STORAGE SPACE IS THE HARDEST THING TO COME BY IN A TINY HOME, BUT HOW MUCH DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED?
Being creative in the development of a small property is an integral part of its design success and it is incredibly important to be open-minded when it comes to how you want to live in your space.
When we first moved into our home, we were convinced that storage space was going to be a huge issue. There were no built-in wardrobes or cabinets, no bookshelves in the living room or cupboards to hide things away in the bathroom. We didn’t have the luxury of an airing cupboard or a pantry – things that felt 100% necessary. As we learned more about the space available to us, and how we could make it work best, we began to realise our perception of space and storage was changing.
When you live in close quarters, the things you use on a daily basis become incredibly apparent. As do the things you never use but have held onto. During our first year in the flat, we didn’t have any hidden away storage at all. Our clothes were all hung on a metal rail in the second bedroom, our books in stacks on the floor and shoes in rows against the wall. The bedroom had no space for anything except a few baskets under the bed and the only storage space in the bathroom was a small medicine cabinet. What we owned was on display. And so we began to notice the things that were ‘alive’ with us, changing location as we used them. The things that remained static became surplus to our lives and slowly but surely we have been clearing out these possessions from our home. Here, the ‘useful and beautiful’ rule applies to our daily life. Anything that doesn’t make the cut doesn’t hang around too long because we simply don’t have the space. When you change your perception of material belongings in this way, it’s amazing to discover what you actually use, like, and need to live a fulfilling life.
As a kid I was always dressing up. I had a huge dress up box and eventually even a dress up closet filled with all kinds of shiny plastic wigs and frilly green dresses. As a teenager, I had about 30 pairs of shoes, some of which I never wore, or I wore for just 20 minutes when playing ‘super model’. Now, my ‘closet’ consists of two hooks on a wall with my favourite outfits strung up for me to see and love every day. My shoe collection still manages to multiply on its own accord, but instead of 30 pairs, I now have 10.
I’ve never been any good at order or being tidy. In a small home these are not desirable traits and clutter, even when tidy, begins to look messy if just a single thing is out of line. And so I do try to stick to the useful and beautiful rule in order to keep things looking as put together as possible.
Originally, we thought the only piece of furniture in the living room, besides a sofa, would be a custom built bookshelf with cabinets, which would span the height and width of one of the walls. This was the plan until we put the breaks on having it built and learned to live in the space with just a bench against the wall filled with our books. The minimalism was essentially easy. Everything was out in the open and nothing could hide in cupboards or down the back of a huge set of bookshelves. And we realised we didn’t need a huge and expensive handmade bookshelf; we had a cheap bench that did the job perfectly. The point is, when you live in a small home, in a society that is obsessed with ‘more’ and ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ as key qualities to reach society’s definition of ‘success’, sometimes you have to put the breaks on, and think: do I really need this or can I do this a better and simpler way?
That’s what I love about the Tiny House Movement in America. At the moment, not only singletons and couples are realising the need for simpler and ultimately better lifestyles, but so are families. Families of three, four and five all packing up their three storey homes and moving into tiny houses on wheels to figure out a better way of living. I love it. It’s organic and strips life back to the essentials, and to what is really needed: family, comfort, favourite things and that’s it. What more can there be? Sure extravagances are lovely but do they have to cost the earth?
On a tight budget it’s often difficult to make a house feel like a lovely home, especially if that home is a single room in a house-share, or a bedsit. But it CAN be done. Just like a very small home can be just that: a home. With a little imaginative thinking, and keeping only things you find useful and beautiful, your rooms will start looking much more intentional and lived in without needing Billy Bookcases and plastic boxes for storage. And sure enough, you may even start to appreciate and love your home even more.
What storage solutions have worked well for you? Let us know over on @homelittlehome