Small Home Living 101: 8 Tips for Downsizing Your Stuff
Living in a small home is a great way to save money, become more environmentally-friendly, and live more simply, which can give you greater peace of mind.
But it’s not for everyone – and one of the hardest parts of living in a small home is getting rid of some of your stuff.
Most tiny houses and shipping container homes are only between 100 and 400 square feet – which is smaller than even the tiniest studio apartments. For comparison, the average size of a studio apartment is about 500-600 square feet, and the average American home is more than 2,600 square feet.
If you’re moving out of a house or an apartment into a tiny home, downsizing your stuff is absolutely essential. Not sure where to start? Here are some of our top tips.
1. Choose Quality (And Versatility) Over Quantity
You can purchase five gadgets that do five things – or a single gadget that does it all, and is of a higher quality. When you’re living in a tiny house, the best choice is obvious.
Think of the kitchen, for example. Can you get rid of your rice cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer, and replace them with an all-in-one product like the Instant Pot?
You need to invest in quality items that will last a long time, and take up less space. This extends to every part of your home – shell out some extra cash for a higher-quality sofa, get rid of your cheap blankets, and so forth.
Focusing on quality over quantity will ensure that you don’t bring too much stuff.
2. The “One In, One Out” Rule
Did you buy a new set of teacups? You’ve got to get rid of a set of teacups. Did you get a new pair of shoes? Toss out your oldest pair. Getting a new TV? Find a home for the old one.
That’s the “one in, one out rule”. If you buy something new, something else has to go. The “one in, one out” rule has a number of benefits. The most obvious is that it helps you maintain the same amount of stuff in your home, preventing clutter.
But another benefit is that it makes you think twice about purchasing a new item. Do you really need a new TV? Because if you get it, you’ll have to get rid of the old one. Do you need those new boots – or do you have plenty of shoes?
It puts an extra psychological “barrier” in place, which prevents you from spending money on an impulse, and getting stuff that you don’t need – and that’s great for anyone living in a tiny home.
3. Make Sure Everything Has A Place (And Keep It There)
When you live in a tiny house, you’ll have to prioritize proper storage of all of your stuff. Because your home is so small, you can’t just leave stuff out on counters – your home will quickly start to look like it belongs on an episode of “Hoarders!”
Make sure that everything in your home has a place, and storage. You may need to invest in furniture that offers extra storage – such as beds and couches from IKEA, which have generous storage compartments underneath them.
You don’t have the luxury of just holding onto things that you “might” need in the future. Buy only what you have space for – and if there’s no space for it, you will either not be able to purchase it, or you’ll have to get rid of something else.
4. Don’t Rent A Storage Unit – You (Probably) Don’t Need It
If you have a lot of stuff with sentimental value, or you just have a lot of stuff in general, you may be tempted to just load up a van or truck, haul it all to a storage unit, and forget about it. But, in general, this is a bad idea.
Most people barely use their storage units – and they’re expensive! You’ll pay $50-$200 for your storage unit per month, depending on how big it is. If you never use anything you’ve stored in it, you’re just wasting your money. It’s a better idea to simply give things away to friends and family members, and only hold onto objects that truly have a deep personal meaning.
Here’s a good rule of thumb – if you haven’t used something in a year, it’s no longer yours, and you should sell it or give it away to someone else who needs it. Why would you need something that you have not touched, or even seen, in more than a year?
5. Try The “KonMari” Method
Marie Kondo is a writer who wrote The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (Which is a good read for anyone interested in a tiny house, by the way!) The cornerstone of her book is the “KonMari” method, which is simple to understand.
Touch each item in your home, or anything you’re thinking of getting rid of. Think about the item. Does it make you feel good? Does it “spark joy?”
If it does, and you do feel a deep attachment to the item, you should probably keep it. If not, you may want to consider getting rid of it. It’s just that simple!
6. Don’t Have Multiples Of Any Item
How far you take this depends on your personal preferences, and how many people you live with. This rule is especially applicable in the kitchen. Think about the things that you use in a week, and eliminate any excess.
For example, do you have more than one similarly-sized saucepan? A set of two dozen forks, spoons, knives, and other utensils? Dozens of coffee mugs, plates, and bowls?
If you’re living by yourself, or even with just one other person, you may not need all of this stuff – you can simply do more dishes, and save a ton of space in the kitchen.
7. Consider A “Capsule” Wardrobe
Clothing can take up a huge amount of space – which you may not realize until you’ve moved into a new place, and you no longer have space for a large closet or dresser. To reduce the amount of clothing you have to store, you could consider creating a “capsule” wardrobe.
This term was coined by Susie Faux, a boutique owner, in the 1970s. The idea is that you choose a wardrobe composed of basic, timelessly fashionable pieces of clothing, which are all in similar patterns, and colors, and can be worn interchangeably – with just a few pieces of seasonal clothing. Here’s a guide on how to build one.
A great capsule wardrobe usually features less than 40 pieces of clothing, all of which can be easily mixed and matched to provide tremendous versatility. And, typically, it’s recommended to choose high-quality items that will last a very long time.
8. Use The “Three Pile” Method
One final method you can use to reduce the amount of stuff you have is the “three pile” method. This is best done before you move into a new home.
Whenever you’re sorting stuff to move and downsizing your stuff, sort it into three piles. One pile is stuff that you definitely want to get rid of and don’t need. One pile is a “maybe” pile, that you’ll come back to later. And the other pile is composed only of things that you are certain you’ll want.
As you pack, you can pack up the “definitely” pile, and throw away or give away everything in the “don’t want” pile. Then, you will take a look at the “maybe” pile – and you will repeat the process, until there are no more “maybe” items left!
Be brutally honest with yourself during this process. If you can’t decide whether or not you want to get rid of an item, toss it. Chances are, that’s going to be the best choice.
Use These Tips For Downsizing Your Stuff – And Get Ready To Love Your Tiny House Life!
Living in a tiny house isn’t for everyone.
But with these helpful tips, you’ll be able to make sure you only bring the things you need – and economize, to ensure that you have enough space in your new home.
Need more tips on moving into a tiny home and downsizing your stuff? Read our blog to learn more!