Riddle me this: Why did I ever own 10 coffee mugs when living alone? And where did they all come from?! Oh you know, just in case me and nine of my closest friends ever wanted to simultaneously sip tea on my 25 square-foot back porch and talk about life, I was covered.
I was drowning in a deep sea of ceramic mugs, clothes, and books. (Okay so I kept the books….but knowledge…am I right?) Excess isn’t a word that I would have ever used to describe my lifestyle. I’m a 23-year-old, single girl who was renting a modest one-bedroom apartment. But the more I began to look at my possessions, and the closer I got to moving onto the boat, I realized that I was much more attached to some items than I care to admit.
When I walked through my apartment with the furniture that I’d slowly been accumulating over the years, I did feel a pang. I won’t lie. I think part of me based my success off of what I’ve been able to physically purchase in my life. And this is me trying to figure out why I needed all of this stuff in the first place. My head is in a space now where I am no longer placing extreme value on things. Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to my place and felt both a sense of excitement and anxiety. Sure, I could put everything in storage, and if this whole crazy boat idea doesn’t pan out, I could always rent another apartment, but that would almost seem like cheating. I’m excited to move towards a lifestyle that is more focused on experiences and meeting new people, and less focused on trying to keep up with everybody else’s expectations of me.
I know what you’re thinking. Okay–awesome, Kat. You weren’t sad to get rid of your stuff. But that still means you had to sort through it all and decide what to take and what to do with the rest…
You’re right. And I won’t lie to you, it was kind of a daunting task to sort through years of my life. But the most important thing to remember is just to start small. Here are some tips I compiled based off of my own recent experiences in moving towards a more simplified lifestyle.
1.) Decide What Is Truly Important To You
I am someone who absolutely cannot live without my guitar. If you told me that my guitar wouldn’t fit on the boat, I would just as soon rent another apartment. It is important when downsizing to determine what items truly mean the most to you. Is it a painting that your grandmother gave you, an instrument, your favorite item of clothing? It’s okay to have a sentimental attachment to certain things, as long as you are able to find a balance. And when living on a boat, balance is key. Literally. So before you start donating your old clothes or listing your entire apartment on Facebook Marketplace, choose a few things that mean the most to you and set them aside. Now we can move on to the rest.
2.) Choose Function Over Style
Space is a hot commodity on a sailboat, or in any tiny home at that. When renovating my boat this summer, I had to take into consideration how every space would be used to it’s fullest potential. The same goes for the items you bring onto the boat. Replace a mountain of tupperware containers with two or three collapsable bowls that can be stacked on top of each other. Choose items of clothing that can be worn in layers, or in multiple different styles, to maximize the versatility of your smaller wardrobe. Do you really need that SlapChop you bought from the Home Shopping Network after one too many glasses of rosé? I think not. A small, sharp knife that can fold up will do the trick.
And while I’m at it…don’t drink rosé. It’s wine that can’t decide what it wants to be. I know I’m supposed to be helping you to downsize, but bring both the red and white. Some things just aren’t worth it people…
3.) Make Use of Technology
Alright, so I’m going to be a bit of a hypocrite for a second, but hear me out. Technology is your best friend when going tiny. Bring along your laptop, phone and iPad and you can essentially eliminate your television sets, music and dvd collections, photo albums and so much more. A lot of people also save a ton of space here by getting rid of their books. That’s where I get caught. If you’ve noticed from my pictures, I kept a lot of my books. But there is just something that feels like home to me when I have a physical book in my hand and am out on the deck at night, reading under the stars. Corny, I know. But hey, you still love me. So plug in, charge up, tune in, and own less.
4.) Store Your Seasonal Items
I’m from Florida, where the humidity is just as high as the pants on every retired grandfather who snowbirds in Boca Raton. Needless to say, I don’t have seasonal clothing. My seasons are summer and a little less summer. That being said, for all of you who have the distinct pleasure of owning jackets, storing them during the off-season can be a little bit of a task when going tiny. Luckily, you still have a few options. When talking to some of the other liveaboards at my marina, many who have lived all over the world, one tip they had was using vacuum bags. Seal large items inside and remove the air for smart storage. Remember to also focus on layers and like we said before, maximize the versatility of your closet by choosing items that can be worn at all times. I’m someone who still owns a car while living aboard my vessel. If that is the case for you, consider keeping off-season clothing in bins in your vehicle and swapping out when necessary.
5.) Organization Is Key
I am not an organized person. Or should I say I wasn’t. I mean let’s be real, the title of this article is a “Sea of Ceramics” and I have been treading water, head barely above the surface, for quite sometime. I like to think that having a little chaos in life can make things a lot more fun, but when it comes to going tiny, organization is key. When you have a small space, there is a place for everything and everything has a place. Wall hooks, hidden storage spaces, and creativity are lifesavers. You’d actually be surprised at how much storage I have in less than 100 square feet of living space.
Making a list of items that you want to keep is a useful first step. Start with the necessities and work your way down to items that are wants. Think about how many of each item you realistically need (then take one away.) Set goal dates for accomplishing tasks. Want to get rid of half of your clothes by the end of the month? Turn your hangers around backwards and at the end of 30 days anything that you haven’t touched can be donated. Keep track of items that can be sold and those that would be better for donation. Small, organized steps help relieve the stress of downsizing and allow you to focus on the freedom of going tiny!
6.) Relax and Enjoy the Process
Going tiny can seem overwhelming at times. But the freedom of owning less will quickly set in, leaving you refreshed and ready to take on your next adventure. At the end of the day, remember the reason you wanted to embark on this journey. Whether it be for financial freedom, reducing your environmental footprint, increasing travel time, or one of the other million reasons to simplify….it’s important to take a few deep breaths and enjoy every second!
Much love and adventure,