Most of us are familiar with the tiny house movement that has been sweeping across the U.S., which satiates the desire for an affordable and ecologically friendly lifestyle. An attempt to clarify an overwhelmed life, accompanied by the financial pressure of the last decade, makes a small living space an attractive solution that often connects an indoor routine with an outdoor one. But finding solace in simplicity is far from a new idea. Henry Thoreau wrote in Walden; or, Life in the Woods in 1854, “I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Additionally, artists and designers have been considering alternative living spaces in structure and form for a long time through studies like the Keret House installation in Poland, “House in a Suitcase” by Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores, Philip Johnson’s Glass House or disaster housing to aid in crisis.
Many of us wish to express our lives at home as a meaningful self-portrait of our souls — craving to live a fulfilled and well-designed life. Small spaces often allow a return to simplicity, but simple doesn’t mean unsubstantial. In fact, I think it is the opposite. Simplicity at home becomes about organization and balance in life and possessions and a challenge to make use of every inch with purpose.
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but we can all learn a little bit from those who choose live with a minimal footprint. Maybe it just means making small changes that transform your space in a big way or assessing basic needs at home. Perhaps it is as manageable as transforming a cozy room with a dark color or organizing that overflowing closet. Check out a few of my favorite small space Instagrammers that combine grit and romance, sharing their lives on and off the road in under 1,200 square feet. —Bethany Joy Foss