How to live comfortably in a tiny little apartment

Just a link today (I’m working on a longer piece, to be published later…stay tuned for Principle 7 – Collaboration!)

Here’s the link: “How a Couple Lives in a 240-square foot Apartment.” (Note: not surprisingly, the comments at the end of the article get real stupid real fast…)

When I read this article, I couldn’t help thinking that their mini-utopia would receive a massive dose of reality with one tiny addition: a baby! How could this couple maintain their minimalist equilibrium as they raise a family? It could be done, but they’d eventually need a larger place, I think. I’m giving these figures off the top of my head, but if I remember correctly, in the 1950s or so the average family of 4 to 5 people lived a home between 900-1000 square feet. These days the average family is only 2 to 3 people, yet they live in home between 2000-3000 square feet. (I’ll try to remember where I came across those numbers and update this article.)

My mom grew up in post-WWII London in a tiny 2-bedroom, 1 bath flat with her 2 sisters and 1 brother. Her parents slept in a hide-a-bed in the sitting room. Fifty to sixty years ago it was not unusual for people to house themselves in 200-300 square feet per person.

Now it makes front page news.

The images and photos here are by the woman featured in the article – Erin Boyle. She also has a website where she chronicles life in a small space: Reading My Tea Leaves.

Simplify your life with a multi-tasking cake keeper!

Multi-tasking is a myth: a human being can only really concentrate on one thing at a time.

But a tupperware cake keeper takes up so much room in my tiny kitchen that it must multi-task…or die! (Just kidding.)

I use mine to rinse produce…

…season and serve popcorn…

…and, sometimes, serve and keep cake. It just saves space in the kitchen.


Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again.

The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done

Principle 3: Pruning

Principle 3: Pruning

Trim away the obvious “dead wood,” but remember that even some healthy, growing branches and shoots must be removed in order to make the plant thrive.

Pruning dead branches from trees and shrubs is a necessary garden chore. Author and musician John Michael Talbot describes this memory in his book Simplicity:[1]

How vividly I recall a graphic example from my young adult life on a small farm in Indiana. Several rather large mulberry trees grew next to our house. Because they had grown excessively large and gangly, it was suggested that the trees be pruned.

A professional crew, complete with chainsaws and hydraulic ladders, went to work. In a matter of hours a dramatic change had taken place. The previously dense fall foliage had been reduced to a few stark limbs devoid of growth.

The pruning process sometimes appears brutal…Frequently it appears as though the freshly pruned tree has been killed.

Sometimes life becomes “excessively large and gangly,” weighed down by too many possessions, too many projects, too many activities, too many commitments, too many things draining away our time and energy.

When this happens, pruning away the dead branches is easy: some things are obvious wastes of time, money, or other resources. But pruning is not limited to removing dead branches; a skilled arborist or gardener knows that you must also remove living, fruitful branches in order to benefit the whole organism.

Using this third principle of simplicity requires the use of the first two: distinguishing between needs and wants, and being detached enough to evaluate the situation objectively.

The mulberry trees on John Michael Talbot’s family property underwent a severe pruning, but the professionals assured him and his family that by next season the trees would be just fine:

Sure enough, a year later a profusion of blossoming took place. The trees grew larger, fuller, and exploded with mulberries. The pruning prescription worked perfectly…a startling simplicity which, in the end, results in fruition and abundance.

That is the paradox of pruning: by cutting away not just dead wood but even living, seemingly fruitful branches, you increase the plant’s overall health and end up with a more bountiful harvest.

Questions for Reflection:

1 – What can be pruned from your life? Don’t limit this thought exercise to just external “stuff:” what kind of interior pruning do you need? For example, is there a leisure activity that in itself may be a good thing, but which is taking up too much time or causing too much stress?

2 – Prune your use of language by speaking less. “Omit needless words.[2]

3 – Pruning away excess material possessions yields a bountiful harvest of reclaimed physical space. (Ever watch Hoarders or Clean Sweep?) What else do you gain when you “lose” material possessions? What bountiful harvest do you gain when you prune away excess work? Excess activities? Excess entertainments?

[1] John Michael Talbot. Simplicity. 1989. Servant Publications. Ann Arbor, Michigan.

[2] William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White. The Elements of Style