Firstly, I do not think our space is that small. But it did feel like it, a few months ago when we picked out the place and started downsizing. One blogger who really helped me out with preparing me for the move is Erin, who blogs at Reading My Tea Leaves. I LOVE her blog and am awaiting her book. I heard a podcast about her lifestyle and why she finds it hard to shop – sustainability, origin of products, lives of the workers and living with less. It was my ahan moment and rather life changing. Here is what helped me so far.
1. Downsize for the right reason
If downsizing from a larger space, having the right motivation helps. We moved so that we may live on this mountain. I have a friend who moved to NYC for the experience and lives in a teeny tiny studio. We may have to go smaller so that we may experience San Francisco, next year. My parents are looking to downsize so that they may retire and be able to manage their space without external help.
2. Find the right small space
Thanks to the tiny house movement, modern spaces are being fitted with multi purpose appliances, retractable furniture and smart storage solutions. Given some time and energy, I think its not too hard to find the right space. Dont care for a bedroom ? Smart lofts are out there. Need a big closet ? 4 closet studios exist in SFO. Indian food intense kitchen ? Tiny bedrooms to make sure everything don’t smell like curry can be hunted down. I personally dont believe I can one day move into a tiny apartment and live happily for ever. But the right space helps.
3. Detox and Declutter
This goes without says. I think there is only one way to make tiny homes look breathable : go minimal. When we first moved in, having everything put out made it look like a dumpster. More I let go, better I feel and nicer my home looks. Our home is in the process of gaining more breathable space with more culling happening every month.
4. Go on shopping fasts
Once the home is setup, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns and accumulate stuff. One strategy that has been working out for me is to go on monthly shopping fasts. Its easy to buy with one click and have it show up at your doorstep by the next day. Going on a fast helps sleep over it for a few days and re-assess the need. I do shopping fasts on alternate months of the year. Gives me 15 days on an average and I usually forget that’s on my wishlist by the end of it.
5. Embrace a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe
Seasonal dressing is rather cliche because of all the air conditioning and the actual time spent outside by most people. I think layering is all that is needed to get through the year. That being said, I do think natural fabrics are healthier for the body and planet. Linens in the summer and silk/wool in the winter is what I wear making my wardrobe seasonal. Instead of hanging everything I own in the closet at all times, having items for immediate use helps. Jackets and boots get stored away during the spring cleaning. Linens and shorts get tucked away during the fall cleaning.
6. Create negative space
A space devoid of art, color or personal objects may look ‘minimal’ but is necessary in small dosage to make a living space warm and inviting. We installed this wall shelf to display our memorabilia. It immediately made the entire space look crowded. We ended up leaving it mostly empty to create negative space. Small spaces can use some of that. Its an vision-mind trick to make the spaces look bigger.
7. Forego bookshelves
Our previous space had every wall lined with books. I recently discovered that book stacks touching the ceiling look good. I dont need cram in shelves. And since I read one/two books at a time, I am not tumbling my book towers too often. Going digital helps too.
8. Find beautiful storage
So all those beans and lentils need to be stored some place. Instead of the plastic cereal boxes that are widely available, why not switch to glass or metal jars, cloth or jute sacs, mason jars, or anything that is beautiful and earth friendly ? The appeal of a space is inversely proportional to amount of plastic that lays in it.
9. Create a ritual – put it back where it belongs
Pick out a perfect spot for everything. Take the time in putting things back. The few things that survived the cull, are special and deserve the attention. Or else things run away and end up where ever.
10. Let go of perfection
Pinterest and all the free advice on internet ( this post including ) may or may not work. If its not for you, its not for you. Going small comes with its own set of headaches and we all try to do the best we can. Falling into an endless pattern of perfecting-small-space beats the essence of downsizing.
Clean, small and decluttered home are extremely beneficial for mental health but are not to drive you crazy. There will be days when your house will look like a disaster. Shrug it off and get to work. And it’s all going to be fine. So far, the pros out weight the cons. Taking all these steps helped.