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Downsizing for a better life together

28 March 2016

Five years ago Dana’s family swapped their big house, where some of the rooms were never used, for a more modest-sized place. Walking through their new home, you feel that every room is loved and lived in. ‘It’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,’ she says. ‘We’ve come to value quality over quantity. Living here has given us a new sense of freedom so we can concentrate on the personal things that matter.’

A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising A big kitchen island makes a great spot for socialising

Our kitchen is pivotal to family life. We spend most of our family time around the island, from preparing meals to doing homework and folding laundry’

Dana, interiors blogger, USA

A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family

DANA’S HOME TRUTHS

WE ARE Dana, Steve, our three children Layne (10), Everett (7) and Mabrey (3), plus our recently adopted kitty.
OUR HOME IS… a 148m² 1960s ranch house. It’s casual, natural and modern.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING SIMPLY IS… you can focus on making a home exactly the way you want it. And ours is just about us.
A NEW LIFESTYLE BRINGS OPPORTUNITIES… I’m a pharmacist by trade. But after Mabrey, I quit the day job and now write an interiors blog from home. I like to blog about people’s IKEA kitchens – it’s a great way to share ideas and inspiration.
MAKING A HOUSE A HOME… is as much about what you do in it as what you do to it.
OUR TOP TIP FOR A HAPPIER FAMILY HOME… eliminate the non-essentials!

A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family A portrait of Dana and her family

A KITCHEN OFFICE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

‘We don’t have a spare room to turn into an office so we’ve created a workstation in the kitchen instead. It’s great that I can work on my blog or catch up on emails while I’m cooking, and the kids are welcome to use it for homework or craft projects too.’

Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment Mix and match neutral shades and textures to create a soothing environment

‘This isn’t our dream home, so much as a house in which to pursue our dreams. Though it may not be our forever place to live, it’s definitely our forever lifestyle’

Dana

Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room Get more out of one room – Dana has a multifunctional mud, laundry, dining and play room

GET MORE USE FROM ONE ROOM

‘Our “everything room” is a dining room, play space, mudroom and laundry room,’ says Dana. ‘We don’t see the point of having rooms that only get used a few times a year. Good storage like our floating IKEA sideboard hack helps to keep this busy space organised.’

Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks Make it easy for kids to stay tidy with easy to reach hooks

HANG AT CHILD-FRIENDLY HEIGHTS

Make it easy for kids to dress and organise themselves. ‘The mudroom has a hook for each child to hang their backpacks, lunch boxes and coats.’

Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos Cleverly disguise functional areas with neutral curtains and fun photos

BE CREATIVE: HIDE AND DISPLAY

Dana uses curtains to conceal her washing machine and photographs to disguise the control panel. ‘It’s turned the laundry area into a more inviting place to be.’

Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes Build a cosy nook for kids in an unused area – Dana used a window space between two wardrobes

BUILD IN COSY NOOKS FOR KIDS

Dana took advantage of a window space between two wardrobes to make a small play area. ‘With good lighting, throws and cushions it’s pretty comfortable.’

Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing Keep bedroom decor simple and soothing

Create a bedroom retreat

‘Because we spend most of our time together in the family spaces, our bedroom is somewhere for us to unwind and switch off. We chose really simple decoration, soothing colours and neutral bedding so that it feels peaceful and uncluttered.’

Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear Deep drawers beneath the bathroom sink keep surface areas clear

ESSENTIALS FOR A FAMILY BATHROOM

‘Two deep drawers beneath the sink is enough storage for everyone to keep a few favourite items in the bathroom. And the step-stool helps the children reach things stored beyond arm’s reach.’

Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains Make beds into a cosy den for kids to play and snuggle in using curtains

‘The boys said they wanted their bedroom to feel like a hideout. The curtain around their bed creates a little hidden environment for them to sleep, read and play in’

Dana

Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories

MAKE IT EASY FOR KIDS TO TIDY

Save space and add practicality with simple open storage solutions in children’s rooms. ‘Our house is geared towards encouraging the kids’ independence.’

Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories Create a reading corner for kids with a comfy chair and accessories

ADD A CHILL-OUT CORNER

A comfy chair in a kid’s room is perfect for reading when they want alone time. ‘I couldn’t find the right picture to hang so I made the bullseye art instead.’

Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures Make a display area for children to show off their favourite treasures

LEAVE ROOM FOR DISPLAY

Kids love to show their favourite treasures and creations. ‘Shelves provide space for a rotating menagerie of curiosities.’

Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children Invest in flexible furniture that will grow with your children

INVEST IN FLEXIBLE FURNITURE

‘The bed in Mabrey’s room is great. We easily converted it into a toddler bed when she started climbing out of the crib set-up. It’s almost four years old, looks like new and has a small footprint. It’s been a wonderful, inexpensive investment that I hope to pass on to my sisters when they have children.’

Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family Easy-access, flexible storage is great for the whole family

Add easy-access children’s storage

‘We have a place for everything and make sure the kids can reach all their storage spots. The bookcase in Mabrey’s room holds her non-hanging clothes – the box inserts make it easy for her to take them out and put them away.’

Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan Dana’s floorplan

A HOME FOR BRINGING FAMILY TOGETHER

‘Our home is a rectangular, brick ranch built in the 1960s – typical of American suburbs in the mid-century. There’s nothing fancy about it and no exciting architectural features. Removing some of the walls helped to open up the living areas. We love that it’s so conducive to day-to-day living without any “extra” rooms waiting to be used once a year.’

Made by

Photography: Laura Moss
Styling: Emily Rickard
Follow Dana at housetweaking.com