You don't have to be a minimalist to live in a small space.

As a professional home organizer, I feel a lot of pressure to keep my home...well...organized;) And pretty. And suitable for guests at all times. After all this is what I do, all the time, so shouldn’t my home reflect that?  


As a professional home organizer and a millennial (although I prefer to claim that new xennial title), you might expect me to live in a pristine white apartment with one gray couch and a plant in the corner and no visible clutter anywhere. Like one of those pretty pictures on Instagram. Well, I hate to disappoint, but this is not the case.


I am a professional organizer, but I am not a minimalist.


My couch has more pillows than necessary and they are all covered in pug hair. The wall is full of pictures and artwork from NYC, where my husband and I met. My bookshelf is bursting with books. I have a small but mighty paperweight collection. There is more, but you get it by now. My husband and I live in a pretty small one bedroom condo with limited storage. We both own lots of things that we certainly could live without. But we’ve made our space work for us. And that’s all that matters.


You do not have to do a full Kon Mari overhaul and live with only four towels to be able to live comfortably in a small space. Here’s what you do have to do:


You have to be realistic.


If you’re not going to adapt a drastically downsized and minimalist life, you do still have to acknowledge what will and won’t fit in your space. And what that will realistically look like. You cannot put more in the cabinets than they will hold. If you put a giant sectional couch in the middle of a tiny living room, it might be comfortable to sit on, but you will have to struggle to walk around it. And that might work for you. But...


You have to be willing to compromise.


You and your partner/spouse/roommate/child/pet are likely to have different priorities when it comes to your space. My husband is a chef  and owns lots of kitchen gadgets that do not fit in our kitchen. I have strong feelings about how a space looks and prefer hiding visual clutter when possible. It has taken time for us to reach a compromised dining space that holds overflow kitchen items but that I can sit and dine in happily. Now I love it.


We both own a lot of books, but my husband is much better at donating the books he’s finished with than I am. I get attached. I prefer physical books to a tablet. I like to hold them and stare at them. We have two bookshelves that used to be his and hers. Now I also have a claim to one shelf of his. Compromise. And finally…


You have to be mindful of what comes in.


This one is hard, and something I struggle with daily. I’m an impulse buyer, have trouble saying no, and often enter my apartment with new things that I know I really don’t have a place for. It is absolutely ok to welcome new and exciting things into your home, but when you’re tight on space, that means something else is probably going to have to go out. Taking time to make mindful purchases ensures that the precious, valuable space in your home is only holding those things that are important to you and that serve a purpose. Even if you’re not striving to live minimally, living in a small space will be easier and calmer if you  strive to live mindfully and with purpose.


Here’s to small, realistic, and mindful living. It’s not always perfect, but that’s not the point.