Our life has changed in a lot of ways over the past year, but our living arrangements are one of the biggest things. And since I’d like this new iteration of the blog to keep it a little more real up in here, I thought I’d take you on a tour of what exactly that looks like.
That Was Then…
A handful of months ago, we had been homeowners for nigh under a decade. We owned a three bedroom, one bath home with two and a half finished floors and plenty of privacy and room to do whatever the hell we wanted.
It was a cute little place we’d put a lot of work into and made a lot of memories in:
Owning it made me feel very adult and competent, when I wasn’t exhausted and overwhelmed by all the things there were to fix and clean and pay for.
Where We Cuddled
This is the living room where we hung out with our two dogs and countless fosters. It wasn’t huge, but it was cozy, and it was ours:
Where We Cooked
This is the retro kitchen we first hated and then decided to run with, which hosted nigh under a decade’s worth of weekend-long Christmas baking extravaganzas with my sisters:
Bear in mind we rarely cooked in anything bigger than our toaster oven the rest of year, so while the space was excellent for holidays it went pretty wasted the rest of the year. I think we used our dining table for an actual, regular meal maybe twice.
Where We Slept
This is the bedroom where many of our fosters curled up with us in spite of the fact the hand-me-down bedframe made the bed so high my husband and I had to perform a minor acrobatic act to get in and out of it:
Where I Wrote
This is the den-turned-home-office where my freelance career was built, launched and enjoyed for two years before my incredibly foolish foray back into the 9-to-5:
It had an out-of-tune piano my husband got on Freecycle and quickly realized he’d never be able to actually to tune, so it became a glorified stand for my fancy bourbon tray. It added to the fancy-gentleman-from-the-30s vibe I like to pretend I live in:
It was also a bitch to get rid of when we moved. Never, ever get a piano unless you actually plan on having and using it forever. We came very close to renting a UHaul and dumping it in a country field like a body we were ashamed to ever have gotten wrapped up with.
Where We Pooped
The bathroom was tiny, but it was one of our biggest renovations. We used the money our wedding guests gave us to transform it from the travesty it was into something that lived in this century:
Those are the main rooms we lived in, but we paid for more because that was what we thought people did. And quite frankly, it was rather nice — when we weren’t worrying about maintenance and repairs and costs we’d never thought about also having to afford on a regular basis. (Joy-to-stress ratio was a quickly depreciating value.)
There was a man cave on the second floor I often forgot existed because my husband was the only one who ever went up there. We never cooled the second floor in the summer or heated it in the winter because it was hardly ever occupied.
There was also a landing with a ton of built-in storage, which made my OCD side happy and was handy in housing the holiday decorations, luggage we rarely used, and empty boxes from pretty much every appliance we ever purchased in nine years, which we inexplicably held onto because… I don’t know… we had the space?
There was also a half-finished basement which was extremely convenient as a practice space for my husband’s band, plus our own laundry area and a backyard that was largely weeds and a garage we never had room to park our car in because it was filled with ladders and power tools and other things we thought grownups should own but hardly ever used.
…And This Is Now
Now, we live in two rooms in my in-laws’ basement. We sold most of our old furniture in a moving sale to get smaller pieces courtesy of places like Big Lots and an awesome local scratch-and-dent reseller we found on eBay.
I like to call it our alternative tiny home, because that makes me feel trendy and because it’s inspired me embrace the less-is-more mindset (and space-saving tricks) from the tiny home shows I used to binge on and wonder if I could ever adopt myself.
Where We Cuddle/Cook/Entertain
This is our living room. The ottoman with a removable lid serves as a coffee table/foot rest/extra seating/storage space for blankets and food trays:
You want “open concept”? We can easily lay out a spread while talking to our guests as our kitchenette is inches behind the living room (boom!):
Turn around and you’ll be facing our dining table, which requires a leaf and extra chairs when we have guests over but is usually just a dumping ground for mail (all the table in our old house ever was, too):
Our totally worthless piano has been replaced with a hand-me-down sideboard that makes for a convenient new bourbon stand:
We don’t have very much to store these days, but what we do have gets kept in the Harry Potter door under the stairs:
Tiny homes allow for these fun ways to maximize space. OCD me is in heaven. (I’ve tested it, and yes, I could live in there if I needed to downsize even further.)
This Is Where We Sleep/Where I Write
Thanks to the elimination of our old oversized bedroom set, I got to use the adorable retro dresser set I bought for my first apartment and loved, but which had to be relegated to the man cave in our house for lack of space:
With a fraction of the clothes and accessories to organize, our new closet makes all my Pinterest dreams come true:
There’s a desk in the corner that makes up the entirety of my new office space. It works just fine.
There is no rest.
If we need to do any meal prep beyond microwaving things, or wash any dishes, we use the main kitchen upstairs. We share a bathroom with the guest bedroom upstairs, as well as the laundry room when it’s not in use.
We do not have the privacy or room to do whatever the hell we want anymore. But we also do not have a mortgage payment, repair bills, maintenance costs, endless to-do lists, or the opportunity to lose things for months a time because we have too damn much stuff and too many rooms.
So, is this a downgrade or an upgrade? You can form your own opinion, but I choose to see it as the latter.
The Trouble with Appearances
In the game of appearances, we’re either doing a lot worse or a lot better than other people are.
Compared to most of our friends and family, my husband and I are failing. When I take surveys in my spare time for chump change, I can’t check any boxes on the “do you rent or own your home” question because we are now what’s considered an “other.” We are 35 years old and fulfilling the Millennial cliche of failure to launch, despite the fact we’ve launched our asses off and made a pretty good run of it for a while, too.
In the eyes of my inner critic, who prided herself on nothing if not her independence, we are destitute of all dignity. We are not only broke, but broken. We’ve hit rock bottom.
But in comparison to people who’ve suffered similarly hard times and don’t have the option of moving back in with family, we are the lucky ones. When my husband got sick and then I got sick, we had somewhere to go to regroup and restrategize. We had something to fall back on that wasn’t the streets. It’s embarrassing, but we’re safe, and now we can figure out how to move forward.
Don’t think I am ever not fully aware of, and ridiculously grateful for, that.
Like Schrodinger’s cat, our tiny home is both sad and happy, and to view it as only one or the other would demonstrate a flippant understanding of things. That said, we have the choice to concentrate more on one aspect than the other, and…
Concentrating on the sad part of a situation never got anyone anywhere constructive. Click To Tweet
Because regardless of what we have or do not have in our current living arrangements, we have gained the ability to see down to the bare, bare minimum of what we need and are finding a way to learn to want less and be grateful more for the less we do have.
I’d have preferred a different way of getting to that point than losing pretty much everything, but what’s happened has happened and in the end, it’s not a bad place to be at.
So that’s something.
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