Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged Stuff

How To Get Started: A Practical Guide Part 4

Now many of you who are looking to actually live in a Tiny House have some level of awareness of this cultural phenomenon we know as consumerism.  It essentially functions by creating social pressures to buy more stuff, our culture has an instilled mentality that we need more stuff to be happy.

The more stuff, the more happiness right?  Wrong.  Studies have actually shown that the purchase of stuff gives us a quick high, but ultimately leaves us even more unhappy.  Buying more stuff means we need to work more to pay for it, we incur more debt.  All of these things bring stress, give us less time to relax, time away from family and friends and when we do have free time, we are hounded by collection agencies.   When we move into a Tiny House, we need to reduce the amount of things we need to fit in, this actually reduces stress, focuses us on what is important and create greater value for what little we do have.

I encourage you to have some time set aside to do some introspection.  During that time consider what you have purchased over the last month using receipts and a spreadsheet.   I have seen it a million times, people who don’t track it, don’t realize how bad the problem is.  This is a pretty well document phenomenon.  Studies have shown that when people track things, they typically spend 1/3 less, just by tracking it!

It has taken me a long time to really weed through my subconscious to get to a point where I can realize when these deep rooted influences are pushing me to buy something.  I have been on this journey now for 2 years and still am struggling with it.  I do intentionally strike a balance between separation of consumer culture and still staying generally socially acceptable.  Clothing for example is a big societal function, fashions and trends drive us to buy more and I think many have a hard time breaking this cycle.

Now it is true, men’s clothing is easier to do this with, but I still believe anyone can do it.  My clothes literally can fit in a big suitcase, all of them.  I own 1 suit, 3 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, 10 shirts, 15 undershirts, 30 pairs of socks, 30 pairs of underwear, 3 work shirts, 3 shirt that get dirty, 2 pajama pants, a hat, rain jacket, winter jacket, one pair of dress shoes, one pair of running shoes, and one pair of garden shoes.   I have also worked to be able to work from home or a job that I can dress casually, this drastically reduces the amount of clothes and limits social pressures.

So today start looking at what you have spent, take some time to think about how these cultural norms influence you behavior and check out the story of stuff to help understand these mechanisms.

Story Of Stuff – Interview

A long time ago I talked about a really nice video called “The Story Of Stuff”  I put it at the bottom here, but I recently found an interview with her that I wanted to share.  The interview is with Stephen Colbert, who for those of you who don’t know of him, is a comedian who does a news show; so his interview tend to be a little ridiculous, but she gets her point across nicely.

But Will It Make You Happier?

Today a good blogger friend of mine was featured in the New York Times, it talks about life simplification and what actually makes humans happy.  Not only is it inspiring, interesting and thought provoking, it is backed up with a good bit of research.  The article is really well written and I strongly encourage you all to read it.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

Full article here: NYT August 2010

Down & Dirty Organizing

Here are some videos of a lady who read this book Unclutter Your Life in One Week.  Now I should put in a side note, she is a scrapbook / photography blogger, so you will see her drop things about scrap booking.  Regardless of that fact she does a great demonstration of practical tips about how to reduce your stuff and how to organize what is left.

unclutter your life

A few key points she mentions:

  • All thing have a place and are in their place
  • Try to get things off the floor
  • Only have things that you love

178 Feet Where More Is More

Here is an interesting article form the New York Times, where this designer lives in a Tiny Apartment, but says that by “having more stuff, makes the room feel bigger”.  It is an interesting assertion, I will leave judgment up to you.

Living in a room that’s only 178 square feet, you don’t want to cook much, Mr. Motl said; it’s just too odoriferous. He once made French onion soup, and the apartment smelled for four days. “It was gross,” he said.

overview

But Mr. Motl, 25, has made the most of this studio apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, which he rents for $944 a month, and has outfitted for about $2,500 in the three years since he moved to New York City. He has hewed to the old decorating dictum that says the more stuff you put in a room (albeit artfully arranged stuff), the bigger it seems. More really is more.

kitchen

Mr. Motl, a theater major who also studied sculpture at the State University of New York at Geneseo, had planned to pursue a career in acting after graduating in 2007. Like so many before him, he had been testing the waters in New York City during his summers off from school, cobbling together a living and a career path by doing two or three jobs at a time, along with a handful of internships: waiting tables in Bellport, N.Y., his hometown, and in Brooklyn; teaching sailing at yacht clubs up and down Long Island; interning at P.S. 122 in New York, and for Miles Redd, the maximalist designer.

Pretty quickly, Mr. Motl began to realize he would much rather work in interior design than the theater. “Not that I knew anything about it,” he said. “I thought ikat” — a trendy textile — “was a piece of furniture.”

bed storage

Still, he is an innately stylish guy. “I always knew what I liked and what I didn’t like,” he said.

And he has a sailor’s sense of thrift and handiness that has served him well in his new profession, and at home. When he moved into this apartment, a grubby white box, he removed all the window panes, scraped them clean and reattached each one so they wouldn’t bang or let the cold in (he keeps them sparkling clean).

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He also chipped the mirrored tiles off the bathroom walls — “That’s when the love affair with my downstairs neighbor began,” he said dryly — and painted the room midnight blue. He built task lights with a steampunk aesthetic out of components he found at Canal Lighting for less than $200; he also put together a milk-glass shade ($12 on eBay), an Edison bulb ($18 at Canal Lighting) and an electric cord to make the fixture that hangs atmospherically over the beadboard breakfast counter/front hall table/cabinet he built himself.

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