Living in a Tiny House requires a lot of things- ingenuity, adaptability, and an open mind are just the beginning.
What it does NOT require— is hordes of “stuff”.
Over a lifetime of traditional living, we accumulate stuff we’ll never use. Once we make the decision to “go Tiny”, one of the biggest issues we face is making our lives fit into such a small space. The fact is, your current life just won’t. Unless you live out of a backpack or in a tent. In which case, you can skip this entire article.
For many, just the thought of the “downsizing” process is so overwhelming that many never even start. I’ve heard the line “I could never get rid of all my things!” used by multiple people as a reason not to go Tiny.
We all have different comfort levels about the volume of stuff we choose to keep around us. Harsh truth- for some, having hordes of stuff keeps them so busy it stops them having to actually face the things that would ultimately bring them peace once resolved. Ouch, right?
FACT: If you don’t control your stuff- your stuff will control you.
WHERE TO START?!
Sure, you could Marie Kondo the shit out of your life, and chuck out everything that doesn’t bring you joy. But in a Tiny House, often there isn’t even room for that!!
You need to start by writing a list of things YOU ACTUALLY NEED. Things like a comfy mattress, plates and cutlery, towels, toiletries, somewhere to cook and wash up. And this will vary depending on who you are and what your lifestyle looks like.
For me, I do NOT cook unless held at gunpoint (more or less), and eating out is a big part of my life. When I am forced to make something at home, I want simple and convenient. So my microwave takes up half my bench space. I also keep a portable electric induction hotplate (about $59 from Kmart) in a pot drawer and whip it out when I need to cook something in the frypan. I don’t have dozens of pots and pans. I literally have one frypan (cooks everything including toast) and one large microwave bowl (I use a Tupperware rice cooker, its about 1.5 litre capacity so you can cook everything from pasta spirals to heating up canned meals).
In reality, all we need is food and shelter. Although that would be quite boring!
Once you have your list of absolute must-have ESSENTIALS, it’s time to look at the “extras”- the things that are a non-negotiable FOR YOU, that you feel life wouldn’t be worth living without.
We all have our vices. For me personally, it’s GOOD coffee. So the other half of my tiny kitchen bench is taken up with my coffee machine. I have zero food prep space (except my coffee table), and that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!
However if you were a keen chef, you’d need loads of extra stuff I’ve probably never even heard of. Or maybe indoor plants are your thing and you want to turn your Tiny into a living greenhouse.
The trick is twofold: 1. Design your Tiny space to accomodate your non-negotiables 2. Keep/buy only multi-purpose items.
In a smaller Tiny (mine is 6m), multi-purpose items are EVERYTHING. I survived 3 years without a pair of kitchen tongs by using a flat spatula. You don’t need to go to that extent, but it can be done!
Let’s also talk about CLOTHES.
Two words: Capsule wardrobe. I’m not into fashion (isn't that just stating the obvious, haha!), so I have about 10 outfits I rotate- although in reality I wear about 3 to death but the rest are wash day back-ups. Plus about 10 pairs of running leggings. I only own 5 pairs of shoes- runners, thongs, canvas slip-ons, dressy sandals and a pair of ankle boots. I’m told gumboots don’t count, lol.
Again- if you’re REALLY into fashion- design your space to accomodate the smallest selection you can possibility get by with. If you haven’t worn it in a year- throw it out. If you’re keeping it in the hopes of fitting back into it one day- don’t.
THERE IS ONLY ROOM FOR THE HERE AND NOW.
Besides, if you want to update your wardrobe down the track, you’ll save so much money living Tiny that a mini shopping spree will be fun and not a drain on the budget.
Once you have your list of essentials and non-negotiables… GET RID OF EVERYTHING ELSE.
It’s harsh but its the only way. I mean, I have friends who live Tiny but use a shipping container for storage. This is fine for transition periods, prepping to move etc. But if you need one long term just to hold “stuff” you aren’t using and don’t need.. maybe you’re missing the point of living Tiny.
Whether you do your “cleanse” all at once or over a period of time doesn’t really matter. Although if the thought overwhelms you, my suggestion would be to start small and ration one room at a time.
Confession: I am a reformed hoarder. I used to have HUNDREDS of gardening magazines, and stuff from my childhood I kept "just because".
But then I got divorced, and over the course of the following 18 months, I moved house FIVE TIMES!! Each time I moved house, I HALVED what I took with me. I found that a great way to get clear on what I was using all the time vs things I never reached for. After my third move, there were boxes I hadn’t opened since the first. They ALL went to friends/the tip/bonfire. Honestly, 3.5 years after going Tiny, there are STILL things I could get rid of!! Entire storage tubs in my shed that I’ve only dipped into once or twice. It’s truly mind-boggling.
My TOP TIPS for downsizing: 1. JUST START. 2. If you’re on the fence about an item, THROW IT. If it’s not absolutely necessary and your heart doesn’t smile when you see it, you don’t need it. 3. Once you throw away an item- you will never think of it again. In 5 years of downsizing and Tiny living, not once did I regret tossing a single item. NOT ONCE.
Lastly, no-one tells you how FREEING it is getting rid of all your literal baggage. You’ll feel like a new person, and you will never feel more in control of your life.
If a reformed hoarder like me can do it- so can you (I promise!).
GO FORTH AND BE FREE, MY LOVELIES!