We’ve heard the stats. There’s now more adults living at home than ever before.
(As I mentioned in a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post last year, a Pew Research study found that as of 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household. According to their research, this turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in millennials who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35, but also by larger economic issues.)
I am one of those adults.
A few years ago, my Mom helped me turn a ground level storage room into a bedroom and work area. I’ve since learned a little bit about subterranean living.
(Technically, my living space is “garden level.” My Mom always likes to remind me of this. However, I think a lot of these tips apply to anyone who is living in a small and/or less than desirable living situation.)
Whether you’re living in Vancouver, Barrie or somewhere else in basement-living-land, these lessons and tips are for you.
1. Surround yourself with things you love. Just don’t go overboard.
For me this means books, books, books and more books, plus a few carefully chosen tchotkes that I’ve collected over the years. If I’m having a bad day – and even when I’m not – it’s nice to look around and see things that bring me joy. With that said, I’ve learned that it’s important to reel in the collecting, unless you actually want to feel like you’re living in a literal bookshelf (hey, maybe that’s your thing though! No judgement!) Personally, I prefer a more minimal space so I’ve had to learn how to balance the desire for “things” with keeping the space as open as possible.
2. Color is your friend.
I used to think that the only way to do small space living was by being as neutral and monochromatic as possible. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy a nice pop of color here and there. Experiment and find what makes you happy. (FYI these Mexican pompoms (above) give me life and are perfect for brightening up a room – whether that’s room is in Cambridge, Ontario or Tulum, Mexico)
3. Warm bedding is key.
Winters on the west coast are damp. Heck, summers can feel pretty damp too. This innate chilliness is intensified when you’re sleeping in a basement or ground level space. But it’s nothing that a warm duvet can’t fix. I prefer natural duck down, but there’s lots of synthetic options that are great too. PS. Sheepskin throws are also great for adding a cozy vibe to your space.
4. Indulge in a few luxury touches.
Sure, you’re likely living with your family to save money but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge in a little luxury. No, I’m not suggesting that you go out and drop your last five grand on a Cartier serving tray. I’m just saying that adding a few touches that make your space feel special (whatever that looks like to you) is good for your mental health. I’m a big fan of art that brings back good memories (like my Jaguar print by Emma Ruben that I brought back from Tulum) and the gold & mirrored accessories I found at Target.
5. Edit your possessions ruthlessly.
My space is small — especially my closet — so I’ve had to adopt a “one in, one out policy” when it comes to new possessions. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it has to be in your space. If you have access to storage, pack away everything that’s not essential. Yup, that’s my actual messy closet and yes, I do buy striped t-shirts in bulk. Thanks for asking!
6. Never go to bed angry.
I don’t know what your situation is, but if you interact with your family on a daily basis this rule is golden. Living with other people isn’t easy. If you can let it go (sometimes it’s just not worth the argument), do it. Otherwise, talk it out and apologize if necessary.
7. There ain’t no shame in your game.
Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m super self-conscious about the fact that I live at home (especially after spending so many years living on my own) but most people are really supportive when I tell them. Sure, dating while living at home can be a bit awkward at times, but it’s not that big a deal. This is just temporary. If anyone you’re dating has a problem with your living situation, they’re not right for you anyways.
What are some of your favorite tips for living in a basement or small space?