I have been living in a small home for almost 10 years. I know all the ups and downs. It can be hard to keep the small living mentality and very hard to fight the urge to upscale. Because I have stayed happy in my small space I want to help you enjoy small space living too. I know you can do it!
To be honest with you, I do not live in an official tiny home that is cutely built and transportable. That means my home is not full of ingenious storage solutions and a handy loft.
I live in a small studio apartment that is very set in its ways and has seen the lives of many people for over 50 years. We also have access to a laundry (AKA: sewing) room and some storage. However, those assets were only added on by my landlord about three years ago.
Does Living in a Small Home Mean a Small Life?
So what does it mean to have a small living mentality? Does living in a small home mean you have to have a small life?
Not at all! In fact, it is this home and this small living mentality that has allowed us so much freedom to travel and pursue things that are important to us. It has given us 10 years of newlywed life with very few money worries.
I feel especially happy that we experienced small space living as newlyweds because we have learned to truly work together and share with each other. We have, in short, learned what is truly important and what simply is not.
So what have I learned that will help you make the best of your tiny space, or any space for that matter, and find contentment and functionality in your life? How can this small living mentality help you to have a big life? How can it help you enjoy living in a small home?
1: Living In A Small Home Takes a Lot of Experimenting
If there is anything I’ve learned is that there are a lot of specialty stores and brands devoted to living simply that people will push you towards. There are lots of organizing solutions for small spaces. Some of these products and ideas are great and some just won’t fit you and your life. Sometimes it’s a trial and error process.
For example, something as simple as a dish drainer could take you around in circles on your tiny home experiment, and if you don’t give yourself permission to move on and find a product that might work better for you and your space you will end up with something that either cramps your space or cramps your style.
The one thing I will say, to help you through this process, is that sometimes the old-fashioned way is better than the hack. They are time-tested and still around for a reason.
2: Include Your Personality In Your Small Home
Many things I’ve read about small space living give decorating rules. Only use light colors. Pick only two colors. Use lots of mirrors. Only have one comfortable place to sit and a couple of stools.
Well, I’m here to tell you, you DON’T have to follow all the rules! Of course, if your landlord doesn’t want you to paint that’s one thing but if you can and you want to, go for whatever color you want! Make the place your own!
Surround yourself with colors, textures, and items that make you feel happy. When I come home what makes me happy is seeing my home reflect the person I am. I am glad I didn’t follow the mold.
Are there any rules you should follow in your are living in a small home?
Just one. If you start feeling cramped or cluttered in your space, it’s time to edit! Get rid of things you don’t want in the space by asking yourself if you ever look at them from across the room and feel happy or if you ever use them. If the answer to both those questions is no, you will be happier without them. The space they took up will be all yours again!
3: Living in a small home doesn’t mean you have a small heart!
Small space living can make you nervous about having people over but you don’t have to feel that way.
Don’t hold back from having people over to dinner and board games and a movie. Don’t hold back from inviting a couple more people than you think you can accommodate. It always works out and makes everyone realize that this is what life is made of, people not things. You don’t need lots of space to host. You don’t need the perfect setting to have fun!
We have had so many people while living in a small home. Sometimes we have had just one other couple and other times it’s been a group of 10-15. I panicked about it at times but it always worked out. And we had lots of fun!
4: Shop Carefully When Living in a Small Home
The biggest tip I can give you for small space living is to think it through when you are shopping. You will see many things that are beautiful and exciting and maybe even look as though they will help you to get organized.
You cannot, of course, buy everything that appeals to you and I’m sure you never did buy everything that you liked in a store but to live simply and to live small you have to think about each purchase, from a new blouse or pair of shoes to a piece of furniture.
Before you buy anything ask:
- Do I need it?
- Where would I put it?
- Does it make you happy enough to replace an item you currently own?
- Will it be easy to clean and maintain?
You may not have to throw something else away every time you buy something new. However, sooner or later, you will have too much in your home and you will have to edit. Why not think more deeply about your purchases before this happens? It will save you money and time!
I’ve avoided many an impulse buy thinking through whether I actually need and want it enough to lose something else. I like to play the game I call “will I think about it later?”. If I leave the store and I think about that item over and over I will go back to the store and purchase it, confident that it will serve me well. Most of the time though, I leave the store, forget about it, and save money!
