Make a Smaller Home Work for You

In 2008, Tanille Leal and her husband were living in a 1,500-square-foot home with a dog and a cat in Reno, Nev.

Today, they live in a converted 360-foot 1959 travel trailer, and Leal says they have never been happier.

“The only thing I regret is not having a dining room table,” says Leal, whose home won a runner-up spot in Apartment Therapy's Teeny Tiny category of the Small Cool Contest. “There's something about sitting down to a meal at a table.”

A "Shrinking" Trend

The Leals lost their home to foreclosure in the Nevada real estate collapse, but while the family's choice to downsize was extreme, Kent Griswold, creator of the Tiny House Blog, says there are plenty of reasons to move to a smaller home.

“People are really interested in downsizing and living within their income with smaller or no mortgages,” he says. “They want less space to keep up and maintain, and they want to get rid of all of the stuff in their lives.”

The Griswolds aren't alone: Statistics show that the average square footage for homes is shrinking, and the latest data, according to the National Home Builder’s Association, show the average size of a new single-family home built in 2010 shrunk from 2,438 square feet to 2,377 square feet.

Leal says the first thing his family did before moving was sell about two-thirds of its possessions.

“We converted our CDs to iTunes and got rid of the DVD covers and a lot of clothes,” Leal says. The trick to maintaining a clutter-free life is purging at least once every three months, he says.

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