The Decatur Tiny House Festival – a celebration of living small – took place last week in Decatur, Ga. Organized by Tiny House Atlanta and City of Decatur, the festival offers three days of thought-provoking speakers and more than 20 innovative tiny houses to tour.
KBB spoke with downsizing experts Claudia Morris Barclay and Catherine Lee, who presented “How to Downsize and Organize Your Way to Happiness” during the festival, to find out more about this trend.
KBB: Why do you think the tiny house movement is growing?
Lee: I think people are realizing that keeping up with the Joneses isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A bigger house not only means a bigger house payment, it means more upkeep, astronomical utility bills and rooms that go completely unused. With a tiny house you can’t have any of that extra stuff that isn’t bringing you happiness.
There’s also the environmentally friendly aspect of the tiny house movement. People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment. Tiny houses require less than a medium-to-large single-family home, and that’s incredibly appealing.
Morris-Barclay: Many people also now work remotely, and tiny houses on wheels in particular give them the option to live a more nomadic lifestyle if it suits them. They can continue the work they love, from home, in any location in the world. For retirees or people with different ability levels, who may not want to live a nomadic lifestyle, a tiny house on a foundation can be a great option. The tiny house movement, ultimately, creates options. Everyone, no matter your lifestyle, has a place within the movement and are not restricted by income, location, lifestyle, age or ability level.”
KBB: What can the average homeowner do to minimize their belongings?
Lee: Homeowners who live on their own can probably be more ruthless and quick about minimizing, whereas households with kids might have to take a step-by-step approach. One technique that is less intimidating than a giant purge is the one-in-one-out policy. If you purchase a pair of shoes, you have to get rid of a pair you currently own. Another way to ease into minimalizing is keeping a laundry basket in a closet that you fill with items to give away. When the basket gets full, it’s time to make a trip to a donation center.
Morris-Barclay: Pull everything out where you can see it. You will soon realize that you have duplicates of items because the original was buried so deep in a storage area that you forgot it existed. Ditch the duplicates. Take note of the things that you actually use every day. If you haven’t seen it or touched it in six months or more, get rid of it. Move into a smaller space. It’s easier to find the motivation to let go of unnecessary things if you are tripping over them constantly because you have no assigned place to keep them. Clutter is much more distressing in a smaller space.”
KBB: Why do you believe less can make you happier?
Lee: Having less is incredibly freeing. A lot of times you don’t realize how stressed out you are by all of your stuff until you start getting rid of things. I think so many people are overwhelmed by their possessions and know they’re unhappy about them but are also equally scared to get rid of them. Once you get over the hump of letting go, minimalizing becomes much easier.
Morris-Barclay: A lot of stress is created by the presence of ‘stuff,’ especially the pretense of things that lack a specific purpose. When you do have the urge to de-clutter, there is often a feeling of guilt associated with getting rid of things that have monetary or sentimental value. The less you have, the fewer restrictions there are on where you can go and what you can do – translating to fewer decisions an individual has to make on a daily basis.
Catherine Lee started her blog, AsianCajuns, with her twin sister in 2007. After writing about fashion and style for eight years, they realized their interests had moved away from trendy clothes and fast fashion to simplifying their style and minimizing their lives. They revamped AsianCajuns to focus on their journey of living with less – posting weekly regarding minimalizing your wardrobe, organizing your closet and applying the KonMari method – a de-cluttering technique – to your entire home. She is the downtown development manager for the City of Decatur.
Claudia Morris-Barclay is the entertainment and lifestyle consultant for ClaudiaMB Consulting and is known as a dynamic problem solver who offers her clients resourceful, inventive and attainable solutions for modifying their spaces. Claudia has been working in conjunction with the Container Store for more than seven years, is a tiny house enthusiast and is an original member of Tiny House Atlanta.