How to downsize your stuff for a tiny house!

We had vistors to the tiny hall house a few weeks ago, and as we were sharing our experience about building our tiny house and downsizing our stuff, I realized that one of biggest questions after: “How can 3 people and a dog live in such a small space?” Was: “What did you do with all your stuff?!”

And so I decided on this lovely New England morning, I would talk about what we did, and more importantly how getting your possessions down to what you might think will be the final items in your tiny house ahead of time, was a HUGE help in our building experience.  

After you have decided on your general house plans, or even better before, I encourage you to narrow down your household and personal items before you even start your building or framing etc.  Why? Well there are just too many benefits to knowing what you want to have in your tiny house before you start, to pass this opportunity up!   Not to mention getting yourself in the right mental space well ahead of time, takes a lot of angst out of the process right off the bat.  I think for many, the purging of “stuff” is one of the most difficult parts of the process. But if you can manage to get your possession in order prior to building, the rewards will pay off in a very very big way.

For example, there are so many things you can do in your framing and in your design that will really make an enormous difference in the livability of your tiny house.  In our case,  I knew way ahead of time, that I would need 24"of hanging closet space for myself and for my husband (that saved us buying an extra window that was in our original design, but that would have covered it up in the end with a closet or removed it). I knew I would need at least one wall stud where I wanted my computer screen to be mounted.  In the end I actually put two extra studs in the wall where I wanted my computer screen incase I upgraded the screen and needed a larger heavier mount at some point in the future.  Knowing that you have “x” amount of books, and book shelves will help you decide on many things.  Do you want a window there?  Or would you rather have book space, or general shelf space. If you know this ahead of time, you can put a stud there just in case, if a stud doesn’t fall naturally where you would like these types of interior finishes.   This holds true for your electrical outlets as well.  I have two extra outlets in my house, that don’t have a function now, but are placed under my couch for our “future” rain water purification system.  In the end I might not ever use them, but if I do it cost me an extra $20 to have them there, and that piece of mind really helps when you are downsizing in such a monumental way.

The same process was true for my kitchen area.  I knew I have a 48" counter area in my tiny kitchen, and that I wanted to have my shelves for my heavy dishes and glassware directly above, so there again, I added one extra stud to that wall so that when the time came to hang my shelves in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have to worry about if the stud lined up perfectly with where I wanted the brackets to go.  

Stairs.  Oh stairs!  I spent a lot of time on figuring out the rise and run of our stairs, and the was a gigantic factor in the layout of our interior (think wheel wells and couches), knowing that I wanted at the very least a 60/65 degree stair, let me know that hey, I need an extra 4’ on this side of the house to allow for the stairs.  Can you deal with a 90 degree angle stair, 50 degrees?  Stairs are a big one to think about ahead of time, because it’s a large item in the house, that can’t be left till last if you want it to be comfortable for you.  We actually taped out different degree stairs at our old house to see how that would feel.  Did it invade our living room too much, was it to big?  

While we were framing I actually measured my son and husband several times!  Stand here.  Is this ceiling high enough?  Do you feel cramped?  In one case, the answer was yes.  So we actually changed our 2×6 loft floor joist, to 2×4’s added a few more in, so the strength would be the same, but that gave us an extra 2" of ceiling height!  Same thing with the loft ceiling.  Instead of running our ¾ ship lap all the way over our ridge board, we had the top two boards, meet the bottom of the ridge board, to give us that extra ¾" head room in our loft.

It’s these types of changes and planning that can really make a difference in your tiny house.  The beauty of the tiny house, is that the framing is very simple, so customizing it is relatively easy.  Make your tiny house work for you, think about what’s most important in your everyday living.  Are you a cook, who just has to have the giant kitchen aid mixers, and every All-Clad pot and utensil known to mankind, if so, great!  Plan that out in your design.   Putting away your most prized books to much to bare? Sort all your books according to your “love and devotion” to them.  For me, this was the hardest, next to my cowboy boot purge. I literally pulled out every book I owned, and slowly sorted them according to well, this is a must, oh geese this is a must etc.  Then in the end I had the amount that I thought would fit.  

All of the Tiny House, items were boxed and set aside, packed away for move in day to the tiny house.  That left me with the possessions that I knew for sure WEREN’T going.  

I basically did this process for each group of items.  Office supplies, clothes, dishes, pots, pans, linens.  Bathroom junk, purses.   Everything.  In the end, it really did help set the tone, for what type of items I was brining, and what I would need in the tiny house to store that particular item, and what types of adjustments I could make to the framing building of the house that would accommodate our families needs best.  

I hope this post is helpful to future tiny housers that are just beginning their process.  It’s my official 2¢ on stuff, and how to plan well in advance for minor and major changes that might make living tiny, a big joy.

I’ll just leave this here for awhile.

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