With the growing popularity of the Tiny House Movement we can see changes in the way that Americans are defining their ideal home.
More and more, people are dreaming about or deciding to live in small spaces. We chat with our friends about downsizing. We are inspired by weekend trips to Ikea, imagining ourselves living happily in 300 square feet. What is it about these tiny spaces that seem so appealing?
How is it that living in tiny or small spaces can make your life better? The simplest answers are
You only have enough space to own what you absolutely need or love.
So, there's no extraneous stuff to bog you down and the temptation to buy anything is quelled because there is no place to put it.
Smaller spaces force you to create a home life that matches up with your values.
Making the decision to have less possessions means that you will have the freedom of more time and resources (money) to do what is most important to you. Often this is time spent with family and friends and more time to pursue meaningful work and activities.
Practically speaking, living in a smaller home is less expensive than living in a larger home and requires less maintenance.
Even in a larger home, you can live by the principles of a tiny home. You just need to embrace these two organizing concepts.
Organizing is taking stock of what you own: deciding what to keep and deciding the best place to keep it.
Organizing is about values: what you want in your home, how you define yourself, and how you spend your time.
A trick to being organized in a larger home is to imagine that you have a smaller home, because even in a larger home you do not have infinite space.
Smaller spaces require you to think about the specific use of each area of your home. In larger homes we still have the same intended traditional uses of space, but with more square footage to spread out, the themes of rooms get blurred and their functions often spill over into other areas. A good example of this is the dining room table that gets piled with mail or important documents, instead of making use of a home office or desk.
My clients often ask me if I watch the show “Hoarders”. I never do. Frankly, decluttering and tossing things is the easy part. I prefer shows that inspire and teach how to make the best use of the space that we have. One of my favorites is “Small Space, Big Style”.
There is so much to learn about how to store and display what you own in a small space, including clever ways to create rooms or furniture that serve more than one function. Example: An office turned into a guest bedroom with a Murphy bed or a coffee table that stores two additional pull out seats underneath for more guests.
Small spaces do not have to be simple or boring. I have seen tiny studio apartments with chandeliers and elegant cabinetry and amazing art on the walls. I have seen a woman obsessed with shoes, build shoe cubbies high up to the ceiling, with an antique style sliding library ladder to reach them.
Small spaces by definition are limited spaces that force you to organize most efficiently and define your values, or what is most important to you.
If that’s art or shoes or more time with loved ones, it should be obvious for anyone to see when they enter your home.
So in thinking about our daydreaming trip to Ikea, it’s easy to understand what makes their tiny home displays so inviting. Ikea has mastered the art of packing efficiency and style into 300 square feet. Their well organized spaces make us feel free and unburdened and well taken care of at the same time. We think to ourselves, “I can do this. I can live here happily”.
If you can live well in a small space you can live well anywhere.