I get asked that question a lot.
Most of the time, I wouldn't say that I *do* all that much in a given day. Except, of course, when I'm very pregnant and want to finish all sorts of home projects.
But my super-secret weapon is the attic on the 3rd story of our house. It's a mostly finished space measuring 20x40', plus a 5th bedroom and walk-in closet.
The previous owners left the pool table. I don't blame them--I'd hate to try to move it down two flights of stairs. You can see Eric's foosball table, made by the French company Bonzini. He found it used on Craigslist a few years ago and we negotiated a deal: he could buy it if he gave up bottled beverages for two years: juice, flavored waters, pop, sports drinks, etc.
Turning counter-clockwise, you can see the "jumping couch" and the "jumping bed." Kids love to jump and climb on furniture, so we have a designated space just for doing that. The rope ladder, rings, and swing are from Ikea.
A view from the far corner.
The previous occupants painted the chalkboard wall. (They had 5 kids.) The little door on the wall leads into the knee wall area of the attic. All the kids' toys are on these two sets of shelves. I cut, planed, sanded, and varnished the shelves before Dio was born and finally assembled them last year. One is made from cherry, the other from walnut.
On the other side of the staircase is my sewing area. We have a few walls that still need to be finished. My dad ran wire for a light to go above the sewing desk.
You can see the 5th bedroom that is behind the sewing area. Right now Eric has his weight bench in that room. Eventually we'll move that out and put a bed in the room.
Having this space lets me get so much stuff done--reading, sewing, grading, blogging, or even napping. The kids mostly occupy themselves while I do my own projects. We just had the attic insulated, so now it remains cozy even in the winter. There are no heat radiators on the 3rd floor, but we do have central air conditioning to keep the upper two floors liveable during the hottest summer weeks.
As much as I love the idea of the not-so-big-house, I LOVE our huge old house. Love it. I love having space for everything. I love not having the kids' toys in the living room or in their bedrooms.
To compensate for the size of the house, we invested in a super high-efficiency boiler when we bought the house, which cut the gas bill in half. We also had storm windows made for the whole house and insulated the basement and attic.
Oh, and don't worry--the attic doesn't usually look this tidy! My mom did lots of cleaning while she was here, so I took pictures before the kids messed it up again :)