Living Small Friday

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of another week.  I don’t want summer to be over so soon and have to move back indoors most of the time again.  Speaking of indoors, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to make living in a smaller home easy and comfortable.  When I showed friends and family the apartment I was moving into everyone shook their head in disbelief that I would be happy without a separate bedroom. The children were the funniest because they came to the situation with complete innocence and pointed out the “rooms” that were in this one space.  There was the office, the living room, the bedroom and the kitchen. To them it made perfect sense, but maybe that’s because children are used to keeping their belongings in one space designated as their own, that being the bedroom.

magazines

No matter how many ideas you can come up with for storage options there is no way to fit a lifetime of belongings from a multi-bedroom family home into a studio apartment. We have become so accustomed to owning our belongings we don’t even realize they have taken over our lives and now own us.   We have a real problem with stuff when a small store carries three different organizational magazines.   You will have to part with things if you want to downsize your life.

That said, each of us are different and have interests which require the necessary tools for us to feel at home and happy. Where I have little desire to cook and bake another person may not only enjoy the process of creation in the kitchen but may even earn a bit of income from it.  For me, I paint. I collect cans of paint which need to be stored some place.  In case you are wondering, my paint and tools are stored in my kitchen cabinets rather than cookware. ;-)

If you love cooking consider a bench that gives you added storage.  There are many different ways of adding a bench to your seating area. I’ve even seen benches made from kitchen cabinets laid on their sides where the door could be lifted up to access needed items.

If what you need is more pantry space, an inexpensive book case, or make your own with two by fours, on wheels can fit between a wall and the fridge.

Look for furniture that can pull double duty.  I have a futon that has a slim design and takes up very little floor space yet makes the perfect overnight sleeper for guests.  Even better is that I have baskets that slide under that store the children’s toys and craft supplies.

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Keeping a few extra pillow cases I can cover a throw pillow for a guest rather than have to store bed pillows.  Another idea for decorating with throw pillows is to have one set of pillows and make slip covers for them to change the look seasonally.  It is much easier to store a few slip covers than several pillows

Look for height.  Instead of several low cabinets get one thin, tall cabinet that can store many things in less square feet. Keep in mind horizontal storage takes up more room, go vertical.

ikea cabinet

This Ikea cabinet went through a few changes over the last two years.  It started off storing dishes, food, books and extra blankets.  Today it still stores most of those items but now also holds all my clothes.  That’s a lot of storage in a small footprint.

There are other ways to maximize your storage. One I learned from my grandparents was to cut an opening in an interior wall cavity and add shelves.  This works well for a medicine cabinet but also in the wall outside a small bathroom to function as a linen closet. Just about anything can be stored inside a wall cavity, there are tutorials for cutting and framing openings to store bathroom supplies, kitchen supplies and even big flat screen televisions.

 

There are many options out there if you think outside the box. To create storage under a bed look at purchasing bed risers, while most are plastic they can be found for as little as ten dollars for a set of four.  If you are handy with tools you can make your own risers from wood to fit legs on any type of furnishing, raising it up to create extra storage.

Look at your windows, do you have a nice sized window ledge?  If so you have another storage spot. I keep planter boxes in my window but neighbors use theirs to hold books, especially the college students who don’t have bookcases or the extra room for them. Don’t have a deep window ledge, consider adding a shelf along the window ledge to maximize its storage potential.

My suggestion? If you want to live in a smaller home, take a good hard look at what you have, consider what you are willing to part with to attain that lifestyle you desire. You could use your current home as a staging area by filling only a room or two with the belongings you want to keep and see how comfortable, or not, you are in that space.  But forget the subscription to organizational magazines. My impression of them is that they are written for those who want to hold on to everything and don’t cover the issue of what you need to be happy.

How small a home do you think you would be comforable living in? How much would you have to part with to make that happen?

25 thoughts on “Living Small Friday

  1. Some great ideas.. and I am still working on down-sizing the garage LOL … Its getting there, a third of the way through now… and things thrown out for the scrap man.. :-)

  2. When we lived in a smaller house, we had shelves built into the studs like the picture of the pantry cabinet shelves. We used ours for paperback books. It gave us storage space that didn’t take up any room space. I really liked them.

    • What a good idea for storing books.I have one wall here that I would love to open up and add shelves to. I haven’t yet because I am not sure what management would think but I was told I could do what I wanted to with the apartment so I might just tackle it and see.

  3. Every time I read your blog, I rethink the way I live. I tell my kids all the time STUFF doesn’t bring happiness:-)

  4. I envy people who live in small spaces, life looks so neat and uncomplicated in comparison to us! My husband is a collector of stuff. I used to live in a two bedroomed flat, everything was neat, tidy, contained. Enter Roger, who hoards materials and things for “one day” and could just about run a recycling depot all of his own. He spent 9 years on the road working wherever life took him, he loves having roots and things, clutter – drives me crazy.

