The Power of Living Small
By By Amy Allen Clark
Small space living comes with many challenges, but the rewards for a family on a budget are great. For a long time, I considered our smaller home a temporary means to get us by until we could afford more. As the years have gone passed, however, I have truly discovered the power of living in a smaller house and making the most of what we have. I will admit that it is all about our approach towards making our space our own more than it is about the amount of square footage in our house.
Small space is all relative, of course, isn’t it? In full discretion, our home is 1,500 square feet for our family of four. While that may sound like a lot--or a little--the space is made smaller and more challenging with a tri-level floor plan. If it was spread out on one or two levels, I am sure it would feel much larger. Regardless, spatial challenges exist, and we have learned a lot from working through them.
No matter your square footage, I wanted to share a few ideas for learning to embrace the power of living in the space you are in right now.
Reconsider Your Furniture
Furniture can truly make a room feel larger or smaller depending on the size of it and the purpose it serves in your home. The larger furniture we purchased for our previous home was not well-suited for the house we had now, but replacing it was not a cost we could really afford.
Instead, consider scaling back on the amount of furniture in your rooms. Do you use the side tables in your home? Is the coffee table really needed, or would your space benefit from an ottoman that serves as dual storage? Try removing pieces of furniture from the room and see if it makes the flow of the space feel bigger.
When you do replace furniture, try buying items that could serve a dual purpose or could maximize the use of your smaller rooms. When my son needed a new bed, we opted for a loft bed that would allow him to have a desk underneath.
Cut the Clutter in Half
The best part about living in a smaller space is that it forced me to edit the belongings I have and has kept me from buying as much as I would in a larger space. If your home closets are small, if you don’t have a basement, if there is no garage, then these situations can truly work as a way to keep your clutter under control.
Lately I have been trying to live my life by an infamous quote from William Morris: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” If it is not bringing beauty or usefulness to my space, then I can feel good about passing those items on to someone else in need. Suddenly, my kitchen counters feel spacious, the basement really does have a spot for everything in storage and the house does have enough space for us all.
Consider making a weekly date with yourself to devote an hour towards improving one spot in your home you struggle with. If it is a drawer that never opens, an office that is filled with useless papers, a basement that has become an avalanche of misplaced items, spend your hour making those spots in your home better. Make it a goal to cut the clutter in half to make the space more livable and enjoyable.
Make Wise Renovation Investments
Renovating your home can be costly, but it is usually not as costly as it is to buy a new home. If there is a particular area you want to improve, consider getting an estimate to make your space more livable. Many homes have unused corners and smaller spaces that could be improved.
Our little house got a much needed renovation this past year to make our space work for us for years to come. With one wall knocked out and putting unused basement storage to work, our home was renovated into a spacious family room and a quiet home office in the basement.
Really think about your space and how you could make it work for your family. Look for guidance in home magazines or consider spending the money on having an architect come to evaluate your home and draw up a plan. You may be surprised to discover how much more square footage you have.
Make Your Space Feel Permanent
If you look at your home as a temporary place until you find something better, you might be overlooking the chance to really make the space work for your family. I found that when I finally told myself that this was my home (whether I liked it or not) and put some elbow grease into it, this transformed not only the space, but my attitude towards it. As with all things in life, it’s what you make it, and I am choosing to make it the best I truly can!
If you are living in a smaller home or apartment, just remember to consider your blessings. Not only do you have a mortgage or monthly payment that you can afford, but you have less of a home to clean, a natural way to edit the excess from your life and more importantly, cozier quarters that force your family to always be together. What could be better for a family than that?