It might sound crazy, but I actually enjoy living in a small space. Yes, it comes with certain challenges and restrictions, but I’ve always seen small space living as something to embrace. I think it might be because I grew up having a pretty small bedroom, and I always enjoyed organizing and arranging my things just so in order to make them not only fit, but look attractive. I even remember as a kid clearing out the bottom of my closet and creating a little nook inside, with like, books and a pillow…that sounds crazy and I probably shouldnt be admitting it to the world, but there ya have it. It’s safe to say that I’ve always had a thing for petite, cozy spaces! While I do hope to move into a one-bedroom apartment at some point in the future, I can honestly say that I’m pretty happy living in my little studio. Here are a few reasons why I embrace small space living, which I hope may help some of you out there who are in a similar situation (and maybe not so thrilled about it) to see it in a new light.
#1: It’s a Challenge
I’m not the type of person who seeks out challenges all that often, but small space living is a challenge that I actually embrace. I think it’s because I feel, and know, that is IS doable! Making a small space work, and look good in the process, is something to strive for and be proud of. Living in a huge house is easy…it’s small spaces that force you to get innovative, and get focused on solutions. It can be a bit of a puzzle to arrange and configure things to fit, and who doesn’t feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish a puzzle? To anyone who is feeling frustrated by lack of space – you can do it. You can pare down, you can declutter, re-organize, and make all of your stuff fit, with room to spare. You just have to use every available bit of space smartly. Does that mean cramming stuff into every nook and cranny? No. Does it mean hiding your vacuum, Swiffer, and dust buster in the weird nook in your windowsill that’s hidden behind the curtains because you have no broom closet? In my case, yes!
#2: It Forces Good Habits
Living in a small space forces you to edit. This is such a positive thing! Without space constrictions making it necessary to edit one’s belongings, it’s all too tempting to keep spending and accumulating. I’d probably be at the flea markets every weekend looking for treasures if I didn’t live in a studio! That would be amazingly fun, but also bad for my wallet. Small spaces force you to live with less and to only keep A, essentials, and B, things that you love – which I think is a goal that most people strive for.
#3: It Forces You to be Realistic
Bar carts are fantastic and I’ve always wanted one. Needless to say, I do NOT have room to spare in my apartment for one unless I were to throw out another piece of furniture. Then a few months back I suddenly decided I needed a bar cart. And another bookshelf. And a separate bedroom. I felt really serious about this. I started contemplating looking for a bigger apartment. And it’s not like that’s ridiculous – I live in one room. It’s certainly not unreasonable to want a mere separate bedroom. But the fact is, I’m fine with the space I have. I fit in the space I have, and my belongings do as well. I didn’t NEED more space. I just wanted more space to fill it with more things. And it felt wrong, and kind of empty. I was going to go through moving and all that that entails, just to make it so I could get more stuff? The point is, I still love bar carts. And bookshelves. And bedrooms. But I can be okay with less. And I think that’s a good thing – to feel satisfied with less, rather than constantly wanting to keep accumulating.
#4: It Allows You to Feign Minimalism
I think it’s obvious that I’m nothing like a minimalist. I love stuff and apparently, I hate empty surfaces – as it turns out, I’m not really interested in having more than a few inches of coffee table space NOT covered in stacks of coffee table books. I like what I term “controlled clutter”, in my own space and others. That’s just my style. However, since living in a small space forces me to make do with less, it helps me to feel like a minimalist even though I am anything but! For example, I’m able to make do with literally one closet – no broom closet, no coat closet. So it’s like, I must have some iota of minimalistic tendencies inside me, right? The truth is, it’s not so much about feeling like a minimalist, but more about keeping the concepts of minimalism in the forefront of my mind. Left to my own devices with a big space, I could probably go nuts buying things. My small space helps remind me to keep my shopaholic, interior design-y tendencies in check. Ultimately, living in a small space keeps me interested in paring down and keeps me feeling that there’s a reason to at least be a sort-of “minimalist.” It also forces me to be very selective in what I bring into this already full space!
