9 Tips for Small Living

After living in Tokyo and San Francisco (space is at a premium in both cities), I can say that I know how to make small living work. Making small living spaces work requires a bit of planning and ingenuity. Here are some tips for you that can help make your small space easier to navigate and feel like a home. I hope that you find these tips helpful!

  1. Buy a tape measure; it’ll be your best friend. In a small space, every inch counts. Use a tape measure to measure your space before buying or taking anything in. Make sure you also note the size of your doors. If the item is too big for your door, you’ll have to give up on it or deconstruct it.  
  2. Buy or borrow essential repair tools like screwdrivers, a small power drill, crazy glue, a hammer. These will help you glue something, fix a loose table leg, or deconstruct a piece of furniture that’s too big for your door.
  3. Use the storage you already have and go from there. Are there built-in shelves in your unit? How many cabinets do you have? Do you have a closet? Does your building have communal storage? Try to use storage you already have before renting storage or buying furniture for your place.
  4. If you lack storage, get some. Having a place to put your things helps you feel better about living in space. I recommend looking for used furniture because it’ll save you money and if you pick it up locally, it’s better for the environment. Ask friends and family if they have items they can give away or sell. If you don’t find what you need and must buy something new, go ahead. Whichever option you go with, look for pieces that have a small footprint or are multi-functional.
  5. Go with lightweight and sturdy items. Remember, whatever you bring into your space, you’ll have to take out if you move. Also, whatever things you get must be strong enough to last you a while. 
  6. Bring in items that serve multiple purposes. Can your wooden shoe rack serve as a bench? Does your ottoman have storage? Can your desk serve as a table?
  7. Downsize. If, after organizing, you still feel like you have too much stuff, consider giving some things away or selling for a reasonable price. If something is beyond repair, you should dispose of it properly because it’s not fair to offload something unusable onto someone else. 
  8. Be picky with what you buy or bring into your unit. When you live in a small space, you must consider how new items will fit in your space. 
  9. Rent storage. I’ve never done this, but there are benefits to having one. For instance, you can store off-season items or store outdoor equipment. Even if you rent storage, make sure that you’ll use everything you store, otherwise why have one? 

Americans tend to think that large homes are what we should aspire to have if we want to feel fulfilled and successful. However, many people around the world live in smaller places and can function well, and so can we. Coping with living in small spaces may be a skill we need to learn, especially as climate change turns the world upside down. We’ll need to change how we view space since the amount of livable spaces will decrease. But that’s another can of worms I can delve into in another post.

© Claudia Bedolla and Robot Yams, 2019-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Claudia Bedolla and Robot Yams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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