Thursday, June 4, 2015

Small Space Living - We're Doing It!

Gradually as the months have passed and we're approaching a year of living here in Hong Kong, our apartment seems to have gotten smaller. It doesn't take much to make out apartment that is less than four hundred square feet any smaller. We have accumulated more furniture {thanks to Ikea and also to a few things I found in an alleyway that were being discarded}. Let's just be honest, I can't keep the thrifter and crafter in me down, and I have found ways to incorporate two of my favorite hobbies into our flat.  

I miss being able to entertain large groups of people in our home. I miss being able to entertain. Period. Every so often, when I get the courage to host someone over for dinner, it typically is limited to a few people. Once those people are in our home, we're pretty much stationary around our dining room table. There is not much wiggle room and definitely no dance parties once we've squeezed everyone in. Our living room also doubles as our dining room and our couch becomes extra seating. We've definitely had people over and entertained this past year, but it's easier to go to a restaurant which has more space!

Cooking for a dinner party is a challenge as well. I should probably just say cooking is a challenge. At one point in my past life, I embraced my kitchen oven. Everything I cooked would go into the oven - roasted vegetables, roasted chicken/fish, roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary... The list could go on of my love for my oven. That was my past life. Now, it's a juggling act to figure out when to stick what in my tiny glorified toaster oven so everything is semi-ready at the same time! In the ten days that my parents were here visiting us, I cooked two meals. Not because I don't enjoy cooking, but because my kitchen is so tiny that it requires a lot of effort to make a meal, not to mention the clean up of all the dishes afterwards!

Fortunately {for everyone's sanity because we don't have the extra space to house guests for ten days}, my parents only spent one night with us. If we lived in a larger apartment, having them stay with us would not have been a question. We would just take for granted that we would put them up in the guestroom bed. There's no guestroom bed in our tiny flat. There's not even a proper bed for my two kids at this time. But for the one night we all made adjustments and moved people around. My parents took our bed, the cushions came off of the back of the sofa and that became an extra mattress, my two kids slept together on the one sofa, and it all worked. The second time my parents came through Hong Kong, we blew up our double air mattress for the first time, which took up our whole kitchen area. Living small just means we make adjustments.

I'm typically have a Type A personality, in that I love organization and I do not handle a mess well. Messes seem to happen so quickly in our small space living arrangements. While my husband is gone to work and my two kids are at school, the house is immaculate. However, as soon as they all come home in the evening book bags go everywhere, shoes come off, school books get brought out onto the dining room table for homework, and within seconds the apartment has become a war zone. It's a constant battle to keep everything in the right place all the time, and I literally mean ALL the time. I've got to be honest, I truly enjoy our tiny apartment when I am the only one in it! As soon as everyone is home, the apartment shrinks several sizes! 

Everything in our apartment has to serve a dual purpose. Our couch doubles as a bed for one of our children at night. The pillows that are stacked up on our bed come off and become another bed for the other child. Like I mentioned before, our living room frequently doubles as our formal dining room. The window in our bedroom has become our kid's closet.

I have found that the key to small space living is to purge on a regular basis. I don't buy clothing for my children or myself like I once did in the United States. There are many times when I have gone to the shops just to walk away empty handed because there would be no place to store it back in our tiny apartment. I no longer buy multiples of things {like shirts, dresses, or shoes} just because they are ridiculously adorable! Kid's art, that I once would have saved, I now either mail to their Grandparents  {since Grandparents love their art as much as I do - if not more} or I chuck once I have critiqued whether it's really worth saving. I've also started taking photo's of their art to have as a record. Every single space in our apartment is taken and accounted for. 

Finally, small space living means that I can hear noises from neighbors several floors above us. That elementary aged boy who practices his trumpet at 10:00 pm, we can hear. The lady yelling at her family a floor underneath us, we can also hear. The noise isn't obnoxiously loud and seems to travel best through the bathroom. The noise that we hear is a reminder that when I bring music into our bathroom and blast it while I take my shower is a reminder that they are probably listening to it as well. And while I don't quite understand how anyone can't automatically love Mates Of State, I take it into consideration and turn my music down.

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