Melissa’s Small House

by Kent Griswold on October 19th, 2012. 58 Comments
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by Melissa Stewart

The house was built in 1916 as a farm house and is 500 square feet. It seems hard to believe the people that originally owned it farmed all the land around it. Especially since Denver seemed to grow into a big city all around the house.

The original footprint of the house was 413 square feet. The bedroom/ laundry room was an addition probably in the early 40′s sometime after my grandparents had their fourth child. The pantry was converted into a bathroom in the late 40′s and the house originally had an outhouse!

small house

As far as I know, it only had 4 owners…seems every one that lived here loved the cozy feel. I remember coming over to Grandma’s to spend the night as a kid and we could hear the train speed right passed the house. The railroad tracks have been gone a long time now, but Denver built a light rail and my house is within walking distance to two different stations.

original house

The sunburst on the gable is original to the house and students from the architecture college at the University of Denver would drop by and sketch it.


My grandparents rented it for more than 20 years before they bought it. I have lived here 10 years and love every minute of it. My grandmother lived here 70 years before she passed away in 2002. She and my grandfather raised their family of four kids in this house!

old house side view

When I moved here, I downsized from large condo. It was REALLY hard the first year and I couldn’t wait until I could add on to the structure. But, after I got organized and learned the art of being happy with what I had, I wouldn’t dream of adding on. I took out some walls and opened up the space quite a bit and found some interesting “artifacts” when working on the remodel – glass bottles, old cloth wallpaper, old newspapers used for insulation, toy dinosaurs and numerous bricks stamped “HiFire.”

living area

When I work in the garden, I am always digging up more interesting things. This summer, I kept finding old metal handles that looked to be from barn doors or perhaps old appliances. The challenging part of living in such a small home is storage space. I don’t have a closet and all my furniture doubles as storage. I was fortunate to have found OrWaDesigns on Etsy ( They custom designed three wonderful pieces for me that provide TONS of storage and are perfect for my space.

This place is so special to me and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Everyone thinks I am crazy for living in such a small space – especially with 2 big dogs. But I am content, debt free, and extremely happy.

I scanned in and attached a couple more photos I had from several years ago. These were in my Granny’s photo book. Now, there are houses built all around me. It’s interesting to see the changes over the years.

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room







Dining Room

Dining Room



58 Responses to “Melissa’s Small House”

  1. Mopsa says:

    I know this is all I say when I comment here on the tiny house blog. But here it goes – SO CUTE! Love it, love it :) It’s awesome that you get to live in a house filled with so much memories…

  2. tj says:

    What a lovely home! This is certainly one of my favorite small house I have seen. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Bob H says:

    Fantastic story and small house.

  4. dawna says:

    From one J.W.Waterhouse fan to another – I love it and most definitely could live here!! I also love the “Nevermore” raven!! Awesome!!

    • Melissa says:

      THANK YOU, Dawna! I love Waterhouse – by far my favorite artist. The Nevermore Raven was a fun Sunday project. It’s perfect!

  5. Hazel says:

    How special to live in a home with family history and memories all around you! It’s cozy and warm and inviting. What more could anyone need?

  6. That is a perfect little house! Are you considering restoring the white picket fence? I love how you’ve arranged the furniture.
    - Mili

  7. Cheryl P. says:

    I have been following Tiny Houses for awhile because I truly love houses. (I have been in real estate as a profession for 35 years. I have never felt compelled to comment but your house is so charming. The bonus being that you have an emotional connection to it, makes it even more so. I live in a rather large house and have struggled with the concept of living in a small space but I clearly see why you would live in that house. It’s darling!!!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Too small? It seems the perfect size to me, or it’s 20 sq ft bigger than my apartment, and you have way more features. Well, you have a laundry room and a dining room big enough for a full-sized table and a desk, anyway. Sometimes I look at tiny homes and think “I could never live that way,” but then I realise I already do! I could totally live in your house. It’s gorgeous! The way you’ve arranged it is superb, too. When I get rid of more stuff, I hope that I, too, can have a place such as yours, cozy, with plenty of memories, yet still sufficient space to move around in, exercise in, and breathe in.

  9. I love this house, so amazing to see such charm retained and cared for. I love to see old farm houses that have been surrounded by growth but retain what makes them so special.

  10. Julie says:

    Reminds me of my grandmother’s house, it too was a farm house that the city grew around. She raised 10 children plus 3 grandkids in a 600 sq ft 2 bedroom house (with an outhouse). An addition was added while the last 2 kids were still at home that included an extra bedroom and a bathroom. Growing up my mom tells me the girls shared one bedroom and the boys slept in the living room. I wish the house had stayed in the family – I still drive by it whenever I’m in that town and remember my summer visits to grandma’s house, sitting on the porch every night with a cup of hot sweet tea and listening to the trains.

