Post by contributor, Erin Kelly
Four cats. Two dogs. And two people living and working out of 720 square feet. How does that work? How do we not drive each other batty by proximity?
Two popular questions from friends, family and blog readers about our choice to live in a yurt totalling just over 700 square feet in “the middle of nowhere”.
Any home under 1,000 square feet counts as an uber-trendy “tiny house”, so if you’re considering downsizing your living arrangements, here are my thoughts on finding sanity in small spaces.
1. Find Balance Outside Your Home
Whether you live in the city or the country, it’s important to get outside of the home. My husband and I both work from home, so this is even more important for us. If we spend several days cooped up in our yurt, it can start to feel a bit claustrophobic. So we make an effort to go for a cup of a coffee at the local coffee shop (just a 30 min drive, not bad!), or visit a friend’s for a potluck dinner.
Those steps outside of our surroundings makes coming home all that much better.
2. Be Aware
Living in close proximity with others requires that you are not only more aware of their needs, but your own. Are you feeling frazzled? Irritated? Sad? Tired?
Ask for what you need, whether it’s a quiet bath with the door shut or some book time while everyone else goes for a walk. Or perhaps YOU take that walk, and leave your small space reality behind for a bit.
I find that living in a small space MAKES me stay more balanced than when I had more room to get away indoors, and ultimately ignore what was causing those feelings in the first place. Ask for what you need!
3. Change Your Perspective
Stuff and things. Trips to IKEA, Target and a HUGE grocery store are a thing of the past for us. We utilize Amazon Prime a bit more than we should, but these days we try to use what we have and if we don’t love it, use it or want it…that item takes a trip to the dumpster.
Which is pretty awesome, because invariably someone else picks it up within the hour. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, right?
When you live in a small home, you really prioritize what gets to stay in your home OR you drown under piles of clutter. I’ll take the first option, thankyouverymuch!
Check out: 7 Reasons I Love My Tiny Kitchen
4. Enjoy Your Space
The little things start to make a much bigger difference. Like the reclaimed wood backdrop behind my computer…it came from a friend’s deck, a place where we spent many happy nights. The side tables out of fallen trees from our property. The open floor plan thanks to lack of clutter makes a great space to do yoga (we love YogaGlo).
And some nights, after a hectic day of work, my husband plays video games with headphones and I sit down to a free ebook from BookBub on my Kindle (usually with multiple kitties cuddling on me). We’re within touching distance, but are still taking our own time with “privacy”.
It might only last an hour or so, but it’s so very peaceful and restoring.
5. Choose Additions Wisely
That goes for people, animals and things. Do you *really* need another piece of furniture? Do you *really* want to share a small space with this person? How will this dog/cat/fish/etc. fit in with your existing pet family?
If the answer is no, then perhaps you don’t need that thing/person/pet in your life. Small space living = the great refiner of self knowledge.
(If you have kids living in your small space, here’s a great way to manage their clothes: Minimalist Kid Wardrobes: How I Use One Dresser for All Three of my Kids)
6. Get Outdoors & Explore
The outdoors, ahhh, such a great reset button. And don’t tell me you can’t get outdoors. Back when I lived in NYC (and living in an even TINIER space than I do now), I would volunteer walking rescue dogs in Central Park. It was and continues to be one of my favorite places.
Now? I take the dogs, and the adventurous cats on walks around our property. Sometimes my husband comes with me, sometimes it’s just me and my fur kids.
I never fail to come back feeling ready to tackle life in all of its complexities.
Where do you find sanity?
Do you wish you lived in a smaller home?
Thanks for having me here, ladies! I’ll be back in March with a post about keeping a non-toxic home, which is even MORE important when you’re living in small spaces. Till then, come say hi at Blue Yurt Farms!
Ronel @ Jarocas
These tips are really helpful especially keeping the dogs and ones sanity! Optimizing one’s space and get rid of the clutter to create that special place where you can’t wait to be! I think just owning and go for walks with the dogs is therapy in itself! Thanks for sharing!
Number Five is what we advise most of clients when they get their new condos. You really have to choose what goes in and stays in your small space.