This past weekend we’ve hosted our first official guests at “The Artstead”. Our friends are going on a three week long camping trip, and we were their first major stop. This was equal parts thrilling (yay, we get to see our friends! Woo-how, we can show off our land!) and terrifying (what will they think of our 200 sq. foot situation? What about the compostable toilet???). Filled with trepidation we decided on the only logical course of action – we will clean to impress! The RV (which we consider our micro-home) was scrubbed top to bottom and the land meticulously groomed. As in we mowed, picked up rubbish previously hiding under the snow and dug a new fire pit ;). Our guests reaction made all the polishing worthwhile. They deemed our space both awesome and cozy, and the two of us grinned like idiots for the rest of the night.
So what are some considerations for micro-home cleaning? Fact: the smaller the space, the shorter your clean up. We noticed this when we moved from our two story house to an ~800 sq ft apartment, as well as when we moved from that expansive space into our 200 sq foot RV. However, second fact: the smaller your space, the less shortcuts you can use. If you’ve ever gotten a last minute warning about visitors about to descend on your humble abode, and in the next 15 minutes you proceeded to hide piles of stuff in every closet, cabinet and corner then you know exactly the shortcuts I’m talking about. (For the record, I’m guilty of this.) In a micro-home, there’s a place for everything, and there’s simply no room to throw something in a closet/cabinet last minute.
Additional consideration- in an average 1,775 sq foot space (an average of apartment and home sizes in the US) you can get away with a number of things being out of place. In a micro-home, you can do that as well. That number happens to be three. One misplaced item, fine. Two misplaced items, OK. Three misplaced items, wait a minute, something’s not right. Four misplaced items forget about it, the house is a wreck! I absolutely realize that this sounds crazy, but it really is a fact of small living. And I guarantee that up to this move, no one could possibly accuse either of us of being neat freaks. In a micro-home, you really are four items away from either neat freak or slob, and we are making a conscious decision toward the former.
How exactly? Well, here are some daily, weekly and constant/rotating tips.
- Floors – Holy moly, floors! I know that I’m not the first person to write about this, as we were researching this downsizing possibility, floors came up often. But let me echo thunderously- FLOORS! Your floor gets constant use and wear and tear, in all weather. I’d like to say this means we sweep once a day. To be honest, it’s at least twice, most days more than that, with at least one mop with Pledge. We got very nice, fairly expensive flooring, and I’m so happy we made that choice, and would strongly recommend it to micro-homers. When you only have a few hundred square feet to floor, you can afford to invest in the good stuff. In our case we went with an engineered hickory flooring by Style Selections. After a year it’s holding up pretty well but spring for something even better if you can. Floors take maybe 15 minutes tops, but is very necessary.
- Dishes – same rule of three applies. Plus our sinks are teeny-tiny. Dishes from two people (from one meal) make the place look like a disaster zone. The easiest thing is to do the dishes after each meal. That way we’re ready to go, and the whole thing only takes just a few minutes. Full disclosure, we don’t always do this, and when we don’t, doing the dishes SUCKS. Pro tip: only have enough dishes for one meal for two people (or however many people you have in your household). Keeps you on your toes. You wanna eat? Gotta do those dishes. Sure, this does mean that while our friends were in town we ate off of disposable… but when I want to go extra fancy, I can alway borrow dishes from prop storage (reminder, I’m a theatre artist/educator), or asking your friends to bring a fork and a plate when then come over for dinner. It’s really not that big of a deal. Do they want dinner or not? Since 99% of the time it’s just us, the # of dishes = the # of people makes sense for us.
- Clothes – ah, the days when I used to throw clothes on my bedroom floor. I don’t really long for them, but they used to be an option. Below is a photo of my bedroom floor. I measured it, and it’s exactly 18” by 48”. Plus, it’s the step from the bathroom into our bed. Clothes now get put away end of day. We’ve both done (and still implement) Project 333, which has made clothing organization and management a lot easier.
- Kitchen Appliances and Surfaces- similar to floors, surfaces need to be wiped down a lot more often. Obviously, we have very few of these: the stove, refrigerator, kitchen and bathroom sinks, two bedroom cabinet tops, storage bench and folding table. You’d be surprised how the dust accumulates. A quick wipe down, and everything looks great. Again, none of this takes a whole lot of time, just the discipline of good habits.
Bugs/pests- I’m not sure if this one falls into country living or micro-homing… Potentially, an all encompassing country-micro-homing-lifestyle niche. Anyways, they are always around. In the dead of winter, we have mice to keep out of in the ceiling. When those move out, at the first of spring it’s flies and stink bugs. Then hornets and mosquitoes. A fairly constant supply of ticks and ants. While it might be an exaggeration to say this happens weekly, I feel we’re constantly fighting something (the system, mice, the wage gap, hornets- you get the picture). We try to fight most of these things humanely, but even as a declared vegan, I can’t pretend I don’t kill hornets, and I don’t even shed a tear…
CONSTANT & ROTATING
I’m clearly not 100% on the title of this category… but it’s the stuff we also do, although not necessarily on a set schedule.
- Downsizing- Yes we’ve obviously downsized. We’ve decluttered. We’ve been selling things on eBay. Turns out- there’s always more to be done. It honestly amazes me that we still have things to get rid of, but it seems to be a constant stream of items, fighting for room in our home. As I already mentioned, everything needs in place, which means you can’t afford the extra stuff. Therefore, we are in constant pursuit of our minimalism, where we only have items that add value to our lives. Mr. Ss wonders if this will ever normalize. If so how long? Two years? Five? Ten!? Or is it a constant?
- Projects- just in the recent weeks, we have continued work on the shed (cottage, studio, party shack?) started on a storage step (we had a step from the main living space up to the bathroom, and wanted it to double as a storage bin), repainted and reinstalled the collapsible kitchen table, and build an enclosure for our trash can and recycling. These projects vary from “easy” to “probably too hard for us but what the heck” and they might never end. Some are part of a long term plan, others are determined by an immediate need (like the 12v water pump that died leaving us without running water for two days. Thank the gods for Amazon Prime). Either way, they are part of our home improvement process, and leave the homestead looking neater and tidier.
This about covers it. I seriously can’t believe I had this much to say about cleaning. While not particularly exciting, again, I have to stress that aside from the wild card “projects” none of this takes very long, especially when you stay on top of the daily tasks. I really like walking into a clean space, and it makes our home quite amazing, something I’m proud to show off. On the flip side, it’s easy for it to get out of control, which it sometimes does. When it’s clean though: there’s no place like a micro-home!