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Minimalism - One Room Living

Updated on November 8, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa Schlesinger is an ardent minimalist, convinced it is the only way to combat climate change in a world gone mad with consumerism.

My one room apartment!

I paid under $300 for futon, sheets, pillows, drawers/closet, desk, carpet, paint, and small décor items.
I paid under $300 for futon, sheets, pillows, drawers/closet, desk, carpet, paint, and small décor items.

As a result of electronics becoming mite sized, and as a result of automation in many areas, small areas can now be highly functional. In addition, the tiny house movement has resulted in more products becoming available for living in small spaces. There is no reason not to live in comfort, although those who do live in one room apartments become very selective about which possessions are worth keeping and which are not.

A futon converts to a bed

The trick to living in one room is that every item has two or three uses, i.e. they are highly functional. A futon acts as a bed during the night and as sitting space during the day. A small table acts as a desk to work on and a place to eat. A pillow slip/case acts as a place to store blankets during the day, as well as a decoration to make your futon look more friendly. To keep costs down, shop in 'used' shops and buy items that are proportionate to your space. In other words, shape the room to its size and to your size. If you're 5'2", you don't need a 6'3" futon. Also, big items in small spaces not only eat up space, but they make the space look even smaller than it is.

The ultimate one room living... :)

I bought the dresser from a used charity shop, got some Rustoleum paint because I didn't need to sure an undercoat or sandpaper it. Remember to remove all handles, etc. before painting.
I bought the dresser from a used charity shop, got some Rustoleum paint because I didn't need to sure an undercoat or sandpaper it. Remember to remove all handles, etc. before painting.

Color - never use more than two colors, and then make them shades of each other!

Color not only makes or breaks a place, but it can make any room appear smaller or larger. When you already have a small place, then it's important to use colour to make it appear larger. Light colors make a room look larger while bright or dark colors detract from its size. In addition, if you have too many colours, it makes the room look cramped and untidy. So the trick to any small room is to use colours from a pastel palette, and to use brighter, darker colors only for emphasis.

My room came with white walls and wood floors. I decided on a white and black palette. While black may be most bright and dark, the palette can work in a small room if used in a way that is predominantly white.

I was lucky to get the chair free. I painted it black and bought some brocade fabric in a pretty floral print and recovered the chair!
I was lucky to get the chair free. I painted it black and bought some brocade fabric in a pretty floral print and recovered the chair!

The Black and White Palette, small patterns, and big effect.

Black and white palettes have recently become very popular. There is a trick to using it in a small room. Go for fabrics and patterns which are more white than black, For fabrics, when selecting, chose floral, stripes, or geometric, depending on your personal taste. Make sure that the background is white and the pattern is small with thin outlines. You can use only one exception to that - one big black item.

I was lucky enough to be given a free chair. Obviously, it was the wrong color. I painted the wood black (rustoleum again), and then went shopping for black and white fabric. I selected a white floral brocade with touches of black and silver intermixed. It looked fabulous!

My Octopus 'washing line' which I hang in the bathroom works perfectly! It also folds up small so that it stores with ease. :)
My Octopus 'washing line' which I hang in the bathroom works perfectly! It also folds up small so that it stores with ease. :)

Travel items are small and highly functional! Get creative.

One of the best buys I ever made was a small travel iron that converts to both EU and USA electricity. It is small enough and light enough to fit into any suitcase, and it certainly removes crinkles and wrinkles.

When out shopping for items for your small room living, visit the travel sections of all stores. Be it a washing line that easily strings out or an Octopus shaped one which I bought from Ikea, they are both functional and easy to store in a small place.

Small electronics

One of the really good things about modern electronics is their size. You can watch TV on your phone, use your laptop to type a letter, photograph your room or face, or phone your friend using skype. Your phone does much the same thing. For myself, I have a small 11.6" laptop which I prefer because it is light and small. I have a mini Samsung galaxy phone, a Sony camera, an hp 200 Scanjet, and I don't need anything else. I can watch movies and catch up TV programs on my laptop and if I need a printer, I trot down to the library with a flash drive and print it there.

So why don't have a printer? It takes up space and I don't use one that often. Taking a balance between the cost of cartridges, paper, storage, and purchase, the number of times I use it isn't justified. I also found that if I had a printer, I used it to print out things that I didn't really need, then discarding the paper afterwards. I have been without a printer for more than two years, and it hasn't made a difference to my life.

In your case, you would decide which things you loved dearly and which you can live without. :)


This is my iron

Hamilton Beach Travel Iron with Steam (10092)
Hamilton Beach Travel Iron with Steam (10092)

I bought this iron (or an earlier model) about six or seven years ago. Since then, it has gone with me wherever I go. Its size enables me to get into wee corners, and the fact that it is a steam iron makes it effective for difficult creases. I've used it in both the UK and the US. Plus it comes with its own small bag and a small plastic container to pour water in. I think it's the best iron I've ever had! :)

 

Child sized items

I kid you not! If you are looking for 'small,' it's not a bad idea to look in the kiddies departments at various stores. Storage systems for children are particularly useful for small room living. This is because it is assumed that children don't have as many possessions as adults do, therefore the storage items are built to contain less. In addition, because children tend to be more rough with their possessions, often items are more robust. Of course, not everything is going to fit, but you'll be surprised at what you can find in the kiddie section!

The best paint for quick and easy jobs!

Rust-Oleum 7790502 Protective Enamel Paint Stops Rust, 32-Ounce, Flat White
Rust-Oleum 7790502 Protective Enamel Paint Stops Rust, 32-Ounce, Flat White

Okay, I admit it. I don't expect to stay anywhere for long periods of time, and I certainly don't expect to keep an item of furniture for a lifetime. So all I want is something that works that doesn't require an undercoat or sandpapering. Rustoleum is wonderful that way. One coat covers just about anything! On some occasions, if you are painting over a fairly new varnish, it will probably flake. In that case, best bet is just to give a light sandpaper. It comes in a large number of colours. This is white.

 

A collapsible shelf for books, flowers, pretty things and dings!

My daughter gave me the flowers for Mother's Day. Wasn't that nice of her? Naturally, as a minimalist, I didn't have a vase. So I used my pink water bottle from my liquidiser (normally use it for smoothies).
My daughter gave me the flowers for Mother's Day. Wasn't that nice of her? Naturally, as a minimalist, I didn't have a vase. So I used my pink water bottle from my liquidiser (normally use it for smoothies).

If you are single, bearing in mind that space is becoming expensive and that none of us need that many things, would you consider living in a one room apartment?

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One room living is the best way to live for the following reasons!

For a very long time it was thought that big was better. However, many people are realizing that buying and owning many things has an impact on the quality of life and debt. Living in a small place makes sure that you practice your creativity and it gives you loads of money over at the end of each month to spend on things you really enjoy - be it travel, partying, spending your life in a low paying job which you love, or being an artist with a small income. Going small pays big!

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

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    • Marina7 profile image

      Marina 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

      Very great idea.

    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

      This is a helpful and well-written article. Kudos for resisting the urge to own a printer. I also print files at my local library and do not miss having my own printer. Voted up.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      If I were single, I would only need space for me and my dog. A small room means less to furnish, less to clean, and no need to cook. Definitely, however, the area would have to be dog friendly.

    • Asher Dan Gueco profile image

      Asher Dan Gueco 2 years ago

      Interesting Concept!