It’s been just over a year since we expanded our living space from 320 square feet to 1500 square feet. (In case you are new around here, we converted the loft of an old barn into a small apartment to live in while we were building our house.)
After living in such a small space for about 18 months, the move was a very welcome change.
For us, living in a tiny space with three humans and two dogs wasn’t sustainable forever. But while living small has its challenges, but it also has its perks. And I actually look back on that time in the barn with a great deal of fondness. (I also look back and can’t believe we managed to do it, but that’s another story.)
And there are even a few things I miss about living small. Here are some of them.
We had to get creative.
There’s something about living in such a tiny area that forces you to think outside the box.
We were able to make things work that seemed impossible on paper. We created the teeniest living space for Henry out of a room the size of a closet. We fit plenty of kitchen storage in a small footprint – including a full fridge and stove. We managed to create multifunctional storage areas out of the eaves. We even found a spot for all of Henry’s play costumes by using vertical space.
In a bigger space, life is just a little bit easier – and also a bit more conventional. That means we can do more conventional things. Conventional can be wonderful – but living in 320-square-feet also helped us flex our creative muscles and try new things that were fun and different.
Cleaning took no time at all.
This is, hands down, the thing I miss most about the barn. It was so small that it took around 20 minutes to clean.
There is nothing better than a house that doesn’t take very much time to maintain.
Also, because the space was so compact and open, it was necessary to keep countertops cleared off and spaces relatively neat and clean. There was nowhere to hide junk and there was no door to close to hide away a messy room. That meant the space stayed relatively clean all the time, which was a wonderful side effect of small space living.
We were always in the middle of the action.
Living in a small space with family was a great way to get extra comfortable with one another. There was nowhere to hide – and you were always right in the action.
Frankly – this was a blessing and a curse.
Because Henry was so small when we lived in the barn, it was really a wonderful perk to have such close quarters. Kids like being in the proximity of their parents, and I never had to worry that he was out of sight and getting into mischief.
And I’ll always remember our nighttime routine in the barn with great fondness. Our bed was only about 10 steps to Henry’s bed. When we were all tucked into bed, Henry would say out into the darkness: “Momma? Daddy?” When we’d answer, there’s be a pause, he’d reply: “Love you.”
He was just checking to make sure we were still within talking distance. (And, as an aside, he still does this in our new house so it’s a small space habit that’s stuck.)
We had a different perspective of stuff.
When we lived in the barn, it was hard to justify bringing anything else into the space. It just wasn’t big enough to pack it with more things.
That meant we were much more discerning about what we purchased and brought home. And often, if we bought something new, it meant that something else had to go. New shirt? An old one had to find its way to Goodwill. A new piece of art? Something had to come down.
That one-in-one-out mentality is wonderful for keeping possessions minimal – and the small space basically did the work for us. For someone who struggled with getting rid of things, this was a wonderful hack.
Today, it’s much easier to justify a purchase because we have more space. But without the physical constraints, this can quickly get out of hand. It takes more willpower than it ever did in 320-square-feet.
I know that living in a small space isn’t for everyone – but it’s definitely something that shaped the way we live today.
And while we have certainly taken with us values and habits from that year and a half in a barn, there will always be a few things I miss most about our time there.
What do you think you’d love most about living in a smaller space?
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