Whether you occupy a tiny home for two days or a lifetime, clutter will always be a problem. The best time to tackle it is before you ever move in, but even if you already have, all is not lost. I’ve been travelling across America in 160 SF with my cat since last summer. Before that, my home was 620 SF. Personally, living tiny has made me question why anyone really needs a full-size house to live in, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes wish I had more storage. Here’s what I’ve done to reduce clutter in the RV.
I spent a long time going over the spaces in my RV and measuring things. From there, I tried to determine what would go where. Most of the spaces are currently being used for the original purposes I intended, but I have switched some things around. Planning ahead of time also allows you to get rid of things that might not fit. For example, I downsized from a full office setup to a laptop and a portable monitor. They weigh less than 5 lbs in all and occupy a corner of the dinette when put away.
Many people have asked me why my air fryer looks like an oven. That’s because it is. It’s also a roaster, toaster, dehydrator, rotisserie …. and several other things I have long forgotten. Purchasing just one appliance that covered all these bases saved me a lot of space and money. I only need to find space for one item, instead of the seven it replaces. Similarly, my laptop folds into a tablet and my solar panels*** can power both the RV and my generator***.
The more mismatched the items are in your space, the more obvious the clutter becomes. Similarly, if you paint everything in your RV or tiny home white, clutter will show very easily. In fact, any monochrome choice might create this effect, so try using a pallet of two to three colours or shades. I plan to renovate the RV over the summer, so I buy things that match the pallet I chose: black, grey and white. Right now, things don’t match perfectly in the RV, but I’m focusing on the bigger picture and so should you.
I purge at the end of every month. This means that I go through the RV and start to pick things out that I don’t need. I either give them away or throw them out. I look forward to my month-end purges because I always find a have much fewer things than I originally thought I did. And, I feel so much lighter after getting rid of things. In my last purge cycle, I threw out old clothes and gave away a heater I never used. I also try to purge clothes on laundry days. If I realise I don’t wear something or it’s getting a little raggedy, it’s time to toss it.
Keep It Hidden
I store most of my items in places you can’t see. For example, I have an entire home gym under one dinette seat and dirty laundry under the other. Under the sofa is all the bed linen. I don’t have a spice rack, because I keep all of that in the cupboards. I don’t have a coat rack, because I keep all my clothes hidden behind closet doors. Even in “the office”, instead of using something to organise items on top of the dinette table, I glued a storage basket underneath. I can access it easily but you can’t see it. Shadow’s food is also under the dinette and his “bathroom” is in a closet. Finally, I try to keep as many things in the “basement storage” as possible, which is ideal for towing stability.
Use the Outdoors
When I move locations, I fold up my bike and put it inside the trunk of my FJ Cruiser. Once I arrive at my new spot, I put it outside so I have access to my trunk again. I have a locking mechanism to keep my bike safe, but in the rural areas I visit, I seriously doubt anyone would make off with it. I have also been to RV parks where people have storage bins or storage units outside that they keep extra items in. This can do wonders to free up your indoor space.
Consider Storage Units
When I left Atlanta, I left my apartment fully furnished. I could drive right back to Atlanta and resume my life, like these months of exploration never existed. However, I did take personal items with me and I have yet to unload them. When I return to Nevada, I’ll be throwing things into storage. I think $33 per month is well-worth reducing the weight Samson has to lug around. If you don’t want to pay for storage, ask a friend if you can leave a box or two in their garage.
Use the Car
Not everyone with a tiny home has a vehicle. Some people have tiny homes in the city and take public transportation. Others might have motorhomes with no additional vehicles. I have a towable RV, so my truck has additional storage too. I don’t use my truck as storage, but I could if I wanted to. I could store things inside the trunk, on the backseat or on the roof. If you decide to do this, keep in mind that lugging around that extra weight is sure to show itself in your monthly gas bill.
Curb the Addiction
America’s capitalist culture compels people to buy and consume. After years of living here, even I am not immune to capitalist culture and the desire for more. However, in a small space, that is sure to create a problem. There are a few things you can do to get your unnecessary spending under control:
- Don’t make impulse buys. Add it to your cart or wishlist and sleep it on it for at least 24 hours. Ideally, try to give it a week.
- Ignore sales and promotions. Companies know that consumers love a great deal, but I promise you, that same sale will come back around.
- Budget your money. Know how much you can set aside for fun expenses and stick to that. If you pay by credit card, get into the habit of paying the full balance every month.
- Replace instead of adding. Practice throwing things out when new things come in, especially once you’ve reached your equilibrium. Being forced to part with your existing possessions might make you think twice about buying something else.
Whenever possible, choose the electronic version to everything you can. For example, I store all my photos in the cloud instead of in photo albums or on bulky hard drives. Similarly, I switched from physical books to eBooks a long time ago. I still have a handful of printed items, but they’ll go right into storage or to a charity when I’m done reading them.
Downsizing to a smaller footprint is better for individuals and better for the planet. While it’s not for everyone, it’s definitely the life for me. If you’ve also made the switch but have been struggling with the clutter monster, hopefully, these tips will help you vanquish our shared enemy. Happy travels!
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