  5. Interesting question. I recently saw the documentary film “Tiny” (on Netflix) about a young couple who build one of those itty bitty 150 square foot homes on a trailer. I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about it. On some level it seems really neat, but they paid what I would consider a HUGE amount for something so tiny – I think they spent $26K building their tiny home – which had no plumbing, BTW – and that didn’t include the cost of the land. I mean, I didn’t pay a heckuva lot more than that for my home, and that includes a full basement, garage & land… oh, and I have indoor plumbing too!

    I guess perhaps I lack the “romance” gene to want to do something like that. Maybe I’m just practical to a fault, or maybe my priorities are just different. But there isn’t enough money on the planet to get me to want to truck water into my home every few days! Have you seen the film? I’d be curious to hear what you think. Of course, some of my reaction is based on looking them up online and finding out what became of their little home once reality set in…

    Anyhow, I guess that some major life altering event notwithstanding, I can’t see ever wanting to leave my little house, so it’s hard to think accurately when you’re in theoretical land. I’m sure I could be happy with much less space, but it’s hard to say how much less. But one thing I can say for sure, any place I live must have enough room to do yoga and must have a actual bathtub – with indoor plumbing!

    • Cat, I did see the movie, took 4 tries because I kept falling asleep. I have mixed feelings about many of the tiny homes myself, to explore everything would take a blog post, look for one soon. but basically to answer your question I would never pay that much to build a home.

      The idea of resources played a big part in the decision I made when choosing where to live. I didn’t want to use new resources by building a home, now if I could build with all reclaimed materials that would be another story.

      I also considered that in a climate with very cold winters I would use a lot more to heat a small home on wheels, or RV which I didn’t want to do.

      While I am fine with composting toilets, been there done that, and would gladly have one again there is no way I want to be hauling water. What I don’t get is why more of the tiny home people aren’t doing rain catchment for their water. Even if they didn’t invest in a filter and didn’t want to drink it, it could be used for cleaning dishes etc.

      One thing I noticed in the movie near the end was one of them chopping fresh greens for a meal. Without refrigeration how are they keeping produce fresh for more than a day or two without needing to drive to a store regularly? From the views of the land it looks to me that they are way out there away from conveniences.

      • My first reply was in response to EcoCatLady, now this one is for you. I love all your storage solutions; although we’ve moved to a bigger flat we have less storage than before which makes it feel cluttered. Because there’s piles on the floor. But we still have so much wasted space. I think clever storage is key to managing with a smaller space. And I love all of these ideas : )

        • Lindsay, I am sorry you have less storage in your new place. My first thought when reading this was ‘but wait she doesn’t have anything to store’ ;-)

          I have the same situation in my apartment. I have one closet that is poorly designed so even though it could hold a lot there is no way to get in to use it because it’s too narrow to squeeze in there.

          I would have liked to build a platform bed with built-in storage which would be hidden but I’m too cheap to spend the money. ;-)

          Yes, storage in a small space had different requirements than in a bigger home. Rather than open end tables ones with doors or drawers work better because you can use them for storage without your things being on display. I hope you figure out storage that works for you as I can imagine it is driving you nuts to see your stuff out.

          • I’m actually in the process of another big declutter at the moment which should help. We don;t have a pantry here, so I’ve commandeered the shelf that used to hold our board games for the kitchen, so the games don’t have a home now. Plus the music system lived on top of the pantry, so now it lives on the floor, and when we want to use it we put the books on the floor so it can sit on the drawers! Not very efficient!

            Ah, it’s not too bad. I will write a post with some pics so you can have a nose around – it’s on the t0-do list…once I’ve cleared the stuff off the floor!

          • Lindsay,those things would bug me too but it’s almost funny reading about your challenges after having had to figure out mine. It’s too bad apartments were built with how the people would use them. I know here it’s all about what’s the cheapest way to build an apartment.

            I don’t know if this will help you as I don’t remember you having a couch but I hide speakers and my modem under the loveseat so I don’t have to see any electronics.

          • Funny?! Funny?! These are serious dilemmas! Here too, it’s all about building the cheapest. People constantly knock houses down to build new ones, too. Nothing like in the UK where houses are built to last.

            My boyfriend likes to pile things under the couch, but I don’t like it – it is MESS! We either need to get some more surfaces, or lose the stereo. I would vote for the latter but it’s not mine, so I think it will stay.

          • I couldn’t eliminate music something else would have to go. I agree with you on the mess under the couch which is why I use matching baskets for the toys to try and make it neater. A bed skirt is another way to hide storage if that would work for you.

    • I just saw this at the weekend! I’m intrigued by the idea, I love all the ideas for clever storage but when they built the house and drive it up to that bit of land I did think: what are they going to do for water…and food?! Seems like a bit of an oversight to forget plumbing!

  6. Hi Lois–just checking in to tell you that sometimes I am lazy and do not comment but you are one of my favourite bloggers–I am nowhere close to downsizing yet but when I do I will take a lot of your advice to heart

    • LouAnn, I am so far behind I have started dedicating time to just read through blogs I love and commenting rather than doing it from my email notices. You are on my list so I will be by soon.

      If you aren’t interested in downsizing, and not everyone is, that’s okay. ;-)

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