Going Tiny for Your Minimalist House
The good news about consumerism is that more and more of us are noticing it. How long ago did you hear someone–maybe yourself?–say something about “our consumerist society”? Chances are it hasn’t been long and whoever brought it up did so disdainfully.
Minimalism is a conscious, often challenging choice. “How many possessions do I actually need to live comfortably?” The journey down to that number can be full of beautiful insights about happiness, self-esteem, our unconscious habits and, yes, “society”.
It’s challenging, not just because we’re inundated daily with sales pitches in their myriad forms; it’s challenging also because the things we buy always do, or might someday do, at least something to help us stay happy. The challenge of setting up a tiny home and lifestyle is about finding a truer happiness and then coming to have enough faith in it that we can move on from owning so many things, which at some point became no longer worth their weight.
Will I Use It?
This is the question a person asks a thousand times a day while they’re trying to turn their home into a more minimalist house. For some items, say the toaster, the answer is an easy yes; for others, say that 1989 Panasonic double-sided tape deck, the answer is an easy no. But for so many possessions, the answer that comes out is… maybe?
Thankfully, a couple of guys who are helping to lead the minimalism movement articulated a rule that can help an aspiring downsizer to move forward: the 20/20 rule. “If a day comes when I really do need this item, will I probably be able to replace it for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes?”
If you live in a city, the answer is usually yes, you’ll be able to replace many of your possessions quickly and cheaply if you need to. This realization is like gold for those of us who are trying to downsize but can imagine so many scenarios–unlikely as they are unlimited–in which we’ll need this or that.
Buy it for Life (BifL)
Obviously, some of the sales pitches are largely true. A refrigerator really is helpful for storing food at home, just like the commercial said. A toaster really is easier and cheaper to use for smaller bites than an oven. However as much of a purist you want to be about your minimalist house and lifestyle, some items will have to be purchased. That’s okay.
When it comes to buying a thing, the idea is to buy it for life. Get one your grandkids can use if they like; make this time the last time you ever need to buy it. Generally, this means you’ll have to pay more upfront for quality. But as long as you’re being sincere and not using this idea as an excuse to overspend, your investment will pay off in saved headspace, housespace, and dollars.
This IS a Minimalist House
Taking a home of any size and converting it to a minimalist house is a process, not an event. The moment you realize you want to begin shedding your extraneous possessions is the moment your house becomes a minimalist house.
There are (at least) two indispensable lenses to start seeing your world through. The first is that blessed principle, the 20/20 rule. If you use something rarely or never and could replace it for $20 in 20 minutes in a pinch, you can probably get rid of or donate it. Otherwise, buy it for life. Spend the money upfront (when possible) to acquire enduring possessions that will still be doing their jobs after you retire from yours.
Have fun finding out how much you can comfortably live without! And if the interest is coming from the prospect of moving into a true tiny house, drop Tiny Heirloom a line; we’re always eager to talk shop and consult, even when we’re not the primary builder on an individual’s, couple’s, or family’s project!