So you want to live tiny but you have a house full of stuff? That was me too before I bought my tiny house. Downsizing is one of the most important things you have to do before going tiny. I mean theoretically you could totally live tiny without having to downsize, but that may be a tad bit difficult. Picture it, you now live in a 26 X 8.5 ft. rectangle with ALL your belongings?? Yeah that doesn’t sound all that fun to me either. BUT then again, if you are seriously looking into going tiny you most likely have already married the fact that you will have to get rid of your things. So how do you do it? How you do know what to keep and what not to keep? First thing to note, is that you will NOT do this all in one sitting. Shocker I know. You will probably do at least 3 declutters BEFORE going tiny and then you may do a couple AFTER you’ve moved in. You may think you know what you need now, but you won’t really until you’re living the life.
Now there are a plethora of ways to go about downsizing. Most people start with the basic: throw out everything you haven’t used in the last year or what not. I think that’s a great place to start. Personally, I started there too. If you start with ‘things I think I need’ you’ll find that its harder to get rid of things. Reason being half of the things you’ve bought is because you THOUGHT you needed it. If you however ONLY keep the items you have used within the past year or 6 months, regardless of whether or not you think you need it, you will have way more success getting rid of you items. Trust me I am speaking from many experiences.
After that first initial purge, you will find that while you have gotten rid of A LOT, you still have WAYY too much for a tiny house. Now is where you can have a declutter party and let loose. I made a whole day of it even going so far as to completely empty my closet and dressers. At this point you need to be more critical. You’ve already gotten rid of the things you don’t use, so now it is getting rid of things you don’t really need. Those 5 bottles of perfume you have but don’t want to get rid of because they were gifts? Throw them out. Those 10 blankets and pillows you have? Donate them. Those jeans you wear once a year, but they were expensive, so you keep them… hand those down to a cousin. Seriously. The goal here is to live with less. You can’t hoard things that you may or may not eventually get too JUST because you already have them. I’m telling you (because I did it) you will end up wasting time and packing space, moving with those 5 perfumes only to donate them later anyways when you realize you really don’t have the space for them.
So round two is knocked out (YES!) now is where things get a tad bit trickier. Because now we’re left with things we really think we need (even if we don’t), and most likely sentimental things we don’t want to get rid of. I promise you even though you think after step 2 you’re done because it looks like you have nothing, you are NOT done. This is the stage where people usually pack up their belongings and live out of boxes. The idea is that you will truly see what you NEED by doing this activity. I so wish I had done this, because it would have saved me A TON and I mean A TON of boxes and time. If living out of boxes does not seem ideal to you, I would honestly turn to the internet. Google what do I actually need to live or tiny house living essentials. I know that these are largely personal and 100% subjective, but it can give you a good guiding point to help slim down your belongings a bit more.
Now this is going to sound mean, but it must be said: items don’t hold memory, our brain does. Items may help us remember certain things, but digital pictures work just as well. Get rid of some of the sentimental stuff. Now I’m not talking about your great- great- great grandmothers ring. I’m talking about all 1,000 physical pictures you have in a box in the back of your closet. Scan those suckers and toss the physical copy. Still have clothes from when your kids were babies? Take a picture of it, upload it to the cloud, and donate the clothes. I threw out a host of sentimental things after I took pictures of them, because it was not the object I treasured, it was the memory and the feeling attached to that object. Both of which reside inside me, space free, and would continue too with or without the object. Again, I’m not saying to get rid of ALL sentimental things, but some can be done away with. If that just sound completely outrageous and you are mentally cursing me out, then make sure you have a storage plan for these items, and you incorporate them into your build.
Okay so now we’ve really slimed down our belongings and we have moved everything into our new tiny house (whoop whoop). In a few months or a year so 6-12 months, you will do ANOTHER downsizing. Yes that’s right I said ANOTHER. Now that you have experience living tiny, you know exactly what you need and what you don’t. No use hanging onto things you THOUGHT you would need. I did this while I was pregnant and in my emotional state ended up downsizing too much, but it is still a great idea. Even now that I’m almost two years living in the tiny house, I still find that I need to declutter some more. But that has more to do with getting rid of baby stuff, but still its downsizing.
Downsizing will perpetually be a part of the tiny house lifestyle
Downsizing will perpetually be a part of the tiny house lifestyle. Things will always be coming into your home as your needs and lifestyle changes, so naturally things will also always be leaving your home. When I started this journey, I had no idea I would want to switch to a minimal waste lifestyle, and yet here we are. With this switch, I’ve had to swap out many things, like a coffee maker for a French press, or store-bought milk for cheese cloths and a tub of oats. Once you accept that it’s just part of the lifestyle, it stops being a chore, and just becomes something you do. Now that I’ve written this article, I think I’m up for some much-needed decluttering.