Living in small spaces

PJ wrote about living in the anti-McMansion and the 96-square-foot home in a recent “Extreme Minimalism Monday” post. Coincidentally, days later, I stumbled across this interesting article by Claire Wolfe entitled The Art of Living in Small Spaces. The article has great tips on living in her 360-square-foot cabin, but the tips can also help you live a clutter-free life in your typical-size living space.

Here are some of the tips:

  • Plan to cultivate neatnik habits. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place as soon as you’re done with it.
  • Above all, banish clutter from your kitchen countertops. Eliminate small appliances you don’t need. Stash those you do need inside cabinets. Buy the under-cabinet mounting types of appliances where feasible. Buy or construct a countertop “appliance garage.” An uncluttered kitchen is the biggest step toward small-space sanity.
  • Don’t own a lot of stuff. If you can do without it, do without it.
  • If you heat or cook with wood, a pass-through bin for firewood will save space and mess. Build the bin on the outside wall of your house, with a door to insert wood from the outdoors and another, next to your woodstove, to pull the wood inside.
  • Consider constructing (or buying) a platform bed with big storage drawers underneath.

9 Comments for “Living in small spaces”

  1. posted by amanda lee on

    I love the platform bed idea–my roommmate made his own from scratch. I’m considering the same when I move out.

  2. posted by Helen on

    I recently moved from an 1800 square foot 3BR condo into a 1BR of a little over 500 square feet. These tips are great, and one thing I’d add is to drop hints to friends and family that you don’t have a lot of space for stuff. I had so many well-meaning people offer me household items that I simply didn’t have room for. It can be a tricky situation if someone gives you a housewarming gift that you can’t find a place for–you don’t really want to refuse it, but you can’t keep it, either.

  3. posted by Roy Jacobsen on

    When I first read bullet point 1, I read it as “beatnik habits,” not “neatnik habits,” and instantly pictured Maynard G. Krebs (link) wandering around a tiny apartment, saying, “Like, what?”

    I’ll second the platform bed idea. We purchased a captain’s bed with 6 drawers on each side (queen size), and got rid of one of the huge dressers taking up space in our small bedroom.

  4. posted by gibbons on

    I am not a fan of raised or platform beds. They are contrary to feng shui practises and i believe if you need the extra space it will just attract things you should of thrown out anyways. If you are doing it to get rid of large bulky furniture why not just reorganize your closet.

  5. posted by Chris on

    My wife and I lived in a 500 sq ft city condo for 7 years. We found choosing furniture that permitted the floor beneath to remain visible made the space feel much bigger. For example, instead of a typical slab couch, we chose one that was up on 6″ legs so the floor beneath was visible. The more floor you see, the bigger the space feels.

  6. posted by The Hagemans on

    We just got married and live in a typical urban apartment. Instead of gifts that we don’t need and can’t store in our small kitchen, we asked our wedding guests to make donations to our two charities of choice in our name.

  7. posted by Lisa S. on

    As small-space residents, our basic rule is “Keep what we use, use what we keep.”

    And while an uncluttered kitchen is a thing of beauty, there’s a lot to be said for uncluttered bathrooms too.

    I have found that in our small place, the more orderly and attractive the small spaces are, the more pleasant and accommodating the whole is.

  8. posted by liezl on

    I just moved to Tokyo from NYC, where I thought I already understood small-space living. But living in Tokyo has me thinking I lived in such big spaces before! I’m glad to have found your tips on living in small spaces – Thanks, its very helpful.

  9. posted by Ethel on

    “why not just reorganize your closet”

    1. If you don’t have a closet (been there)
    2. If your closet is so poorly designed or badly located that it only makes sense to store things that are rarely used in it (our situation)
    3. If you expect to move soon, and don’t want to depend on your next place having good closets (also our situation)
    4. If you like the idea of not having to walk from the bed to the closet to get your clothes, because they are stored right underneath you (yeah, I’m lazy, it’s why I hate dealing with clutter)

    I’m going to talk to my husband about saving for a custom platform bed frame. I’m already designing it in my head . . . But it will probably be at least a year before we have the money for it.

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