Helpful Tips For Downsizing: PART 2

A shelf in the garage, a junk drawer, a desk covered in papers, a stack of magazines, a box of old photos…

Throughout life we tend to collect belongings without thinking about why we are keeping them. We buy things we once needed or wanted and we receive gifts from loved ones and friends. Sometimes we look around our home and think, “where did it all come from?”

I remember when I was a little girl, I would always peek inside one particular drawer in a black antique chest that my grandparents owned. Inside that drawer was a black plastic organizing tray and a small woven basket. Every evening my grandfather would empty the change in his pockets into that basket. He told me I could have whatever he put in there and that it was our little secret. My grandmother knew about it the whole time but I still smiled every time I reached my little hand in that drawer because it was ‘our secret.’ Even as an adult, I would still casually open that drawer every time I walked by just to see if he left me anything special!

My grandparents have relocated many times. Each time they moved, the contents of that drawer never changed. Whichever house they were in, that drawer was always in the same place and that basket was always in the same spot. A few years ago I finally shouted, “these things have been in this drawer for years!” Then, I took everything out and put something else in there instead. Just like that. My grandmother is still working on getting rid of 50 years worth of STUFF!

Only you will know when you’re ready for change. And when you are, I hope these Helpful Tips for Downsizing will make the process a little less intimidating.


In PART 1 you learned to START EARLY before you actually need to downsize. If possible, don’t wait until you’re forced to make decisions about keeping or getting rid of your things. You also learned some helpful tips to keep in mind while you REDISCOVER your belongings.

As you sort through everything, make a decision on how you feel about every item in your house. I like to start new piles to help me remember the decisions I make:

  1. GET RID OF IT – It can no longer exist in your space. It needs to go away or change form.
  2. DECIDE LATER - If you’re not ready to make a decision, put it in this pile until you are.
  3. KEEP IT - It’s important and you’re not willing to get rid of it.


If you have analyzed your motives honestly, there is no good or bad decision. Whatever you choose, it will be the right one for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself when making your three piles:

  • Does it invoke a feeling of JOY for me?
  • Does it invoke a feeling of JOY for someone else?
  • Is it important to me?
  • Is it important to someone else?
  • Is it mine?
  • Was it a gift?
  • Do I need it?
  • Will I need it someday?
  • How many do I really need?
  • How likely is it that I’ll need a spare?
  • If I do need to replace it, how easy will it be to replace?
  • Is it one-of-a-kind?
  • Is it functional?
  • Is it useful?
  • Does it have multiple functions?
  • How much did it cost?
  • How much is it worth?
  • Can I return it?
  • Is the cost of storing it greater than the cost of replacing it?
  • Does it bring up bad memories?
  • Have I used or worn it in the last year?
  • If I continue to store it, how long will it last?
  • Do I have room to store it?
  • Can I make it fit in the space I have?
  • Does keeping it make sense, considering my own personal reality and circumstances?
  • Is it contaminated?
  • Is it worn out?
  • Is it repairable?
  • Can I still wear it?
  • Is it out of style?
  • If I didn’t already have it, would I buy it?
  • No idea why I still have it?

By this point, you have probably emptied the contents of a drawer or a box or a closet into the center of your living room. Maybe you have piles started all around your house.

If this process doesn’t scare you, don’t draw it out any longer than it needs to be. Go ahead and get busy making decisions. For a lot of people it’s not easy to make a decision, which is why they end up with years-worth of clutter. Remember to only do as much as you are comfortable with and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.



Here are a few examples…

  • Clothes: A year ago I moved onto a boat and my long term plans involve living in the tropics. I got rid of most of my cold weather clothes and stored the items that I really love and might want to wear again someday. I got rid of most of my office attire since it is highly unlikely I’ll need it within the next 5-10 years. I kept expensive items that aren’t worth replacing and stored those as well. I brought with me more than 10 bathing suits, 8 pairs of flip flops (almost all of which have broken due to the harsh marine environment), one pair of running shoes and a small pile of other lightweight items. Clothes, shoes and accessories are things that require consideration of the future. Are you ever really going to wear it again? Do you really need 40 pairs of shoes, 35 hats and 20 ties? If having that big of a selection brings you joy, then by all means… keep them!!


