Tiny House: The Benefits of Downsizing

When we were in New York, it was not uncommon to find yourself invited into a 200-or-so square foot apartment, books piled under a kitchen sink that had toothbrushes beside it, belying its double-duty. It was always a thrill to see how friends and acquaintances managed to make these tiny spaces into homes. These cases, however, were not a matter of downsizing but more so a characteristic of New York’s interesting housing situation.

Our own studio apartment felt grand by comparison, all 55o-square-feet. It’s hard to imagine all three of us fitting there—now that there are four of us and a dog. We seem to accumulate toys the way the latter’s fur can attract foxgloves in an empty field (hardly trying). So I’m always particularly interested and inspired by tiny-home-dwellers (or airstream residents, in the case is pictured above) who can truly call themselves minimalists.

After-all, design minimalism is having a moment, but what does it really mean to downsize?

I once had an incredible conversation with Shayne Hodgkin who built her own tiny house atop a 15′ by 8’6” car trailer. From her feedback and with some personal research, here are some of my favorite benefits of downsizing:

You’ll Use Fewer Resources, and Help The Environment 

It should come as no surprise that less space means, you got it, fewer resources. You need less electricity to light up the house, you end up with only the essential electronics, you have fewer bathrooms which means less water being used. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your water and electricity bills, downsizing is definitely a great option. Shayne added: I’m a minimalist who feels best when my impact on the environment is light.

You’ll Have Fewer Costs

Along the same lines as using fewer resources, downsizing means you’ll have fewer costs; even if it is just because you are renting or buying less square feet.

Cleaning Gets Easier

Needless to say, less floor means less vacuuming. Downsizing will give you a lot more time to focus on other things rather than cleaning, because there will be a lot fewer surfaces to keep clean. On the other hand, you might find that it is a lot easier to make a mess: a smaller space will look cluttered a lot more easily. But who knows, this might encourage you into decluttering as well. Which brings me to…

You’ll Have Less “Stuff” to Keep Organized

Downsizing will mean less storage room, so you will definitely have to make some sacrifices in terms of how many objects to bring into your new home. You’ll probably have to end up donating and decluttering a lot of stuff; which mind sound dreadful but can also be very freeing.

From an article in Psychology Today: Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.(They could have asked me.)

And here is Shayne’s take on it: “First, allow yourself to detach from things that no longer serve you, either because you don’t use them or don’t love them. In fact, avoid accumulating ‘stuff’ to begin with — do you really need it? Every purchase you make should be something you really like. Take your time shopping for necessities—from dishes to sheets, buy things that really fit your style and that you’ll enjoy using. Think: quality, not quantity. And, of course, enjoy your home!”

Of course, every big change comes with a few cons…

Besides the obvious ones, like having to make sure you stay on top of keeping things in place in order to avoid a cluttered space, there are other things to take into consideration. When I asked Shayne what she thought one of the biggest cons was, she said:

“One of the cons of living in a small space is that, unless the party can be taken outdoors, gatherings have to be kept to a few people. Typically, I prefer smaller gatherings to larger parties because they facilitate connection, so this wasn’t such an issue for me. The space never felt cramped or restrictive. In fact, people who came to see the house were surprised at how large it seemed. The most common first impression was, ‘It’s huge!’ It amused me every time.”

Would you ever consider downsizing? Are any of you currently living in tiny houses? I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. Tiny living in Hollywood. Ruthless editing. And Apartment Living: Maximizing Space & Style. 

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