My minimalist living space (I’d like to show you around…)

My minimalist living space (I’d like to show you around…)

I often refer to the “tiny apartment” that I live in, and I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be nice to take some pictures and, well, invite you round for a (virtual) look.

But then I didn’t, because the flat was never quite tidy enough. Despite my constant quest to have less stuff, there always seems to be stuff cluttering up the place. It’s not that we have a great deal of stuff, but we also don’t have huge amounts of furniture or cupboard space to hide all our stuff like other people do. It’s a constant reminder to us that we have too much.

Another thing that put me off was that despite me calling our home the “tiny flat”, I realise that it is far bigger than many other “tiny” homes. In fact, there is a tiny house movement, and if you know anything about that you will realise that our flat in no way qualifies. Tiny homes are seriously tiny, and our apartment is palatial in comparison. I didn’t want to face the wrath of readers outraged that I have been making fraudulent claims all this time!

Lastly, I’m well aware that our flat is never going to be photographed for House Beautiful (or whatever those glossy home magazines are called). My eye for style goes as far as to recognise that some decor does indeed look pretty and stylish, and our flat has nothing like that in it.

We don’t have strategically placed cute retro teapots, or a surf board (why is it that every house I’ve seen photographed recently, no matter how far from the ocean, has a surf board?), or candles and flowers in all the corners. We don’t have quirky vintage antique stuff, we have old (and in some cases a bit tatty) stuff.

But then I got a grip on myself, and thought, so what? I like my house. Do I care that my house isn’t a interior designer’s dream? No. I like it. We like its simplicity. I like not having to dust all those quirky vintage nick-knacks.

Does it really matter that our flat isn’t the smallest house ever? Not at all. We are happy with the amount of space we have, so why would I compare it with other far smaller houses? They may be cleverly designed, inspiring and beautiful, but they would be too small for us at this stage in our lives. We need a space that we can live in, not one that impresses others with its tiny-ness.

Does it matter that it’s a bit messy and full of stuff? Well…I’d rather it wasn’t, or course… But we still invite our friends round, so why wouldn’t I take photos and invite my virtual friends round too? It’s just stuff, and it really shouldn’t have the power to influence my decisions!

So here’s the tour. It’s our attempt to live simply with less stuff; we have had some successes, but there are still plenty of areas we’d like to improve. It is a journey, and one that we’re always working on.

The Living Space

When you walk through the front door, you immediately step into the living space. There’s no porch or entrance hall. Our flat is pretty much a square, so from the front door you can see right the way through to the other side.

Livingspacefinal Livingspace2 LivingspaceothersideThere’s no storage aside from what furniture we have, which means lots of things can’t be put “away”, as there is nowhere to put them. My bicycle lives next to the dining table, and our broom sits next to the fridge.

This is our entire book and DVD collection. We don’t own a single DVD, and of this little stack of books, three are actually loans from friends. Who needs books and DVDs when you can borrow what you want from the local library?

Books are a minimalism success; my desk, however, is not. On a typical day, it looks something like this. That’s not to say that I’m not organised, because I actually know what’s on all those little bits of paper and always notice when they get moved. I just have a terrible habit of writing on the back of old receipts and old envelopes, and they accumulate. Mess and clutter are not healthy though, and I need to go paperless to get things a bit more zen in my litter corner of the room.

Messydesk

The Bedroom

It’s a bit more zen in here. There’s no space for any furniture in the bedroom, although we’ve had to squeeze my boyfriend’s bike into the small amount of spare space that we do have.

Bedroom Bedroom2 Fortunately we have an enormous built-in wardrobe…

closetcombined…and it is full to the point of almost overflowing! Yes, we have far too many clothes. No, they’re not all mine! Yes, I do have far too many pairs of shoes. Yes, they are all mine. Definitely an area I need to work on. But progress is being made. I’ve given clothes to the charity shop, and I’ve downgraded others to kitchen rag status. Last year I only bought a handful of items, and so far this year I’ve bought none. I don’t intend to buy anything else until my collection has at least halved. This is my compromise to myself, because I don’t want to send stuff to landfill, and there’s a lot in there that is too worn for the charity shop to take.

