What I’ve learned about Living Space

I couldn’t understand why the people who lived in the neighbouring apartment started making such a racket just as we were trying to get to sleep, when we first moved to Baku.  It sounded like they were moving furniture.  Why, at 11 o’clock at night?  Once I started making local friends I finally understood.  Many people lived in small apartments and in extended families.  Often people would sleep in the living or dining room.  They really were moving furniture, as beds were made up for the night.

In the last 14 years I’ve lived in 7 different houses/apartments (not including temporary accommodation) encompassing brand new to decrepit and 700 sq ft to 2,500 sq ft in size.  This yo-yo bingeing and dieting of our household effects has caused to me re-evaluate what I need to live comfortably and I’ve come to the conclusion that in most cases “less is more” and simple solutions work best.

My husband used to dream of converting our utility room into a workshop for his model cars, but after years of creating a makeshift work area, either in a kitchen or living area, while living overseas he realized he didn’t really want to be shut away in another room to pursue his hobby and a simple work surface was all he needed.  Since moving back to Canada, we’ve replaced our kitchen table with a neat new counter top for him and now eat our meals in the adjoining dining room, which we hardly every used before.

Now that we’re back I can finally plan our overdue kitchen renovation.  Fourteen years ago I used to long for more cupboards, more counter tops, more everything.  Having now cooked in kitchens both twice the size and less than the half the size, I’ve realized that the kitchen layout I already have is perfectly adequate and all I need to focus on is the cupboard interiors and the exterior  finishes.

After reading some recent decorating articles, it appears that re-organizing your existing living space is now all the rage in North America.  At last I’m ahead of the trend!  Now what else is under-utilized?  My little-used formal living room is squarely in my sights . . .

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5 thoughts on “What I’ve learned about Living Space

  1. I can so relate to your post! On first moving to Prague, from a 3,000 sq ft house, we were living in a one room, 35 sq m flat! What a change! Everything was in one room–bedroom, dining table, kitchen–but the bathroom was thankfully a small room of it’s own! 🙂 We lived there for three years, and last summer moved into a bigger flat. Still smaller than the house back home, but very livable and comfortable! We really can learn how to do without what we think we need! :0)

    Have a great day,
    Sher :0)

  2. Hi Judy!
    I really related to this — for so many years of living in the States, I was a “hoarder” of all my international books, gifts, and just stuff that I had picked up in my travels. Even while living here, I have lugged around unbelievable numbers of books especially. Last year, I took a job managing an apartment community and lugged everything HERE from California. (Long story) Anyway, I moved onsite (required for my job) into a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment. We crammed all that stuff of 20+ in there. Then a few months later, the owner decided to renovate my apartment and to build an addition to it. (Another long story). I went from 750 square foot apartment to 1500 square feet, with a beautiful “library/diningroom/whatever” that has granite floor, etc. We now have essentially a 3 bedroom, 2 and a half bath home. Guess what? I moved everything around, redecorated, and ended up just using the extra bedroom as storage. The beautiful room with the granite floor, is now my art studio (originally I planned to make it a dining room/library/bar.) So now, I have ended up selling a great many of my books, no longer need the bookcases, and my apartment STILL seems to be attracting more stuff. I’m beginning to think there is something pathological to this! LOL

  3. Sher: 35sq m is SMALL! Our last apt in Dubai was about 700 sq ft and I thought that was like living on a submarine. However on the plus side, our modest bungalow in Toronto felt like a palace when we came home. But when we lived in a 2,300 sq ft glitzy apartment (company provided – those were the days!) I felt I was coming home to a shack, LOL!

  4. Suzanne: Every time we’ve moved I’ve sold, given away and thrown out bags and bags of stuff and STILL seem to have full closets. I don’t know where it all comes from. Souvenirs are a real problem. I’ve thinned them down and now keep them all crammed in a cupboard and just put one item out on display, rotating them each week. But I’m gradually realizing the best souvenirs are the photos I keep in my laptop and, more particularly, the ones I keep in my head. Physical stuff is just that, STUFF, and we ought not to get too attached to it.

  5. I had a culture shock when I came to Canada, because I grew up in the standard small French apartment. But there is so much space here… it’s almost too much.

    As for the “people moving furniture”., this is not the first time I hear the complaint but this is the first time the problem is actually moving furniture!

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