    • Malin says:

      A few years ago my mother had a knock on the door of the house she’s owned for about 14 years now. It was an older brother and sister who had grown up in the house and were stopping by just to get a peek inside. They had some lovely stories and by the time they left my mum felt she knew the house better.

      Julie, maybe the current owners would be interested in your stories?

  11. Lisa says:

    Your small house reminds me of my own. Love it! Renovating and digging in the yard constantly reveals ‘treasures’ from bygone days.

  12. pat from CT says:

    Your home is beautiful. You are blessed.

  13. MBee says:

    What is not to love. You have a great sense of style! Dream come true. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Lynne H says:

    Wow, it’s beautiful and cozy! You did an awesome job decorating. I love the shutters. Where is the bedroom? Is there an upstairs? It would be great to see a sketch of the floorplan :-)

  15. amy says:

    sweet home. thank you for posting old and new photos. i’m curious about your bathroom sink: what kind/brand is it and where was it purchased?

    thanks melissa

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Amy!
      Not sure when the sink was purchased although my mom thought it might of come from Montgomery Wards in the 40s or early 50s. I looked for a brand this weekend but couldn’t find one.

  16. Lee says:

    I love the fact that you have so much family history tied up in one house. And that it’s a history you’re continuing now. One thing I do find interesting is the neighbours attitude at you living in a house that is “so small”. Obviously it’s probably because of where I come from but to me your house is lovely (I DO like the sunburst!) but it’s a normal-sized house. I guess it just highlights the different ideas of scale we all have in different countries.

  17. stpauligirl says:

    I absolutely LOVE your beautiful little home. I think it looks like the PERFECT size. A small, separate bedroom, a kitchen with a table, a small bathroom and a comfy couch. It looks perfect!!

  18. Sonje Bianca says:

    This is such a lovely, little home. It has such an old-world, cozy gypsy feel to it. Love your sense of style.

  19. Damon says:

    Thank you for sharing not only the history of the place, but also for so many delicious photos for my eyes to feast upon, my soul to be nourished by! I, too, love how you’ve decorated the place and how much character you have brought out in the home. Thank you again, so much, for sharing this wonderful, magical, history-rich little home!

  20. Jennifer says:

    Oh, I LOVE your gem of a house. It is perfect….you have done a wonderful job decorating and those Plantation Shutters are gorgeous. Love the garden out back. It looks like you made it just for me…..when can I move in??

  21. Elaine Maddox says:

    This is the most captivating home I ever remember viewing here. I have shared it on a memory lane mailing list and also on my Facebook. Everyone loves it and I think potential buyers are getting in line already packed to move. I don’t see Melissa selling nor leaving, but it’s a wonderful thought for the viewers.

    The house is warm and charming. I love it and thank Melissa for opening it up to us.

  22. Melissa, your home is adorable and I was so intrigued with the family history behind it! I live in Colorado and write a blog about unique houses with neat backstories – I was wondering if you might be interested in having your little house featured on my site. If so, please email me at

    Sarah Felix Burns

  23. winnie says:

    To me this is the Tiny House I’d like to see more of. Too many of the Tiny Houses are really just sheds or at best a vacation cabin, not homes. And trailers trying to not really participate in the community isn’t really right either. I’d like more thought as to how to be part of actual urban areas or to be small towns with smaller homes with lower impacts.

  24. Bob Shock says:

    Thanks for sharing such a great story. The master suite in my house (bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet) is about 500 square feet, most of it wasted space that just attracts clutter.

    My wife and I are hoping to downsize to a much smaller space when we are empty-nesters, so it’s inspiring to read these stories.

  25. jean says:

    would love to see a sketch of floorplan, So much in a small space, I love it

  26. Carolyn B says:

    I too am enthralled with the story and the photos of Melissa’s house. I loved the tiny, open bathroom sink. I could see my self using this room well. Re: the shutters — do they really give optimal privacy & shade? I love their look but hate seeing the black night peeking through windows. I recently have been toying with a floorplan in my head that mimics my paternal grandma’s shotgun-style home. After reading this story, I’m inspired to keep tweaking it to perfection. :)

  27. Bonnie T says:

    I love your “little” house, how very cozy every room looks and I’m sure feels the same way. I will never understand why people think they have to have such big houses to be happy and most have rooms they don’t even go into. Your house is Lived in and that’s what makes it home and all yours.

  28. I want to crawl into that bed right now. I live in a small apt. but this has inspired me to make some changes. I need to “charm it up”!!
    Best house I have seen in a very long time. They sure knew how to make them back then, huh?

  29. I am so impressed with the charming and roomy feel in your little house! A real jewel!

  30. Susan says:

    I live in the Denver area as well. I live in a 3 bedroom house that is under 1000sq ft. It was one stipulation I had when looking to rent. I also have a huge fenced backyard. I love my “little” house.