The Bathroom

Bathrooms in rented apartments are generally nothing to write home about, and ours is definitely no exception.bathroomsmallThere’s not too much clutter, but we do have a ridiculous amount of towels. (This isn’t even all of them – there were some hanging out on the line when I took the picture!) I’m reluctant to get rid of them; the charity shop won’t be able to sell them for much and I don’t want to send them to landfill. So another compromise – as they wear out they won’t be replaced. Right now, they (just about) fit into the space we have, and so they can stay.

towels

The Kitchen

I would love a bigger kitchen as I spend a huge amount of time here (you may have noticed that I like to cook?!). Learning to manage with what space I have has been hard, but I think it’s been good for me. Oh, and don’t judge us – we rent this flat and did not choose the lime green/acid yellow tiles ourselves!

Kitchen1 Kitchen2I’ve been able to keep the cupboards pretty orderly, and I only keep the things that we use regularly.

The pantry, however, is a different story! No matter what I do, I cannot seem to empty it out. I am pretty good at finding things in there, but my boyfriend does not fare so well, unless he knows there is a jar of chocolate spread… (I also don’t label the jars – surely everyone knows the difference between ground turmeric and ground cumin? Or rapadura sugar and soft brown sugar? They don’t? Oh. No wonder my boyfriend is reluctant to cook!) It’s cluttered, and awkward, and there’s been a few near-misses with almost smashing glass jars. But my love of food (and the bulk produce stores) means it never gets any less full. Any tips greatly appreciated!

PantryThose jars to the left of the pantry are there because they don’t fit in the pantry. Definitely a sign that I have too much in there!

Outside

We have a small space outside, which houses our two worm farms and various gardening-related bits and pieces I collected from verge collections. I then discovered we don’t get any sunlight so we can’t grow anything much here, sadly.

balconySo that’s the tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed looking around. I’d love to hear what you think, and if you have any tips for those areas that I need a bit of help with, please share them below!

43 Responses to My minimalist living space (I’d like to show you around…)

  1. Love the tour. Very inspirational for somebody like me who still has too much stuff. But like you, I recognise that it’s a journey and some days we stand still while other days we leap ahead.
    Thanks for sharing !

    • Thanks for coming over to have a look! I find it a little discouraging when I see some of these super-successful minimalist blogs, and the writers own just 10 items of clothing, or 4 kitchen utensils; but then I have to remember, it isn’t a competition, it’s a personal journey. I was hoping by sharing what I’m doing that I might inspire others, and also get some good tips for the areas I need to work on! It’s so much better to be on a journey with other people, don’t you think?

  2. I stack the jars, something like on the photos at the bottom of this post. I rearranged my pantry again (and I got rid of almost all the paper tea bags), but I still stack the jars :P I do label them, which doesn’t take too much time. I’ve been using small papers taped onto the jar with paper tape, but now I got some lighter-coloured paper tape, I just put a piece of tape directly onto the jar and write on it.
    Labelling the jars is very useful, because then other people don’t have to ask each time, so it will save you time :P

    How many square meters is your house?
    Mine is 34 m2 (when I just moved in I took photos here, but by now the bed and one desk have switched places, the “poof” is gone, the large mirror in the bathroom is gone, I got a microwave-oven on the empty shelf in the kitchen, we got an extra cupboard for my sewing supplies (which hadn’t been moved into the house yet at the time those photos were taken) and for my boyfriend’s clothes (in my clothing-closet I also keep all the towels/bed linen/etc), and we got a table which fits nicely around the white cupboards (we move the table to the middle of the room when we need it), the bread machine is on top of the freezer and the printer on top of the fridge, etc….) However, I have been getting rid of books I don’t want anymore, so I emptied a shelf to put some statues on :) The plan is to empty more shelves, so I can put sewing supplies there. Though for me, books are the item I have most of :P

