by Kelly Ross

When we were paring down our belongings before moving into our 200 square foot converted school bus, The Just Right Bus (www.justrightbus.com), most of the items we chose to bring were held to high standards of functionality and space efficiency. We had to pay close attention to the things we actually used and needed to live. Finding a multi-functional item that fits well in a space is like hitting the tiny house lottery, but what about those things that don’t have a function? The stuff you’ve collected along the way that’s irreplaceable and you can’t imagine living without?

This post is all about how we choose to keep some of the art, the heirlooms, the hobbies and the tchotchkes that I couldn’t imagine my life without; those essential, non-essential items that make our bus a home.

Size Matters

The first thing we had to consider when choosing some of our essential non-essentials was size. There’s hardly any wall space in the bus and none of it is wider than 32”, so most of our larger canvas art was out immediately. We don’t have much surface space so any sculptures or decorative items wider than 12” wouldn’t have a spot either. I’m also a potter and knew right away that a pottery wheel wouldn’t have a permanent home in the bus. We overcame this challenge by finding a covered outdoor spot for my pottery wheel and choosing the small pieces of art and sculpture we loved the most. We even built a designated space for two hand-carved African sculptures that have significant personal value to us.

I recommend taking stock of the items you can’t imagine living without prior to buying or building a tiny home. If you incorporate them into your design from the very beginning then you know they’ll have a space that’s just right for them. This will also help to reality check what may seem possible, but simply won’t fit.

You can’t keep everything

The simple truth of the matter is that there isn’t enough space to squeeze a large house’s supply of non-essentials into a tiny home. We had to seriously consider which pieces were of the most personal and sentimental value before keeping them. By taking all of our non-essentials such as art, sculptures, pottery, vases, craft supplies and knick knacks and putting them in one place we slowly removed one piece after another until we had whittled it down to a select few that meant the most to us.

Rotate to reduce clutter

It would be easy to fit a lot of non-essentials into a space by filling up every shelf, wall space, counter and flat surface available but this can result in quite the cluttered look. Cluttered spaces look and feel smaller so instead of stuffing those tchotchkes into every nook and cranny, consider keeping a few in storage or a drawer and rotating throughout the year. You could also do this by rotating photographs in frames or dishes in the cabinets.

Keep what you can’t live without

There are many extremes to which individuals believe they need to go to be happy. For some it’s just the basic necessities; food, water, and shelter. For others the list might include a large home, multiple pets, an old car to refurbish, craft supplies, or a rare collection of trilobite fossils. Whatever your personal passions or hobbies may be, it is important to acknowledge them and the part they play in making your house a home. A home is a place where you do more than just survive, it’s where you live. So accept what you need to live and make your home, whether it’s tiny, small, big or large, just right for you.


Kelly Ross is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings. She lives in a converted school bus that is neither too hot nor too cold with her husband and two dogs. You can learn more about Kelly and her “Just Right Bus” at her website or Facebook Page.

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