Living With Less: A Look Inside Our 679-Square-Foot Apartment

After I talked about our experience with minimalism, I had several people reach out with questions about what that actually looked like for us. Or “What do you mean, you don’t own any books?!” And “Do you decorate for the holidays?”

Sure, I can talk about the concept for hours, but more importantly, how am I living it out in the day to day?

First, I want to admit that it’s pretty easy to live this way when our apartment is 679 square feet. However, on the other hand, we could easily have a storage unit, or pack our closets to the brim, or dish some belongings off to our parents. And we have consciously chosen not to do any of the above. I also hope that we don’t fill space with unnecessary items when we eventually move into a larger home (although that home won’t be too large for what we need, either). There’s something so refreshing about having the exact amount of space you need to live — not a fourth bedroom that ends up being a dumping ground, or three formal living areas no one ever sits in.

I also know we are in a rare time period before having kids where life is just — simpler. We don’t have to take into account a third or fourth human’s toys, clothes and other belongings. So parents reading this will probably roll their eyes and/or laugh. However, Joshua Becker speaks about minimalism with kids quite often. Believe it or not, it can be done!

Also, a quick note about styling. I am not a major fan of the dark features our apartment comes with. It can make the space feel, just — darker. But that's one of the woes of rental living! Also, pardon the low-quality images in certain spaces. It's hard to make a yellow-lit bathroom or a dark closet even remotely cute.

But I digress. Behold: our tiny, “shotgun” apartment. When you walk in, you can immediately see everything — the kitchen, the living area, our “dining” area (which is just a table in the middle of the room), and our little “office.”

We don’t have a ton of kitchen supplies — just the everyday things we need to cook with. It is very rare that I think, “I wish I had a…[cheese grater].” (I use that example because I thought that the other day.) But if it really is a need, there’s always the 20/20 rule: Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location.

As can be expected, the living area is where we spend the majority of our time. The right-hand side of the couch is where I usually work remotely. I think that’s why the simple and clean setup of the apartment is so important to me. It is not just my home; it’s my office too! Brandon also works from home most days and usually sits at the desk. The couch is falling apart in front of our eyes. We got it for $200 (brand new though!), and I’m learning a valuable lesson in buying high-quality hand-me-downs over low-quality shiny new toys. On the other hand, our coffee table is perhaps my favorite piece of furniture we own. We got it from World Market when we first moved to Nashville.

I love this little corner. When we first moved in, I had a random vision to use a clothing rack as a plant hanger/shelves, and insisted we go to Target to track down such a contraption. And alas, there it was. Essentially, everything displayed here is the only decor we own, in addition to the other small things on the walls and a few pieces on the coffee table and other side tables — and our plants of course. So maybe we have more than I think! But still, nothing too crazy.

I just love this desk. It’s exactly what I was looking for — a simple design, metal legs and natural-looking wood. It even matches the coffee table in a way! Like I mentioned, we don’t have a TV (and subsequently, no cable), and we use our desktop computer as our unofficial TV, streaming Netflix on it to watch our favorite shows, movies or documentaries.

When we were getting the apartment set up and buying new furniture, I was frantically searching for a bed frame and nightstands. (We had ditched our bed long ago when we moved from Denver.) Then suddenly, it hit me: “We don’t even have to have a bed! Or nightstands!” So we never got any of it. And we were able to save the hundreds of dollars we were planning on spending. As a result, our bedroom is so incredibly peaceful, serene and simple. It makes sleep that much more restful. Plus, I literally can “roll out of bed” in the morning and it’s glorious.

The bathroom is pretty self-explanatory. We have all of our towels, sheets and bathroom stuff in this cabinet to the left of the sink. We store our everyday stuff (toothpaste, face wash, makeup, etc.) in the huge drawer under the sink. While we’re on the subject of bathrooms, the number one “must-have” for me when we get a house is a bathtub. Taking baths is one of my favorite hobbies. That’s one “luxury” I would rather not give up!

Last weekend, Brandon and I did a dramatic “gleaning” of our apartment — particularly the closet — so it looks much better than it used to. Plus, I feel lighter, more organized, and more free. We filled four garbage bags with things to donate and several trash bags with garbage. Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, speaks on the practice of decluttering in one massive sweep rather than tackling things little by little. She is so right! Going through our entire apartment on that Sunday afternoon felt so rejuvenating. It was almost like a high, honestly.

We have lots of basic clothes with some more fun, colorful items mixed in — because man cannot live on black, white and gray alone! Well, I probably could. At some point in the near future, I plan on experimenting with Project 333, a challenge to dress with 33 items or less for three months. Honestly, I don’t think it would be super difficult.

Oh! And to the person who asked if we decorated for the holidays. We definitely do! But just in small, subtle ways (like lights, stockings and a Charlie Brown tree). All of our Christmas decor is stored in that tiny brown box in the fourth picture of our closet. I know this Christmas collection will grow a little as the years go by, but for now, I love what we have.

The door to the left is our coat closet. It’s also where we keep our suitcases, a vacuum, and all of Olive’s stuff. And some random “utility” stuff, like lightbulbs, a tool box and an extension cord. The doors to the right open to our laundry area, where we store all laundry stuff (duh), a broom and a Swiffer.

And there you have it! While it may seem barren or cold to some, we find it so relaxing and refreshing to live in a space with less. We’re pretty proud of our humble abode. That’s why we plan on renewing our lease come August rather than jumping into homeownership just yet. There’s something special about this time period of simpler living and we don’t want to cut it short. Plus, I have no idea how to furnish a space any bigger than this — although my mom always says, “Slowly.”