Tag Archives: minimalism

The Reality of Tiny House Living

Hillary's Tiny House outside

Could you imagine living in a house this small?

Small and tiny houses have increasingly become popular and known. Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters TV shows have heightened the public’s interest in this style of living.

Tiny houses on wheels are often compared to RVs. However, tiny houses are built to last as long as traditional homes, use traditional building techniques and materials, and are aesthetically similar to larger homes. A tiny house is often considered one that is under 400ft2.

So, what’s it really like to downsize and live in a tiny house? We interviewed our friend Hillary who’s been living in one for the last 6 months. Her space is under 200ft2. The footprint of the home is 8.5’ x 18’ and it sits on a trailer.

Why did you choose tiny living? Basically, the cost of living. It was a creative way to afford rent, and work to live instead of living to work. Also, I was interested in the environmental benefits and owning less.

What surprised you most about tiny living? How comfortable it feels. I’m getting along really well! It took a leap of faith but there have been more positives than negatives. I’ve realized I don’t have to own a lot to be content.

What has been an unexpected benefit? Buying less stuff. Even less food. I don’t go to home stores anymore for random décor. I’ve saved money and affirmed to myself I don’t need as much stuff as I used to.

What has been the hardest part? Finding the right place to put my tiny home took about a year.  I ended up finding my landlord through an East Bay Tiny House meetup. He has 3.5 acres in Diablo Valley area so I am surrounded by nature but also able to connect into utilities. My water comes from a hose line. I have a direct electricity and sewer line hook up. I have propane tanks for heating water and gas stove.

Another challenge is the lack of space for food and clothes. Clothing storage has been the hardest. I still use some offsite storage at my mom’s house but hope to gradually eliminate that.

What was the process of downsizing your possessions like to prepare to move here? I’m still transitioning through the downsizing process because I’m still storing some furniture at my mom’s. Also, most of my book collection. I’m an English teacher and I’d really like to have my books with me but I haven’t figured out how to integrate them into the space. I still need to sell or donate extra stuff. I feel like I haven’t yet had the cathartic moment of truly releasing things that didn’t fit. Other people I’ve talked to in tiny houses have described how freeing it is to let go.  That said, I do realize that there are lots of things I haven’t needed or thought about for 6 months. I still want to take on the personal challenge of only owning what will fit in my space.

Kitchen, sleeping loft and bathroom

Tiny House Living Room and Entry

Kitchen, Living Room, Entry

STORAGE

Let’s talk about storage – how do you get by without a garage? Right now, I’m not fully addressing that; I still store low use items such snowboarding & camping supplies offsite. There is some space underneath the trailer where I can store tubs – I have my backpacking gear in a heavy-duty tote as well as extra blankets & shoes.

How have you had to modify your shopping practices? I shop more often and buy smaller amounts of things when I do. I’ve had to become more aware of what I’m buying. I still buy a few things in bulk and use the storage area adjacent to my sleeping loft to hold low-use pantry items such as baking supplies.

Storage loft with overflow pantry items

How do you get by without a closet and a dresser? The home does have a really thin closet – 1.5’ wide. I have to be very selective about what gets hung. Reducing clothes was hard because I like to have options of what I wear.  I use open crates in the sleeping loft for folded clothes.

Has living in a tiny house changed your relationship to stuff? Not dramatically, but I feel like I have a higher level of awareness of nice-to-haves vs. have-to-haves. And I’m OK with that. I realized I’m not feeling the loss of giving up on the nice-to-haves as much as I would have thought.

LIFESTYLE

How has the move affected your social life? Not too much. I do have folks come over. I haven’t had big gatherings but I have outside space so that could be used in good weather for gatherings. Having 2-3 people within the house is tight. Having over one extra person is pretty comfortable. I find myself sitting outside more often both when I’m alone or with others. Seating inside a little cramped, especially for tall or larger guests.

Do you have a full bathroom and shower? The toilet and shower are separate and spacious enough. They are average size. I have an on-demand water heater and originally I had a composting toilet but then was able to connect into the landlord’s sewer line so I replaced it with a regular flush toilet.

What life circumstances would have to change for you to feel like you have to move? I feel like I could live here indefinitely if I was living alone. Cohabitating with a partner doesn’t feel very feasible to me here.  If I had a child it feels like it would be feasible maybe for the first year or so.

What are people most curious about? Mostly they just want to know – “Is this working for you? Are you comfortable?”  Anyone who comes to visit quickly sees how doable it is!

Want to watch the entire interview? Let us know!

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Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, Moving, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

Minimalism Movie: Lessons Learned

minimalism picture (1)

live a curated life … life by design instead of by default

 

Last week the three showings of the Minimalism documentary that our professional association (NAPO) hosted sold out! The majority of the attendees stayed afterward to share their impressions.

Here are 5 of our takeaways from the movie:

  • Fashion Challenge: Project 333. A woman who picked just 33 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories and just wore those for 3 months. The point is that no one noticed!
  • The story about the couple where the woman had multiple sclerosis. They decluttered their lives to bring her stress level down as a way of managing her MS symptoms.
  • Seeing people live in tiny houses or small apartments designed with moveable walls and features that enable minimal living challenged our assumptions about how much space we really need.
  • Fabulous clip of a speech by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 on consumption. His message: Owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.
  • The idea that we need to be MORE materialistic, not less. Attaching value to well-made construction … treating items with care so they have long lives. When did furniture become as consumable as magazines??

What we wanted to hear more about:

  • Details of the different styles of minimalism with concrete examples of HOW different kinds of people have implemented minimalism in their lives.
  • How this philosophy applies across class and race

Here’s a movie that will help us all challenge assumptions about what’s disposable, what we really need; inviting us to stop and reframe those assumptions with the goal of living with less.

As professional organizers, we’ve been exposed to the dark side of overconsumption. It has given us a perspective of minimalism by default and thus we mostly live simply.

After watching the movie Dana felt liberated to keep her favorite sweater. She had felt pressure from our culture to have new, more fashionable clothes. Though old and getting a little worn, the sweater still looks good, is a classic style, works well, and she loves it! It’s a keeper.

What has this movement given you permission to do? Need some more ideas? Check out www.theminimalists.com.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, Kids, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Adjust Your Zoom Lens to Get Organized

woman with camera (1)

One of the most valuable skills to develop to get and stay organized is the ability to see a macro view as opposed to a micro view.

Step back to get the bigger picture…

Before you start organizing ask yourself questions such as:

  • What’s important to me?
  • Why am I getting organized in the first place?
  • How do I want to feel when this project is done?

During organizing ask:

  • In my typical day, how often do I need this?
  • What other objects relate to this object I want to put away?
  • How does it fit into my regular routine?
  • What else is living in the space where this should really live?

Here’s a very simple example to illustrate the concept: There’s a pen laying out on the counter and you want to put it away. Before you just shove it in the first available drawer or pen cup think about it for a second – does the pen work well? If not, toss it. If it works but you don’t like how it writes, does someone else in the family love it? Maybe it should go live where they can find it easily again.

Adjusting your zoom lens out to a wider view provides context and perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the details. Thinking in the bigger picture helps simplify the process of figuring out what to keep and where to put things. Living in this conscious way results in less clutter.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, organizing, Perspective, Strategies