Space is sacred.
“High and away, low and hidden”
This is what our friend told us when he helped us move into our first studio in Seattle two summers ago. Our first studio was 320 sq feet and we were coming into this new place sight-unseen. It’s easy to imagine what 300 or so odd square feet will feel like when you’re still living in a four bedroom split level house in a residential area of Fort Collins.
It’s a whole other story when you actually get into said space and realize its not much bigger than a master bedroom in most homes. Most hotel rooms are bigger than 300 square feet. The moments of panic we felt when we walked in actually had us all laughing hysterically. Stephen is 6′ 4″. He dwarfed the small room to a comical degree. From that point on the studio we now found ourselves in would be referred to as “the box of nonsense”. It was just so funny.
We quickly learned that in order to make this place feel like a home we needed to get our stuff off the floor and away from our headspace. We purchased a raised bed and collapsable shelves to get our belongings “high and away” out of sight out of mind, and “low and hidden”.
Eventually it all came together. We had already packed everything we owned into a mini van and hauled it all the way from Colorado after purging A LOT. Which brings me to my next lesson…
Overhead is death.
When I started college my dad told me that the worst thing I could do for myself was to start accumulating unnecessary overhead. Here’s what he meant:
- an overhead cost or expense.”research conducted in space requires more overhead” synonyms:running costs, operating costs, fixed costs, budget items, costs, expenses;
So while this is the economic definition of the word, the lesson he was trying to instill in me was super important: don’t buy shit you don’t need. It will just weigh you down.
As I continued my college experience I watched young people my age purchase dogs and cats, buy fancy cars, put down payments on houses they couldn’t afford, and pay off bad credit with more credit cards. I watched more and more people around me accrue more and more debt and watched animals be returned to shelters because the overhead expense of these things was just too hard for broke college kids to deal with. You can only live on Top Ramen for so long.
I just want to say this now: I am not on anything resembling a high-horse here. I made A LOT of stupid financial mistakes going into college – I won’t go into detail here but let’s just say it involved a lot of court fees. The thing that I took away from these experiences I was going through and witnessing second hand really taught me that the most valuable thing you can have as a young person is the ability to just pack up and leave at the drop of a hat. No pets, no kids, no car payments.
When Stephen and I got our job offers in Seattle out of the blue we were able to sell our cars, drop our lease and pack our shit in 30 days, and put a deposit on an apartment without any stress hanging over our heads because of unnecessary financial burdens.
Living in a 300 sq foot apartment really solidified this lesson my dad brought up almost a decade ago even further. Living in a studio has helped us purge all things that don’t serve a purpose or spark our joy (looking at you Marie Kondo). All in all: purge what you can and give yourself the flexibility and freedom to pack up and change your life at the drop of a hat if you can. It’s a pretty cool feeling.
Separation is a necessity.
Moving into an apartment the size of a shoebox is one thing. Moving into an apartment the size of a shoebox with a significant other is another thing entirely.
As a lot of you know, we eventually graduated from our baby studio to a toddler size studio (550 sq feet) last Spring. It was quite the breath of fresh air but a lot of the things we had learned still needed to be practiced in the new space. We realized that having separate hobbies and separate work schedules was a blessing in disguise. Stephen and I have never been overly attached to each other in our relationship – we both really value our alone time and our separate communities and hobbies. For Stephen it’s cycling and board games. For me it’s art and coffee and journaling.
But these differences were really important when we found ourselves confined to a small space. Getting out and finding new groups of friends and new hobbies to pursue without the other there was really beneficial to continuing a healthy relationship in that environment. If you’re thinking of making the jump to move in with your partner, be sure you can openly discuss how you will spend time apart and what you can do to keep lines of communication open. It makes everything easier in the long run.
Shelves and plastic tubs are your new best friend.
This tidbit is pretty straight forward and kind of echoes the first point I made. Keep that shit hidden so you don’t feel like you’re constantly surrounded by “stuff”. Getting collapsible shelves and big storage bins for under the bed were so huge for keeping our seasonal stuff out of the way until we needed it.
- Purge the stuff that doesn’t serve you a purpose or make you happy.
- Keep up with your hobbies – they’re like cheap therapy.
- Keep your stuff separate – and always be willing to communicate.
- Organize everything.
- Dads are always right.