Recently, my husband and I moved rooms in our house from a relatively normal-sized bedroom to the 8 x 10 room that used to be the study/office. The small room is adorable–once upon a time, a long time ago, it was even the nursery–but it has meant rethinking how we organize and how much “stuff” we really need. As Americans, it often feels so strange to us to choose the smaller size–of anything. How many of us, if offered a free upgrade at the coffee shop, will opt for the larger size–even if we don’t need the calories and aren’t really that thirsty?
Moving recently has helped me remember that my American perspective isn’t the perspective of much of the rest of the world. Living in Odessa for three weeks and in St. Petersburg for a summer made me realize the sheer size of homes in the States. While Russian trains and cathedrals are immense, Russian homes are not. In St. Petersburg, we shared an apartment with a mother and daughter who both had the equivalent of Master’s degrees. Their apartment consisted primarily of a multi-purpose room where the living room couches were really day beds. At night, the living room became the bedroom. There was a very small kitchen and an even smaller bathroom. The dinner table was against the wall across from the day beds. The apartment was sunny and bright, with a multitude of oranges and reds, but if you needed privacy, you went for a walk.
Moving recently has also helped me remember living in my first college dorm room. How many of you can relate? With only a few feet between twin beds, little desks, little closets and often communal bathrooms, tiny space living is very important. I remember our next-door neighbors cramming eight or more people into a children’s wading pool they placed in between the beds in their dorm room. We all put swimsuits on and had a prayer meeting in the pool (filled with water by placing disinfected trash bins under the shower and hauling them down the hall and into their dorm room). Tiny spaces take creativity, but they can be a lot of fun!
I am so thankful for IKEA and HGTV’s Tiny House Househunters show. Lately, they have both given us inspiration that living in small spaces can be enjoyable and worth a few sacrifices. (Plus you can’t beat the Swedish meatballs for lunch!)
Are you embarking on a tiny living adventure? Maybe you are heading overseas or you are off to college in a few days. As you look around and wonder how, exactly, you are going to manage to survive in this new space, keep in mind people are more important than things, embrace the challenge (and, at risk of sounding like a commercial, maybe plan a trip to IKEA)!