Here’s a fun fact about me: my boyfriend and I have been living together in a 300 square foot studio for almost a year. And guess what? We haven’t killed each other yet! Haha I’m joking, but still — it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think about how interesting (among other things) life gets when you share that small of a space with someone.
I moved in with him after sharing numerous apartments and houses with roommates, and I had the furniture and typical living items to show for it. Somehow, all my roommates over the years had moved in with me with little in the way of shared-space items (living room furniture/appliances/cooking utensils/etc etc), for one reason or another, so almost everything we used belonged to me. So suffice it to say, when I moved in with George, I had a LOT to downsize.
If you’re thinking about moving into a small space, want to downsize a bit, or live more minimally, here’s some of my advice for how to do it!
1. Be ruthless with what you need to get rid of.
I knew right off the bat that I was going to have to host a garage sale to get most of my possessions out the door. Like I said before, I had enough items to fully furnish an apartment for a few people, so this was the fastest way to get rid of a lot of items. In the weeks leading up to the garage sale, I had some hard conversations with myself about what I really needed to keep, and what I only wanted to keep. A garage sale is a great choice if you have more than a dozen items and/or pieces of furniture to get rid of. Otherwise, platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are great to use!
I’m not saying that this will be easy. It’s probably not going to be. If you’re like most of us, you’ve developed a relationship with your possessions and you want to hold onto everything! Trust me: I know how you feel. Start with the easy things that you don’t have a problem with donating or selling, and work your way up to the things that are closer to your heart. You’ve likely heard the craze about Marie Kondo, but if you don’t know what her system is about, check out her Netflix show. Her methodology for the way (and order) to attack cleansing your possessions is super awesome and designed in a way to make you as successful as possible in downsizing.
If there are things you are totally stuck on, put them aside to come back to later. Worst case scenario, allocate a box or two for the items you don’t need now, but absolutely need to put in storage for the future (thanks mom!).
- Questions to ask yourself: have I used this item in the last six months? What are the chances I’ll need it in the near/distant future? Could I easily buy it again if I really needed to?
2. Adopt the “1 In, 1 Out” Rule
This is the best tip I have to keep your tiny space from filling up to the ceilings with stuff, once you’ve purged your way down to a reasonable level. For every one item you buy or bring in to the house, one item must go. Especially when it comes to clothes. This is crucial when you’re living in a tiny space. You need to be SO selective about what you’re using your limited storage space for. We don’t have the luxury of full size closets (or more than one closet for that matter) so with space at a premium, everything in our house has to earn its right to be there.
Using the one in, one out rule basically means that you’re doing a spring cleaning every few months (or however often you buy new clothes) which really helps keep your wardrobe fresh and only full of items you really love! I just did this the other day, actually, and it felt sooo good! Like I said before, I totally know how hard it can be to let go of our things (especially something as personal as clothes), but force yourself to evaluate how much you’re actually wearing them.
This weekend, I had 5 or so new items to put away in my closet (I went to Target for 1-2 jumpsuits… and came home with those and a few more tops. #classic haha), and I knew there were things I could give away to free up space even though I didn’t really want to. I’d had them forever. But then I got real with myself about how often I was actually wearing them (almost never) and if I actually loved how I felt in them (not really). Even though I’d had those items for a long time (some for years), facing those answers made me realize it was okay to let them go.
If it helps, picture that item being 100% loved by someone else that will enjoy it more than you are. It deserves to be worn and helping to make someone else feel good — not collecting dust in your closet because you feel bad about getting rid of it. (PS. this applies to gifted items too!)
In case you’re wondering: I ended up filling a donate bag with about 15 clothing items! The hardest thing is just starting. The muscle of giving away sentimental things gets easier the more you use it.
- Questions to ask yourself: does this item bring me joy? Do I find myself wearing it ALL the time? Am I holding onto this item only because it holds sentimental value/I’ve had it forever (even though I never use/wear it)?
So there you have it! Those are the two principles I used to downsize from a 2,000 square foot living space to a 300 square foot space.
NOW if you’re wondering… “okay for real though, how have you not killed each other?! Tell me your secrets!! ” then be sure to keep an eye out for my next post in this series: So You Want to Live Minimally: The Relationship Edition. It’ll be published soon! We have a completely thriving relationship and we both discussed what we thought were the key points that are instrumental in still being super happy with each other — check out this post for the gold star answers!
We may not have all the relationship answers, but I’m still confident that if you can spend a year living together in 300 square feet (or any tiny space) and still be crazy in love — you can do anything together.