    • Thanks for sharing how you’ve made your space work for you. I think the consensus from here and facebook is that I need to label my pantry jars! I’m not really sure how big our flat is, my boyfriend is currently pacing up and down trying to measure his steps to work it out – he thinks maybe 42 square metres including the balcony space. How much usable space is a different question – the bathroom is pretty big considering, but we can’t do much with it!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I really like your apartment too, you’ve got a nice amount of light in the living areas and at least the shade on your balcony means you can keep worms. We had to give our worm Farm away when we moved to our current place which has a very exposed West facing balcony.
    I’ve been talking a similar issue with our pantry so perhaps my experience will help you. I love to cook with whatever I have to hand, is a good creative challenge to avoid shopping! So I’ve stopped buying dry goods – sort of. I cook with what we’ve got and substitute where I can. If I finish something off I don’t automatically replace it, but I do add it to the shipping list if I miss it when I go to cook next time. This means I still have to wait, but so far I’ve been able to cook something else with what I do have.
    I’ve been doing this for about a year and a half now at least and our stash is definitely more navigable now, but there’s still a little excess I’d like to use up (turns out we rarely cook with split peas!). I still stress that I won’t have what I ‘need’ to cook tasty, balanced meals but it’s been a good lesson to me to see just how little we do need and also become more mindful of the foods we use more often to the detriment of all the others waiting to be used on the shelf!

    • Thanks for your great comments! The point about the worm farm is very true, I hadn’t thought about it like that. We do get a fair bit of light in the living space in summer when we can open the doors, but in winter it is often quite dark. Then again, I love the tree outside the window and would hate to lose this, even though it would mean more light. The bedroom does not get any light at all though.

      The pantry tip sounds good; I’m going to try it. I’ve decided this year to experiment more in the kitchen and make up new recipes so I like to have lots of tasty raw ingredients to hand..but then I eat them rather than using them to bake! I think I could make your method work though – thanks for the idea! : )

  4. Thanks for sharing your home with us all.
    I have a suggestion for your towels that need homes. Pounds and animal rescue are more than happy to receive towels for the cats and dogs. I donated a whole heap of towels and toys (that my dog didn’t play with) and the were SO greatful.

    • Thank you, although it doesn’t always feel organised! It is lovely and light in the summer, I love that too.

      I used to have similar shelf things in the UK. I should look into that. A pantry clear-out is on the cards this week – I’ve had so many useful suggestions, now I need to act on them all!

      (and yes, you should get a worm farm!)

  5. Hello,

    I recently discovered your blog and find your posts very inspiring! I’m a green conscious Dutchie wishing to migrate to Perth one day so I love to read about all the sustainable initiatives in WA :-) So THANK YOU for your willingness to share your journey and your living space with the world wide web :-) About your pantry: I once read in the book / on the blog Zero Waste Home that she organises her pantry to stock a limited and set amount of jars, which contain either a permanent staple or a rotational staple. Rotational staples represent groups of food that she used to buy in many different forms, for example legumes. Before she used to have chickpeas, lentils, peas, red beans, fava beans etc on hand. Today she has only one dedicated jar for legumes instead and she has adopted a system of rotation: one week it might be filled with chickpeas and the next week with lentils. She has dedicated jars for rotating grains, pasta, cereal, cookies, nuts and tea as well. This system has proved her to not only maintain variety in her diet and free up storage space, it has also been efficient at keeping foods from going bad. She stressed it sparked her creativity as well :-) Hope this idea might help you, I still have to try it for myself!

    Happy day!

    Tamara

    • Hi Tamara, thanks for your kind words! I have a couple of friends who rave about Bea from Zero Waste Home but I have never read the book, although I have read many interviews with her. She is truly remarkable, and I have seen how few jars she uses in the kitchen, but she is far more disciplined than I am! I would think it would stifle my creativity so I am intrigued that Bea thinks it sparks hers… I will have to read the book and discover more! Thanks for the tip : )

  6. You’re welcome, I can totally understand your friends raving about her, I can highly recommend her book! It’s a very practical how to – guide. Some of her tips really resonated with me and I was able to apply them in my life, other thing don’t work for me (yet), like saying good bye to my entire collection of books ;-)

    Which means you shouldn’t forget to remember your own words: everybody’s journey is different, so you don’t need to be (as disciplined or as… (fill in)) her! Give some of her tips a try and apply what works for you :-)

  7. Hey Lindsay and thanks for taking us on a tour of your small abode :)

    I love the look of your place and your desk reminds me of mine!! And I also have my bike stashed in my bedroom…although during the summer, I keep it on the balcony.

    Since we’re sharing..if interested, here’s a similar post I did on my “small” apartment:

    http://www.thejoyofsimple.com/small-apartment-living-in-montreal/

    Well, thanks again Lindsay and take care. All the best.

