Small Space, Plenty Of Room

Small Space, Plenty Of Room

Tips help keep tiny living seem big and comfy

Making Ripples

Small spaces are an increasingly popular investment, especially this summer. To wait out the pandemic, some people have chosen to live in a vacation cabin located in a safer place than their full-time residence. Summer camping in RVs is touted as a safer way to travel. Some families chose to move in together in multi-generational households, and unsurprisingly, space is at a premium! Living in smaller spaces can sometimes (but not always) mean that you’re saving money, helping the environment and benefiting psychologically by living with less clutter.

Small spaces can be challenging but liberating. There is much less to clean, but there may not be room to buy or keep something desired. We’ve lived in a tiny house for almost two years and have some hard-earned lessons that can be applied to most small residences.

Keep horizontal work stations clear. This includes places like kitchen counters or tables. If you clean up right away, the next time you or someone else wants to use that space, it will be available — and this is important when you’re coming home with an armload of groceries. It’s your choice how much free space you need, so for example, you might get away with leaving a few dishes sitting on the counter for a couple days because you have enough counter space to cook meals. But maybe your table is used in its entirety, and you can’t function if there are items piling up on top.

Make spaces and objects work double-duty. For example, our table is used for eating, but it’s also a writing desk, an art studio and a staging ground for construction projects. The space is transformed to meet each purpose based on time of day. Our laundry hamper bought at Bed Bath & Beyond is also a cushioned seat and used as a foot stool sometimes.

The window seat is a perfect spot to cuddle up and watch a movie or read a book in columnist Amanda Bancroft’s tiny house. She says almost every space does double or triple duty.
(Courtesy Photo/Amanda Bancroft)

Speaking of laundry, pack off-season clothes away. During summer, we keep coats, scarves, gloves, sweaters and long-sleeved shirts stored in a bin and leave out our T-shirts, shorts and anything we might need for the season. I wear the same three pairs of pants and one pair of shorts year-round. This is made easier because each one is a neutral beige or earth color that matches all my tops, and the pants are convertible into shorts. During the coldest months I layer long underwear under the summer pants.

Space-saving items make life so much easier. Just like the convertible pants, nesting bowls and strainers take up less space. My pencils, markers and art supplies live in their own tiny “apartment building” — stackable wooden drawers upon which other items can be placed. (Visit for various options.) Our small trash can fits underneath the kitchen counter, which not only saves us space but reduces the amount of trash produced.

The trick here is to actually think differently about space, not to apply what works for someone else. Everyone’s spaces and lifestyles are so different. Look at your current or future living space and envision the possibilities for a happier, earth-friendly, and multi-purpose environment. You’ll have the best results if you become an “inventor” and devise your own clever ways to achieve your aims.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at

Categories: Making Ripples