Tiny living

My Tiny Condo

Jars on a shelf

Nearly a decade ago, I purchased a wee studio condo in Chicago. If you know the city, it’s near Montrose and the lake. Outside of a dorm room, it’s the smallest place I have ever lived. In fact, I don’t know anyone who lives in a smaller dwelling.

It’s tiny and I absolutely love living here. It’s cheap, easy to maintain and perfect for one. Now, I know tiny is the new big thing. Everywhere I look tiny living is news–movies, videos, books, blogs. Even Dwell Magazine is embracing tiny. One reason it’s so hot is that tiny living speaks to people who favor adventure over accumulation–as a lifestyle. And, for lots of creative types (including myself), it’s romantic. But, dreaming about tiny living is different from actually living in a tiny space. So, I thought I’d write a few lines of advice for those who aspire to … um, less.

Get rid of tons of stuff
It’s unlikely that all the stuff you own now will fit into a tiny place. Get rid of anything that you don’t need or absolutely adore. Please consider the environment when you take on this task by first selling, giving, donating, composting and recycling your stuff. After you have exhausted these options, throw things away.

Get tiny furniture
Most furniture is for big houses. I don’t have a dining table that seats eight. I have a 32″ nearly-square table that fits four–intimately (pictured below). I own two regular and two folding chairs. The folding chairs hide at the back of my closet when they are not in use.

Embrace furniture that moves easily
I have a bed and a dresser on casters (pictured below). When my friend Kara visits, I roll my bed to the wall, slide my homemade bean bag (pictured below) over and inflate the air mattress. My place has slept three and COULD sleep four.

You can’t own one of everything
And why would you want to? I like stuff that multitasks. I have a mini blender to make smoothies, grind coffee and chop stuff. Put a lid (included) on the blender cup and it’s a travel mug.

Go vertical with storage
I built a shelf in the kitchen that’s 3″ deep to hold my cups, glasses and jars (pictured below). It holds a ton of stuff, but hardly takes up any space–and no counter space.

Get creative
Small spaces require a bit of engineering. There are lots of ideas online on everything from hanging dish drainers to folding tables.

Limit shopping and stocking up
You won’t really have room for it anymore. I have some extra storage, but for the most part when something new comes in, something else has to go! I don’t shop at Costco.

Feel the freedom
Owning less is freeing! Cleaning your place in 20 minutes is freeing! A $19 electric bill is freeing!

Lots of great stuff online including …
10 Tiny Houses We Love/Dwell Magazine

Intentionally small home: urban living in North Carolina/Kirsten Dirksen

Adventures in Simplicity/Jay Austin

Super Cute Tiny Houses

Professor Has an Epiphany Living in a Dumpster for a Year!

Cute Bus Conversion

Dee Williams saves with her tiny house

A tiny home of one’s own: black women embrace the small house movement


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