I’ve been saying for a while now that I would share some tips for living in small spaces. You might already know, but before buying this 100+ year-old farmhouse in North Carolina I was living in San Francisco. During my time there I lived in two different apartments, the first was a 550 square foot studio and the second was an 800 square foot one bedroom palace. Really, it did feel like a palace! But, when I would tell anyone I grew up with about our apartments they were generally pretty horrified. They couldn’t imagine living in like that! And rightfully so, most of them were living in houses that were more like 2,000 square feet. And, honestly it does sound a little like torture to most people, but you actually adapt quite easily. In fact, we didn’t leave our studio because it was too small, but because it was a middle floor with loud neighbors that was west facing and didn’t have AC (read = hot).
Benefits of Small Space Living
I’m truly so grateful for those years because they taught me to appreciate living small. In fact, I prefer it right now. There are so many benefits: small spaces are usually less expensive, they don’t take as long to clean, they force you to be pretty good about not hanging on to things you don’t need, and they’re more intimate. Don’t get me wrong, living in bigger houses has it perks too. Having bedrooms to spare for visitors and spacious common areas for parties is a dream. But, I’ve found that there are so many more benefits to living small than people initially realize.
Small Living Idea
At 1,500 square feet our current house no longer qualifies us to be members of the “tiny” club. But, we’re still not in the “large” one either. Most of the tips I’ve accumulated from living in small spaces are ones that can apply to houses of almost any size. That’s not always true, but often it is and that’s why I’m so excited about sharing them – they’re applicable in so many ways!
Today’s tip is to make everything pretty. You see, when you live in a small space almost nothing is off limits to guests because you’re trying to utilize every single square foot. That’s especially true for a studio. Anyone who comes over sees every last detail of your house. If you’re lucky you have a closet that’s private. But, if you have overnight visitors then even that’s on display. I followed this rule starting from day one. It was easier for me to do because when we moved to San Francisco we only brought what could fit in our car. Which meant basically no furniture or decorations so we were starting from scratch. From then on I was pretty strict about not bringing things in unless we really liked them. That doesn’t mean you can’t find things you like that are affordable. As you can imagine we had very little money with Xan fresh out of grad school, me working at a nonprofit and having just moved to one of (if not the most) expensive city in the country. We got what we liked the most and fit our style while staying within our means. That meant a lot of things from Ikea and Target, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I will say, there are some things I wish I’d held out and bought something nicer later on. But, there are tons of things at bargain stores that get the job done and look good while doing it. And that’s what you’re looking for when you have a brand new space. If you’re in a position to wait, then by all means do. But if you can’t, get the prettiest version of what you’re looking for that fits your style as best as possible. That way, every part of your house/apartment will be ready for guests.
Small Space Living Idea: Execution
The good news is that following this tip won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg and will take you pretty far because making a small space pretty doesn’t take much. It’s surprising how much harder it is to furnish, decorate, and fill your house the bigger it gets. This is also a great goal in a larger house because you’ll feel so much better about entertaining if you’re not worried that someone will open the wrong door and see the junk room. However, it can take longer. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not there yet.
The pictures for this post are obviously not my house, but are of an AirBnB we stayed in that followed this rule perfectly. It was an Airstream Trailer in a beach town on the Central California Coast and is probably the epitome of small living. Every square inch was styled beautifully; I mean, look at that bathroom. The vanity is an old road sign! And the word magnets on the wall next to the bed? Every single inch of this place was well thought out.