    Lyle

    • Hi Lyle, went and had a look at your apartment and it looks very cosy! I couldn’t comment on the page though as it says “comments are closed”. Your desk is similar to mine but you have way more drawers! I like to way it looks full but organised, and very homely. Mine is less full but also less organised, I think!

      • Hey Lindsay and thanks for dropping by my post :)

        Unfortunately, any post that is more than 14 days old has comments closed due to the ridiculous amount of SPAM comments I receive…literally hundreds and hundreds a day. I’m figuring out a way to stop this, but for now, the 14 day comment limit seems to be working…albeit somewhat.

        Here’s a small confession ie: my desk…I did a little cleaning up before I snapped those photos :) Although I do try and keep things organized when I am in the mood!

        Good to see ya again Lindsay and take care. All the best.

        Lyle

  8. Lindsay, I love your home! Your place is so cute and welcoming. I like how you borrow a chair from the dining table for your desk rather than getting a chair only for the desk. If I had a wardrobe like yours everything I own would be packed away and out of sight. I have the smallest closet that is so badly configured it’s pretty much worthless. I fear looking around my home I have much more stuff than you do and there’s only one person living in my space.

    • Thanks! (beams) It was actually your post about your flat on your blog that finally pushed me to share mine! (This post to be exact: http://living-simply-free.com/300-sq-ft-in-pictures/) Funnily enough, my boyfriend said yesterday that we should get a proper desk chair, and I was asking “why? What’s wrong with the current chair?!” I don’t think we need one. But if I found one on the verge that needed to be saved from landfill I might consider it. I still feel like we have too much stuff. That wardrobe is pretty full, and we do store a few things under the bed. What, I’m not sure – which suggests we don’t need it! It’s easier for me, I have only lived in Australia for 2.5 years so I don’t have the old baggage from a lifetime of living here. But we’re planning a big declutter again soon : )

      • Lindsay men and their desk chairs. :-)

        Your home makes mine look horribly cluttered! :-) I’m good on clothes, as I own very little but it’s all the extra stuff for my hobbies that fills this place up. I keep saying I need to narrow down my hobbies, but each are enjoyable to me and are functional, so they have stayed. The other things I have here are things for the children. They have baskets under the couch of books, toys and craft supplies. After that storing blankets for overnight guests is area I can’t cut back on. Being a mother and grandmother I have frequent overnight visits.

        • At some point I’ll need to get more “hobbies” related stuff. Namely tools to do DIY and tools to garden. But I think I will need real discipline; it’s a slippery slope…!

          • It is a slippery slope. :-) If I were to clear out all the hobby related items in my home it would be quite empty but then I would be bored out of my mind. :-)

    • Thank you! I love that tree too! It’s what makes this place. And right now it has these awesome bright pink berries on it, I love the colour, so beautiful and fun! Plus it’s called a lilli-pilli. Can you think of a better name for a tree? : )

      • Amazing name! I think I’ll have to nickname a pet or a friend that one day, it’s just too good ;) I love having nature outside my window to be able to observe its transformations.

  9. A great way to declutter the surfaces in your home, if just momentarily, is to invite someone over for a meal. I’ve found out it works, every time… :-)

  10. Hello –

    For those lovely road bikes you have, take a look @ something like Delta’s Tintoretto Two Bike Tension Storage Rack (http://deltacycle.com/two-bike-tension-storage-rack). I have one for my primary mount/’urban assault vehicle’ & my winter cycle (a rather heavy mountain bike). Other designs are out there, including hooks that can fold upwards towards the wall (when not in use) . Those may require sinking screws into the studs. The Tintoretto’s style requires just one screw in the ceiling to hold a placement cup.

    Regards fr a minimalist-in-training,
    JS

    • Hi JS, thanks for you comment! My husband did look into bike racks, but we decided against them – we weren’t allowed to screw anything in to the walls in that flat, and we thought a stackable rack might be a bit too oppressive in the living room. We moved last year and have a bit more space for bike storage (although one bike still lives in the bedroom!) and when we move again at the end of the year, there will be communal bike storage. Ooooh the luxury! : )

  11. Thank you for sharing your place. You have made a lot of progress. I am still working and I notice things come off in layers. You’re right about the furniture though. If you don’t have storage, your stuff has to live somewhere!

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