Small Space Living Part 3: Embrace Whitespace

Live large in your small space

In Japan they say that the silence between the notes is just as important as the melody itself. So it is with furnishing your small space.

This is the final instalment in a three-part series…

While it’s important to get each furniture purchase right, it’s just as important to eliminate the uneccesary. Living in a small home is a daily discipline: you are forced to keep the clutter under control because you just don’t have anywhere to put it

People in larger homes can get away with a little mess here and there without feeling cramped, but in my home I just can’t. This is one of the benefits of downsizing.

Miss Minimalist suggests a One-A-Day Decluttering regime, and if you have children at home or a demanding job, getting rid of one item per day may be all you can manage. But I think that sometimes the only way to tackle a cluttered environment is to take the bull by the horns! By this I mean selling or donating one large item from your home. This is good for two reasons:

  • It will free up space and energize your home. I always get a thrill when I get to see a new part of my skirting boards! It will inspire you to look more critically at other redundant items in your home.
  • If you donate a large item, you’ll have to figure out what to do with its contents. Perhaps they could be donated too?!

I’m thinking of selling this cabinet. It’s a lovely antique piece, but it does take up a lot of space for the items it stores. Perhaps I could store these things on floating shelves on the wall above it? I’d really like to create a reading nook in this space. But after I styling it up for the photo, I began to love it again. Hmm…I wonder what you think?

Display cabinet

Some suggestions for creating some clear space in your home:

  • Use the walls. If I had lots of money, I would install String System Furniture along one wall in my home. It’s so flexible that you can use it to create a home office or shelving in many different configurations.
  • Keep your work surface clear. The easiest way I have found to keep paper clutter under control is with a simple box. If I’m too busy to sort my papers (aren’t you?!) I can stash them in here until I have some time to go through them properly. This way they stay together, they won’t get lost or crumpled, and they don’t look untidy:

A simple way to get rid of your paper pile

  • Have a place to dump toys at the end of the day. Having a quick tidy-up at the end of the day is an good discipline, but you have to make it easy for yourself when you’ve had a long day! I can store children’s toys in my coffee table/nest of ottomans (see Part 2), but I also have baskets for toys in other places in my home.

Zoe at Home craft supplies storage

  • Use the ‘borrowed view’, another idea from Japan. Because most Japanese people live in small spaces, they’ve developed a style of architecture to deal with it. Homes there often have screen doors that open onto a view of a manicured garden. This takes the eye beyond the four walls and out into the space beyond. All my adult life I have wanted to live in a house with a beautiful view I could see whilst sitting in my living room. Finally, I have one:

Using the borrowed view in small spaces

There’s no way I’d give up this view to live in a bigger house. How about you? Have you downsized your life recently? How do you make your small space spacious?

More from this series:


7 thoughts on “Small Space Living Part 3: Embrace Whitespace

  1. I have actually seen a cabinet similar to the one you have, used as a coffee table. But I don’t know how thick the glass in yours is. Antique glass is usually pretty thin.

    • This cabinet is from the Depression era, so it’s just made of cheap pine with a stain. But the glass has a ripple in it, so I know it’s a genuine antique. Perhaps I’ll keep this after all!

      • I’m with chmeld on this one. It would be a shame to get rid of an antique piece like that. We will watch this space, to see what You decide.

  2. I feel very cluttered after reading some of your suggestions. I have noticed that I don’t have any clear work spaces anymore and could do with 1 or 2 items being donated. You have inspired me to get started.
    Oh I love the cabinet but I could also see floating shelves in that space as well.

    • Thanks for your comment! Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration to make a start, once you free up some space you’ll want to keep going. BTW, things don’t always look so neat and tidy in my house as they do in the photos. But having the storage ottomans makes it easy to clean up quickly.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sambee. I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I decided to publish a Home Office Series next month, with a special post about how to keep your work surface clear. Hopefully it will be of some help!

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