When my husband and I went house shopping a decade ago, we wanted something small and simple to maintain. I told the realtor that I wanted to buy something that I could clean in under an hour and so we settled on a small house with the main living quarters measuring 800 square feet.
Add to that space one cat, two dogs, and three children, and it you could say that our living situation can sometimes feel cramped. But only sometimes. When folks start getting all excited about living in a tiny space they don’t generally think about the lifestyle changes you must make in order to contain your life in a measurable square footage.
Quit shopping just to shop
You absolutely cannot blow money on junk you don’t need to put in a house where it won’t fit. Seriously. Put the Wayfair app down. Do not go to Target. Before we lived in our small house I was no stranger to wandering the aisles at T.J. Maxx for fun, brightly colored dust magnets for my mantle and coffee table. I blew money on seasonal table settings and more throw pillows than any human could ever need.
When you have a small space, everything in it has to be something usable. It can still be fun and brightly colored but if it doesn’t have at least one use then you should give it away, recycle, sell or toss it out.
Under my kitchen sink is a small stack of quart sized yogurt containers that we use for about 6,000 different things. Our recycling bin has a section for cardboard that we riffle through constantly for art making materials to keep the kids entertained. Everything in our house has a functional purpose in order to make our lives better in some way. By pairing down to the essentials, it keeps our house less cluttered and easy to maintain especially with a pack of children running around.
Get rid of things before you get new things
My kids are used to this trick. About a week before a birthday or Christmas, when they are about to get a pile of gifts from friends and family, we sort through toys and take out anything broken, missing pieces, or that has not been played with in a substantial amount of time and we either donate them or throw them away depending on the condition. This frees up space for newer toys to go in their toybox instead of all through the house.
Living happens outside of your house
Our house is super small but very cozy. Unless we’re all sick or in our jammies celebrating Christmas morning, we tend to be outside of house pursuing the things we love. Part of living in s a super small space is the understanding that home, while comfortable and safe, is not where we LIVE. We run and play outside, we go on trips into the woods, we visit parks and friends and family. We aren’t homebodies.
Having guests requires a balancing act
We LOVE to have guests at our house, but generally only in the warmer months when we can hang out in the backyard where we have a granite fire pit and a tree house and places to stretch out in peace and quiet. When our kids want to have friends spend the night we pitch a tent and fill out with sleeping bags and flashlights and make plans for s’mores.
Small house living is not for everyone, but it totally can be with some shifts in perspective. Keeping a house filled more love than stuff will minimize stress and chores and leave you with time for living your life…outdoors.