John & Jami's Small Space with a Big Sense of Place

John & Jami's Small Space with a Big Sense of Place

Regina Yunghans
Jun 19, 2015
(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

Name: John, Jami, Parker and Sadie
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Size: 986 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years owned

The wide skies and rolling plains of Kansas are striking. All of that openness doesn't lend itself to expensive real estate and tiny apartments, however. Yet John and Jami live in a small space here by choice. Houses of 3,000 square feet in the suburbs have the same price tag as their under-1,000sf home in town, so their decision to live in a small house isn't a budget thing. It's about lifestyle: environmental responsibility, prioritizing quality over quantity, walkability (yes, even in Kansas). In their small family home, John and Jami have found a way (and are always finding new ways) to work these principles into everyday life.

(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

The couple have some experience to pull from: John lived in NYC after college and Jami grew up in an 800sf house. They know the importance of choosing a space wisely and caring for it well, especially when it's small.

Their Craftsman bungalow is updated in ways aesthetic and invisible. Behind the scenes, they've insulated at rim joists to keep drafts at bay, added new ductwork in a room or two that had none to make all the rooms comfortable (which is good, because there isn't a single space that goes unused in this small family home), and replaced knob-and-tube wiring. Some of the cosmetic updates include new kitchen cabinets (custom was more affordable than off-the-shelf in this instance), paint colors straight from Kansas prairies and thunderstorms, and artwork by local artists (and by John himself - a graphic-designer-turned-state-legislator). Even some of the more involved work was carried out by the couple in sort of "apprenticeships" with local tradespeople.

These are folks who love their home - home being their house, their state, their community, their family. You can feel it and see it even on just a brief visit.

(Image credit: John and Jami)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our style is warm, inviting, simple and authentic.

Inspiration: We are inspired by the outdoors and incorporate elements from the West and the prairie throughout our home. Handcrafted and timeless pieces exist throughout the space and we are thoughtful about curating pieces that are reflective of our values.

Favorite Element: Our outdoor spaces.When we acquired the house, the yard was wildly overgrown with trumpet vine, mulberry bushes, and Rose of Sharon and the deck and French doors were in disrepair. We have dug out all of the invasive plans and have a beautiful lawn and playhouse for our son and built raised beds to plant our gardens. In the spring and summer, we open the French doors and use the deck for hosting friends for dinner.

Biggest Challenge: It can be a challenge to host our friends and family when we’re not able to expand to the outdoors.

What Friends Say: Our friends find that our home makes them feel like part of our family.

Biggest Embarrassment: We have a tiny Jack and Jill bathroom, which is our only bathroom. This requires guests to walk through either our bedroom or our son’s bedroom, which we are entirely comfortable with. However, to some, it adds a unique challenge, especially those who stay overnight.

Proudest DIY: Just weeks after our son was born, John and my dad built a custom oak rail around the stairwell in the office. My parents hauled dozens of hand-cut spindles from Idaho. It was one of the first woodworking projects for John and incorporates the character I love about my dad.

Biggest Indulgence: The best thing we did was remodel our kitchen. The cabinets were custom and we added the additional lighting, which warms the space and provides abundant light for cooking.

Best Advice: There is no such thing as a quick project. When you buy an old house filled with character, you have to account for the unexpected with each project.

Dream Sources: We love items that are well-loved, with years of character to refinish and make our own.


(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)


  • Kitchen, Family Room: Benjamin Moore - Revere Pewter & Indian River (accent)
  • Living Room: Behr - custom color
  • Bedroom: Behr – Aged Beige
  • Bathroom: Benjamin Moore – Carrington Beige
  • Master Bedroom: Behr - Graceful Gray


  • oil painting of Sadie - Ann Trusty
  • sunflower painting - unknown, gift
  • cut paper art - Rural Pearl
  • reading lamp - Pottery Barn
  • rug - Pottery Barn
  • basket - Portland Farmer's Market
  • shelf - reclaimed wood, handmade
  • couch - Crate & Barrel
  • mirror - thrift
  • gold star - thrift
  • wheat - diy, our wedding centerpiece
  • alter table and tv stand - Whittier Wood


  • crib - Pottery Barn Kids
  • dresser - refinished thrift
  • bookshelf - diy from reclaimed materials
  • wall unit bookshelf - diy
  • rug - Pottery Barn
  • teepee - houseinhabit
  • insect poster - US Forest Service (vintage)
  • "Let Him Sleep" art - Yellow Button Studio

FAMILY ROOM ("reading room" on the plans)

  • chair - Crate & Barrel
  • rug - Garnet Hill
  • rocking chair - hand-me-down
  • bronze tree - Pottery Barn


  • high plains prints - Hammerpress
  • futon - hand-me-down
  • alder desk and bookshelf - Whittier Wood
  • blanket - Pendleton Woolen Mills


  • chest - handmade


  • rug - IKEA
  • shelf - diy
  • crocks - Pottery Barn

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Thanks, John, Jami, and Parker!

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