Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Living Small

I'm sure that people wonder why Mark and I chose such a small house to be our first (owned) home together. In the Age of McMansions,  purposefully buying a small house may seem odd. But if I've learned anything these past nine months, it's this simple truth: living small is a challenging task that possesses unexpected blessings.

Why we choose to live small:

  • Living inside our means. Mark and I happen to live in one of the most expensive regions in the country. Cost of living is pretty high here, at least compared to the Southeast. I know there are regions with much more expensive price tags on their milk and bread, but, in my own experience, this state is pricey. And pricey milk and eggs means that your buck only buys so many square feet of real estate. Well, you could buy more space...but that space might crumble from beneath your feet when you walk onto it and may or may not come with critters and scary, loud neighbors. Sure, we looked at several larger homes--including one breathtaking Victorian in need of a little elbow grease and grace--but this tiny townhouse is what caught our hearts. Most importantly: we knew we could easily afford the mortgage. We wouldn't have to toast our beautiful finishes over Ramen. After paying rent for two years, an easily affordable monthly payment sounded oh so fine.
  • Learning to organize. Having a small house means every inch of space must perform some task. You learn to sort, hang, and categorize like no other. In no other room is this more important than in the kitchen. The value of baskets, wall hangers, open shelving, magnetic spice tins, and stackable Tupperware becomes immeasurable. The lovely world of Apartment Therapy becomes your idea-center and life-saver. Anytime that I've thought "Man, I wish we had--" I can go to that website and instead exclaim "Oh, duh!" 
  • Learning to do without and realizing you have enough. A small house prevents you from buying unnecessary items. When you're at a department store, drooling over two pairs of shoes--the work flats you know you need and those amazing stilettos your inner diva just wants--the question "Where am I going to put all these shoes?" holds a lot more weight than "I don't need those." (Because we all know wants always beats need when sexy pumps are involved.) Living small forces you to consider what you do and don't need, what's essential and what's just extra fluff. You can't take it with you when you go, so why bother with it now? Trust me, my closet has never been so lean and organized.
  • Living on top of each other. This aspect of living small has also been a real lesson for me, one that I'm still learning. When you have a small house, you're always within distance to speak in conversational tones. (I just tested this out, while typing this post. It's true. A normal conversation pitch works, even though I'm on the top floor.) This smallness then brings you physically closer. You can't have "my space" and "his space." The whole house has to be "our space." One person can't dominate the whole design scheme; you have to make decisions together, compromising whenever possible. If you're going to be packed in together--it has to be a space you both love. Now, here's the other part of this bullet-point: a tiny space also means you can't have a fuss and then stomp off to cool down in another, distant part of the house. What are you going to do? Turn around and stomp a few feet away? Ban the other person from the living room? The bedroom? The bathroom? That last one sure isn't going to work in a one bathroom home. No. Instead, you have to put your big-girl panties on and deal with it. (The panty metaphor obviously refers to myself, not my husband.) Your tiny home demands it. So, for the sake of space, you also learn the importance of diffusing fusses before they get started. (Not that that's always successful, but its important to always try!) 
  • Less time cleaning. Need I say more? 
So, these are the reasons we love living small, so far. I'm sure I'll have more as the journey continues. 

If you really want to see "small," check out these tiny homes: herehere, and here
Also, check out the Tiny House Movement. I love the ideas behind this movement. 

What are your thoughts on living small? Do you think you would like it? What would be the biggest challenge for you and your family? 

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