Living in Less: How a Family of SIX Shares a ONE Bathroom Home


How does our family of four adults and two children share a one bathroom house in Sellwood? With difficulty! That is how. But also with love and dedication.

one bathroom

It is sad when you think of it, really. We live in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Portland, among the newly constructed McMansions, sprawled high and wide, with their five bedrooms, four bathrooms, new kitchens and all. And we are in our creaky, old, one bathroom house from 1911. It makes me shudder to think of all the space we don’t have, and all the privacy we lack. I look around and see not one room where my husband and I can have a quiet conversation, not one spot where my daughter can be without her brother, and not one time when there are not two people needing to use the bathroom at the same time. 

I do not have all my things at-hand, either. More than half of our belongings are in “a box in the basement,” as my four-year-old son would say. And it is so annoying. It is time-consuming and disruptive to have to go out the door, down the stairs into the basement, turn on the lights, and fish around through boxes trying to find the one thing I did not think I would need when we boxed it up, that now I have an urgent use for.

That dress I wanted to wear to the fundraiser? Yeah, it’s around somewhere. Did I find it? Heck, no! So I bought another one. The cheesecloth I had before we moved back to Portland that I now need for my homemade ricotta? Forget it! It is easier going to the store for a replacement. And all those lotions and potions, shampoos and scrubs that used to line my shower in our other house? You guessed it: they have been scaled down to one of each. There simply is not one spot in the bathroom that could hold them all. As it is we are using the top of our one bathroom cabinet to place the necessities!

And while space is at premium, love and attention are not. While there is always someone in the bathroom, there is also someone with a free lap for a cuddle. While I am cooking, cleaning, or peeing, my kids have a grandparent who could pull down that cup and pour that milk, who could zip that dress, or lace those shoes. When I am at yoga, there is a loving member reading them a book, teaching them a language, or making their favorite meal. Or when I am busy writing a blog post I know those watching over my kids are doing so with all their hearts and souls, no background or reference checks required.

So we have to share the one bathroom. We have to check with each other before we take a shower. We need to line up our peeing schedules. And that is so very hard. Can you imagine what it’s like when both my kids need to “go,” and someone is already in there? Yeah, I cannot tell you! But I can tell you this; seeing them growing up with their grandparents at an arms’ length is worth the price of inconvenience. Watching them make memories, learn a language, and develop a relationship makes it that much more bearable.  

So how do four adults and two children share a one bathroom house? With an eye towards what they have, not what they do not.

…And we just added a litter box in there! 

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Lebanese in origin, Ranya became a US citizen in 2007. Shortly after meeting Jeff through a job ad in Beirut in 2003, she moved to Portland to pursue a doctorate at PSU. From there, the two of them moved to the East Coast to begin their adventures. The last fourteen years have seen them in Portland, OR twice; in Arlington, VA twice, in Columbia, MD as well as Lebanon and Morocco. In her current life, Ranya is a teacher’s aide who loves to embark on special projects with her daughter. Their signature Mama-and-Me activity is hosting their friends for formal tea parties. She is trilingual, and is passing on the torch of language to her children who are fluent in English and Arabic. Ranya is passionate about hot yoga, and enjoys long walks. She absolutely hates driving, and reserves it for cases of dire need. She believes in the wonders of snuggles, and advocates their daily use. She lives a walking distance from her all-time favorite restaurant, Saburo, with Jeff, Jannah-Rae and Yousef. They share their one-bathroom house with her parents and Leo, the Arabic-speaking cat. Ranya writes thoughts, tots and essential oils on her blog Ranya, the Memory Keeper.


  1. We love our small space and wouldn’t trade the perks of the neighborhood that we love or the dear friends downstairs in our old creaky house. Yep, we’re on top of each other sometimes too, but you’re right, quality over quantity! Well done mama!

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