Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grateful Living: Scaling Down to a Mobile Home

Jacqueline Kennedy once said, "Every thing in the White House must have a reason for being there."  This is even more true for a small house!  Want to know one of my decorating inspirations?  Old episodes of The Rockford Files!  (Gotta love Jim Rockford!)  One thing I noticed about his crummy little mobile home (NOT trailer!) on the beach was that as soon as Rockford went inside and shut the door, the place was quite charming.  For a tough guy, there were a lot of homey (yet masculine) touches.  I thought, "I could do that!  I don't have to stick with this generic factory-built decor."  Decorating a mobile home can be a lot of fun--especially if you have ever had a doll house for your Barbies like I did.  It takes so much less money and time than bigger houses.

When you have limited floor space you have to think small.  Most of my larger furniture has been exchanged (literally I swapped furniture with various people), for smaller pieces.  My furniture has to be practical and comfortable.  Furnishings are kept to a minimum.  I've even decided to swap out a full-sized piano for a keyboard style they use in music schools (update: daughters have prohibited this!).  The big screen T.V. has been exchanged for a flat screen that fits on the wall above the fireplace.  The workout equipment has been swapped for a family gym membership near my son's school that's $55/month.  Father and son go together each morning on their way to work and school and their bathroom at home stays much, much cleaner.  Plus, working out no longer interferes with family time.

I have a comfortable love seat that sits off the ground, which helps to expose more floor area.  Matching the couch color with the wall color so that it's not such a contrast really helps to make the room seem larger.  It's a smaller piece of furniture with narrower arm-rests.  I also have two comfortable dark leather chairs that are really too big and dark for the space and I would like to replace them with light leather recliners that are smaller (I've seen these at Macy's but they are expensive!!!)  I have to keep the furniture against walls in order to have as much floor area exposed so the place stays light and airy and not so crampt and I like to do yoga and Leslie Sansome workouts on the area carpet in the middle of the room.

As I've mentioned, mobile homes look best if the furniture is small-scale and the home and furnishings have small-print textures and patterns in wallpapers, fabrics, tiles, etc.  We used honey-colored wood-look linoleum flooring throughout.  I can't tell you how many times folks thought it was real wood flooring.  We had wood flooring throughout the 2,200 square-foot house we built and then sold, (bathrooms and hall were tile), and I was always so exhausted from having to take care of the floors.

Our walls are the same throughout the mobile home which is good for small homes.  I chose butter cream for the paint color.  Just take a stick of butter to the store and match it to a paint sample and voila!  That's the color of my walls.  They are cheerful, yet warm and comforting.  I've gotten pretty depressed from moving from my house to a mobile home and having to scale down so much -- yet wall color really can help create a peaceful, happy feeling and keep me grounded.  (And listening to Dave Ramsey).  But light, cool colors are generally good for small spaces.

I don't use a lot of tables, coffee tables, etc.  I was given a small and charming matching buffet and china cabinet and I use the buffet in the living room to house the electronic stuff for the t.v. and also extra dishes, etc. that don't fit well in the kitchen/dining area.  The china cabinet is pretty and functional and all of my dishes are housed there.  (See my post about scaling down  The only other table in the living room is a side table that has a glass top.  (Not a fan of glass tops, especially around children, but if you have to have tables, glass tops are better for small spaces).

Pages from my Idea Book
I have an Idea Book for Recipes and one for decorating and gardening.  Idea Books are a great way to keep track of what you like so that when you're ready to decorate (inside and out) you can just have at it and know that you'll probably love it.  Time to time, I will weed the Decorating Idea Book of ideas I'm no longer interested in, but I'll usually keep the pics that inspired something I have done.
(Some of the tips are inspired from the following source:  Sep/Oct '96 Country Woman, p. 45)

Living Small
Homemaking Journals
Grateful Living Series: Dress Up M. H. Windows
Grateful Living: Repurposed Trunk
Grateful Living: Repurposed Armoire
Grateful Living: Class Up the Mobile Home Fireplace
Grateful Living: Front Porches
Grateful Living: The !#*! M.H. Walls
Grateful Living: M.H. Spa Retreat

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