#5: It Encourages Creativity
Living with limited space forces you to get creative with styling, like Michelle Adams did above. Look at how fun and unique that bag storage looks – and it’s very practical! You can get creative about switching things up without buying new things – such as moving a framed piece of art to a different location or re-styling some vignettes in your home. You can also swap things out. When something starts to feel stale, you can store it away for a while in a cabinet or drawer, and swap something else out in its place (I do this with candles, Ladurée boxes, and those little decorative trays that I have too many of). When you bring each piece back out, it feels fresh again.
#6: It Forces You to be Organized
If you let a small space get messy, it takes about five minutes or two piles of stuff for it to feel like a serious disaster. Living in a small place forces you to be organized and not allow messes to accumulate. We could all use some motivation in that department, and living in a tiny place certainly provides that kick in the pants!
#7: It’s More Interesting
I don’t know about you, but when I see a studio or one-bedroom home tour online, I’m all over it. I love seeing how people make it work! I’m not the biggest fan of gimmicks like a table that folds into the wall or whatever (like what they’re parodying here, which, by the way, please watch that clip because it’s hilarious), but I really enjoy seeing how people make small spaces work and still look stylish, and normal. Home tours of large houses or huge apartments kind of bore me (this is just my personal taste). They seem too easy. I love nothing more than a good NYC studio tour with normal-sized furniture and no “space-saving” gimmicks, just smart solutions and creative ways of making it all fit and look fabulous.
#8: Less to Clean!
I might be biased because my space isn’t THAT small as far as studio apartments go. But…how much space do we really need? How much STUFF do we really need? (and believe me, I’m not on a soapbox…I’m basically reminding myself of this all the time). This is a constant balance for me because I love beautiful things and I love interior design. But the less you get, the more curated your stuff is, and the more special each individual thing feels. Living in a small space helps to keep this at the forefront of my mind, and for that, I’m pretty grateful!
Click images for sources, especially if you’re looking for small space decorating ideas!
I agree 100% with all of this. My roommates and I are renting a house next year for our senior year and I ended up with the smallest room. I’ve decided not to sweat it too much and get creative with the space and what it has to offer me–a large closet and built in bookcase!
Incredible this post! The tips are very good. I always say that instead of having many cabinets in the house, we have to learn to live with less. It is not so easy, because our society is consumerist, but we can all! I think also, to live with less is an exercise to find out what we really loved.
I too agree. We have deliberately bought a small house for several reasons. One was that I did not want to spend all my time cleaning and fussing over spaces rarely used. There are only two of us living here so three bedrooms is plenty for us and weekend guests (which, living in the country, we have frequently have!). It also helps me rein in my shopping and decorating habits! Since we moved here I find myself literally holding some gorgeous decor item and thinking ‘where will it go, where is the space of this, what will I remove to make space for this?’. Same goes for seasonal decor. I just don’t have storage for decor items for every season so I multipurpose and get way more creative than I otherwise would if I could just pull dedicated items from storage for Easter, St Patrick’s day, season changes etc. Seeing how people decorate in small spaces is way more interesting than in huge ones along with those on smaller budgets. Their creative solutions are so interesting and often have some takeaway I can use. Decorating huge spaces with massive budgets does not seem to be as challenging or make anyone as resourceful.
I am totally guilty of wanting more just to have more… It’s such a cycle! I’ve recently been clearing things out though; not to make room for new things, but to just edit and have open space. Books are #1 on my list of culprits – when do I honestly read them again?
These are great reasons to love small space living!
P.S. I also created a little reading nook at the back of my closet – complete with cushions and even a little lamp! 🙂
Hi Jackie! Fabulous ideas! I have never lived in anything larger than 550 square feet, so I feel you on all of these- especially #1 (I love the challenge!) The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to let go of attachments to material things. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary.