I Love a Large, Beautiful Home; I Just Don’t Want to Clean it

The house after I gave it a top to bottom cleaning /photo by Kevin Pieper


We spent this past weekend back in our hometown. We had a lot of good food and good times with our friends, which included going and visiting their homes.

All of them very beautiful and much more immaculate than I keep mine! As I’ve written before, I’m not a terrible housekeeper, but I’m not and never have been, my mother either.

Some of these homes we’ve spent considerable time in, such as our former neighbor’s. We lived across the street from them for 17 years and their home almost feels like home to us, we had so many holidays, events for their kids, 4th of July pool parties and just evenings visiting with them.

One was another friend who moved to this house after we moved, we’ve been there several times; I even spent a night there on my way to a professional conference last summer.

The last home we visited was for the first time. Like us, she lives in the country with their rescue dogs.

When we were sitting and visiting, in each of our friend’s homes, I kept finding myself looking around at different things, some of which I wished I still had room for: My china cabinet with my pretty “good” dishes, a large sofa and two recliners, lots of kitchen cabinet space and my own bathroom.

But during each of our first two visits, our friends (now in their 50s and 60s) complained about the maintenance, about the time they still have to take from their weekends to clean homes that were meant for a family with more than two people, bedrooms and space that go unused, only there to give our friends more housework to think about. “Even for a ‘quick’ run through,” one of our friends told us, “It takes three hours to clean.”

Then there are the utility bills, rising, like everything else, by the month.

Those comments made me glad I don’t have those spaces to clean anymore, china to wipe down, carpets to clean and bedrooms that only gather dust, or are a catch all for the other stuff we don’t know what to do with anymore.

If it’s tough on people when getting older who are good at housework, it would be murder on me.

Thank goodness for my small, carpetless home where a quick run through is 15 minutes and a three hour cleaning would mean a deep clean.

If you live in a small space, do you ever walk into someone’s home and think, ‘This is amazingly beautiful and it would be nice to have, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to clean it!?”  

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33 Responses

  1. Yes, my mind tends to equate square footage with housekeeping. I’ve had several friends lately who’ve downsized their homes. It’s true that it’s easier to keep a smaller home maintained, clean.

  2. Pamela says:

    I laughed out loud when I saw this post title in my feed reader. I can so relate.

    I loved my 6 bedroom, 3 story city town house with two fireplaces and crystal chandeliers. But the size combined with city pollution entering every draft window meant it was never clean.

    I was thrilled to downsize to a 3 bedroom house in a less polluted city. And now, a decade later, I’m ready for the boat. Nothing easier than hosing your home down. 🙂

  3. HeatherL says:

    I’m all for smaller houses for maintaining them, too. But normally people who live in bigger houses don’t use all the space, so it should stay relatively neat for awhile.

  4. Valorie Mackison says:

    My family of 4 (plus saint bernard) live comfortably in a 1040 sq. feet shotgun house. Over the course of it’s 112 years, previous owners added additions onto the rear of the home to allow for a bathroom & a second bedroom.

    I’ve had to get creative with storage due to limited space. The layout of the house is the largest issue, as 200+ sq. feet was consumed by hallway when we bought the house. I am a minimalist at heart, so there is no *junk* to be stored.

    750 sq. feet (3 rooms) have 10 foot ceilings, so storage often goes up, rather than out. I’m considering double stacking the wall cabinets in our kitchen, along one wall. There is room for them & it would be an ideal place to store our kitchen overflow.

    I do grow weary of listening to family complain that my home is too small. It is perfect for *me* & they don’t have to live here! They are spoiled by my Grandmother’s home, I think.

    My grand parents built their 2700 sq. foot house themselves & consists of first floor-kitchen, bathroom & washroom, 2 bedrooms (one master), living room & dining room.. basement-kitchen, bathroom & washroom, 2 bedrooms, office, living room & dining room, plus storm shelter

    I can understand the appeal of having a relative’s house to stay at, when visiting. The reality is that she can no longer keep up with the maintenance & cannot afford the increase to utility bills etc when family stays with her.

    (By the way, the home displayed in the image at the top is lovely!)

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Valorie, on the compliment of the photo of our house. This was one of the photos that appeared in Mother Earth News. You’re right, your family doesn’t have to live in your home and you don’t have to take care of theirs. 🙂 We had about 1,100 sq. ft. in the city and for two people, it was really too much. We had a whole room that went unused, 2 living rooms (technically a family and living room) and more space to just throw junk we didn’t need. If I had my way, this house would have been at least 600 sq. ft and designed a bit better for everyday living (it was built as a part time lake home), but we’ve adjusted. Your house sounds very cute. I hope you share some photos with us on our Facebook page!

  5. Alisa Bowman says:

    I like to dream about big houses, but mostly I feel comfortable in a small house. I don’t like big space around me. I guess I like to den or something. I’m the same way with cars. The smaller, the better.