  • Coffee Mugs: Most people only use one mug per day if they are a coffee or tea drinker. Most people also clean their dishes every day or every other day. If there’s a chance you might go 10 days without doing dishes, you might actually need 10 mugs! If there are two people in your household, you’ll need double that. Another thing to consider is favorites. I used to collect ‘favorite’ mugs and I am still particular about which mug I grab every morning. My favorite mug today is not the same one it was 5 years ago, so I know at some point I’ll need to reevaluate the mugs I own. Sometimes they break and I make a new favorite. My boyfriend and I each have two favorite mugs we use (one of which is a to-go style) and we stash a few spares in the cupboard just in case our favorite mugs break or are left behind. I’m sure we’re not the only ones that have left a mug on the top of a car, or on a shelf in a store, or at someone else’s house.


  • Kitchen Utensils: Sometimes downsizing can mean choosing between Grandma’s old wooden spoons and the new and improved heat-resistant silicone two-in-one thingamajig. I think Erin says it best in her blog Reading My Tea Leaves about life in a tiny apartment, “I don’t have the space for single-layer spoons, and you might not either.” You don’t have to pick just one, but be realistic about the space you have.


  • Books: I hold on to books that hold sentimental value and create feelings of joy. I hold on to books that someday I hope to read to my own children. I hold on to books that I want to share with someone someday. I hold on to books that I might want to reference in the future. I get rid of books that don’t mean anything to me, or that I’ve never read and never plan on reading.


  • Magazines: These could be very useful, although they tend to be the #1 item that turns into junk in my home. They stack up so fast and I just stuff them in a corner. Why? Because someday I might want to look through them? Sure, maybe. I try to skim through the ones I know I don’t care to read before getting rid of them and I make a new, smaller pile of the ones I still intend to read.


  • Recipes: There are billions of recipes printed in books and on the internet. I don’t even like to cook and I still have too many cookbooks. Someday, I plan on developing an interest in trying new recipes so for me, I’m just not ready to part with them yet. I sort through what I can, getting rid of cookbooks or recipes that don’t look appealing anymore. I delete links I’ve saved in my favorites on the computer if I know I won’t ever visit that recipe again. If I decide to keep recipes, I make a new pile of recipes I’ve already tried and would make again, and another pile for recipes I still want to try. I do my best to remember that it’s okay if I’m not ready to part with them!


  • Holiday Decorations: Decorations are often passed down and inherited from family members and loved ones. It’s hard to get rid of something that meant so much to someone else. Only you will know if special decorations are important enough to keep or if you are okay with getting rid of them.


  • Collections: Okay, so I have a SMALL collection of seashells. Do they make me happy? YES! Can I find a place for them so they are out of the way? Yep! I’ve got handfuls of them stashed all over the boat! It’s the only collection I have left and I’m okay with that. I definitely don’t have room for any more collections though.


  • Crafts: Do I still have an interest in craft projects? Yes. Do I hope to start making cards again in my free time? Yep. Are my supplies valuable enough to occupy space in my tiny home? You bet!


  • Pictures: I know I am not willing to get rid of most of the printed photos I have. They are in albums and boxes and it would take me months to go through them all. Someday I’ll take on that project, but not today. It’s important enough to me to store them, whatever the cost.


  • Size: If moving to a new space, you’ll also need to consider whether or not you will have room for everything. Take measurements, visualize the new space. I obviously can’t fit a treadmill inside my boat, but I could probably find a spot to store my card making supplies. If it’s important enough, I can make most things fit.


  • Application: Will you really need 6 surfboards if you’re moving to Arizona? How often will you use a snow shovel in Southern California? Will I need 13 kinds of cleaning brushes after moving into a tiny studio? It’s important to be realistic about where you see yourself one year from now, or even 5 years from now, and looking at how your circumstances will change.


In the final part of this Helpful Tips for Downsizing series you’ll get a few ideas on how to actually DO SOMETHING with the three new piles you’ve just created!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

You have Tiny House Friends all Over the World. You Just Have to Go Out and Meet Them!

