Living it Down— Comfortable Minimalism


Even a tiny studio can get comfortable, once you get comfortable with minimalism.

Minimalism half allures me. I like clean, open space, and disregard for mindless consumption, but empty homes with blank walls and sharp lines make me shiver a little. I like having scope for the imagination, things to roll my eyes over.

Aesthetics aside, minimalism grew practical after moving into this smallish 350 square-foot studio in Portland. For the first time, I realized how comfortable a small space can be. It took a while to figure things out, but in the end, I unraveled the mystery of maximizing space without sacrificing style.

I am on the verge of moving out, but before I leave, I want to share the big things I learned in this small space.

Less Is More

This overused phrase means exactly what it implies. Less junk means more space. It means shopping mindfully, canceling the Costco membership and buying only what is needed, when it is needed. I just stuck to one soap variaty, one shampoo instead of all of them. It was enlightening to find that one good bar of soap and my favorite shampoo will last many months. Once I use that up, I can get another. It’s the tiniest things that cause the most clutter.

Give and Get

The best way to avoid overcapacity is the habit of giving. The concept turned into a sort of rule: every time I buy something, I give something else away. Giving is the best way to keep any space alive. Not only is it ever changing, but there is strong energy that comes from giving and I always want to have that energy flowing through my home. Hoarding has the opposite effect. All of those deadlocked things are lifeless; they become burdens weighing down space and the people living in it.

Bath1Quality over Quantity

Focusing on quality allows at least eighty-five percent of all things sold to get crossed off the list. It makes shopping easier and things more enjoyable. Buying good quality usually costs more at first, but pays for itself seven times over. Quality lasts longer and saves the time, energy, and money of constantly having to replace the same thing over and over. Then, of course, it’s more pleasurable and if it gets tiresome, it can be passed on to someone else because many well-made things can last a lifetime. Poor quality quickly becomes an eyesore and you keep replacing it, because why not it was cheap and then starts the never-ending cycle of consumerism.

Color Consort

In a small space, color is important. Too many loud colors have this way of overwhelming a room and lack of coordination makes any space look like a bazaar. Even when there is not much stuff, the discord of color makes a room look cluttered. Subdued tones create a comfortable ambiance and sticking with natural hues makes everything flow.


Studio living was an enjoyable experiment, but I miss having space to really stretch out in. You know, to scream without alarming the neighbors.