I mean that literally.  Have you ever heard of tiny house living? That is the life philosophy for which I prescribe. This grew out of my father’s illness and rent control.

My Pasadena apartment — 400 sq ft with 26 windows!

My dad had Alzheimer’s, and then he got Macular Degeneration. No one in my quirky family drives on big roads, so it looked like there was no way to get him from Allentown to Philadelphia, where they had procedures that could at least stop the progression of the Macular. Losing your sight when you are already losing all memory would only accelerate the memory loss.  I decided to take on a new adventure. I would lighten the road by selling off all unnecessary stuff and moving back to PA, adopting a nomadic life between LA and PA.

It’s the selling of everything that led me in the tiny house direction. I had four garage sales, and from that I learned that all physical property has two prices. The one the store charges and the garage sale price. After spending four burning hot July Sundays haggling with people, the garage sale price became the one that counted.  To this day, when I buy something, my love for the item has to exceed the garage sale price for me to actually buy it.

West Hollywood before furniture.

The other thing that got me hooked on the less is more/free yourself from physical property philosophy was moving into the coolest apartment ever in the most inspiring neighborhood in the Los Angeles area. That would be West Hollywood, down the street from the Viper room and up the street from the Boy’s Town bars. Talk about a vibrant world!

Once my dad had the Macular under control, I returned to California and took a part time job working for my best friend’s design firm. Rents had skyrocketed while I was gone. As an aspiring writer, I wanted a low overhead so I wasn’t working to pay rent. I found the most adorable 400 sq ft apartment in an old craftsman home in Pasadena. It had twenty-six windows that opened like doors! I moved in. But Pasadena does not have rent control, and my rent went up $100 each year I was there!

Then the economy tanked.  The management wanted to raise the rent again. Mind you, this was an OLD home turned apartment building. If I wanted to run the vacuum, I had to make sure my neighbor wasn’t using the microwave, because if we blew a fuse, the fuse box was in the other tenant’s kitchen, and she was at work.  I didn’t mind living like a college student for $650. I did mind for $950. Especially in the economic climate of 2009.

First I made it brown, then I wanted color!

They wouldn’t lower the rent, so I moved. I made a vow, spoken out loud to myself and the gods of human intent: I will find the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood and it will cost $850. My father had died a few months before this. I believe he heard my request.  That was the exact cost for this apartment — with rent control — in a luxury complex in West Hollywood.  The management serves homemade cookies and coffee in the lobby every morning and movie-style popcorn in the afternoon.  The pool and gym are both resort quality.  The only negative I saw was the size of the apartment — 300 square feet, including the closet space! Could I be happy living in such a tiny space, or would it make me sad and miserable? Whenwver you move, something about it has to be improving your condition. I remembered my vow. I went all in and signed the lease.

I am so happy I did! I love living in this complex and in this tiny space. I feel like I’m on vacation every time I walk past the pool.  And I love the design challenge. I love a bohemian eclectic busy vibe. I love finding visual harmony as form meets function. I love the disconnection from physical property. You don’t ever buy anything new without knowing what you are getting rid of to make room for the new item.

As my life and my business expand, with no place left to go, I have begun climbing the walls! That’s the thing about a small space, you need to use every inch of it, and you need a place for everything, or you will soon find yourself living in a hovel.

I’m sure the day will come when I move onto bigger space. But when I do, I will always take with me the feeling gained from having a minimum amount of physical property attached to my life.  There is an efficiency, a shining brilliance to that, and it does extend into the living of life. I think sometimes we get too connected to things, and that makes it harder to take risks.  I like to fly (figuratively) and it’s hard to do that when you’re weighed to the ground.