Five Things I Don’t Miss After Downsizing (and One Thing I Do)

published Oct 23, 2018
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This is my old house in Houston (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

When I moved from a two-bedroom townhouse in Houston to a 250-square-foot studio apartment in New York, I was ready to do without. What I didn’t know, at the time, was what that would look like. I was all idealism, sure that I could blaze new trails, go bravely without things many Americans couldn’t imagine giving up. Three years in, this is what the reality of that transition looks like. Here are five “essentials'” I’ve given up and don’t miss at all—and one thing that, after all this time, I wish I could get back.

First, the things I don’t miss at all:

A Broom

Let’s start with what is potentially the most embarrassing confession: I don’t have a broom. I have a tiny little whisk broom and a dustpan, and I have a hand-held vacuum, and together, they get the job done. (The hand-held vacuum is particularly good at sucking up dust and gunk in tricky corners.) Occasionally, it is a little bit of a pain to not have a traditional broom (like this classic Libman version), since both the vacuum and the whisk broom require crouching on the floor, but this is not nearly as much of a pain as trying to find a place to put a broom in an apartment with exactly zero closets.

A Television

Lately, not having a TV has become some kind of weird virtue signal, but my reasons for not having a TV are less pure: I don’t have space for one. Turns out, I don’t miss it much, because you can watch “The Bachelor,” the greatest show of all time, on the internet.

Iron & Ironing Board

Ironing boards (even the little ones like this tabletop version) take up space, and also ironing is one of my least favorite chores of all time. So when I moved into my little apartment, I just didn’t bother to get an ironing board. I dealt with this, for a couple of years, by not having any clothes that needed to be ironed. But then somehow I wound up with one wrinkly shirt, and hanging it in the bathroom and turning on the shower at the hottest setting for five minutes wasn’t really cutting it. So, inspired by one of the comments on this post about drunk cleaning, where I mentioned how much I loathed ironing, I bought a handheld steamer. It’s way simpler to use than an iron—and it fits into a shoebox, with no bulky ironing board required.

Full-Size Trash Can

In my kitchen, I have a smallish stepcan like the ones most people have in their bathrooms, not because I am righteous and hate the idea of waste, but because my kitchen is about eighteen inches wide and if I had one of those giant trash cans that seem to be the norm I wouldn’t be able to open the cabinets. At first I thought I’d be taking out the trash pretty much every day, but you’d be surprised at how much you can cram into a tiny trash can. And it’s inspired me to be really militant about recycling. Did you know that in New York City, you can recycle aluminum foil? You can.

Coffee Table

What is a coffee table, anyway? It’s the thing that goes in front of your couch. But, what, exactly, does it do? Well, your coffee table holds drinks when your friends come over, and maybe plates when you eat in front of the TV, and also magazines and coffee table books and a whole lot of other crap that tends to collect on flat surfaces in pretty much any space. I’ve found that, in my case, an adjoining desk and end table suffice for the drinks, and my little laptop table is a sufficient rest for my plate when I’m eating in front of the computer, which is my TV. Not having a coffee table means that even in my tiny apartment there’s a bit of floor space open for calisthenics or what have you, but I will admit that I did sort of miss having a place to display pretty art books. So, I use them to prop up my floor mirror instead.

And the one thing I kind of miss:

I love my tiny apartment (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Dining Table

This surprised me, because it seems like these days everybody is getting rid of their dining tables, not just the people who live in shoebox apartments. But after almost three years, I’m tired of eating on the couch. I have a folding table that works well for dinner parties, but it’s kind of a pain to get out when I’m eating by myself. I miss having that dedicated spot, a place to spread out and enjoy food for a little while. So life in my tiny apartment isn’t quite perfect—but if that’s all I have to complain about, I must be pretty lucky.

*Re-edited from a post originally published 10.02.2017