Tips for Living Tiny in Any Sized Space

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For me, the holidays are a time for self-reflection, which is often influenced by larger discussions already happening. I notice a lot of articles begin to circulate that discuss human behavior, our tendency toward over consumption, and its effect on perceived happiness. Lately, a lot of these articles are talking about the Tiny Home movement and its mission to reduce our carbon footprint.

Once you get past the idyllic novelty of the designs of these mini houses, you realize that it’s truly a lifestyle choice. According to Gabriella and Andrew Morrison, two Tiny House converts and business owners, living the tiny lifestyle is about “creating a life that supports joy, health, and environmental stewardship.” In this sense, anyone can take the elements of living in a Tiny Home and apply them to their current situation.

After doing some digging of my own, I’ve compiled my top 3 tips for living tiny, whether you’re in the process of transitioning to a much smaller space or not.

1. Reanalyze Your Spending

This is one of those nuggets of advice that we all hear over and over but ignore, thinking we have a handle on it. From my experience, a significant amount of unnecessary spending slips through the cracks as easily as a loose quarter. We can overlook the literal weight that material possessions and debt put on our shoulders because it seems normal. Along with working with your bank and loan officers, there’s plenty of free online tools and apps that will track your spending and help you devise a debt reduction plan.

2. Need or Want?

This will make tip 1, lowering debt and saving money, even easier. As a society, we need to relearn the difference between a need and a want. This requires having a deep, often uncomfortable level of honesty with ourselves. We live in a consumer-driven era of have-to-have-it-(to-be-happy). While a quick buy can self-soothe in the short term, it most likely does the opposite in the long run.

A need vs. want project and the decisions that come with it can be daunting, but there are some clever ways to approach it. One way is the 365 Day Rule, where you comb through every corner of your house and ask yourself, “Have I used this in the last year?” If the answer is no, it must go. Something that helps me de-clutter is to bring someone over to help who’s not emotionally attached to my stuff. Another (arguably more drastic) way to approach this would be to pack everything up as if you were moving. After a year, anything still packed can probably go. Another great resource that goes into more detail can be found here.

Really evaluating the need for items is important, along with cutting down on the amount of waste you and your family produce.  I stumbled upon Bea Johnson in my research on living more sustainably and I find her book Zero Waste Home truly fascinating. She and her family live a lifestyle that produces zero waste.

3. Dual Process

This tip is to get you thinking about the other side of the coin. For those heading to or already in tiny spaces, double-duty designs are indispensable. Lofted beds with kitchen space underneath, tables and chairs that open for storage, multi-purpose surfaces, etc. (However, if you’re settled in a roomier space, I’d actually suggest doing the opposite to avoid simply hiding away stuff you don’t use).

Where there’s an inside, there’s an outside. No matter what space you’re in, don’t forget about what’s beyond it. For Tiny Home dwellers, use the outside parameters to enhance your living quarters. If you start to feel cramped, simply stepping outside is an easy-access escape. For those of us looking to model our lifestyles after Tiny Homers, embrace what living small is meant to allow you to do more of: live. With lower living expenses and fewer material obligations, you can get out to play and adventure in a more sustainable way.

You can look to sustainable architects like William McDonough for design ideas to create a home that is more sustainable.  He partnered up with Brad Pitt to create homes in New Orleans that are more sustainable through their Make It Right program.

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About Tiffany Kresinski

Tiffany Kresinski is a parent trying out the natural and sustainable lifestyle. We weren't always this way, paying little attention to the amount of waste we produced, or the kinds of chemicals in our food, but the recent craze in "green" living has inspired us to change our ways. We have been making a conscious effort to live more sustainably for a few years now, starting to blog at Peace, Love and Travel in 2012. Always looking for new ways to help the environment (and maybe save a little money too!), cutting back on how much garbage we kick to the curb, upcycling what we can, switching to mainly organic, locally grown foods. While living this way hasn't always been easy we're so glad to be making an effort to live a better life.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Living Tiny in Any Sized Space

  1. M. Waters

    Thank you for the information in respect to the heating of a tiny house. I remember reading about adding manganese to tiles which will hold the heat longer in a passive solar home. Could something like this work if there were enough windows allowing the sun to touch the floors most of the day?
    I would think it would have to be some kind of a floating floor because of the movement…but I am just brainstorming 😉

    1. Macy Miller

      Interesting idea, I’m not sure it would make a ton of difference at this scale but I’m not educated enough to say definitively one way or another. Would love to hear from others who may know though!


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