Tiny House Downsizing, Part 1

Here’s a newsflash. You cannot fit 2000 square feet worth of belongings into a 300 square foot tiny house. Well, my husband could, because he is a master packer (seriously, it’s his superhero power). But you wouldn’t be able to LIVE in the space if you cram it that full. And, no matter the house size, our homes should be livable places – places where people can walk freely from room to room without having to step over items on the floor or bang their elbows against boxes stacked in corners. I really believe our environment influences our mood, and I would rather my family be living with much less stuff, happily, in an uncluttered environment. Probably not everyone is like me, but I know that I get stressed in a crowded or cluttered environment. It’s hard to truly relax and breathe. So, knowing we were going to be living at least 6 months in a tiny house, our family engaged in some heavy decluttering!

We started with the kids’ toys. All decluttering seems to start with the kids’ toys! My son and daughter had 2 drawers each in a small dresser to bring whatever they desired. I let them choose, and tried to give just minimal advice (Are you really going to need 20 different balls of yarn just in case you might decide to crochet something? Don’t you want to take SOMETHING besides video games since you’re STILL only allowed a limited amount of screen time? Maybe UNO would be better to take instead of MONOPOLY since we don’t have a space large enough to lay out a board game… ). I have to say, they did a great job. My daughter ended up taking a variety of small craft items that she fit in a couple of shoebox containers, and she and a couple of neighbor girls would spend hours drawing on computer paper instead of the construction paper that she DIDN’T have room for. She never seemed to mind. And my son brought his portable basketball hoop and played basketball with the neighbor boys, or read and reread his favorite book series, even though he had access to a great library and could get new books every week. In fact, the three of us probably read more that summer than at any other time previously.

All their other toys were put into storage or donated. This process wasn’t actually very difficult because my kids have never had an excess of toys. But we did take the opportunity to get rid of board games that we never played, or donate books that they were not likely to reread.

Next, I tackled the kitchen. I knew I only had 2 cabinets and 3 drawers. I set aside 6 plates and bowls (1 for each of us, plus a couple to use as serving or for guests). I also set out 6 coffee mugs, and silverware. I bought a couple of metal nesting mixing bowls to save space, and stacked them inside my colander. I chose my slow cooker, a skillet, dutch oven, pizza stone, 2 small pots, griddle, and a couple of pie plates. I also chose my measuring cups and glass measuring cup, and a few serving utensils and spatulas. Throw in my stick blender, some cloth napkins, towels and dish rags, and some Ziploc bags, and that was my whole kitchen. THEN, I went through everything else in the kitchen and decided (Marie Kondo style) if I really loved that item or not. I decided I did NOT like my cheesecake pans since they leaked anyway, nor did I really enjoy making mini cupcakes. I got rid of several cheap plastic bowls and random dishes and vases, but kept the antique brown bowls my grandmother gave me. I also gladly got rid of all my mismatched drinking glasses (I much prefer things to be matching anyway!). My goal was to take enough kitchen items that I wouldn’t feel deprived, but not so many that I would constantly be shifting dishes around in overcrowded cabinets. I knew we would not be entertaining much in such a small space, and surely it would be fine to serve salad from a metal mixing bowl rather than my pretty glass bowl. (We actually ended up hosting my brother several times during this time because of his travel schedule, but he doesn’t like salad much anyway, so he wasn’t offended by the metal bowl either!)

In the bathroom, decluttering was more a matter of getting everyone to use the same shampoo and conditioner, and get rid of all the free products I had amassed during my 2 month stint with extreme couponing 2 years previously. Sheesh – cheap razors last forever (when you don’t like using them!) Oh, and I had a rather large collection of half-burnt candles that smelled bad, but that I was keeping just in case of a power outage. I took my favorite candle, and threw out the rest. By the way, ever since then, I have enjoyed completely burning down one candle before going out to buy another one. And, I burn my candle almost every day for hours at a time, and it still lasts for months. It feels so decadent yet it’s such a simple pleasure.

Next time, I’ll talk about the other areas in the house (I hesitate to say “rooms” since we are talking about a tiny house!)

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