Finally, I feel like I come home to a space I love every single day and am proud to call home. (Renters here, but home to us) This comes after 3 homes together as a couple and my 5th space since moving out of my parents. So you could say, it takes time and really discovering what you love and want in a home! And money hasn’t hurt the situation, because transparency.
I grew up in the suburbs where houses were generous in size and continue to grow as new builds go up and friends salaries increase. I see most of my friends, real and Facebook, following this path, where 5 bedrooms is now the standard to be able to have “enough space” for all things family.
This couldn’t be more opposite of what I desire in a home, partially because of the no children situation, but also because I have incorporated a life of less is more. Less storage means, less room for things that no longer serve me.
So what have we done to love our space?
First, we downsized. With each move together, we’ve downsized by one bedroom at a time. First living in a 4 bedroom single family home, down to a 3 bedroom condo, because that seemed ideal at the time, to now 2 bedroom apartment. We have gone from living in a 2,200 square foot home to an 1,150 square foot apartment and not once have I regretted cutting our living space in half as it has never felt “too small.” It’s finally a manageable size where we can decorate each room to add the exact flavors we want.
Prior to finding the right size space for us, I was always dissatisfied with the our home. I always felt like I had rooms that were half way decorated or furniture pieces that were simply purchased to fill the space. Never feeling content I suppose you could say. This size is perfect for a working professional couple, who does not intend to have children and did I mention how much less time I spend cleaning now?! I would be mindful of increasing the size of your home due to lifestyle inflation and you see that as the standard for others your age. Do what is best for you and your situation.
Second, we’ve only allowed things in the house that we love. Yes, this sounds a bit like Marie Kondo, by only keeping things that spark joy, but that whole trend has really resonated with me. I no longer buy things just to buy and I am extremely intentional with every purchase now. This includes décor, clothes, furniture, basically anything that will now be added to our home. It must serve a purpose. I have found in the past that things I purchased to fill space, or bought out of boredom have quickly found their way to an ongoing donation pile. Being more intentional with our home purchases has allowed us to minimize clutter and maintain a tidy house. If I find that an item no longer sparks joy, or I no longer find it serves us, it is donated or thrown out. I have yet, and this is after a plethora of Goodwill hauls, have regretted a donation. In fact, it’s very hard to believe how much “stuff” we’ve had compiling in our house for so long.
Third, we’ve found a space that allows for so much natural light & enough lights throughout the entire space. Granted this is a recently renovated building where we are the first people to live here, but my goodness did they do it right! I never knew how much I needed good lighting in a home until now! In past homes, I would get home from work, it would be dark in the home due to poor lighting and I wondered why I was falling asleep on the couch by 7 p.m. I couldn’t have been that exhausted from a days worth of work. I now have realized it had everything to do with the lighting. Not only does the natural light that flows into this apartment increase my happiness, but I have found myself so much more productive in a well lit home. It’s seriously incredible the changes it’s made in my mood and overall satisfaction of life.
Fourth, we designed a space that allows for creativity. Since moving into this apartment, which was about 5 months ago, both myself and my husband have curated a more creative lifestyle. Our main living area, which most would assume as the television room, has French doors that overlook a popular street in New Orleans. We have opted to have no t.v. in this space and have the furniture and room designed as a gathering area and reading nook to highlight the view rather than the tube. Our t.v. sits in our second bedroom which also serves as the guestroom.
The idea behind this was to remove the t.v. being the center of our focus when we returned home from work. It became routine/out of habit at our old house to immediately turn on a show and be there the remaining hours of the night. I’m not going to lie, I’d love to claim responsibility for this brilliant idea, but it was all my husband. If we want to eliminate more time in front of the t.v. and focus more on passion projects why would we have the big screen taking up so much of our space. Paula Pant had a guest on her Podcast, Mike Vardy, who also spoke of this. I’ll link that here. Our increase in creativity includes more time for blogging, painting, yoga (me only) and an influx in reading.
