The offbeat occupant: Alissa — grad student, Episcopal priest-in-training, consultant, mama, teacher
Other occupants: My husband Andrew, the kids J and S, and the kitty Penelope
Approximate square footage: 650-1000 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? 1
Lives in: Central District, Seattle, Washington, United States
When did you move into this home? six years ago
Let’s start with the neighborhood. What’s it like where you live? We live about two miles from downtown Seattle in a neighborhood with a great walkability score and a rather bad reputation (for Seattle) for struggling with drug and crime issues.
We love our local indie coffee shop, the community center with tennis courts and an indoor pool across the street, and the bus lines that can take us anywhere. The CD (Central District) is pretty diverse — the housing crash slowed its gentrification considerably — and this is part of the appeal for us as well, as our kids are adopted and a different race from us — we’re white.
One really important part of the “neighborhood” for all four of us is the community we have within our building — a 21-unit, 1928 brick beauty, full of families with kids, singles, and gay and straight couples who are child-free. Many of us eat together regularly — we grill on the front patio, watch each other’s kids and pets and depend on each other in good times and bad. It’s pretty amazing.
What makes your home offbeat? We’re a family of four that love living in a pretty small space. Our condo is 730 square feet, one bedroom and one-and-a-half baths.
We don’t actually feel like our home is small at all. After all we’ve got the entire city right outside to play in. In fact, we garden in the alley outside. Last summer Andrew built these big gardening boxes outside our windows. It’s a great place to grow some vegetables and talk about plants’ life cycles. And the girls love to check on the growth from inside or outside, depending on the weather.
It’s not immediately apparent (unless you check out the record collection or the bookcase) but Andrew and I are offbeat in other ways too. We’re pretty geeky about sci-fi/fantasy stuffs and indie music from a wide variety of sources.
What’s the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? Andrew and I have had to sort of redefine “alone” time and get clear with letting each other know when we need it. There’s no wandering into another part of the house for a moment to oneself around here, and while that works great when the kids are up, when they’re asleep there’s just one room left to hang out in.
We’re lucky in that we like each other and find it easy to be quiet together and sometimes just to ignore each other for a bit but this more than anything has been a negotiation for us. Also the kitchen is pretty durn small.
What’s your favorite feature of your home? I love our Murphy bed. Originally the plan was to just share the bedroom with the kid (at one point there was just going be one kid) and then get a bigger place when we needed another bedroom. But our Murphy bed changed all that — plus it’s just super cool. And there’s a TV on the inside.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? This home has taught me that where I live can not only reflect my values but also has the power to shape them. We didn’t intend to stay here, and I certainly never expected to end up loving small space living or a minimalist approach to possessions, but this home has taught me the value of both and shaped the expectations I put on myself for how I want to show up as a homemaker in the world.
What’s your grandest plan for the space? OMG, so many plans, I have got layer upon layer of plans! I think the very grandest dream would be to open up the kitchen — take out the wall between kitchen and living room and completely redesign the living room/kitchen area as a great room type space. If only the electrical panel weren’t located in the wall I want to demolish… it’d be so cool though.
What advice do you have for other offbeat homies? Get to know your neighbors — our quality of life is immeasurably enhanced by the friendships we’ve formed with ours. Also, Murphy beds are cool.
Any stuff or services you want to recommend? One run through our flickr set will tell you we’re IKEA addicts. I would recommend [vendor-heart link=”http://offbeatfamilies.com/2012/09/home-key-organization”]Home Key Organization[/vendor-heart] — the lovely Stacey helped me think through organizing the bedroom for our little ladies and her advice was awesome.
Show me the decor porn!