The Unexpected Joys of Tiny Apartment Living

The Unexpected Joys of Tiny Apartment Living

Nancy Mitchell
Mar 17, 2016
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

I've always been fascinated by small space living, but I think it was all those years of editing Small Cool Entries that pushed me over the edge and convinced me that I had to try it for myself. So one year ago I made a pretty big change: I moved from a nearly 1,000 square foot townhouse in Houston to a 250 square foot studio in Manhattan. Adjusting to living in a much smaller space has been hard, sometimes, but for the most part I really love it. I love how cozy my apartment is, and how easy to clean, and how efficient, but some of the things I love the most are things I wouldn't have anticipated at all — ways living in a little apartment has shaped my life or even changed my thinking, in the best possible way.

I'm more responsible to my stuff.
I am not a person who is good at keeping up with little things. I am bad at washing dishes, bad at taking things to the dry cleaners, bad at even picking clothes off of the floor. In a bigger place I could get away with these things, but in a small apartment not so much. After two days of not washing dishes my kitchen is almost covered. This is how my little place keeps me honest - I have to take care of things, unless I want my apartment to be a disaster, and I am slowly (I hope!) growing into a more responsible and conscientious person. And there's a joy in that (and a joy in not having dirty dishes in the sink).

Entertaining in a small space isn't just possible - it's actually even more fun.
I discovered this when I hosted a dinner party for ten (yes, ten) people in my tiny apartment. Even though I only had seating for eight we somehow managed to make it work. It helped that I intentionally designed my place with a little open space for entertaining — but what I discovered was that the smallness of the apartment actually made the party better, not worse. Think about it: would you rather go to a bar with a huge, cavernous space and only a few people, or a smaller space with a pleasantly lively crowd? My dinner party had the cozy-but-not-crowded feel of a tiny Italian restaurant, where the feeling of being closely surrounded by other people creates a warm, convivial feel.

I'm limited by my space, but in good ways.
I love shopping but (as I mentioned above) I kind of hate taking care of things. My little apartment acts as a natural limit on my acquisitive nature, forcing me to think long and hard about whether I really need that extra sweater, or new pair of shoes. As a result, I have a lot less things than I normally would — clothes, housewares, really anything that takes up space — but I value them a lot more, because being so limited means I only buy things I really, really like. And I take better care of them, too.
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