If you’re like me then you love your stuff. You’re attached to it, you have memories with it, you even go as far as the Toy Story mentality and think that every object in your home has a heart and feelings. When you try to give clothes away you find that you are constantly bargaining with yourself about when you will wear that item again, only to find them sitting in your drawer taking up space. You cry when you give away your first audition dress that helped you book gigs that changed your life. What you fail to realize is that these items do not have a practical use for you anymore, and could be helping someone else achieve their dreams.
If you’re a Southern girl like me, you could find that this downsizing can be utterly daunting at first. Of course, I took my time, I moved from Brooklyn with a huge sweeping space and fourteen-foot ceilings, to a similar apartment in Harlem with slightly less square footage, to a drastically smaller room in the Upper West Side, to an even smaller room in the East Village with no windows. The ironic thing about downsizing in New York that is unique to anywhere else in the country is that often when you downsize, your rent keeps going upward. You choose to pay for either the neighborhood or space, for me the neighborhood always took precedence. With the continual increase in price per square footage in this city each year, I have found that many of my clients are having to downsize regardless of which neighborhood they choose to live in. And yes, this could mean getting rid of your 2014 sorority pillow from your beloved big with the letters peeling off.
Although I have been forced to let go of several items that have brought me joy in my life, I have made each space I live in a tiny sanctuary from this crazy bustling city. If I decided to show my apartment without any furniture in it, my clients would look in my bedroom and think that it wouldn’t even hold a twin-sized bed. Guess again. My room has a closet, a dresser, and a full-sized bed with a plushy headboard! My boyfriend even calls it “the womb” because of its cozy appeal. How was I able to accomplish this in such a tiny space? I only held onto the items that brought me true comfort and joy and discarding the rest. I also made some small investments in decoration that truly make my room feel like a sanctuary.
Here are some tips to making your Tiny House a Tiny Palace:
Step One: MARIE KONDO THE CRAP OUT OF YOUR CURRENT BELONGINGS. There is a book that I highly recommend called: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo takes you through the process of the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. After this process, you will find that you have more space for what you need than what you could have ever imagined. She also has a nifty way of folding clothes that will allow you to see everything in your drawers. This technique will also allow you to utilize every inch of drawer space humanly possible.
Step Two: If you still have more crap that you want to keep, invest in a tall bed frame or bed risers. You would be surprised how much storage can be utilized underneath your bed. I currently store two large suitcases, my guitar, all of my shoes, and an extra crate under my bed.
*If your tiny bedroom does not have a closet. Invest in an armoire! These pieces do not take up a lot of space because they are utilizing the vertical space rather than the horizontal space.
Step Three: Here comes the fun part, it’s time to decorate! Before I go into specific styles I would like you to first examine what style brings you the most joy and comfort. Do you often enjoy spending time in hotels where the hues are neutral and simple? Does that shabby-chic look bring you comfort where your ideal morning would be being treated by the sun and fresh-cut grass? Do you like that Bo-ho feels with random assortments of urban outfitters trinkets? Do you find yourself stressed during the day and hope to return to a calm soothing environment (if this is the case, what colors do you find most relaxing?) Do you find comfort in industrial spaces? Do you love the ocean, and would like to retreat to a space that feels light and breezy? Identify what brings you the most joy and choose pieces that will emulate that to the fullest potential.
Step Four: Decorating without breaking the bank. New York is a very expensive place to live and you may find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel after you have covered all of your moving expenses. If you’re like me you probably love high-end furniture stores but are not at a place financially where you can splurge on a Restoration Hardware Cloud or pretty much any item in ABC Home and Carpet (Both places are kind of like my dreamland). Here is what I would recommend doing instead. Go to these stores for inspiration, look at that painting that is 700 dollars that is really only two or three brush strokes and EMULATE IT. Look at that distressed french country dresser at ABC home and carpet for 6,000 dollars that looks like it’s barely standing. These pieces have to come from somewhere. Go upstate antiquing and see what you can find, you may be shocked that you may find a similar dresser that might just need a distressed coat of paint to look exactly like that dresser in ABC Home and Carpet for not even a quarter of the price. I was actually shocked last Christmas when I was making clay roses just for fun, and popped into ABC and found the exact same roses going for 70-80 dollars a piece.
I find that these projects can be highly rewarding but if you’re not as crafty or if your personal style doesn’t reflect this, putting away money for that high-end headboard or sofa can be equally rewarding. You may find yourself immediately drawn to Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Homegoods. Don’t get me wrong, I have found great items in these stores, but they do not last nearly as long as items elsewhere. With the amount of money I have spent on sheets from Marshalls, I could have probably afforded to buy one set of sheets from Restoration Hardware that will last me much longer than the sheets from Marshalls.
It is important to realize that nesting doesn’t have to take place all at once but can be achieved to its maximum potential with a little creativity and financial planning. With investing in high-quality items that you actually cherish in your home, you will find that you are saving more money holding onto what is important each time you move. Rather than curbing your furniture and starting the process from scratch with each new apartment, let go of what you don’t need so it’s easier to hold on to what you do!
By Michael Lasris February 26, 2020
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