When downsizing, a lot depends on your budget, but your success at accomplishing the smaller footprint is going to depend on your ability to make your smaller space fit your lifestyle. If you are someone who considers television and a book to be an exciting weekend, and the neighbor dropping by to be major entertaining…then going small is a simple accomplishment. For people with multiple interests, hobbies, families, and who occasionally entertain, the requirements might be considerably different.
With that said, we have thought about our own lifestyles. GM works on cars occasionally because of necessity, it’s not his hobby, so we have some tools. He does household repairs, which is some more tools. Yard work needs done…and that’s another kind of tool entirely. He does work on computers occasionally, although hardware isn’t his forte, so that’s more tools. We also use computers, which is their own space consideration.
I use the computers, we need a new printer, we’re getting by with a single file box, which is also inadequate for our filing needs but that’s what space we can afford to dedicate. I sew, so have 2 different sewing machines, a serger, ironing board, iron, and a very large sewing box. I also have a fair collection of patterns. There is also my fabric stash to manage. Then consider I also do other crafts, which requires paints, brushes, scroll saw, jig saw and I need a new circular saw which is also used for some home improvement projects. PLUS, I cook…and this RV stove/oven sucks, as does the food prep space. I can cook in compact space, but this is not compact-it’s non-existent. My entire “counter” space is occupied by a slow cooker and a toaster. We use the slow cooker a lot! I also have a KitchenAid mixer that I am not willing to give up, along with specialty pans and molds. I’m not sure I should give up those things yet.
So, we have a need for a fully equipped but compact kitchen, tool storage, a portable work shed, two computer desks with room to write, and pantry space. A small refrigerator is adequate for our day to day life, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do when we’re dealing with a holiday or entertainment situation yet.
Just to keep things interesting, we have two dogs and two cats who also require space.
Boy oh boy are we cramped, and it is no wonder I’m contending with clutter and confusion as we try to figure out what works where and for what.
The quirk in the equation is we don’t regard this travel trailer as our permanent home. It works for now, and it works for our shock treatment into the world of small, but its primary consideration was price. The design is horrible, and for us it drops a few levels down below horrible. There is no built in storage to speak of, a common issue in low end travel trailers. It has these dreadful bunks, which no one could possible bear to sleep in if they are older than 5. There are more spacious coffins than those bunks, even an older child could not sit up on the top bunk. For us, they are just incredibly poorly designed shelving units.
We will modify this one to serve us temporarily, but to be honest, if this was my permanent home, the entire back end of the trailer would be gutted and redone with a more appropriate lay out. The bedroom, with its single window and cramped space, gives us claustrophobia if the door is closed. It would be a much better space with the addition of a window or two.
The rooftop air is rumored to be inefficient and a real power gobbler. Supposedly, we would save a great deal by replacing it with a window unit in summer. We may do just that–we have an Energy Star certified window unit from our prior home’s bedroom in storage, and while the unit is really too large for a travel trailer…it would fit in the “living” room window or off side window, and the cooling effect could be re-directed with small fans to cool the bedroom comfortably.
As for my saws, I don’t use those every day. Typically, they get used for a few days or a week once in a while, the project pieces are all cut out at once and then the saws return to storage. The project pieces are small compared to a full sheet of plywood (which is what the circular saw does…cuts them down to a 2′ square for use with the scroll saw) The combination of jig saw and scroll saw are used when I am using board stock in a project, depending on what kinds of cuts I need to make. For cutting PVC we typically use a hack saw–it’s compact, cheap, and it works. In the past, when doing a LOT of work with PVC, I used a chop saw, which works well but is expensive and bulky. So for our craft & home repair projects, we could get by with nothing more than a temporary structure like an EZ Up canopy. We do need a weather proof shed or other storage for the tools though. GM’s auto repair tools, yard tools, and home improvement tools could share the same space as my saws.
If we had a kitchen with a full sized stove, or even a good apartment sized one…that would accomplish the cooking issue. I may be able to cook with only 2 burners, but the lack of a full sized oven is a serious hindrance. I also don’t use the stand mixer daily, so that could be stored in one space, while used in another. I have issues about lifting, so it would have to be in a location that was easy to access and lift the mixer with one hand.
In a room with more head space, pots can be stored on a pot rack overhead, and baking pans, as well as serving platters, can be stored in a vertical rack. Deeper baking pans do require normal shelf space however, and not all of them will stack compactly. Utensils for cooking–I have been weeding them out steadily since we moved here, and a single rack can hold them against a wall or cupboard.
The most efficient small kitchen I ever used was a “galley” style with a back door at one end, cupboards down both walls, with the sink on one side and the refrigerator and stove on the other. I could literally stand with my hand on the stove and the other hand on the kitchen sink. At the far end was the dining nook, which because it was largely open to the living room area, allowed for even as many as 8 diners comfortably, and a buffet situation made informal diner easier yet. I remember one occasion I was apparently doing a bake-a-thon as I baked 21 pies, plus cookies, bars, cakes, and bread…plus a 3′ tall gingerbread house! Figuring out how to transport everything was actually tougher than making it fit while I baked up a storm.
That kitchen probably measured about 10×8, or possibly 12×8. It wasn’t a big kitchen, and it was far more efficient for the lone cook than most large kitchens are. It had typical base cabinets, with only one of them having drawers in it. Over the counters, there were more cabinets, with the lone break being over the kitchen sink where there was a window. In the kitchen door, it also had a window that could be opened to allow for breezes to help cool down a hot cook. The sole item missing was a country-style pantry, useful for the serious cook to keep ingredients on hand. We used a hall closet that we modified with shelves for a pantry.
So, we have some thinking to do.