By Kai Rostcheck with Erica Breuer

My recent visit to Charlotte, NC turned into an impromptu, full-blown Tiny House adventure. On my way to visit Asheville, by sheer coincidence I drove up to—you guessed it—a Tiny House (For Sale!) on the side of the highway in Flat Rock. Less than 24 hours later I had explored not one, but three Tiny Houses, made friends with Steve Walters at Country Crafted Log Cabins, connected in person with my online friend Teal Brown (of Wishbone Tiny Homes), sat in on a video interview for French television, and received a warm welcome from the Asheville Tiny Home Association (thanks, Laura LaVoie!)

Earlier this year I met my friend (and collaborator) Erica through the Greater Boston Tiny House Enthusiast Meetup group she created. Since connecting we’ve discussed lots of things, but we’ve always wondered: How do most Tiny House people meet each other?

Granted, some of us may be selectively social, but I remember my friend Andrew Odom telling me how he felt that one of the highlights of last year’s Tiny House Conference was the downtime, hanging out by the fire telling stories with old friends while creating new connections. After a successful first year, and while planning next year’s conference (in Portland, OR) conference founder Ryan Mitchell reflected, “I remember hosting my first event, which later grew into the conference.  I felt so inspired from meeting these amazing people that I had to take that energy and turn it into the Tiny House Conference.”

According to Deek Diedrickson, rockstar in-residence of the Tiny House Movement, the same type of connections are made at the multitude of workshops available to beginners: “Aside from the hands-on, ‘Learn by actually doing’ aspect of my workshops, these gatherings serve as great grounds for networking and an exchange of ideas from one tiny house enthusiast to another. What better place to find support, future trade-off labor and informational sources for your build than at a summer-camp like atmosphere where we build, hear from speakers, see demos, and, well, just hang out and pick each other’s brains for three to four days?”

For a change of pace, Erica and I created Tiny House Dating to help people who share similar (minimalist) values find romance and friendship. And once we starting looking, we discovered that there are many other ways for Tiny House Enthusiasts to connect with each other online as well as offline. It’s funny to think of a time before daily mainstream media coverage and the Tiny House Nation TV show—a time when enthusiasts had to dig deep into the web to find community.

Today Facebook is clearly the largest gathering point, representing hundreds of pages and groups (we stopped counting at 235). We’ve broken down more specific listings below, categorized by the most active groups nation- and world-wide. Kudos to Macy Miller for creating the fastest growing group in this space, based in large part on her awesome moderation!


Top 3 Most Active Facebook Groups

Regional Groups/Pages

There’s also something to be said for Internet platforms that make those face-to-face “campfire moments” possible. In researching the ways Tiny House people connect, we found a treasure trove of local Meetup Groups—39 total groups across 21 states and Canada, with nearly 4,000 members.

Top 3 Most Active Meetup Groups

As Deek mentioned, it turns out that some people like connecting the old-fashioned way, by pitching in with a hammer and helping a local Tiny House builder with her/his construction. One of our friends, Sara Hastings (who is currently building her “Rhizhome” Tiny House in Massachusetts) explained that, “Being present at every stage of design and construction means that my home will hold precious stories about the people and experiences that inspired and aided the process.”

Does the building process foster a high level of connection? When we consulted Ross Beck of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, Deek and Sarah’s sentiments rang true. Ross reported that about 90% of all workshop attendees sign up to share their emails to build a Tiny House e-circle…wait a second…that bring us back to that web vs. real world connection!

Clearly, there’s a way for Tiny House enthusiasts of every kind to connect, share ideas, and pursue their dreams of simpler life together. But we want to hear it from you: How do you prefer to meet other Tiny House People?

Did we miss your favorite resource, group, or platform? Go ahead and tell us about them in the comments section below.

Kai and Erica

Kai Rostcheck ( and Erica Breuer ( are collaborating on all sorts of cool Tiny House stuff. Visit their websites at, and

The Top 5 (not-so-tiny) Haunted Houses

I don’t believe in ghosts.

Say it again.

I don’t believe in ghosts!