  6. merr says:

    We just moved. Our place is bigger and smaller – bigger in sq feet, smaller in room numbers (2 now, but still 2-1/2 baths). It feels less fragmented, somehow. Easier to assess what needs to be done.

  7. Jane Boursaw says:

    I can’t afford my cleaning person right now, and our house is a complete disaster. I’m determined to make some headway on it this weekend. I keep dreaming about a day sometime in the future when I can get a smaller house!

    • Kerri says:

      I’ve only hired a cleaning person once, complete disaster. But, we’ve got a system now. With two of use working on it, it usually takes about 1 1/2 hours or less for a full cleaning. 🙂

  8. I often joke with friends about how I used clean my ENTIRE house EVERY week when I was first married. Quaint much? Not so much anymore. Between eldercare and sick dog care and work, I just don’t have the time or energy. A “normal” (not deep) clean of the main areas of our house does take 3 hours. A full-house clean? More like 5-6 hours.

    • Kerri says:

      5-6 hours? That just makes me shudder, Roxanne. I used to have to clean my house at least once a week. Dust, vacuum, mopping, scrubbing the bath tub, the whole nine yards. When our girls were at home, nobody got to start their weekend on Saturday until the house was done and groceries put away. Now I run through the house every morning with a Swiffer thing and call it good. We keep our house presentable, but I’m not anal about it anymore either. It happens when we age. 🙂

    • Roxanne, I KNOW! My house used to be immaculate. Now, I’m content with passable.

  9. Alexandra says:

    We live on Outer Cape Cod where we have almost reached build-out. It is amazing to us to see the size of the homes newcomers choose. You’re right about the maintenance, and the heating. Many of these homes are for summer only, though, so this type of thing does not occur to the owners.

    • Kerri says:

      Funny, that’s how we ended up with such a small house we have now. When we were designing it, we initially had a 1,000 square footer in mind but then I thought on vacations and weekends away, I didn’t want to spend my time cleaning a house and my husband didn’t want to spend time maintaining it either. 🙂 Of course, maybe the people on the Cape have enough money not to worry about cleaning it themselves. 🙂

  10. Mary Brown says:

    We sold our house a couple of years ago and decided to rent a smaller place while we decide where in theworld to live. We sold ourlarger 5 bedroom house and are renting 1100 sq ft but it’s too small for us. We have 6 grandkids plus our kids and their spouses so when they visit which is often there just isn’tenough room, especially at holidays. We also have a large train collection that we would like to keep up all year. I’m glad we rented something smaller before buying because now I think we know what we really need space wise. We are going to start looking for our retirement house.

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on your move, Mary! It is a good idea to check out smaller spaces to see if it fits your lifestyle, because like all of our personalities, we all have different wants and needs. Good luck on finding your perfect home!

  11. mamaUK says:

    Eight weeks ago we moved into a small terraced cottage which is 540 sq ft approx and we are a family of four. It’s great how quickly I can clean this entire house! Definitely a benefit of living small!

  12. Sheryl says:

    I am more than ready to downsize. I’m tired of cleaning, and of having rooms just sit empty! Definitely not worth it any longer now that the kids are grown.

  13. Sheryl M says:

    Well, we still have a big house that hasn’t sold yet, and every time I go back to it, I wonder why we felt we needed all the space and junk filling it up?
    Living small is a different mindset for sure (getting use to less space and less things), but once you get in that mode, too much space feels equally strange.

    • Kerri says:

      Agree, Sheryl. We are really “accidental” small space dwellers. As you might know, we originally moved here with the idea of building about a 1,000 square foot home. Not huge, but larger than we have now. It feels very strange now, to even be in a suite in a hotel, which is usually larger than Our Little House.

  14. I think that downsizing is definitely something I would do in the future, once our kids are gone. I can’t imagine cleaning a big house for just 2 people.

    • Kerri says:

      You may change your mine with grandkids in your future, Brette! 🙂 I know a lot of people, my parents were two of them, who wanted a bigger space to hold 5 grandsons (and they hoped for more). Those few holidays we had in their larger house, before my father died, were very special.

  15. I think it’s important to feel good about the space you occupy on this earth. And I really admire you Kerri, for rejecting any notions about needing a bigger space just to store things you don’t need or clean stuff you don’t care about. Your Little House is a reflection of your values, values that are centered on relationships with both four legged family members and your very kind and loving husband, Dale. Life is all about the relationships, because in the end, stuff just doesn’t matter as much as connection with other people. I’m so glad that I can count you and Dale among the people who matter most in my life! 🙂

  16. Yes, indeed. My brother and his wife bought a big house a few years ago, and their lives seem to revolve around maintaining it. Either they’re cleaning it or landscaping it, or shopping for more furniture to fill up all the empty space, or whatever. No thanks!

    • Kerri says:

      There was a time we wanted to spend all of our time concentrating on our home. I never wanted to spend my time cleaning (LOL) but I did enjoy landscaping our new home and picking out decor. We’re just not at that place in our lives anymore. I would much rather be out star gazing, hiking or playing with the dogs. 🙂