How Small Could You Go?

by heather

I was browsing on EcoSalon today looking for post ideas, and came across this picture…

Look, for just a moment, at those pictures, and the headlines.

Homes Under 2200 Sq. Ft.

Homes under 1,700 Sq. Ft.

I stared at those sub headlines for several minutes, thinking…is that where the benchmark is? 2200 Sq. Ft? 1700 Sq. Feet?

To me, both of those numbers still seem huge. So I started to wonder…how low could I go? Really?

The Answer…600 Sq. Ft. for Now…

Before we moved to Detroit, our house was 1,200 Sq. Ft. And the flat we’re renting now┬áis around 1,000 Sq. Ft. But to be honest, we don’t really use half of that space because it’s so cold right now.

The main living room and our large office are much colder than the rest of the house. So we pretty much live either in the bedroom, in the tiny 2nd living room (which is really just a really wide hall), and in the kitchen (which is by far the warmest room in the house). There is a basement that we use for 3 storage bins and our portable washing machine.

All in all, I’d say we’re living in 500-600 Sq. Ft. And what about all the stuff that’s in the living room and our large office? Really, apart from my treadmill (which I do use regularly) most of it could go. It’s just taking up space.

With some added shelving and perhaps an installed cabinet in the hall, I think we could easily be living in half the space we’re in right now.

Why Small?

There are many reasons why we want to live in a small space.

First, smaller homes require less energy to heat and cool. Utility bills are lower, which means you’re making less of an impact on the earth.

Second, smaller homes don’t require as much time to clean. I mean, who likes dusting and sweeping? I know I’d much rather be outside than stuck indoors, cleaning. The smaller your space, the less time it takes to maintain. This is time you could be using for the things you love, not chores.

Small homes are also more cozy and intimate. I’ve been into several large homes, even a few mansions. And sure, they’re grand. But you know what? They’re not cozy or friendly. They’re not the kind of place I’d feel comfortable curling up with a good book. The rooms are like caves, and the ceilings are so high up it feels like you’re outside.

What’s the Perfect Size?

Architect Ross Chapin, a regular builder of tiny homes, says the minimum size for one person is 500 square feet, and the optimal size is 700 square feet. But, he says, the space doesn’t need to double with the addition of another person. Three people could live comfortably in 1,200 square feet.

How Low Could You Go?

I used to be a professional organizer before I turned to writing full time, and I can tell you that I’ve worked with dozens of people who all said basically the same thing. They told me that they sometimes wished a fire would come burn their house down, with all their stuff in it, so they could start over with nothing. Next time, they’d say, I wouldn’t buy so much, and I’d live in a much smaller house.

Sound familiar? Heck, I’m constantly decluttering and I still wish the same thing sometimes.

The older Andrew and I get, the more we’re gravitating to a smaller and smaller space, and the more we’re trying to get rid of stuff, so that our lives are less cluttered and complicated. And, this is a journey we’ve been on for several years now.

Last Word…

Do you ever wish you could start over in a smaller space? How low could you go?

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