Let’s be honest, if you have the money (or time, materials, tools, reference materials, design skills and money) to use any of the easier to find, impressive and wildly photogenic storage or design hacks for small dwellings from a lifestyle website you probably could afford to live in a full sized abode. Besides being prohibitively expensive many of the hacks require remodels that a landlord would never allow so renters in tiny apartments and SROs (single resident occupancies) are left out in the cold.
The biggest reason by far for living in a wee tiny space is financial. While the tiny home movement loves the narrative of a plucky individual that wants to save money for adventures or a larger home purchase, or the lucky score of a super cheap super small but functional studio apartment for an up and coming architect or chef in a high rent city like New York or San Francisco I’d reckon the reality is a bit less optimistic for most of us.
Here in the Pacific NW there’s a housing crisis. Single rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens aren’t a great alternative to conventional housing but they do provide an alternative to being entirely unhoused if you’re fortunate enough to find one that a) still exists and b) has a vacancy.
The first thing you should know is that living in a small space can create a lot of stress and trigger depression and/or anxiety. Make your mental health a top priority, do not wait until you have a crisis to start taking care of yourself.
There’s no single sweet little life hack that works entirely on it’s own, it takes a collection of practical actions to knock the sharp edges off the situation especially if it’s not entirely by choice and nothing is going to be one size fits all.
- Spend time outside when possible, even just a few minutes a day in natural light helps.
- Leave your shoes at the door.
- Make your space as fluid to use and enjoyable as possible. You may need to pare down your possessions and use all the storage tricks at your disposal to keep clutter down while simultaneously ensuring you have access to the things you need to be creative and pursue your passions.
- Bring as much natural light into your room as possible, if that’s not practical (for instance you work at night or your room is windowless) do your best to create a facsimile of natural light.
- Stretch out and exercise daily.
- Avoid facing the same direction or sitting in the same place for every activity throughout the day. If your bed is also your home office as well as your breakfast nook and you don’t have the space to change things around, try changing which direction you face to create a change of scenery to delineate between activities.
- Mind the air quality. Dust and vacuum frequently, use a dehumidifier as necessary, avoid using harsh chemicals or strong solvents without proper ventilation, air out your room as much as possible (if possible) and use an air purifier.
- Rearrange and redecorate more frequently than you would if you lived in a (larger) more conventional space.
- Invest in a few small luxuries and creative conveniences (I’ll follow up with some separate posts on my kitchen-less coffee bar, favorite gadgets and ridiculously lush floor sleeping in the near future.)
- Think of your tiny habitat as a work in progress and don’t be afraid to experiment.