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Around the home


manuelita otero

There’s a show called Tiny House Nation where two renovation experts travel around the U.S. showing the experience of families who decide to live in smaller homes.  After an interview, the hosts of the show design a house that’s right for the family. Did I mention the house is no larger than 500 square feet? When we first watched the program we got so excited and said “let’s do it”- then reality kicked in and we realized how small 500 square feet really are.

We moved from a house to a cozy apartment around three years ago and we’re now thinking to move once again to an even smaller place. We love apartments because cleaning and organizing is easier, but a smaller place also brings the challenge of not having enough space which gives us the opportunity to once again look at our things and see what we really need and what can be enjoyed by someone else.

Decisions, decisions! We love what we have but we can’t take it all. So how do we  choose? Here are some things we’re keeping in mind as we downsize:


  • Do you love it? Sometimes you may love a piece of clothing, but it just doesn’t look good. Don’t toss it back into your closet and forget about it. Make a decision, it either works or it doesn’t.

  • Does it fit? Do you feel good in it? If not, give it away.

  • How about accessories? Have you checked lately your purses, belts, necklaces? Do you still love what you have?

  • Have you used it in the past year? If not, why? If you still love it and it fits, find a way to update it. I always give second chances to what I love (you see why it’s so hard for me to get rid of things?)


  • Does it make you happy?

  • Does it bring a memory?

  • Sometimes things aren’t just things, and that’s ok. During years we moved often and we would always pack all our belongings in one container. Our things have gone from Colombia, to Australia, to Singapore, back to Colombia and now to the States and I can’t describe my joy once our things would arrive. They would make any place feel like home. The key is to carefully decide what pieces are important to you and to be realistic and see if they still fit your lifestyle. We change, times change, and some of our things need to change too.


  • It seems that we keep getting more and more papers, even in this digital era. The most important thing is organization, which will make it easier to define what’s important.

  • Try to separate one day a week for filing so things won’t pile up.

  • Put important papers in a safe place, including art work by your children or special things you don’t want to lose.

It seems that once things are in one place for a long time we don’t even notice them and we get used to the mess being there.  That’s why it’s so important to look at your home with fresh eyes and be as honest as possible when it comes to downsizing. Traveling light is good, but it is also good to carry those things that mean something special. Use common sense when it comes to giving things away.  Enjoy what you have and try not to keep more than what you need.  

Manuelita   @manuelitaotero