As a longtime editor of Real Simple magazine, and as a person who has lived in a small apartment in New York City for years, I know quite a bit about the outfitting of a small space. But with the recent popularity of nomadic life (RV, Airstream, living on the roads of vans), I thought. Is it better to give advice on living in a small space than people who have lived under 200 square feet for months?
I talked to three women. Melanie Labor, a San Diego-based interior designer and mother of three young girls. Lindsay Dorty, a college student in Burlington, Rhode Island. Brooklyn-based writer Jessica Bruder is the author of the award-winning book Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century, which was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film Nomadland. They set out on a journey for a variety of reasons, but the lessons they shared are very synchronized. As Labor says, this is what they had to say about the “little way of life.”
Don’t give inches
Overwhelmed by the constant maintenance of their 3,000-square-foot home, Labor and her husband, Dave, knew they had to make a difference. So a few years ago, they invested in a vintage Airstream trailer and burned it down to fit a family of five and a large German Shepherd. “I took a full inventory of everything I needed and then figured out the exact size and amount of space that everything would occupy,” says Raver. The couple used every corner of the trailer. They could make a door under the mattress and fill the cavity with out-of-season clothing and extra bedding, and the drawers were individually carved to fit around the trailer duct.
Daugherty saw the pandemic as a reason to stop enrolling in college classes and instead travel the country with his classmate Mikaela Boone. They invested in a van, equipped it themselves and used all horizontal and vertical space. “The more compartments and cabinets we can create, the better,” says Daugherty.
Create a house for each item
“You must have a designated place for everything,” says Daugherty. She and Boone used Wal-Mart’s plastic lidless trash cans inside the compartments and cabinets to enclose them like items. “Usually, trash cans are used to organize the kitchen, but I used them for socks, T-shirts, etc. It’s easy to pull out and organize,” she says. Daugherty also points out: You can’t sleep without cleaning up the table. Nor can you clean up the table without cleaning up the dishes. You also can’t brush your teeth without washing the dishes and taking them out of the sink. “
For Labor, having space for her three daughters and their items was a priority. “Each girl has a bookshelf, a drawer under the bunk bed, a small section for hanging items, and a cabinet for bulky items for sweatshirts and sweatshirts,” she says. They also equipped the bathroom with hooks for towels for each family and shelves for each shower caddy.
Fulfill double or triple obligations
Bruder didn’t have time to equip a van like both Labor and Doherty (she had to meet the deadline and get on the road right away), so her focus was on what she filled the space with. I wasn’t as focused on the space as I was. “In some cases, an object doesn’t work for what it needs to do and serves two or three purposes,” she says. She mentions Marie Kondo’s method and states that her system is “more practical than something that causes joy.” “It works.”
At Laborers Airstream, the full-sized bed shared by her and her husband also doubles as a U-shaped hangout space for the family. Two center boards can be removed and stored in a vertical cabinet, and the cushion is divided into two from the center to become the backrest pillow of the bench seat. She admits it’s not easy. Beds are assembled every night and must be disassembled every morning.
The Daugherty and Boone bed doubles as a table and a U-shaped bench. The chest-shaped refrigerator has a cushion that fits over it, so it doubles as a bench, and the bedside table becomes a counter space in the kitchen.
Special to the Washington Post
Special to the Washington Post
RV nomads offer street-tested advice on outfitting small spaces | Lifestyle
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