There are lots of benefits to living in a small space. Let's see: it's easier to maintain, there are cheaper utility bills, there's less temptation to accumulate clutter . . . as you can imagine, the list could go on. But to keep your attention, I'll cut it right there.
The tricky part to calling teeny-tiny spaces home, however, is the actual "living" aspect, especially when sharing these cramped quarters with someone else. I don't know about you, but when I first moved into a 400-square-foot studio with my significant other, so many skeptical thoughts rippled through my mind. As enthused as I was for this new chapter together, the lack of space had me worried, to say the least. Yet after much trial and error, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I were able to uncover quite a few tips for making our itty-bitty apartment feel like home, all while preserving our relationship. What a relief, right?
So if you're about to move in with a new roommate or soulmate, go ahead and shed that weighing layer of anxiety, because here are five surprisingly simple tricks for making even the tiniest of spaces work.
1. Avoid mixed-messaging spaces
When I first entered college, my mom emphasized the importance of creating an oasis out of my dorm room. She encouraged my roommate and me to allow this room to serve as a place to find refuge after a long, tiring day, not be a multifunctional space where we lived, ate, worked, and slept. In doing so, our minds would understand and accept it was time to rest when entering that particular room.
After implementing this concept, we both found it to be extremely helpful and abided by this rule of thumb all throughout our college years of living together. Even today, my husband and I follow this piece of advice. By defining what purpose each area serves in our current one-room studio — i.e. the table is for eating, the bed is for sleeping (not working!), etc. — our minds aren't battling over what to do where and can then find relaxation much easier.
2. Expand your living room to outside
One of the key tricks my husband and I have uncovered for small-space living is to expand the "living" to outside the apartment. And by this, I mean eat dinner in a nearby park. Have happy hour on your stoop. (I can't begin to tell you how enjoyable a glass of wine is on a fire escape.) Catch up with friends as you discover hidden gems peppered throughout your neighborhood. Don't be afraid to stretch your living room beyond the physical four walls of your space. Chances are your neighbors are doing the exact same thing. Or at least, they should be!
3. Be transparent
No matter who you are sharing your space with, clear communication should always be your number one priority. As amazing as it would be for your roommate/soulmate to also be a mind reader, chances are he or she is probably not. That said, don't be afraid to drop your personal guardrails and become vulnerable. Trust me, you'll need to! By vocalizing your wants and needs upfront through open and honest communication, you both will have a better understanding of each other's expectations and can prevent a whole lot of unnecessary headaches and confusion.
4. Live by the powerful words of Aretha Franklin
I think you know where I'm going with this tip. Oh yes, r-e-s-p-e-c-t! In a small space, this tiny word can have so much power. When you are mindful of each other's boundaries and personal space — or lack thereof — you inadvertently create more room for good vibes and positivity and less for conflict. Just as with open communication, respect is the ultimate gateway for a happier home.
5. Embrace the coziness
At the end of the day, no matter how small the square footage might be that you're sharing, it's just a number. And you can either approach that number with excitement or dread. So why not embrace the coziness and enjoy it? See your space for what it is: your home. And not only your home, but your partner's home, too. When you think of it with that mindset, I guarantee you'll love every inch of your mini casa and be even more appreciative of the person you're able to share it with.