Hey R+H friends! This post is by R+H brand-new contributor, Erin Kelly (watch for her official introduction to come in this weekend’s links post!). Please make her feel welcome!
When Beth first asked me to be a part of her awesome community over here, I really pondered what you guys would want to hear more about. I mean, I can talk chickens and pastured pigs all day, but I get to write about that all of the time on my blog, Blue Yurt Farms (so if you want more oink & cluck in your life, come say hi).
So, let’s talk about my other favorite topic…small space living! We can all relate to trying to fit a little less clutter, and a little more living into our homes, right?
My home in particular is a big blue 720 sq ft “yurt” – aka a glorified tent with modern conveniences. I live here with my husband, four cats and two dogs, which can sometimes feel like a squeeze.
Despite the small space, most of the time I love living here, and here are my top 20 reasons:
Similar to a loft, or open floor plan layout…our yurt is completely open with the exception of the fully enclosed bathroom. It makes the yurt feel incredibly spacious, even when its footprint truly is not.
Yurts have several commonalities across the board, from fabric walls and wooden lattice supports to the large plexiglass dome at the top. Even with our tinted dome, we still have tons of natural light flooding into the yurt…and I love watching the clouds float by while I do yoga in the “living room”.
Speaking of yoga, I’ve held classes with 5 people in our home. That’s a lot of arms and legs stretching out! They fit perfectly though. We’ve also managed to accommodate four overnight guests comfortably, even without a guest bedroom. And it’s a great party home, even with the smaller footprint! Instead of everyone cramming into a small kitchen, they can naturally spread out and still see what everyone else is up to.
This is both a negative and a positive. Since the walls are fabric, we can clearly hear our chickens clucking around outside and they can hear us. When one of them gets a little too into her “egg song” while one of us is on a conference call? Negative. Hearing the patter of rain and even snow on the roof? Positive.
I’ve lived in a variety of apartments and homes around the country, and I’ve never appreciated one as much as I do the yurt. There is something about this little circle that speaks to me, and just feels like HOME.
My husband and I are animal people. After all, we’re homesteaders, and our days revolve around the health and happiness of our livestock. But that goes for our indoor animals as well. Since we’re all in one big room, we really get to enjoy watching our two dogs play tug-o-war, or the pile-o-cats near the toasty warm wood stove. And that sense of togetherness also goes for the two of us!
7. No hiding places for clutter
It happens to all of us. No matter how vigilant you are, clutter creeps in. But when you live in a small, open space…that clutter gets moved out more quickly since there are no closets to hide it in or doors to close when company comes over. It constantly reminds you of its presence, until you get rid of it!
Since our home is so simple in construction and layout, it’s easy to play around with new ideas on bed placement or kitchen layout, etc. Of course, the circular aspect makes things interesting as well…such as building in kitchen counters without corners. Nothing like a little mental exercise!
This ties in with the above reason in that I can move our bed to a new location on a whim. You can certainly do that in a standard home as well, but it might be a little more “odd” to have visitors walk into your living room turned bedroom, whereas since our home is one big open layout…it’s already odd! But that whimsy seems to appeal to most people that visit the yurt.
When we first built our yurt, we had plenty of local people stop by to see “the tent”. They were amazed we lived in it, until they stepped foot inside and had instant yurt envy! I can’t even count how many people say in shock “well, I could live in one of these!”
This has been a great “starter” home in that we were involved with building it, from the deck and plumbing to the yurt itself. So when things go wrong, we (or specifically, my husband) have a clear idea of how to get to the problem area and fix it. We’ve both learned quite a bit of DIY techniques thanks to the yurt.
A yurt by its very nature is a very informal space. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you live in a fabric walled, round structure! It’s like the best combination of vacation camping and a comfortable luxury home. So, sure, when friends are helping around the homestead and come clunking in with muddy boots…I *could* ask them to take them off at the door. But I realize that sweeping the mess up afterwards is pretty darn easy.
When you start off with plywood floors, pretty much anything else is an upgrade! We’ve re-purposed wood from a friend’s old deck, used a pallet for a pot rack and built an extremely basic firewood shelf next to the wood stove. Since I don’t have to worry as much about the re-sale value, we can build/innovate/create what works for us. Rustic homemade looks right in the yurt.
When we built our yurt, we splurged on the important things, like an over sized soapstone wood stove (so we don’t freeze). Those choices meant we had to be frugal in other ways. We have smooth plywood floors in our home, and a teeny tiny shaving mirror in our bathroom. We use mason jars for drink glasses and food storage. Our “welcome” mat is a scrap of carpet from a friend’s remodel. But now when we replace those items with something a little nicer it feels like an amazing gift to ourselves, which is way better than an overloaded all-in-one trip to IKEA with accompanying eye popping receipt.
Some of the yurt books that I’ve read mention the peaceful quality of living in a circle. They suggest that it’s more in keeping with nature. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I sleep amazingly well in our yurt and find myself sighing with gratitude that we’ve chosen such a simple, peaceful home.
16. No Privacy
This might seem like a negative, but I think the lack of privacy makes my husband and me much more aware of each others mood and personal space. When I’m reading a book peacefully, he’ll put headphones in rather than blast music. If he is on a conference call or taking a nap, I make sure everything stays quiet and peaceful so he isn’t bothered. It definitely makes you a more polite person.
My husband and I own our own web design business, which made moving to a rural area of Virginia (that also has high speed internet) easy. But it made the process of buying a home pretty difficult, lending-wise. So we went with the less traditional choice of renting land from friends (that we’re now buying), and building a yurt. We did it all with cash, and family loans that will be paid off this spring, which is pretty incredible. Now…time to start paying off the debt we accumulated living in NYC!
We’re all very used to living in square homes, and all of our furniture is likewise square. So living in a yurt requires thinking outside of the box at times (ha, ha, yes I went there!). The bed doesn’t fit up exactly against the wall, our work desks jutted out and we went without a TV for the first two years since we didn’t have the right space for it. Now I have a curved work counter, and we found just the right place for a wall mounted TV…which made my husband VERY happy. The bed is a work in progress. Maybe we just need one of those circular honeymoon beds!?
19. The “Feel” of It
One of our friends told us that he always felt relaxed when he stepped foot into the yurt, and I’m inclined to agree. It feels a little like a cozy log cabin and an airy, filled with light, loft had a baby and called it “yurt”.
Living in a yurt is just good fun, since people are endlessly fascinated with it. It’s an amazing party trick, or ice breaker. And I can’t even tell you how many funny conversations have started with work clients that see the yurt for the first time via video conference call!
So those are my 20 reasons why I love living in a yurt, all 720 sq ft of it!
How many square feet is your home? Do you utilize all of your space?
What would you change if you could?
Thanks for having me here, friends! I’ll be back in February with a post about staying sane in small spaces, which is sometimes easier said than done. Looking forward to sharing my secrets. Till then, come say hi at Blue Yurt Farms!