A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about paring down my possessions and buying items more intentionally with the hopes of living a simpler, fuller life. Since that time, Nick and I moved from our 2-bedroom apartment into a larger 3-bedroom home and had a baby, which meant acquiring a whole new breed of stuff. (Boppies, Bumbos, and bassinets, oh my!) Even so, we tried to be conscious of what we were bringing into our home, borrowed some larger baby items that could be returned to their rightful owners when we were done with them, and generally tried to continue being conscious consumers.
But still. When you move into a house with a basement — that wonderful, unfinished cavern of spaaaaaace for storing belongings out of sight — thing slowly start to pile up. A few baby outfits turns into bins of baby outfits, turns into disassembled baby gear that was used all of five times, turns into seven bins full of stuff that your mom brings over from her basement now that you have your own basement in which to keep the entirety of your childhood memories…
It adds up.
Over the last few months I’ve attempted to tackle a new room or space each weekend and unclutter a bit, and it’s felt good. Really good. Nick even noticed a change in my demeanor after the basement and mudroom, two of the spaces that were getting to me the most, were majorly cleaned up. I donated a bag of my clothes to Goodwill, sorted some of Graham’s clothes for consignment, got rid of a bunch of plastic things in the kitchen that we’ve slowly been replacing with glass and stainless steel anyway, and generally felt like I could breathe again after freeing up a little space in our home. It felt liberating, and again forced me to reflect on the fact that we actually have far more space than we truly need; it’s just that our space is not always being used to its full potential because of the things that we choose to put in it.
This past weekend, we watched a documentary on Netflix called Tiny: A Story About Living Small, which follows the story of a man who builds his own “tiny house” to live in — a 130 square foot house built on a trailer bed — and tells the story of several others who have decided to live in tiny houses. Apparently, there is a whole tiny house movement happening; these are not mobile homes or RVs or small vacation getaways, but genuinely tiny houses that are lived in year-round and have been planned out in such a way that every inch of space has a purpose. They are often built on trailer beds because that allows the owners to get around building codes (most towns have a square footage minimum that must be upheld for new construction), but for the most part they stay in one place.
a tiny house | source
We loved seeing how people used their spaces creatively, how they still managed to make them feel warm and uncluttered, and how genuinely happy the homeowners were to be living in such a small space. Some chose to live in a tiny house because of financial reasons while others made the decision based on environmental impact, but the overarching theme was one of a peacefulness and contentedness that the tiny house owners shared.
So… we’re building our own tiny house!
I’m kidding. We’re definitely not. It’s cool and all, but whoa. We couldn’t do it, especially with a toddler. Admirable, for sure, but a bit too extreme for me.
Watching the documentary has further inspired us, though, to strive less for a bigger space and more for better use of our existing space. It’s a conversation we’ve had a lot in the last several years: preventing ourselves from feeling like we “need” a certain amount of space because it’s what others have, and how thoughtful planning and being fully conscious of every item we bring into our home can make all the difference in feeling like we have enough space. It’s so easy to get caught up in feeling like our home should be a certain size based on how others around us are living; when our parents were kids, didn’t their parents buy a modest home when they got married and just pack in as many kids as they ended up having? Today, there seems to be some unwritten rule that you start out with a starter home, and move your way up to a forever home, and the amount of space you have is much more important than the way you fill that space.
the interior of the tiny house from the documentary | source
The most important factor to us in where we choose to live is our quality of life. Because of that, we currently rent a 3-bedroom rowhome in a town that we love. Now, don’t get me wrong: 3 bedrooms is plenty of room! I fully recognize that it is much, much more than so many people have. Still, to some, our home would probably be considered a starter home because of its square footage, the lack of a garage, the small yard, and the fact that we share walls with neighbors on either side… but the more we’ve thought about it and talked about it, the more we’ve realized that we could continue making it work for us for many years. We want to make it work for us because we love where we are geographically, and that happiness is much more important to us than any walk-in closet or 2-car garage could be.
We could certainly have a larger home in a town that we love less, and we could maybe even own that home, but what would be the point? If having the ability to walk to the market, the park, the post office, and my favorite gift shop all in one fell swoop makes us happier day in and day out, and that means renting a slightly smaller home, we think that is a pretty amazing trade-off.
We may not live in a truly tiny house, but I look forward to making it feel tiny in all the ways that really matter.