Describe your place:
I live in a 1950’s, 1 bedroom garage apartment in north Durham. The garage is detached from the main house on the property with an unfinished workshop area downstairs and a one bedroom apartment on the second floor, accessible by an outdoor staircase. The neighborhood is a few miles north of downtown, near the intersection of Roxboro and Duke.
What do you love about your space?:
Everything! As soon as I saw the listing for this apartment online, I fell in love. Many of my favorite features are original elements like the wood floors, the bathroom fixtures, and the small, exposed shelves in the kitchen. There are also so many great touches added by the property owner. I love the stained glass “Welcome” sign in the front door, the small-scale stove and refrigerator and a beautiful painted metal bench outside. I love how much character the place has!
How would you improve your space?:
Many of the issues I had when I first moved in concerned the age of the property rather than it’s size. Old-fashioned features like 2-prong outlets, plaster walls, no garbage disposal in the sink, no dishwasher, no bedroom closet and no place for a washer or dryer made getting settled in a little more difficult at first but now I rarely even miss those modern luxuries.
I would also love to improve the outdoor areas. As a renter, I’m limited in what I’m allowed to change and what my budget can do. While the shared yard is meticulously maintained by the owner, I would love to freshen up the gravel driveway, repaint the siding and outdoor staircase and add a fence with some landscaping in the yard on the side of my house for my dog. But, despite the countless project ideas, I really am thrilled with the house overall and the very sweet, relaxed outdoor areas.
What do you like best about small living?:
It may sound redundant given the name of this blog, but I love how living small makes every part of your life become very intentional. How many possessions you own, where everything is kept and the entire flow of your day is affected by the limited space. While large homes can feel spacious and open, I often find they lead the people living in them to fill space with more possessions, making things harder to find and, in a very real way, adding stress to regular routines. Running several small businesses out of such a small space can still lead to stress and chaos but I love being able to pay attention to every nook, cranny and detail which I could never do in a larger house.
Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:
Storage and organization are key. As a housekeeper and home organizer, I made sure that everything in my little house has a place and that very little space gets wasted. This includes high up shelves and the space under the bed as well as my ottoman which I refinished to create storage space for blankets and linens. Leave no space unused, but keep it neat!
I also think that its also very important to have at least one area that is clutter-free and always clean. In a small space, a small mess becomes a big mess quickly. Especially since I use my kitchen and living area as work spaces for sanding, painting, sewing, crafting and many other hobbies, having an area that is always neat goes a long way to feeling comfortable and sane. For me, it is the bedroom. No matter how chaotic the kitchen, living room and bathroom are, my bedroom has little more than my bed, some books, my records and record player and my clothes neatly hung on the wall. Escaping to this room is always a welcome relief from a busy week or messy house.
More about Bethany:
I clean and organize houses for a living [www.YourHappyHomeSolutions.com], as well as making wood furniture and decor on the side [www.etsy.com/shop/aboveallgenuine]. Occasional jobs also include babysitting, pet sitting, seamstress work and home improvement projects. There’s always something to do!
I also have a booth at the Durham Craft Market across from the Farmer’s Market every Saturday between April and November from 8am to 12pm. Come out and see me!
A note from Nicole:
It was a pleasure meeting Bethany (and Elle!) and visiting their lovely home. Bethany was ecstatic to point out special elements that she loves and different DIY projects she undertook to make her place function better. She installed shallow shelves at every window – creating a deeper sill for potted plants, or creating storage opportunities above windows. She transformed a simple closet in the living space into a well-organized craft zone with hidden dog crate below. In making her own home more usable, she has been able to turn her skills into a business, helping others organize and clean their spaces, and even selling spice racks that she first made for her own home. I love how passionate Bethany is about her small home!