Last January, my husband and I moved into a 650 sq. feet apartment in the Bay Area. At the time, this move felt like an upgrade, since I had been sharing college dorm space with girlfriends for the last four years. Nothing was more exciting to me than making our little apartment in the Bay something that felt like home, not just to us, but to all who walked through our door. The lease documents were signed, details were falling into place and for just a little while, we had to wait.
During this short waiting time, something dangerous began to happen. After hours spent scrolling through Pinterest, home interior blogs and #homeinspo Instagram feeds … discontent and panic began to set in.
How could I make this small space livable? Adorable? Admirable?
How could I make 650 sq. feet feel bigger…or feel like enough?
I knew contentment was important, but in the same breath, I wanted every corner of our little apartment to be perfect. Now. Lucky for me, my wise and loving parents were around when some of this worry started to take place. They quickly gave me the reality check I needed: “Victoria, contentment is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have.”
Yeah. They just casually dropped that truth bomb into my lap. But man, how I needed to hear that. Contentment is working with what you’ve got and making that enough. I realized that I had become more obsessed with what would fill the space, than with who would fill it. I began to dream of the dinners we’d host, the late movie nights I would share with friends, and the quiet mornings I would enjoy with my husband.
In that moment, I no longer saw my apartment as a museum for belongings, but a safe haven for people to come and belong.
It’s been a little over a year in our apartment, and I could not love it more. There are corners that are more functional than they are “aesthetically pleasing,” and there are pieces we have worked hard and waited long to have. Each square foot has been filled with beautiful memories, and I know these are the days we will remember with a smile.
As you look at your own little space, perhaps embracing it has become difficult. Maybe the lies of comparison are gnawing at you, and you just can’t help but think, “If only I had…” I want to tell you that loving your small space with all of your heart is possible.
Here are a few tips to help you get there:
1. Make the space yours.
All too often, we treat living in small spaces like a transition, instead of a time in our life to be fully treasured. Don’t wait to hang photographs, paint the walls a cheery color, or set out an adorable welcome mat. Unpacking your little knick knacks from places you’ve travelled, and hanging some artwork above the couch will immediately gave you some ownership and connection to your space.
Contentment is working with what you’ve got and making that enough.
2. Choose inspiration wisely.
Pinterest, Instagram, home blogs and magazines, are all wonderful places for inspiration; however, these resources can quickly bombard our reality of a small space with ideas and images that we cannot live up to. Comparison is a nasty beast; so be conscious about the amount of design ideas you accept. There is something really freeing about not knowing what everyone has done to their homes, and looking within for ideas of your own.
3. Don’t say sorry.
One bad habit I tolerated for too long, was apologizing to others for how small our space was. We would have friends over for dinner, and as the living room was filled with people, I would yell, “Sorry guys! Our space is just so small!” My husband, on the other hand, had nothing but pride for our small space. Anytime we had someone over, he would give them “a grand tour” and joyfully show them each little corner of our space.
I quickly learned from him and realized that I was apologizing out of my own insecurity, not because anyone was actually uncomfortable. Apologizing for your space belittles how hard you are working to live there and negates the ways you have made it beautiful.
4. Enjoy the process.
Remember that your mother’s home is filled with beautiful things that have been acquired over many years. Do not pressure yourself to have everything you want in the first year or few months of living in your space. Decorating and nesting in a slow and steady way helps us treasure the additions as they come, without making those additions the reasons for loving our homes.
Friend, home is what you make it. And the old cliche is worth remembering: “home is where the heart is.” So whatever voices or longings are causing you to think that you or your space are not enough, they need to be ignored. The joy and value available to you in this season is just too important to pass up. If approached with real contentment, your tiny home can truly become your favorite place in the world.
Do you live in a “cozier” place? How do you make it yours?
Images via Victoria Sowell