5: Edit Your Belongings When Living in a Small Home
No matter how carefully you purchase, we tend to accumulate stuff. That is because every new activity requires some new gadget or outfit or tool. We live full lives and that’s great! We don’t want to shut ourselves off from new ideas and activities because we live in a small home. The very idea of small homes is to enable us to lead big lives! So what can we do?
I’ve found that if once or twice a year you simply go through your home looking for things you no longer need or use you may be surprised how much you end up getting rid of and how much space you gain. I did this once and ended up with half my limited number of kitchen cabinets empty which allowed me to purchase new cooking gadgets that are truly useful to me!
Now I will say that as for seasonal and outdoor items like bikes and camping equipment it is very nice to have a shed or something that you can store these items in as they allow you to continue having great experiences outside of your home without wasting money.
Also depending on space, you may have to trade out clothes according to season. By this, I mean Winter and Summer cause it just doesn’t make sense to have sweaters and coats in your way in July.
6: Measure and Imagine!
I think the tendency with furniture in the tiny living community is sometimes too far away from comfort and that is not a good long-term plan. It will inevitably leave you feeling persecuted by your home instead of engulfed in a truly safe place at the end of the day.
I will truthfully tell you that I don’t have any small size furniture. I have a futon and a large reclining love seat in my living room. We have a queen-size bed and a four-person bar height table and chairs in the kitchen. We enjoy having all the comfort and functionality of these pieces of furniture.
The most important thing is, before we put them in our small space, we took our measurements and carefully imagined how things would fit in our space before we brought them in and it has all worked out quite well!
Sometimes though, you just can’t have the standard furniture or solution to the problem in your tiny home. That’s when you get to be creative!
Go on Pinterest and look up your particular need. Because of this, we have a fantastic two-person desk and shelves that we built into a space that was previously underutilized and we have a lovely headboard where there was nowhere to fit a regular one.
It may take a bit of handy-work but it will become not only be something that fills the need but also something that makes you proud of what you did to creatively find a solution!
7: Make Them Jealous!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been encouraged by well-meaning friends to leave our small home and get something bigger. They say I deserve it and they want it for me.
I’d be lying if I said it never got to me and made me question my decision to stay in a small space. It is a decision we make over and over. We could have changed our living situation if we had ever wanted to enough.
But I encourage you not to let other people make the decision for you. Remind yourself why you live in a small space by telling them about all the benefits! Share with them how small space living allows you to have more time and less stress. Brag about how your landlord fixes the toilet and you have everything you need with much less maintenance. Explain to them that you get to go on vacation because living in that tiny home helps you save money. Be your own best advocate!
8: Seek Experiences not Things:
Living in a small home helped me to make this shift in my thinking. I stopped looking for souvenirs or Tchakies and started looking for experiences.
I realized this when I did a painting class and had to take my painting home and find a place to put it. The next time I wanted to go to a painting class I found myself wanting to do the class but not have the painting at the end of it because really I don’t care for the thing, but I love the experience!
There are a thousand ways this applies.
It means you don’t need a coffee mug from your vacation because you have pictures and memories. You don’t need a t-shirt from a marathon you ran because you have the fitness and self-satisfaction from your accomplishment.
You will change what you purchase to experiences.
Sharing these experiences with your friends will be much more satisfying than showing them the things you bought.
When you start looking for experiences instead of things your life will be immediately enriched!
9: Life not money:
I think that sometimes, because of the culture we live in we tend to judge our success based on the money and things we have. That is a shame because it throws us into a never-ending cycle of feeling that we need more. We are never fulfilled because the thrill of the purchase passes quickly. This is not only bad for our finances but also bad for our hearts, our families, and even our environment.
Remember as you are living in a small home, whenever you feel “wanty”, you are not what you own. You are what you do each day. So fill your life with love for people and actions that count. That is what life is! Life is not money, it is love.
So in short, it isn’t that hard to live simply. Living in a small home is easier than it looks. It all comes down to looking for the option that keeps your life simple. Choosing to live in a small space will leave a big space in your life for the people and experiences that matter! I am sure that you can do it! I have confidence that you will find this new way of life invigorating and fulfilling!
How do you make life in a small space more enjoyable? Please share your tips in the comments below!
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