Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From house to studio?

When I decided to move back to Montana, I thought I would rent a 3 bedroom place. Anything less seemed....less!  I scheduled a visit to Missoula to finalize plans.  On my first day there, my friend M was showing me the basement space they renovated several years ago into a large studio apartment. 700 sf of open concept with a gorgeous fireplace, oversized window, compact kitchen, nicely sized bathroom. I have always admired the space and I laughingly remarked that she needed to toss her tenant out so that I could live there.  To my amazement, her tenant had that very day told them that she wanted to move closer to her son and his new wife, and would she be able to find someone who could step right into her lease. Was that a sign?  Did the tenant really make that decision at the exact time I arrived so that I could move in? Would it be that easy?  As it turns out, no, it wouldn't be. 

When I first considered the move to the studio, my immediate thought was can I live in a space that small?  Without doors?  Without walls??? What will I do with all of my stuff?  I have not only boxes and boxes of my own possessions, but the remainder of what my kids did not take with them when they left. My daughter, that amazingly practical and logical woman, suggested that this might be the perfect time to get rid of a lot of the stuff I have been dragging from state to state.  She pointed out that unless forced to do so, I will never sort thru the boxes upon boxes of extremely important items to see just how extremely important they actually are.  She knows me too well. The Plan Step 1...reduce, reduce, reduce.

The Plan Step 2:  Organize, organize, organize.  It occurred to me that I could not possibly be the only person on the planet who is downsizing right now, and in fact a Google search revealed many, many others who are making very similar journeys for a variety of reasons.  The trick, apparently, is in managing the space itself, organizing it in such a way as to take advantage of every nook and cranny, making sure that anything brought into the space has a purpose. There are dozens of sites in support of life in smaller spaces, some of them much smaller than the one I was considering, offering tips and opinions on everything from multiple use furniture (everyone agrees with the need for this) to room dividers (opinions vary here...some say an enthusiastic yes, others a definite no). All of them agree on one point...the importance of keeping the home neat and organized. Armed with this knowledge, and with The Plan firmly in mind, I began mentally assessing and arranging furniture, stocking the kitchen cabinets, choosing the perfect paint colors to set off the various areas where I would work, sleep, cook and enjoy media (that sounds much better than 'watching tv').  I was excited by the challenges inherent in downsizing, determined that my studio apartment would be the very model of efficiency and style!

Do I even need to say what can happen to the best laid plans?  After packing off my belongings to a facility where they will be stored for the next 30 days, and driving to Missoula with a car filled with a month's worth of clothes, my dog and an inflatable mattress, I arrived to find that the tenant has delayed her move for at least 6 months! Now I am faced with a dilemma.  Do I go forward with plans for a studio apartment, even though it won't be this studio apartment?  Will another apartment be as charming as this snug little basement space with its big sunny window and cozy fireplace?  Or is this a cosmic sign that I shouldn't live in a much smaller space?

As my daughter texted me in response to my tale of woes...time for Plan B! 

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