5 Humans and 3 Dogs Share an Incredibly Cute 800-Square-Foot Barn House
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and they don’t even have to be the one you were born with. I firmly believe you can choose who you call “family.” If your type of family involves one or more kids, you know that fitting everyone into a small home is a particular challenge. This month at Apartment Therapy, I’ll be showcasing just that—families finding clever, beautiful, and inspiring ways to squeeze everyone (and everything) into a small space. From RVs to tiny homes to petite apartments, you’ll be able to see how real families organize, decorate, and inhabit real-life homes. You’ll maybe even get some organizing ideas for your own family’s home. This tour is a look into a family of five Inuit-Métis members of Nunatukavut (a small group of Métis people with Inuit ancestry on the South Coast of Labrador in NL) who share an incredibly cute barn house in a small town in Northern Canada.
Kristin Pardy knows a thing or two about squeezing a large family into a small space. She shares her 800-square-foot home with her husband Preston (a resource enforcement officer for their provincial government), 13-year-old son Coby, 7-year-old daughter Isla, and 3-month-old son Jack. The family also includes three huskies, Bear, Blue, and Beau. Kristin, along with being an emergency medical responder for a local ambulance company, is also a blogger and YouTuber. Her website Little House on Purpose is where she shares tips and advice for parenting, organizing, living in a small home, and more.
Kristin describes their home as a small barn style single-family house with one main floor bedroom and two loft bedrooms, and to her, “it feels very much like living in a cabin everyday!” Coby and Isla each have their own loft bedrooms that are accessible by ladders. Kristen and Preston sleep in the main floor bedroom, as does baby Jack for the next few years, “even though the master bedroom is tiny!” she admits.
Tell us about how and why you chose this home and why it works for your family: We live in a teeny-tiny town in Northern Canada. The population hovers around 500 people. There isn’t much of a real estate market here so we knew that if we wanted to stay here and raise our family here, we’d likely have to build our own house. We couldn’t actually build the house ourselves and the cost of labor and construction up here in the north is pretty high. In order to keep everything affordable, we chose to go pretty small with the square footage and footprint. As a family though we’ve only ever lived in small spaces so we weren’t worried at all that it would feel too cramped.
I designed the floor plan myself. This helped so much because I was able to draw the house to perfectly suit our needs, our lifestyle, and the plot of land we already owned. The porch (we call it a porch up here, it’s mainly a mudroom type space) has both a front and back door for easy access to the backyard. I knew I wanted the kitchen window to overlook the backyard and windows on every wall of the house. Not a single inch of square footage is wasted, every nook and corner is being used for something. There aren’t any hallways and there are really only two main walls in the entire space. Because we kept the entry/kitchen/living area completely open most people are surprised at how large the space actually feels when they first walk in.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I think the most unique thing about our home is the loft bedrooms. In order to keep the footprint of the home as small as possible, we opted to erase the staircase and use loft ladders for two separate but identical loft bedrooms instead. Although our kids have to climb ladders to get to their sleeping spaces, the bedrooms are actually quite large compared to the rest of the home at about 9′ x 15′ each. I did have a moment of hesitation about the ladders when the house was being built but we thought to ourselves, if ladders were good enough for Mary and Laura (Ingalls Wilder), they’re good enough for our house, too, lol! Although the novelty of the ladders has worn off, our kids don’t mind them at all and all their friends think they have the coolest bedrooms around.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the design or organization of your small home for your family? The biggest challenge we’ve faced in terms of space and organization has come with our unexpected but welcomed third baby. We designed the house with only the two children we currently had in mind. Baby Jack will eventually share a room with one of his older siblings but that can’t happen until he’s quite a bit older and can safely climb the ladders on his own. Right now he’s room sharing with us and likely will be for a couple of years but we’ll make it work.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have, especially as they relate to having children in a small space: My number one tip for living in a small space, especially with children, is to simply own less “stuff,” and this isn’t nearly as hard as you might think it is. I do love to stay organized and my favorite organizational tools are wooden crates and bins because they can be arranged and re-arranged to suit any sized space. You can have all the best organizational tools and skills but they won’t make much of a difference if you have and continue to accumulate stuff you don’t really need. We’ve gotten good at only buying and owning what we really need and that helps so much in keeping our small space homey but not cluttered.
What’s the best thing about living in a small home with a family? Do you have any advice for raising a family in a small space? One of my very favorite things about living in such a small space, even with children, is that our house is very easy to clean! We don’t have empty rooms or extra spaces collecting clutter and dust for me to manage and clean. My husband and I split the cleaning pretty evenly and in order to keep the entire house in order it only takes a few minutes a day, a few extra minutes on the weekend, and one full day for a deep clean when the seasons change.
My very favorite family space in our home though is our kitchen table. It literally and figuratively is the heart and center of our home. Everything happens at our kitchen table. Cooking, mealtime, crafts, homework, studying, and right now even baby bathtime! There are pros and cons to everything but most of the time how you experience things comes down to your mindset. If you love and appreciate the space you have, most of the time, even if it’s small, it will feel like more than enough!
This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
See more families successfully squeezing into small homes all month at Apartment Therapy. And catch up with ones already published, like this family of four that shares an incredibly organized 170-square-foot pink converted school bus and this family of four living full-time in a 200-square-foot off-grid Airstream.