When it comes to tiny houses when is small too small? 50 square feet? 100 square feet? 200 square feet? A lot of it has to do with individual circumstances, needs and number of people living in the space. After over a year in La Casita Cedric and I have come to the conclusion that as cozy as our home is, 98 square feet for two people and a stocky corgi is pushing some limits. We need more room in order to work on hobbies, store our bulk items and fulfill our need for independence. In the South it seemed a lot easier to fulfill these needs. We didn’t worry about freezing hoses, there was no need to store bulky winter clothes or gear and going outside was bliss in the winter months. Now that we live somewhere with a serious winter, we have more gear, more clothes and less and less space to put it in and as a tiny house fills, the more claustrophobic it feels. So how do you figure out how small is too small before you’re already living the tiny life? Here are few suggestion from our experience.
First, carefully consider needs. For example, we did not thoroughly consider the impact a tiny house would have on our social lives. We would host 30+ people a year in our apartment and threw lots of social events and fundraisers for different project we were a part of. While I’ve found lots of solutions to the issue of hosting events and entertaining, it’s difficult not having a place for family and friends to stay if they want to visit us up North. This has been one of the hardest parts for me and it wasn’t even something I considered as seriously as I should have. Also, my crafting time has diminished due to lack of space for supplies and the room to actually do projects. My advice is make a list of what is most important to your happiness in your space. Is it being able to cook delicious meals, soak in a tub, host potlucks or a space to do hobbies and crafts in? Number your list with 5 being most important and 1 being least. Make compromises from this list, tweak it as you build and use it throughout construction to remind yourself of your needs and how you plan to meet them.
Next, take a good look at your belongings and read this post by Ryan about getting rid of possessions. Then go in to the most cluttered room in your house and make three piles. One pile with items you use all the time, a second with items you use occasionally and a pile that you hardly use but definitely need. How many shelves, cubbies, baskets or hanging space do you need for the items in the first pile? From your second pile decide what is absolutely necessary to keep. Get rid of the excess. If this is difficult try this approach: vow to get rid of 5 items a week or set whatever limit you think do-able for you. It doesn’t have to be from a specific room. You can start with your junk drawer and work your way up.
Going back to the pile technique, take your third group of items and figure out how many Rubbermaids you can stuff it all in to. Do this with each room in your house or apartment. After three moves this year, Cedric and I are at the point where we have 3 Rubbermaids each with items we hardly use, or use seasonally, and we can’t seem to reduce it much more than that. When we started building I just thought, “Well we’ll just have to get rid of things until we fit in the tiny house,” but in the end this was not a realistic approach so I recommend carefully considering your downsizing methods. Figuring out what you need in term of belongings is a great way to determine how much footage you need to live comfortably in a tiny space. Also check out this advice from comments made by Tiny Life folks for more great solutions on tiny space storage!
As you can tell, usability and storage are two key issues for us in La Casita. I keep mentioning this, but I can’t stress enough how important storage planning is. We did not put enough planning in to this aspect of living the tiny life and it’s crucial to having a viable living space that is comfortable and un-cluttered. Plus, even in a tiny house, I end up losing things! I joke about it all the time but seriously? How does one lose something and never find it again in 98 square feet? I honestly don’t know how I do it but part of the problem is that our stuff is spread out. Doesn’t help my organization methods which is my other biggest piece of advice. Organize, organize, organize. The more organized you are the less cluttered and more spacious your tiny space will feel. Plan your attack for an organized tiny space before you ever start moving in! It will save you time and stress! I could definitely do better and have been researching lots of clever tricks to use in order to better accommodate the stuff we have. The via link below will guide you to some of those nifty ideas.
Although it can be challenging, living the tiny life allows for continued renewal on the daily and much happiness. I hope these tips help create a greater sense of space in your tiny life plans. Now I need to get back to La Casita and take some of my own advice!
- When do you think tiny is too tiny?
- Have any good tricks for organization? Please share! (I could really use the advice.)