Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Smaller and Smaller


When I was a kid, I used to design my future house. You know, draw floorplans on sheet after sheet of paper. Where will I put the libraries? (For there were always several.) How big will the stables be, and will the horses be able to come inside on cold days? (I worried about them catching colds. And yes, there were always horses.) My art studio always had a skylight, and my swimming pool was long enough for laps but never had a diving board. My fantasy houses were sprawling things, with rooms for every need or whim.

As I grew older, I fell into the default opinion (at least for my upbringing and social circle) that bigger was better. Bigger and bigger houses, salaries, cars, etc. Moving to Los Angeles changed my life in so many ways, and this was another one. I shipped some books, but took only what I could fit in my car. I got here and moved five more times in six years. I started to resent “stuff.” I started to love simplicity.

Nowadays, my dream houses are always small. Efficient. Simple. Me. Instead of mansions, I dream of 600-square foot bungalows with pull-out desks and hidden storage. Instead of libraries and media centers, I think of switching to a Kindle and keeping all my CDs, movies, and documents in digital form. I dream of keeping only those things which I need regularly or that are of immeasurable emotional value. In truth, very few things fall into those categories.

I’ve made good progress over the years. When I first moved into my 775-square foot condo, it fell immense. Chris joined me a few months later, and we’re still cozy and happy in this little space. I can’t entertain big groups of people, but then again, how often did I really do that? Do I want a huge room lined with mirrors and pads for martial arts workouts? Well, yeah. I do. But not if it means giving up on my dream of living simple and small. (Heck, that’s what parks are for, right?)

I know I’m rambling here. I’ve just been thinking a lot about “simple” lately, prompted by a gift from my friend Sally which I’m sure I’ll talk about later. “Simple” describes so much about me, and so much about what I want. It sounds like a bad word, but to me, it’s beautiful. The less stuff I have, the more I value the stuff that remains. I aspire to Simple.

If you’re interested in living smaller, you might like these links:

  • Unclutterer — an awesome blog with great suggestions on decluttering your life and home
  • Small House Style — really cool new developments in small houses
  • Small Cool 2009 — Apartment Therapy’s home decorating contest for small living spaces with tons of entries
  • Small Space, Big Style — an HGTV show about gorgeously decorated tiny homes

If you’ve got any blogs or shows or sites I should check out, please let me know. And how about you? Do you dream of living bigger, or living smaller?

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • I would love to get rid of at least half the stuff in this house. I try to go through regular purges, seeing what matches who I am now versus what is holding me back.

    Alas, I'm married to a worrywort who clings to Stuff. I think he's gotten a *bit* better, but sometimes, it drives me insane.

    : P

  • For a while, I lived aboard a renovated school bus with a hippie woman and her son. We argued one morning, and I returned home from work to find the bus (with all my stuff aboard) gone.

    It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    Crawling up from the gutter with nothing afforded me the opportunity to start from scratch and question the need for each acquisition. It taught me that the barriers to living simply are internal, not external. If we learn to let go, we can live simply. But be careful what you wish for. Asking to learn how to let go causes the universe to give you lessons that are sometimes painful.

    I still miss my record collection.

  • I heartily approve of this dream. If only more people had it. It will be a reality for more and more people soon anyway.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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