Issue No. 14: Upsizing

"Life is really simple,
but we insist on making it complicated." 

- Confucius


Until we moved into our house nearly two months ago, I hadn’t lived in a house/apartment more than 800 square-feet in six years. And, in fact, more than half of those six years were spent living in a 400-square-foot bungalow in Santa Monica, which we loved.

When we moved from Austin to Los Angeles in 2012 we downsized from a 1,700-square-foot loft to the bungalow, which was less than a third of the size. We ended up getting rid of a lot of our furniture since it either didn’t work in the space or didn’t fit. Besides our couch, we were starting from scratch. We put together our cozy home slowly. If you’ve ever lived in a small space, you know that it’s a sort of endless puzzle.

During our time in Santa Monica, Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came out. We were just back from a trip to Japan and we dove right in getting rid of what I estimate to be a third of our stuff (including a lot of books, which I do occasionally regret).

By the time we moved to New York in 2016, we were living materially lean. And even though we ended up living in a larger space than our Santa Monica bungalow, we knew we’d be moving again soon. When we left a year later and moved to Seattle, we parted from even more stuff: We were determined to set up a home with only stuff that we loved.

Which brings me to today: We’re now living in 1,400 square feet, a small house by most measures, and we’re piece-by-piece putting our long-awaited home together. But here’s the thing, with each acquisition I notice an underlying anxiety, or what I’m calling the anxiety of upsizing.

After keeping our material lives intentionally small for so long, it feels strange adding in new—not insignificant—things. Where we had one bed before, we now have two (a guest bed). A yard requires maintenance: Hello, lawn mower and weed whacker. If we want to have people over, which we love to do, we can only ask them to dine at the coffee table for so long—we need a dining table and chairs. Stuff.

The only thing that somewhat eases this anxiety for me is to go slow and purposefully add things that we truly need and love to our world. Also, I think about something my mom told me last summer when Matt and I were living out of suitcases in Hawaii: Sometimes it’s okay to let your life expand. I believe this is true, I’m just going to make sure to do it my way.