

Wait until you see my new library I am dreaming up...hopefully it will be in the real workings soon! I thought contractors were desparate for work right now...ours is so busy. He sure does good work though.


Jennifer said...

Looks beautiful! We're considering redoing our island that has only seating for 2! What are the drawers you are adding? Where did you find them? How will they be added? Will you post pics of them when they're installed?

Sorry for all the questions, but I so need the drawers to contain the coloring/drawing stuff, too! I've got 4 littles who like to hang out with me in the kitchen!



Cissy said...

First time I've looked at your blog, and I might just keep coming if you talk about my favorites like Susanka's books. My copies are highlighted and well-loved--I can't start a project before getting into my not-so-big-house frame of mind. I look forward to reading more from you.

Rebecca said...


The drawers will mount directly under the counter top. Two between each corbel. They will be about 20" wide, 12 inches deep and 1 1/2" high. I will post pictures as soon as they are done. We are having them made custom. They should be great when they are done, it just is taking forever, he is busy!

Thanks Jen good luck with your counter redesign.

Jennifer said...

Many thanks for your response. Can't wait for the pictures!