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388 square feet

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

Yes, our house is small, very small. The main room serves as kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, and office.

Our loft bedroom covers not quite half of the main room's ceiling. The other half extends all the way up to the vaulted roof, imparting an airy feeling to the 16-by-16 foot floor space below.

Our back room houses the bathroom and washing machine, and serves as a walk-in closet for our clothes. Everything has its place. There is literally no room for anything to be left out of its intended spot after use.

So after every meal, I wash the dishes and place them to dry on a rack that sits over my three-burner stove on a board, turning my stove top into kitchen counter space. I hang my pots and pans from the exposed rafters above our 12-volt refrigerator.

I used to think that hanging pots and pans was a fashion statement, but now I know that my hanging pots and pans are a necessity. I have no room for kitchen cabinets.

Our glasses and plates are stored on shelves that run along the wall and are attached to the bottoms of the rafters. Our food pantry consists of a six-tiered set of built-in shelves that sits next to the fridge. The spices are tucked neatly into ever so shallow shelving made out of the space left by purposely exposed wall studs.

Greg built the tall, but small foot printed, end tables that sit beside our wooden, leather cushioned, rocking chairs, one placed either side of the wood stove. And the stove is the smallest one we could find. It will burn for 12 hours, when packed tightly full, but holds no more than six, split, 18-inch long, logs.

A bigger stove would have cooked us right out of the cabin. As it is, I often keep the top half of the Dutch door wide open, so that we do not get too hot. Greg built the door. He also built the windows, putting in four panes of beautiful colored glass, just for fun.

The cabin's small table, also built by Greg, is our dining room table, craft bench, and now, as I write on my laptop, it serves as my office.

Greg sits in his chair by the stove, gently snoring, for you see, we were up late last night. Two of our grown children arrived for the holidays. I saw their headlights shine across the cabin windows shortly after midnight. I climbed down from the loft to greet them. Greg soon followed.

Of course, we hugged and sat and talked for a while before I led them out to the unheated sugar shed, that also functions as our guest house. I had already stored all of my beekeeping supplies up in the shed's loft, and I had yet to bring down my maple syruping equipment.

In guest house mode, the shed reminds me of an old-fashioned motel, where each room was a small free-standing cabin. I tucked our grown young'uns into bed, covered them with piles of down blankets, and kissed them on their foreheads. They wiggled and squiggled and were soon snuggly warm.

Morning brought the warm smells of coffee and cinnamon rolls, and we took turns showering in the small bathroom. We continued talking through the closed pocket door, also built by Greg. A hinged door would simply take up too much wall space.

Then the young'uns followed us about as we did the animal chores, taking photographs on their high-tech camera and smart phones, and then they left for the city, to visit with high school friends. They will return shortly, but for the moment, our small house seems oddly empty.

One dog lies beside Greg's chair, next to the stove. The other dog lies on my feet, under the table. I feel as though I am wearing warm dog slippers.

I feel as though everything is in its place, but I also know that I look forward to the return of our young'uns, as they stretch the walls of our 388-square-foot world just a bit.

Such stretching is good for the soul.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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