That Minimalist Roommate: Questions about my humble abode.

Recently I posted a tour of my living space in the new house. Several of you have asked some really good questions about my living situation, and here are the answers!

Courtesy of our lovely Fiona:

1. What clothes do you own? Surely those two baskets don’t contain all your clothes & underwear?

In short, yes they do! My clothes are in the far left basket, and my underclothes in the smaller one next to it. My husband has the same setup on his side of the closet. Our hanging clothes are all on the far right hand side.

clothes

And here’s a representation of my current wardrobe:

Current

2. I love love love your bed! Where is it from?

My bed is made from an egg crate mattress topper and a featherbed topper. The two make for a very soft, cozy foundation! I can roll the bed up, or fold them to create a makeshift couch, like this:

couch

3. Where do you keep your paperwork? Like insurance /medical records etc?

The vast majority of my paperwork is digital and stored online or on a hard drive. Very sensitive items are scanned and stored on a flash drive, which I keep in a fireproof box along with things I need in hard copy  (birth certificates, passports, etc). The fireproof box is stored in my trunk.

4. How do you do that with your books?

I bought these amazing little bookshelves from Barnes and Noble. I love them!

5. Where do you keep your spare bedding/bath towels/wash stuff?

We really don’t have any! We have two bath towels, a hand towel, two dish towels, one set of bedding, and we use loofahs instead of washcloths. Once a week I do one load of laundry, which includes all of our clothing and all the towels. I can do a second load with our bedding as necessary. We’re considering getting a second set of sheets and one more towel, for guests. Those will get stored in the trunk as well!

6. What about your kitchen stuff?

We have a handful of kitchen items, including a pot, four plates, two bowls, two glasses, two forks, two spoons, three knives, a cutting board, two coffee mugs, and two travel mugs. We share a kettle, a pasta strainer, and a couple of other things with our roommates. We don’t really use many of their things.

7. What’s in all the little boxes in the corners?

One has games and cards, another has jewelry and our few photo prints. A third has my incense and the last holds love notes.

8. Do you have your own bathroom?

Yup! It’s that door to the right of the entry door.

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That Minimalist Roommate: The Tour

I’ve finally gotten around to snapping some pics of the new living space. Wanna see? Of course you do! 😉

This is the view from the door.

Piano

And to the right.

table

This is the closet. Oh yeah, and that blue? This entire room was that color when we moved in. Needless to say it was a little overwhelming. I like the color though, so we left a stripe on two walls and this as an accent wall. Much better. 🙂

Closed doors

And my books!

Books

Here’s my favorite design bit. Notice there’s no bed? It’s in the closet!

Bed Out

On the right are Jack’s clothes (in the baskets) and shoes, as well as all of our hanging things.

Jack's side

And the left side is my clothes and shoes, along with a lamp and my bear.

My side

During the day, the bed and sleeping pad roll up so I can close the doors.

Bed In

Ta-da!

Oh yes, and a few decor-y touches…

photo 2 bottles Boxes photo 2(3)

And if you’ve ever wondered where I write my masterpieces (amateurpieces?), here ya go:

photo 1(3)

Update: I answered some FAQs about my space here!

That Minimalist Roommate: How it looks from over here.

Moving in with my non-minimalist roommates has been a real experience. To the credit of everyone involved, we’re all still happy with each other. Seriously though, we’ve managed to communicate, compromise, and coexist (yay for accidental alliteration!) very well.

I have to say though, this first week and a half has really thrown our differences into sharp contrast. I don’t regret for a moment my decision to move in with our friends, and I believe that we’re going to have a fantastic year. But there are some undeniable sacrifices that a minimalist must make in a roommate situation that the average person doesn’t encounter. Inspired by some very real events, here’s a (hopefully) helpful perspective to help my non-minimalist readers understand how this move looked from a minimalist point of view.

I present to you: Moving week: roommate-ing from a minimalist perspective, or How it looks from over here.

Imagine with me that you (a minimalist) have decided that you’d like to share a home with a non-minimalist friend. You’ve both discussed it and agreed that living under the same roof would be great for both of you. You recognize that there will be certain sacrifices and compromises, but in your mind, the positives will far outweigh any negatives. So you make the plans. Find a house. Sign a lease.

Then comes moving day. You spend very little time packing up your things, as you’ve designed your inventory to be easily mobile. But your roommate needs a lot of help packing up their stuff, and as you live nearby, you pitch in. You spend a full day working on packing and moving their things.

