Space: Physical 02

I love good design. To see something both functional and designed beautifully is a winning combination.

PART 1: TINY HOMES

I have been an avid fan of the tiny house movement for some time. I love the layouts and the efficient use of the space, the pop out walls and their use of light and energy. As time goes on the designs are becoming more and more inventive. It is not just the millennials opting for the nomadic lifestyle the grey birds are choosing them too.

In bed I don’t want to hit my head on the ceiling in the middle of the night or in the morning when getting out of bed. I don’t want to have to climb over someone to get out of bed. I don’t want to have to manoeuvre myself to the end of the end to get out of bed. The bed is a sacred spot. I love my sleep. The idea of sleeping in a loft area of a small enclosed space does not appeal at all. Sure if you have good ventilation the heat and air flow can be solved but so many that I have seen have what amounts to crawl space only in the bedroom.

I also don’t want to have to clamber down a ladder or awkward steps to get to the loo in the night without turning on the lights and waking everyone up.

I have slept in a loft bedroom and it was hot in winter because the log fire heat naturally travelled upwards, and in the summer it was also hot because again heat rising and the summer sunlight streaming in. Admittedly the ventilation could have been better. There was a fan but that didn’t fix all the issues.

I have also slept in a motor home in the loft area above the driver’s seat. It was fun for four nights. The head space was limited. There was a ladder to get up and down. You had to skirt around another body to get to the end of the bed and then over the edge to get to the ladder.

I love a soak in a hot bath. Lately I have seen tiny homes with bathtubs. They have been a relief for me to see. I feel that to live without a bath is like going without licorice. Not an option.

I love the seating nooks that they create in the tiny homes. Places to sit , places to lie down, to read, to write, to draw, to paint. The multi functioning bed that transforms into a desk. The painting that flips into a screen. The loft steps that double as a bookshelf or a shoe box.

The kitchens are incredible and I drool over the cuteness of it all. THe pull out pantries, the full size fridge freezers. I love seeing all sorts of layouts and necessities and differ for each family. Those that include children and cats and dogs. The walking away from stuff to make more time for family.

Less space, less to clean.

Less space, less to fill.

As I lie in bed with my foot in a cast I wonder how I would manage in a tiny house with a broken ankle. My knee scooter wouldn’t fit in the space. In reality it would fit, it just wouldn’t be able to turn around. So that means crutches to gad about. More effort required and certainly doable. The bed would need to be on the one level as everywhere else. I would be able to reach and carry things from one place to the next because everywhere is nearby. I could even make a cup of tea and pivot the tea cup to the other side of the walk space. It might even be easier than if I was at home here where I am now.

Not moving to a tiny house anytime soon, probably never but I love following people’s journeys and seeing how they plan out their spaces. Tiny homes can be beautifully designed, functional and efficient. I look forward to the future when councils will see the benefit of tiny homes and include them into our communities.

Must haves for my tiny home:

Queen bed with access on three sides, on the ground level
Fully functioning kitchen
Breakfast nook style eating area
Full size bath tub
Two writing spaces (breakfast nook can be one)
Fully off-grid capability, solar panels,…
High speed internet
Full size fridge
Couches where you can lay down comfortably
Cat friendly
Good security
Good storage

I have thought about this a lot!

PART 2: HOARDING

Living in any size house making it comfortable for ourselves is paramount. What does that mean though? Comfortable? Your style? Minimalist? Cottage? Retro? Big couches? Petit furniture? Books? Records? Plants? Cat friendly? Lots of colour? One colour: white? Lots of paintings on the walls? Floor lamps?

Even if you are renting you can still create your comfortable space that is your own. You can hang pictures that leave no trace. I suppose it depends on how long you intend to stay, doesn’t it? No it doesn’t. You can create your stamp on a space and make it your own even if you stay a night. When you stay at a hotel you change the space to make it your own just for one night. Your presence alone makes it your space.

As I write this I look around the room thinking of the whole house and wonder how can I make our home more comfortable. The one thing that jumps out is the clutter. Again with a broken ankle and not being able to put weight on one leg leaves you stuck on one level. Every rug, rubbish bin becomes an obstacle. The fewer the obstacles the easier to navigate the house on a knee scooter.

Personal belongings, stuff, clutter, junk, memories, are an accumulation. When the amount becomes too much for the space it becomes clutter. When the clutter becomes an access hazard the house becomes a hoarder’s castle.

A hoarder doesn’t necessarily live on their own collecting old newspapers and lining the halls and stairways with piles of paper. Hoarders come from all walks of life. Collections of stuff are hobbies. When hobbies or habits get out of control and become extreme they don’t develop into hoarding. Hoarding and obsessive stamp collecting is not the same. Hoarding doesn’t happen overnight. The hoarding is not the cause of the problem, It is the manifestation of the problem. Hoarding now is a class of disorder all on its own. It used to be tacked onto OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Hoarding does not discriminate, regardless of the size of your house, a hoarder will fill it, whether it be a one bedroom apartment or a five bedroom farmhouse, a hoarder will fill it.

Hoarders are ashamed of their living conditions and do not want people entering their space and passing comment or judgement.

