life in a tiny apartment.

May 15, 2013

Tip #64: Approach your tiny apartment joyfully.

My mom and dad are hands-down the cheeriest people I know. It’s not that they don’t sometimes get annoyed, or grumbly about driving in traffic (ok, fine, that’s really just my dad), but when those kind of annoyances crop up, that’s about where they end. They surface, but before you can blink, the concern is over. There’s no dwelling, there’s no worry, there’s no sustained hemming or hawing.

I once called my dad in a panic about something or other. I needed advice. Or more precisely, I needed to hear myself talk. After I’d finished talking myself down, I said something along the lines of, “Okay, I can do it.”

To which my dad replied matter of factly,

“Bear, we don’t worry, we just do.”

Written here it looks almost like an admonishment, but I assure you that it is more of a credo.

I get more notes than I can ever respond to in a timely manner about small apartment worries. Most of them hinge on the fear of an upcoming move to a tinier place. The particular concerns vary, but here’s the one bit of advice that I can offer universally: approach your tiny apartment joyfully. See it as an exciting challenge and not as an impending nightmare.

The first apartment that James and I shared together was enormous. It was five times the size of this place and then some. There was an entire room for our washer and dryer. It wasn’t fancy, but it was spacious. We rattled aound in it. After six months of living there we moved to an apartment that was significantly smaller and significantly lovelier.

For the three weeks between signing our lease and making our move, I panicked about how we would fit everything into the apartment. I hemmed and hawed. I made James make a phone call to the current tenant to ask if we could visit the place again. I begged her to leave a massive shelving unit, just in case we needed more storage. I worried that our recently thrifted bedroom furniture wouldn’t fit. I worried that no one would buy our couch which wouldn’t fit up the stairs. Thinking about adding two surf boards to the mix nearly sent me over the edge. I literally lost sleep worrying about it.

Everything fit. What didn’t, we sold. The shelving unit was wildly unnecessary and we moved that out too. We’ll probably never have as awesome an apartment for as little money. Life was good.

Life in your tiny apartment will be good too. Just skip the worrying part.

PS. Photo above includes Ma and Pa Boyle + sister and husband + world’s most adorable Oliver + me + James, who we forced to stay in the loft. Just kidding. Kind of.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply lisaathome May 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    We don't worry, we just do is hereby becoming my mantra for the time being.

    My other piece of advice on living in a tiny space is never apologize for it to others…for not having enough places to sit or for the difficult to walk down steps…once I stopped doing this I fell so deep in love with our little place that I become saddened at the thought of moving.

  • Reply fibreandspice May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Such a good reminder. Makes me think of something that one of my college professors told me and my fellow type-A perfectionist classmates almost every week: Done is Good. I think we can get so caught up with what we think something should be like, that we either never finish it or never even start. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Lauren Ashley May 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    "we don worry, we just do" I love that. I try to hold on to a similar credo when I find myself in a worry spiral. I completely believe that there is always a silver lining, and approaching any new challenge from a positive place will help you arrive there in no time.

  • Reply Liv May 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Excellent mantra. I'm a worry-wart so I need to say this to myself a few times a day (at least).

  • Reply Amanda May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    ohhh, i love that. your papa is wise.

  • Reply Chase @ The Smell of Summer May 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Great post. I think sometimes we can be surprised by how little we need to be calm and happy. Accommodating to a smaller living space is a great example of that. 🙂

    Chase Miller
    The Smell of Summer – A Boutique Lifestyle Blog

  • Reply JoKnows May 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    What a beautiful picture. Great portrait of family life. 🙂


  • Reply Evelyn @ Smallish May 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    What a simple, powerful truth. I had a really bad attitude about our downsize a few weeks up to the actual move, but once I got my head around approaching the change as an exciting adventure, everything got easier. We've lived in our tiny space for three years now, and we love it. Sure, I have days when I "worry instead of do," but overall my outlook is grateful. And gratefulness breeds contentment wherever you are.

  • Reply Janelle @ Two Cups Of Happy May 15, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    This sentiment is so wise. Whatever doesn't fit, you can sell. I'm trying to declutter my apartment right now and I'm trying to be ruthless. It's better to have more space than to fill every last spot with stuff.

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic May 16, 2013 at 5:21 am

    This post made me feel better about my own small apartment; it's still an adjustment living in a tiny studio after living in a one-bedroom for several years. But you're right in that it can be an opportunity, because it can help me figure out how to decorate a small space in new ways and keep the things that matter most.

  • Reply Little Miss Know-it-all May 16, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Wise words indeed!
    I have had this, too, in the past. Including freaking out for a weekend just after we agreed to buy our beautiful, historic – and tiny – house. Not helped by the neighbour asking how we would fit four people, two dogs and a cat into it…! Meanwhile, I can reassure you young couples that families don't need huge homes, either.
    In fact, the house is perfect, we almost only use the main floor (600 sq ft), with our girls upstairs in the one room attic – so cool! Two have moved on and married, so the only daughter left is rattling round up there now 🙂 This way, the family always congregates around our large table, which is often full and fun (we don't do large sofas so there's room!). Two grandmas, two parents, three daughters, three sons-in-law, two grandchildren, two foster kids, pets….

    I think it has to do with age and experience, too. You get to realise that it's really not worth sweating the small stuff, simple is best and life not only sorts itself out to a great extent, it goes on – always. These days, as a young grandmother, I'm a lot cooler about a lot of stuff because I've seen it all work out for the best! Enjoy!

  • Reply Nicole May 16, 2013 at 7:17 am

    lovely picture and words. you're lucky to have been raised by parents that don't worry 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous May 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I live in a slightly larger place (an old farm house on about an acre). My dream house. Just the husband and I (hopefully a few chickens in the near future if we ever get the coop built). But I absolutely love seeing your posts. Your pics are simple and beautiful. Reminds me to "Simplify My Life."

  • Reply lusciousgreenbalcony May 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    what a gorgeous picture! you are right, there will always be space for the most important people/things in your life

  • Reply Vicky May 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

    I always love your posts on life in a tiny flat – my boyfriend and i moved in together some time ago in a tiny flat of about 30 m². It was supposed to be a temporary solution but we made a little home here and it feels good! Everybody keeps asking how we manage, if we drive each other nuts and when we're going to move, but it's been fun, it's brought us closer together and taught us how to be creative and how to lead an uncluttered life. It's surprising how little you actually need to live comfortably 🙂

  • Reply Jasmine Brink-Li May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Agreed. New mantra for life, because I excessively worry while my boyfriend does not. As I'm currently "up in the air" moving, this will definitely come in handy!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.