It has almost been a year since Chet and I bought our first house. The experience of home-buying was a roller coaster ride of excitement, terror, confusion and a little bit of nausea. I’ve never gone so quickly from pure joy and optimism at the thoughts of us making memories in a home, to get me the hell out of this house before it collapses on top of me and I have to pay for it.
As surreal and scary as the whole process was, we couldn’t be happier with where we ended up. We moved from a 900 square foot, two bedroom apartment near downtown Seattle to a…900 square foot, two-bedroom house fifteen minutes outside of the city. Being a young, somewhat newly married couple who were both still trying to figure out our careers, we knew we wouldn’t be able to find a place that had everything we wanted, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a house that had everything we needed.
Inside our little blue 1940’s bungalow lives two humans, two cats and a puppy. We have two bedrooms, 1 bathroom, an open living area which triples as a dining room, living room, entryway, an L-shaped kitchen and a laundry room. Everything is on one floor, which is nice in case we decide to spend the rest of our lives here, we won’t have to worry about falling down the stairs when we’re 90. We have a fully fenced yard that’s actually a pretty decent size, a fireplace, plenty of parking and a nasty old shed that I pray a tree falls on so we get insurance money to tear it down and build one that doesn’t smell like mold and have a spider the size of the one in Harry Potter living in it.
Our house is small. It’s perfect for us now, but it’s still small. Our parties (indoors) max out at 10 people and if we buy any more furniture Chet might have to move out to make room. After living here for almost a year, I’ve learned a thing a two about how to live in small space and will happily share some of the benefits of tiny home living.
1. They’re cozy and charming.
You don’t walk into a mansion and think to yourself, wow it’s so cozy in here. Your thoughts would probably echo. Small homes have a way of inviting you in and making you want to curl up with a blanket and a good book for hours. A lot of smaller homes have been built to utilize space with built-in shelving, strategically placed closets and drawers and other nooks and crannies that add to the charm. Our house has the original hardwood floors and big brick fireplace which instantly warms up the whole house. As long as you do your best to eliminate clutter, your small space can serve as your little hobbit hole in a world of giants.
2. A little bit goes a long way.
Let’s be honest, nobody likes to paint. However, real estate agents and designers will tell you paint can make a huge difference in the overall appeal of a house. Good news, living in a small house means less walls to paint. Before Chet and I moved in any of our stuff we painted. Since our main living space is 75% of our house, we chose two walls to paint an accent color on and called it a day. We eventually painted one accent wall in our bedroom as well as our bathroom, but other than that, we put the paint away.
The same goes for any other extra touches you want to add to your house. Want to add crown molding in every room? It won’t take long and it will make a huge difference! You don’t need to change much to see the fruits of your labor in a small home.
3. Everything is more affordable.
This one’s pretty obvious, but with less space comes less you need to buy. From your down payment to how many gallons of paint you need, everything is more affordable. Your water, heating and electricity bills will be lower since your living in a home the size of some people’s garages. I love this part of small space living. It means you can spend more money making your home perfect for you and your family! Hello fire pit!
4. They’re easy to clean and maintain.
I’m a sweepaholic. I sweep daily, if not multiple times a day, but it never takes me more than 20 minutes to sweep the entire house. With two of us we can clean our entire house in 30 minutes. This includes laundry folding, countertop cleaning, unloading the dishwasher, putting stuff away, sweeping and occasionally vacuuming all of the pet hair off of our furniture. I deep clean the bathroom once a month, but other than that cleaning is a daily task that takes no longer than an episode of Seinfeld (#bringbackseinfeld.) Less space = less cleaning = more you time = happier you.
5. They keep you from accumulating too much stuff.
This might be my favorite part of living in a small house. You simply can’t have a lot of stuff. There’s no room! As someone who hates “stuff” I love having the excuse that we don’t have room for anything. This is a good lesson in defining what you want vs. what you need. You start to realize you can’t say yes to the stuff you want and you severely question whether or not you actually need something. It’s wonderful! Less stuff means less moving time, less mess, more room and once again more money for you to spend traveling the world or eating out (whatever your thing is).
6. Repairs are much cheaper.
Living in less than 1,000 square feet means our roof could fall off and we’d probably not go bankrupt fixing it. We’ve already dealt with a handful of unexpected repairs around our house and none of them have come with unbearable, life shattering price tags. Some of the most expensive repairs (plumbing, electrical, heating) will all be much cheaper when you have a small space to care for. One tip I will say about home repair is before you go calling a professional to come do it for you, look online, call your dad or your neighbor and see if it’s something you could do yourself. We’ve saved a lot of money by taking the time to learn and repair things on our own. We won’t touch the big stuff that professionals really should handle, but when it comes to installing a bathroom fan, patching a wall or building your own stone patio, we’ve done it and done it well!
7. They teach you how to utilize space.
I have two words for you: hidden storage. When you only have two closest and they’re both in bedrooms, you need to find new, creative ways to use space. Luckily you’ve already learned from #5 so you don’t have too much stuff for your small space, but you do need places to put things. There are a lot of great options out there now for hidden storage spaces. We have an ottoman that holds most of our board games and we use bins to store a lot of things under our bed. We also use a lot of baskets, bins and drawers to hide things in bookshelves, under our fireplace ledge and behind our couch. Another good tip is to utilize your wall space as much as possible. Hang shelves instead of buying a bookcase, mount your TV instead of purchasing a big unit, buy a hanging rack for pots and pans in the kitchen. Find what works best for your space, then get rid of the rest!
Happy home making!