Hoarders don’t want to live like they do. They also do not know how to get help either. A lot of times too the help offered makes the attempt way too stressful and it is easier to stay living as is. They do find comfort with their possessions with them. For just in case. The problem is that they no longer remember where each item is and so duplicates abound. This is not the several cork screws in the junk drawer, multiple Christmas cracker boxes. I mean tens to hundreds of items the same. Yet they don’t appear the same to the hoarder. If someone has suffered a time of impoverishment, a loss or some traumatic event, the hoarder may be appearing to be ‘stocking up’ for what if. The items are not the issue. The accumulation of stuff is the side affect of the hoarder’s condition.

Getting a skip or a portable waste bin and dumping all the possessions does not solve the problem. The hoarder will never trust you again. Their compulsion to hoard hasn’t gone away, over time the property will revert back to what it was like. It’s a lose-lose situation. The hoarder needs to handle each and every item in order to make a decision on what to do with the item. Hoarding has taken years to accumulate. You cannot expect someone to deal with an entire household over a weekend. Just because the person, a daughter, son, parent or friend is willing to help for a weekend doesn’t mean that the hoarder can process the items at the pace you might. To you it is all junk and should be dumped. To the hoarder each item was carefully brought into the house. To just give it no thought at all is upsetting the balance of the house.

The pile of stuff in a hoarders home becomes overwhelming for all living under the same roof. The new normal changes slowly over time and the issue becomes so enormous it is not faced and becomes a hazard to health and can lead to death in extreme cases.

I understand the desire to handle each and every item before deciding on the fate of each piece. I also understand the ‘undecided’ pile being high as well. Marie Kondo talks about ‘sparking joy’ as the entire world now knows. She also talks about handling each item and thanking it before deciding it doesn’t spark joy.

Binge watching the Marie Kondo series and you would think that to declutter an entire house takes only half an hour. Marie Kondo appears, blesses the house, chats with the homeowners and then starts them off in one room, sets them homework and returns to a magically clutter free home at the end of half an hour. Life is not like that.

I have some decluttering to do to make my life freer. I think about the clutter all the time. I want to free my mind of the stupid thoughts. It is literally time wasted.

I start and I stop with the decluttering. I have done a lot already. There is more to go. Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. It is the ideal time to do it, right? Now is the best time to declutter. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next weekend. Now

I do not have a hoarding problem yet I do feel embarrassed to have anyone over because of the clutter. I am determined to tackle the clutter once my leg is out of the cast and I can put weight on both legs.

I cannot run before I can walk. At the moment I cannot do either. I sure do value being able to go for a walk, just to the letterbox to check the mail. To walk barefoot on the grassed lawn. I have gotten sidetracked.

PART 3: CONCLUSION

Space is important to us all. How we use space is as different as there are people. Don’t judge others for how they use their spaces. Have a little understanding. Everyone has a story to tell. Take time to listen.

Space: Physical 01

I can look at a space, let’s say a lawn, and I can envision what it could look like with say raised vegetable beds there instead of said lawn. I can picture it in my mind and imagine what it could look like. To know whether something is a good idea or a bad one ahead of time can save you time, money and stress.

I can look at an existing lawn and envision something else in its place with relative ease yet if it were a completely undeveloped site, say a new house and untouched landscaping then I would be stuck completely.

On the surface these two scenarios seem the same but they are not. One starts with an idea that has already been laid out, the other is a completely blank canvas. You could argue that they are indeed the same, you just need to imagine no lawn and then go from there.

Another aspect of this is with an already developed area you can see what has been planted or how it has been landscaped, hard and soft, what grows, how the sunlight affects the area. It has been done once. The fact that you are taking a closer look at the area means that you are ready for change. You want to improve the area, make it more you, more in keeping with the rest of the land, neighbourhood or the times.

When you have a blank canvas with an outdoor space you have unlimited possibilities to develop and create an area to the best of your ability and budget. That blank canvas can be frightening, to the point of inaction. Too many choices, too many options, no clear idea so resulting in indecision and not moving forward.

If you have made it this far, you are still with me. What I am trying to say is that I find it relatively easy to arrange things spatially in my mind without having to assemble something first. I love puzzles and assembling kit set furniture. I love maps and have an insanely good sense of direction.

Say if you were house hunting and you were visiting an open home and it was stuffed with the owner’s possessions and they weren’t to your taste I could easily imagine what it could look like with my own instead. I can overlook the madness and see a new vision. Yet with viewing a home that is void of furniture I find it harder to imagine what it could look like because there is no scale, the palette is clear and the reverse happens. I find it very difficult to imagine the possibilities because there are too many.

I understand why staging companies have multiplied in New Zealand. We are copying the American way of selling house. Plus we have a growing population and an economy that seems to be doing quite well. We have more money than sense. By staging I mean companies that ask owners to remove all of their belongings and clutter and any ounce of a homely feel and instead bring in generic furniture and other items to create an image of the ideal home without the overflowing junk. People either store their belongings or have already purchased their new home and have moved on hoping to sell their home for the best price.

I value space. I appreciate space. I think I need more of it than most. I don’t like to be confined, cramped or squashed. But then again who does? No one. I feel most comfortable when I have plenty of space between myself and the next person, standing, walking or just being. I prefer to live with the view of nature. I like to hear the sound of the trees swaying in the wind. Space now though comes with a premium. Space and convenience are a wanted commodity in the modern world. I love both but I would sacrifice convenience over space any day.

I value space over convenience.

I love putting things together with or without instructions.

I love maps and have an insanely good sense of direction.

I love figuring out spatial puzzles.