Have you convinced yourself yet? A surprising 1/3 of adult Americans could say it ad nauseum and still not buy into it as according to a 2007 Mark Dolliver poll they believe whole-heartedly in spirits from beyond. In fact, that same poll suggests 23% of adults polled said they’d personally seen or felt a ghost. It doesn’t sound so hard to believe if you are one of the many that have heard a bump in the night when you’re home alone. In fact, Americans seem to be fascinated with the idea of being scared out of our wits.

Haunted House

Each and every October it seems communities across the land are inundated with zombies, chainsaw crazies, Freddie Kruegers, and dead cheerleaders at strip malls, abandoned warehouses, forests, and old houses in an effort to raise money for this cause or that group by simply scaring the pants off unsuspecting guests who not moments before paid money to raise their adrenaline levels and be frightened! Real life haunted houses are a different story though. No one wants to see dishes flying across their kitchens or hear childish laughter coming from an attic door or even pull into their driveway only to be greeted by an unfamiliar face through the window. What if it did happen to you though? What if the bathtub was overflowing one night while you were otherwise downstairs watching a movie? Who you gonna call? My guess is the ASSAP (or Association for the Scientific Study of Anamalous Phenomena) who have painstakingly outlined a list of ‘Symptoms of a Typical Haunting.’ Comprised of ghosts, smells, odd sounds, cold areas, and more, these symptoms are the typical faire for determining a true haunting. And while your tiny house may be haunt free (mostly due to size since there aren’t many places to mysteriously disappear in a tiny house trailer) the following five houses across America seem to have enough other-worldly presence to be legendary as a truly haunted house!

White House

The White House as seen in 1846.

5. The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is reportedly one of the most haunted houses in America. And why not? After having your ever desire tended to during your presidency who would want to leave? Just ask John and Abigail Adams. They were the first, “First Couple” in the house and even today Abigail is said to be lingering about hanging up freshly washed clothes in the East Room. And there are more. Don’t believe me? Ask Ronald Reagan!

4. Villisca Ax Murder House. Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their Fall River, Mass. home in 1892. The story doesn’t end there though. On the evening of June 9, 1912, Josiah Moore, his wife Sarah and their four children left their home to attend a function at a local Presbyterian church. The family had also invited Lena and Ina Stillinger, friends of the Moore family children, to spend the night at the Moore house following the event. After the family and their two guests returned home and turned in for the night, an intruder — or perhaps a group of them — entered the house and, well…..gave the home a new name by way of………

Whaley House

3. Whaley House. The Whaley House in San Diego was originally built on the execution grounds of James Robinson, nicknamed Yankee Jim. In 1852, Yankee Jim was convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to death by hanging. The hangman set the noose improperly, allowing Jim’s feet to touch the ground, prolonging the hanging process. In 1856, Thomas and Anna Whaley bought the land where Yankee Jim had been killed and built a house for their family. Current ghost guests include Yankee Jim himself, the Whaley’s youngest son, Thomas Jr., the Whaley’s daughter Violet, and Thomas and Anna themselves. You can read the full history behind the mystery at the Whaley House website.

2. Lalaurie House. This house has an unbelievable story that spans some 70 years of horror, outrage, vengeance, death, deceit, and tragedy. It involves Madame Lalaurie herself who was a torturous woman and treated her hired help like common street animals. The twist is that she is claimed to have had an unnatural fascination with the human body keeping a torture chamber of human improbabilities. The entire story is too gruesome for retelling but can be found online in its entirety.

Winchester House

1. Winchester House. This most famous haunted house is not quite as haunted as some may think. It is more bizarre. It seems to hide a secret be there one or not! Reportedly sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department as being haunted the Winchester House is perhaps the most bizarre haunted house in the U.S. Designed by Sarah Winchester – widow of William Winchester, founder of Winchester rifles – the house occupied all of Sarah’s time after the death of her daughter in 1866 and her husband in 1881. Why? A medium instructed her to build a house that would ward off the evil spirits. So build, she did! Construction began in 1884 and lasted for some 28 years – until Sarah died in 1922. Sarah reportedly held nightly seances to receive guidance from spirits and her dead husband William for the home’s design which resulted in a maze-like residence full of twisting and turning hallways, dead-ends, secret panels, a window built into a floor, staircases leading to nowhere, doors that open to walls, upside-down columns, and rooms built, then intentionally closed off.


By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]