  31. MelD says:

    I loved seeing and reading about this! Thank you!
    My granny’s house is a small English terraced (row) house with bay windows and coloured “leaded lights” (coloured glass windows) built in 1936. She has lived here for 75 years, since 1937, and is now 96. It is maybe 750 sq ft with a tiny front garden and a tiny back garden. The bomb shelter they built in the garden was made into a garage after the war. There are two downstairs living rooms and a tiny kitchen, with a pantry under the stairs. Upstairs two larger bedrooms and a small one (by English standards 2 double and a single) and one bathroom. Always a happy home, it comfortably sleeps up to 8 people and has hosted innumerable parties for many, many more!! For many years, there were lodgers in available bedrooms. I hope to be able to keep the house because it holds so many memories for all 5 generations living :)

    • Melissa says:

      I LOVE IT! Keep it in the family…you will be so glad you did. Houses like that are so hard to come by anymore and the charm and love in that home sure beats the new cookie cutter designs you see everywhere!

  32. tealady says:

    The house is great, but why the chain link fence? It totally takes away from the charm of the everything else.

    • Melissa says:

      One of my dogs is blind so I need the chainlink until I can figure something else out. I would love to restore the picket fence – it’s on a LONG list of projects. :)

  33. steve says:

    Like everyone else, love your house.

  34. Kenise says:

    Love your little place. It reminds me of the bungalow my Grandparents had at Lake Hopatcong. Please keep it in the family.

    • Melissa says:

      My grandparents worked so hard and were so proud of their home! I promised my grandmother I wouldn’t sell it when she passed and I LOVE living there.

  35. Amy says:

    Pea green with envy is all I can see as someone with a family of four living in a 20ft yurt right now. That house seems more than spacious to me, lol…and you have appliances/plumbing, pretty luxurious to me;) How lucky you are to have inherited such a gem.

  36. Susi says:

    Charming and personal. Full of character and warmth. I love that you live with 2 big dogs there. Love the dogbeds in the bedroom and the space you alloted them in your heart and home.

  37. Lisa says:

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! I am so envious of you! What a lovely feeling of coziness you have in your treasured family home. I really am in love with your little gem. It reminds me of my Nanie & Popo’s house in the country. The 1940′s home is still there on the farm and I want so badly to get her back up to par. You have given me the inspiration that I need and hopefully my husband will be on board after seeing how lovely your beautiful little home looks. I have so many treasured memories of summers and family get togethers at the farm house and I would love to live there after our last kid leaves. Thank you for sharing your most prized possession with the rest of us!

  38. Stephanie says:

    What an awesome little house. I love that your house is an older structure and has been in your family for so long. You have done a great job opening up the floor plan and making it your very own. ;o)

  39. Lauren says:

    You are living my dream!!!! Including the dogs and the garden out back. This would be nirvana!

  40. Melissa, what sweet character your home has. Love that picket fence and enjoyed the history.

  41. mary says:

    Melissa, Beautiful home! Can you post a rough copy of your floor plan?? I’m designing a house about that size and would love to see what yours looks like.

  42. Rosie says:

    I think its impossible for too many people to tell you they Love, Love, Love your house! So I’ll add me to the list. It’s made me all happy inside just looking at the pictures and re-inspired me in the quest for our own small space to live and grow in. Thank you very much opening up your space to all of us. Take care, Rosie

  43. Richard says:

    Great house. Great story. If walls could talk about the last 90 plus years it would make a great book I imagine.

  44. Small houses are practical and easy to clean. It is like a studio, except that it saves a lot of space for at least a garden of your own. Since I am single, I don’t need a lot of space and I would find that this tiny house would be ideal for me. Also, I spend most of my time outside. I only come home to rest and use the internet, other than that, I am either working or hanging out with friends.

  45. Eugenia says:

    How do your dogs like living in a small home? Are they comfortable with a small space?

    • Melissa says:

      I always joke with friends if I had 500 square feet or 5000 square feet they would still be no more than 2 feet away from me! They have plenty of room and we have a large backyard and a beautiful tree filled neighborhood to walk in.

  46. Kathleeny says:

    Melissa, could up upload a floor plan for all of use to peruse (and perhaps pursue)!?

  47. [...] first saw Melissa’s house featured on the Tiny House Blog and was instantly smitten with the cute 1916 cottage and the fact that Melissa inherited it from [...]

  48. Robin says:

    I want the floor plans for this please. Can someone put me in touch with Melissa?

  49. Jan says:

    What an absolute gem of a little house! It is just packed with charm, and how I would love to live in a place like that. You did a wonderful job of decorating it, and I love the warm, but subdued colors and the variety in the furniture.

  50. Faith says:

    Your house is beautiful and practical. I love its history as well. Thank you for sharing! I live in a very old home that is 1000sq ft with 3 large dogs. I would love smaller and debt free someday!

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