7 Tips for Small-Space Living

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

2015 has been off to a bumpy start – with a torn ACL/meniscus (Eli’s) and an ugly stomach virus (mine), we haven’t exactly been in the best shape. Maybe you guessed as much from my absence here, BUT there have been some really awesome things in between those sucky bookends that you can look forward to seeing on the blog in the coming weeks. We installed under cabinet lighting and a tiled backsplash in the kitchen, found the perfect Italian leather sectional for less than our grocery bill, started redecorating our friend’s apartment, and took a quick trip to NC to visit my family (not blog-related but 100% necessary and wonderful). And this past weekend we headed out to a tiny cabin in the mountains to escape the city and hit “refresh” on 2015. (Please pardon the poor photo quality – I forgot to bring a camera so these are iPhone pics!)

Unsurprisingly, I was most excited and inspired by the cabin itself. I mean, it certainly isn't in the running for any decorating contests, but I loved its utilitarian charm, its spacious itty-bittyness. If you don’t know this about me already, I’m a very big fan of the tiny house movement, and I dream of building my own little house from the ground up someday. The idea of designing a home that has everything you need for daily life neatly packed into the smallest space possible is like a giant puzzle, and the cleverness involved is by far my favorite aspect. Wait, did I say "by far?" Maybe not...living without a mortgage is high up there, too. That idea alone makes my mouth water and my mind wander off on exotic vacations. And then there's the nostalgia of it all...it's romantic in a “back to basics,” foraging for berries and harvesting the carrots and bib lettuce for my salad kind of way.

As far as micro-dwellings go, this place was big for 2 people – it would be “tiny” for a family of 4 – but it got my wheels turnin’ and ideas whirlin’ just the same. Here are the 7 things I noticed that could really make or break our mini-living dreams:

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

1. Tall ceilings can make any room feel spacious.

It can be tempting to pack in more floor space by adding levels when you're working within a small footprint, but sometimes you get more from having less. (Man, that’s deep) Our cabin might have felt claustrophobic if not for the vaulted ceilings. Add lots of natural light plus an open floor plan, and it’s positively airy. 

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

2. With great airiness, comes great noise... and a greater need for noise control.

I think noise would honestly be the biggest challenge to raising kids (or living with anyone, really) in a tiny house. On Saturday, Eli got up before me and I heard every tip toe and opening door. Luckily I was a trooper and still managed to sneak in some extra weekend Zzzs, but I could see that being a problem with a baby and light sleepers. Soft-close doors, drawers, and well-greased hinges are necessities rather than “nice-to-haves.” A sound-absorbing floor is another must. Carpet reigns supreme in that department, but I’d still prefer hardwoods with a sound-proofing subfloor, cushy area rugs, and a strict no-shoes policy to stifle the blows. You'd want to also plan for thick, insulated walls, solid doors, and soft decorative accents (think pillows, couch, curtains) to really ensure the whole family is sleeping pretty.

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

3. Stick to a consistent, neutral color palette

This coming from someone who loves color. In an itty bitty home, it's best to cut down on visual clutter by keeping the walls and furniture neutral. Doing so allows them to fade into the background and creates a calming vibe where your eye can just lackadaisically flow around the room without bumping into things.

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

4. Speaking of bumping into things…lose the stuff

When you're living small, variety is the spice of a chaos. Taking it back to basics is key to avoid feeling like you live in a closet. I’d likely have to shrink my wardrobe by 98%, nix the kitchenwares we only occasionally use, and digitize files ’n such. But that’s not such a bad thing, is it? I think it's doable – even freeing to have fewer things to store.

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

5. Tidying up is more important but easier, too.

A cup here, some shoes there, a cabinet ajar, and suddenly your small home feels like a big wreck. (Another reason to question how parents do it) Growing up, my family called me the Quicker Picker Upper because the moment they turned their backs I’d have put away whatever they just set down. I guess I let myself go in my old age, cuz even I found it challenging to keep up with our “messes” this weekend. Then again, with fewer things to put away and a smaller floor to mop, I’m sure it wouldn't take long for it to become a reflex again.

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

6. Use subtle design details and display the things you love most

Big or small, your house should feel like home. And no better way to do that than hanging art you adore and introducing considered details. My favorite in the cabin was the use of diagonal boards on the walls. They added texture and warmth without calling too much attention to themselves. 

7 tips for small-space living via Little House Big City

7. Embrace the outdoors

The tiny houses I fall in love with (like this one) always seem to be on a clearing in a majestic forest with a pristine pool, or overlooking the ocean and white sand beaches. If we do build a little house for ourselves, it's gotta be in a place like that...with a view, a hammock, and lots to do outside. I'd want the living area in my hypothetical home to open up completely to the lawn, with an area for eating, gardening, roasting marshmallows, sunbathing ...and while we're dreaming, how about a pool and an outdoor shower, too? Can you tell how ready I am for summer? 

And there you have it... my 7 tips for living comfortably in a tiny home. What do you guys think – did I forget anything? Anyone else jonesing to build a micro-dwelling?