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Micro living – buying a small home & loving your new lifestyle

31 January 2023 | Insights Team

With inflation at its current levels and home affordability being a hot topic, it’s no wonder that many are opting to buy a small home or are downsizing their current homes. But living in a smaller home doesn’t mean compromising your lifestyle at all. In fact, if you’re organised, a few practical changes will make all the difference!

Embracing a simpler, more affordable way of living, an emerging trend, is one that can free you up to do more of the things you choose, ones that really give you joy. This downsizing trend is definitely here to stay as many people shift away from larger homes and escalating maintenance costs.

Once you’ve made the shift to a smaller space, it’s all about making the choice to keep organised in a way that will help you to make the most of your new home.

De-clutter and let Go

De-cluttering guru, Marie Kondo, says decluttering your life is the pathway to freedom and joy. And she is pretty firm about the fact that we shouldn’t surround ourselves with too much stuff.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart,” says Kondo. “Then take the plunge and discard the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

Make your space count

Once you have mentally accepted your new space, then the practical aspects of downsizing your lifestyle are pretty easy. Carefully consider the décor of your home and make a few clever choices to help you to make the most of it.

Bulky appliances

Audit your appliances. Do you really need all of them? Some may be a bit dated and way past their prime anyway. Replace bulky appliances with compact, or smarter ones – like a dishwasher/dryer combo, for example.

Select streamlined furniture

Sleek lines, modular shapes. Less is more definitely works in small spaces. Collapsible or stackable furniture that can be folded away when not in use is the way to go. Remember that dining tables with benches minimise space, as benches can be pushed away under the table.

Multipurpose furniture

Opt for items that can be used for another function – like a butcher’s block on wheels that can store kitchen items and be used as a work surface but can easily be moved around and used as a side table or server. Be creative about storage solutions. Like adding an ottoman at the end of the bed to store linen.

Create “zones” within the home

For example, use screens to divide a room into another space, if need be. It’s easy to get creative, even if you are on a budget.


Wallpaper adds depth to a small room and interest to your interior. Bear in mind that darker colours tend to absorb light and may make a room look smaller, so opt for light, airy colours.

The Cantaloupe Rule

The Cantaloupe Rule is something that designers swear by to decorate small spaces. (In South Africa, we would probably call it The Spanspek Rule.) The rule states that no piece of decor should be smaller than a spanspek because a lot of small décor items will clutter a space rather than open it up. Don’t be afraid to choose larger pieces of furniture for a smaller space to create the illusion of a larger space.

Hang it up

Use walls to hook up, or hang any loose items like jackets, blazers, hats, scarves and towels – even toy bags and kitchen utensils.

Mirrors and shelving

Mirrors reflect light, making a space appear larger and floor-to-ceiling storage can beautifully showcase your curated collection of books or artwork.

Sliding doors
These take up less space than hinged doors.

Create garden spaces

If you’re in an apartment, you can still garden abundantly in pots or crates which can be very rewarding, bringing the green outdoors in. Vertical gardens (modular hanging plants) add foliage and freshness to your space.

Get out there

Not only can you make all the areas in your home count, but you can also consider urban areas as your space to enjoy. Visit nearby parks or communal areas, and make them part of your lifestyle. Take part in community events – like cycling clubs or walking groups – as this will also get you out of the house. This way your home environment will be unlimited.

Watch Marie Kondo – Youtube

Read Tiny home living, anywhere

Spectacular ‘tiny homes’ are popping up all over South Africa

Downsizing to a cheaper home does not make you a failure; it is actually a pretty smart move

Insights Team

We're the "thinking arm" of Leadhome, combining expertise in data analysis, modelling, sociology, geography, and philosophy to interrogate current trends in the South African residential property market. Proudly contemplative since 2015.

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