Tiny House Downsizing, Part 2

Otherwise, known as “The OFFICE Edition”. When you live in a 2000 square foot house, you can theoretically designate 300 square feet to storing the sundry papers in your life. I’m not saying I did that, but I’m not saying I didn’t either. Flashback: one of the first purchases we made after moving back from Senegal, Africa to Missouri was to buy a good quality, heavy duty, 4 drawer file cabinet that would last us a lifetime. We actively used it for about 6 years, but after awhile, I got tired of looking at the ugly thing, and decided I’d rather have a walk-in pantry instead of a designated office space, so I put it into a closet to store things that we didn’t really need but didn’t want to get rid of (tax returns, old piano books and homeschool books, and an entire drawer of empty hanging folder files – yep, the file cabinet was a storage unit holding other storage units!) For the papers we actually needed to file and keep, I used binders with sheet protectors. For example, I put all our electric bills for the current year into the same sheet protector in a binder with our other utility bills. Then I could store this binder on a bookcase. Once a year, around tax time, I would pull out the statements from the previous year, staple them together, and bundle them with our tax records (or throw them away if I didn’t need to keep them). This system worked great, except for the fact that I kept looking on Pinterest to find easy ways to make my cheap binders look pretty (spoiler: there are no “easy” ways to do this. You either spend a ton of money on pretty binders, or a ton of time and money crafting them – I just decided to live with my plain white binders!) But this binder system was a great set-up for the tiny house.

My husband built us 2 shelves in our bedroom, which acted as our library/office. I had 4 linear feet to work with. In our previous home, I had built-in bookcases in 4 different rooms! That was one of the main reasons we bought the house! But 2 shelves are better than none! I consolidated our papers down to only what we HAD to have for the next 6 months (lease agreement, paid property tax receipts, etc.) and managed to get by easily with just one binder. We also stored our Bibles on the shelves, and my library books. In fact, we had room to spare, which was a good thing since I decided to take a tax prep course that fall, and ended up filling 3 – 3 inch binders with my tax notes! (Oh, how I long for a simple tax code!) We also brought a small fire-proof lockbox that held our birth certificates, legal documents, etc. I really didn’t think we would need those items, but sure enough, both my brother and my husband’s brother had to get security clearance, and so needed to know the information on our birth certificates!

While living in the big house, I had 2 junk drawers! Actually, one was for office supplies, and the other for tools. In the tiny house, I had a coffee mug and a small decorative box to hold my office supplies. I kept tape and scissors, and a mini stapler and staples, along with some post it notes and a few paper clips. Office supplies are definitely items that keep expanding to fill whatever space they’re stored in. In science terms, they’re more like a gas than a solid.

When living in a small space, you have to come to terms with the idea that you cannot have everything on hand. If I needed a birthday gift, I would have to go to the store to buy it AND buy the gift bag at the same time. No storing and reusing gift bags either – there were more important things to store. But really, how many times have I stored a collection of gift bags, and still had to buy a new one because the others were the wrong size, color, or just plain worn out?

As far as tools go, well, I reverted to the trick I had used as a kid; a sturdy shoe CAN replace a hammer in a pinch! I did keep a tape measure; in fact, I kept one with the office supplies, and one in the car. It is astounding how many times I needed to use a tape measure while planning our new “small home”. In fact, I remember one day my husband and I were debating how big to make the porch/carport; if I wouldn’t have gone ahead and measured the width of my car with the doors open, we would have made a terrible mistake!

Downsizing the office really paid off where we currently live, since we didn’t even plan for an office space there. Less square footage to build is a huge savings! I would love to Marie Kondo my paper and get rid of almost all of it, but I guess that’s impossible as long as we have death and taxes!

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