Friday, September 07, 2012

Living Small

Tiny Terra Cotta Cottage by Meowness on Etsy

When we arrived back to Hawaii on July 23rd, my number one goal was to empty our storage unit so that all our belongings could comfortably fit inside the tree house. With a floor plan of about 250 square feet, I knew we had to downsize.

We spent ten days in the sweltering hot concrete storage unit among piles of bins, boxes, and garbage bags stuffed with clothes, pots, pans, craft supplies, tennis racquets, beach chairs and snorkel gear. Luckily, letting go of things wasn’t nearly as hard when I knew there was simply no place for them.

After the garage sale, I expected to feel wiped out, exhausted or even a little sad. It was exactly the opposite; letting go of all those things made me feel light and energized.  I wanted company, fun and conversation. We ended up cooking a celebratory meal for Kristin in our new place and toasting to our newly tiny existence.

We’ve been living in this small space for a month now, and the downsizing hasn’t stopped. Extra teacups, plates, placemats, toiletries, and clothes have been steadily trickling out the door. Letting go of these things hasn’t diminished my quality of life at all. In fact, less to manage, sort, clean, and worry about, I’ve felt a surge of creativity that had been absorbed and dampened by managing all those extra things. Who knew that less space could create more space for myself?

I’m reading The Small House Bookby Jay Schaffer of Tumbleweed Homes, and I loved this section on subtractive design:

“ A well designed little house is like an oversized house with the unusable parts removed. Such refinement is achieved through subtractive design... Everything not enhancing the quality of life within a dwelling must go…Extra bathrooms, bedrooms, gables, and extra space require extra money, time and energy from the occupants. Superfluous luxury items are a burden. A simple home, unfettered by extraneous gadgets, is the most effective labor-saving device there is.” Pg 78

It costs an awful lot of money to live large, but you also pay in time and energy. If you live small, you can enhance your life by having more time to yourself because you aren’t slaving away at a job you hate to pay for your massive home, and you won’t spend the weekends mowing and vacuuming acres of extra space.  That sounds worthwhile to me.

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