Fifth, we have eliminated a yard all together. Our first home together, which I conveniently moved into my husband’s home he purchased, had a large backyard. One that would be ideal for a swimming pool to be installed. We were constantly cutting grass, killing weeds, paying people to cut down dead trees. It seemed like weekends were consumed by the yard. None of which we enjoyed. When we moved to New Orleans, one of our top “Must Haves” was a fenced in yard for our dog. We considered this a necessity for him. Although, not a big yard by any means, a yard none the less, and again required maintenance we despised. Yard work isn’t our thing, can ya tell? It wasn’t until we found our current apartment that we decided to eliminate a yard once and for all.
That being said, we walk our dog Barney three times a day now. I have found that this has encouraged us to spend more time outdoors, increased our mood, and allowed us to enjoy our community more. This small tweak gets us out of the bed in the morning, off the couch at night, and automatically awakens endorphins in us! For the most part, it’s a win-win. We have a balcony at our home which allows for our dog to live that indoor-outdoor life, without the crazy maintenance a yard once required!
Sixth, we are centrally located to local transportation, walking distance from restaurants, and live across the street from a grocery store! We have hit the jackpot when it comes to location. We moved 3.1 miles from our last place in New Orleans and it has made a world of differences in our abilities to walk to our favorite restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops. Local transportation by the streetcar and bike rentals are right outside our doorstep and if we ever need a last minute grocery item, we don’t have to worry about getting in a car. Moving closer to local stores has improved our mobility around the city and encouraged us to get out of the house and walk more!
Seventh, we increased our rent budget. Wait, what? Say it isn’t so. Full transparency, when on the search for our next place, my ideal goal was to downsize not only our space, but also our monthly rent. I mean, I’m a financial blogger, saving for early retirement, wouldn’t I want to decrease as many expenses as possible? Hear me out.
What we were finding that was smaller and cheaper in the area, did not spark that joy I was hoping for. Yes, we could have made it work, but I would have been in a similar situation as I was with my former 5 places…not content. My husband suggested we come look at the current place we are in and within minutes I was sold! It was too easy not to be hooked, it’s gorgeous here. Although our rent did increase by $300, the utilities are all covered so to us it was a no brainer. We ultimately are paying the exact price we were in our old place, except now we have fewer bills to worry about paying, and the quality of our life has increased exponentially.
When thinking about increasing your budget for your home, evaluate your lifestyle and other expenses. Due to the utilities all being included, this did not effect our saving goals and has not impacted us negatively at all as far as saving for early retirement.
Eighth, we’ve incorporated plants throughout the entire home. Bring that nature indoors! We have sporadically placed plants and succulents around the home where we never knew we needed plants before. I can tell you, it changes the entire room! Not only are plants beneficial to cleaning the air you breath, but they automatically create a sense of calmness around you. If it wasn’t for the expenses of planters, plants are a relatively cheap addition to bring into your home, that automatically improves your environment. One of my favorite places to pick up succulents is at our local Trader Joes. They are cheap, easy to maintain, and adorable!
Finally ninth, we have an organized space for everything. Remember when I said I have incorporated the less is more outlook? Organization is key in this house. Primarily brought on by me, and although my husband thinks I’m a lunatic, I know he secretly loves coming home to a spotless house. If there isn’t a specific organized spot for each item in this house, then it serves no purpose here. I should mention, we don’t have a storage unit or extra space outside of our home. I personally think those are a waste of money and space for things collect dust, but what do I know! The closets here are our only form of storage and honestly I feel we have plenty of space for things, but I am always evaluating things I can remove from the home in order to maximize our space & storage since we have chosen to downsize!
Everyone deserves to love the home that they come home to each day. I hadn’t the slightest clue that our previous homes were killing our productivity and creative outlets. I am so grateful we found this home as it serves us so well. We feel ourselves here & that is the utmost importance and freeing.
I’d love to know what you all have done to create a space most ideal for you? Can you incorporate any of our ideas into your home? Let me know down in the comments section!
Go on now, live your life, Free As A Weed.