Upon arriving at the house, you settle into a bedroom and a bathroom, and it’s understood that you can be as minimalistic as you like… in your own personal space. You cannot, however, extend your lifestyle choices to the rest of the house, as your roommate has boxes of decor and miscellaneous possessions that overflow from their room into the shared spaces. They don’t have more stuff than the average person, but they have much more than you’re used to living around day-to-day. Because of this, your roommate gets to set the tone for the living and shared areas by default. It’s not malicious – it’s just a fact of your new life.

Your roommate hangs their pictures and curtains in the living room, but you don’t have decor to contribute. Your roommate puts up a bookcase and fills it with their library, but you only have half a dozen books, and they get lost in the mix. Your roommate puts their dishes in the kitchen, but your light inventory fits in one small cabinet. Everything you see is someone else’s belongings because yours aren’t enough to make a contribution to the space.

Up until now you’ve lived in a clean, clutter-free, organized atmosphere. You’ve gotten used to having an empty kitchen sink, a clothes washer that only runs once a week, and simple, functional decor on the walls. You’re more than welcome to be a minimalist in your room, but by virtue of your small footprint, the rest of the house will not be minimalistic, or even very much yours.

Over the duration of your lease, you’ll get used to seeing a sink full of dishes nearly every day, hearing the washing machine and television running a significant amount of the time, and having to work and live surrounded by other peoples’ clutter. You know that the choice to move in with these friends was the right one, and you greatly enjoy their company. But for as long as you live with non-minimalists, the shared areas of the space will never quite feel like home.

So there it is. If it sounds dire, be assured it isn’t. My roommates have made every effort to make me feel at home, but it is a result of my life, rather than a result of theirs, that causes me to feel like the shared areas aren’t fully mine. Minimalism is an extreme lifestyle, and one to adopt with eyes wide open. I’m looking forward to finding the equilibrium between my minimalism and my roommates’… normalcy? No matter what the challenges, minimalism is worth it to me!

Floorplan

I’ve gotten my perspective in “print,” but the other three members of my home have stories to tell too. Be on the lookout for our cooperative chronicle “Forest Four the Trees” coming soon! I can’t wait for you all to meet my wonderful husband and roomies. It’ll be a wild ride!

That Minimalist Roommate: Unpacking

We’ve moved. It has been the busiest, weirdest week, but we’re in Athens. We packed up our roommates’ moving truck on Tuesday and hit the road Wednesday morning. All day Wednesday was spent unloading the truck again and trying to make sense of the piles of boxes. Since then it’s been all painting and unpacking.

Moving two households into one house is always a challenge anyway, but this move had a bit of a twist to it. You see, Jack and I have spent the last several months of our lives downsizing, simplifying, and learning good habits. We can now wash all of our clothes in a single load of laundry, do all of our dishes in one dishwasher load, and clean our entire living space in about 20 minutes. These things gave us stability, a peaceful atmosphere, and a lot of downtime. We knew (thought) that when we moved again we would be unpacked and settled within a day. This was important to us because we need our haven to be clean, organized, and clutter-free in order to feel like home.

It’s been nearly a week since we arrived, and the house is only about 70% finished. We decided to paint everywhere, since the place was what we’ve begun to call “Crayola chic” when we arrived – all primary blue, firetruck red, and lemon yellow. The bedrooms and one office took four days. The second office (yes, it’s a four bedroom house), living room, and kitchen still need to be done. And the boxes. The kitchen and offices are still full of them. The back deck has piles of empty ones among the trash bags (garbage truck doesn’t come until Monday.) We aren’t quite settled in enough to implement any sort of chore-distribution system, and everyone’s too busy to stop and just clean up. Trying to cook is stressful because of the clutter and never-ending pile of dishes in the sink. Even watching a movie is stressful because the living room is so cluttered and unfinished. This is exactly what Jack and I have spent so long trying to avoid.

It’s not that our roommates have more stuff than the average person. On the contrary, they have a lot less, and they’re downsizing almost constantly. But it’s still significantly more stuff than Jack and I are used to having around. Everyone is feeling the strain. For our roommates, it’s the stress of not being able to readily find or have access to things they need. Everything is in a box or bag somewhere, but until they can get fully unpacked, life is more complicated.

It’ll get better. Our roomies will finish unpacking and the boxes will go away. The painting will eventually be done and we’ll be able to hang pictures and arrange furniture. The chore chart will help keep the place clean and our lives will find a calmer rhythm again. I keep reminding myself that this is just temporary.

In the meantime, I’m breaking rule number four (“don’t become a hermit”) just a tiny bit. My room is the only one in the house that is totally done. It’s painted, unpacked, decorated. It’s my sanctuary, so I’m eating, reading, working, and relaxing in there until the rest of the house is less chaotic. It won’t be long.

Have you ever felt this way when moving in with roommates who had a lot more stuff than you did? How did you handle it?