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2 People, 600 Square Feet: Not an Inch is Wasted

2 People, 600 Square Feet: Not an Inch is Wasted

After living in a 600-square-foot studio apartment for 23 years, Ken and Linda Bolton bought their first home in 2000. “I was seeking three bedrooms, a dining room and lots of windows,” Linda says. She found all that—and more—in a tiny 1946 bungalow in central New Jersey. “Our current living space is exactly the same as our former studio apartment—but now we have walls!” she says.

Linda’s initial trepidation about the home’s size, ancient bathroom and tiny kitchen was erased when she saw the living room, “with its knotty pine walls, wide pine board floors and native stone fireplace that takes up one entire wall.” The landmark home, with rough-cut siding that resembles an Adirondack style cabin, is on a heavily wooded lot on a county road a few hundred feet from a state highway. “We have an abundance of wildlife in spite of suburban sprawl—pileated woodpeckers, deer, turkeys, foxes, raccoons or course, and, as of a few weeks ago, bear!” Linda reports.

When Ken and Linda moved in, the low-beamed ceilings made the living area so dark that they had to turn on lights during the day. One of Ken’s first projects was to raise the ceiling and install two skylights, giving them much-needed natural light and creating space for shelves and a wall-to-display of Ken’s hand-built cedar and canvas canoe.

“Thanks to Ken’s ingenuity, there isn’t a wasted inch in the house,” Linda says. The Boltons’ living/dining area is 11 feet by 20 feet, and the rest of the living space is divided into a 6-foot by 6-foot bathroom, an 11-foot by 12-foot bedroom and a 9-foot by 12-foot galley kitchen with a 5-foot by 6-foot former pantry that serves as a home office. “I can access bookshelves and my filing cabinet in my tiny nook simply by swiveling my chair,” Linda says. “I even have two windows–one looking into the woods that border our property, the other, the backyard.”

Ken’s workshop is in the two-care garage under the house, the couple further expanded their living space by adding a 10-foot by 10-foot sun porch and a 300 square foot deck.

Linda lived with the inefficient kitchen’s limited counter and storage space for 10 years before she and Ken installed a custom kitchen last spring. Ken built a pantry at the bottom of the basement stairs, giving the Boltons ample space for groceries and little-used cookware.

“Any time we’d undertake a project, we were always mindful of retaining the house’s original charm and character, from the wallpaper and curtain and upholstery fabric to replacement floor boards,” Linda says. Ken bought a book and learned about building with stone, then removed and replaced every stone in the home’s 110-foot wall. When estimates for replacing the crumbling brick and concrete front steps with natives stones came in at well more than $3,000, Ken did the work himself. “He did such a good job that a mason driving by stopped to admire his handiwork!” Linda says.

For Linda and Ken, this small home provides a simple, good life. They can’t imagine needing any more space. “We learned long ago that all we have is all we need,” Linda says. “When friends who live in McMansions visit, they marvel at the efficiency and comfort and remark that ‘you don’t need more than this.’ For anyone considering downsizing, or considering a small starter home, we say just do it! We promise you won’t miss a thing living in a thousand square feet or less. You’ll just have smaller headaches.”

Read more: Green Home Decor, Home, Inspiration, Materials & Architecture, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , , , , , ,

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Robyn Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence is editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Magazine, an eco-lifestyle magazine that bridges spa wisdom with green living. Through print, online and phone apps, Organic Spa Magazine offers expert advice and inspiration on sustainable health and wellness, beauty and skin care, fashion and travel. 


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10:08AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

Oh, how I adore smaller homes! I know they aren't for everyone, but for a person who admires those who follow a minimalist or voluntary simplistic lifestyle it's an instant mood enhancer! I bet they would have the best tips for organization~

9:55AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

I think everyone should do what makes them happy, and for the Boltons, this is great. But I just remodeled the kitchen in my wonderful vintage 1925 Spanish bungalow, and am happiest cooking is bigger than the Bolton's home, even though my house is not huge. Some of us like room to roam!

10:53PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Love it! I have about 3x that space now and feel like I'm running out of space...I need to reconfigure things! Thanks for the inspiration!

1:03AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

sweet thanks for sharing.

12:59AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011


4:05PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Cool! I'd love to have a small house like that. The house we are in now is not large, but I think for us there is a lot of unnecessary space.

5:12PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Actually, a larger space is far easier to clean than a small, cramped space where everything is cheek-by-jowl.

Our present semi-detached house is ca 80 square meters, and I consider this far too small for my liking. However, housing in Britain is astronomically expensive and we cannot afford a larger house. This house has two bedrooms on the upper floor, and no cellar or basement. There is a dearth of storage space, and my partner is definitely NOT a DIY chap! Barry couldn't build anything to save his life, but he does have other qualities.

I should also like to live in a detached house with a LARGE garden, so that I do not have to see and hear the next door neighbour constantly! Noise pollution is a constant source of great irritation to me. I previously lived in a much larger, detached house with a large garden, in a small village in middle Sweden. Before that I lived in a small detached bungalow with a not very large garden in England.

3:09PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011


8:51PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

3:17PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

I love the huge deck idea. I would love to spend more time outdoors anyway, the small size is only hard because we all have too much stuff.

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