Extreme downsizing to a tiny house is not for the faint of heart. Tiny houses are generally considered freestanding houses under 500 square feet. It takes a lot of self-control and determination to live comfortably in space this small without being crowded out by possessions. If you and a loved one (or two) are moving into a tiny home you’ll need to make some serious, possibly hard, decisions about what to part with.
Furniture: Many tiny houses are designed with built in furniture that incorporates storage. Others have room for a small sofa. Most have loft bedrooms. When thinking about your existing furniture, you will need to prioritize size over function and comfort. Realistically, you’ll need to sell or donate almost all of your furniture. Measure all dimensions of any items you’d like to keep, and diagram out the arrangement to see if it will work.
Kitchen: You’ll need to consider how much cooking you’ll be able to do in a small kitchen, and whether wall and hanging storage will let you stretch your collection of kitchen implements. Consider whether you can get away with only four sets of plates and utensils, rather than the standard eight. Eliminate duplicate items like pots and pans of the same size, single use electric appliances unless they’re ones use every day (like the toaster and the coffee maker), and bowls, colanders and baking dishes in graduated sizes (keep the top or middle sized item).
Books and Media: If you’re hanging on to books and hard copies of music, movies and video games, this is the time to go 100% digital. You’ll save space, have a less cluttered home, and may be able to downsize your AV equipment, too. You can also scan photos to cut back on boxes of pictures or large photo albums, and display them on digital frames.
Clothing: Most tiny houses either have equally tiny closets or are closet-free zones, so you may need drastically slash your wardrobe. Donate anything that is too big or too small, that you haven’t worn in a year, and that you plain don’t like. Toss items that are torn or otherwise in poor repair. You may still have too much stuff, especially if you live in a place with serious winter and own a lot of bulky sweaters and heavy coats. If you still have too many clothes after trimming out the unworn and the worn out items, work at assembling a core wardrobe of pieces that all work together, as well as a few accessories and pairs of shoes that will go with anything.
Décor: One of the things that makes moving to a tiny house so challenging is that they really only function well when they’re uncluttered. That means that items like vases, candles, coffee table books and art works will quickly overwhelm the space. If, like most homeowners, you’ve spent time and effort decorating, you’ll need to make some hard choices. Pick the items you love the most – whether that’s for sentimental reasons or for the way they look. In a tiny home, one or two statement pieces will work better than a carefully arranged vignette.
Other stuff: If you don’t use it, you will most likely need to get rid of it. That includes board games, sports equipment, arts and craft supplies, and much, much more.
Not everyone has what it takes to live in a tiny house. If you do, you’ll need to be ruthless in your downsizing. If you’ve purged major items and are having trouble letting go of smaller things for sentimental reasons, you can try a couple different tactics. Ask yourself what about the item makes it hard to let go of, the item itself or the memories attached to it. If it’s really the memories attached to an item that’s driving you to keep it, find other ways to remind yourself of those people or events. If it’s the thing itself, ask whether you want to keep it because of the way it looks, the value, or the use of the item? Strive to keep only things that you want to keep for multiple reasons.