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614 Living: Tight Quarters

614 Living: Tight Quarters


Some people have gotten good at living the dream.

You know, that ever-present dream we all have of a clutter-free existence, and weekends free of overwhelming yard work and the fear of one day being crushed by a mountain of accumulating Bed, Bath, and Beyond purchases.

In this month’s Cribs section, we peek inside the homes and mentalities of those able to accomplish the oft-unattainable goal of living large and small at the same time.

Mark Grillo, Italian Village

One bed. One bath. 744 square feet. That’s exactly what Mark Grillo needs—which only became clear to him after being the previous owner of 3x each of those things. Now, he finds himself blissfully content in what he says will be his “forever home.” “I have been saying the only way I would leave my tiny home is feet first.”

Moving forced me to examine all my belongings and ask myself if I really needed it.  Moving made me touch everything I own—clothes, shoes, furniture, pot and pans, art work, the three vacuums I owned, etc. I had to decide on the spot, keep or throw, no excuses.

I think that’s what drives or will be driving more people to make the move to tiny living: the idea of making life simpler, easier, less stressful. Much less yard work, house maintenance, upkeep. More time with family and friends. That’s what was important to me.

My absolute favorite part of my home is actually not on the inside, but the outside: my front porch. It’s very small—only big enough for two people—but it puts me front and center. I see everyone and everything that goes by. I have met more neighbors, strangers walking by, etc. then I ever did living in the ’burbs. It helps create a sense of neighborhood seeing people outside and greeting them as they stroll by.

It can be hard to entertain. I like to have parties a couple of times per year, now I find I have to have more frequent, smaller get-togethers throughout the year.  I can only have about 4-8 guests at a time. Overnighters are out of the question.

Marti Babcock and Stephen Pence, Clintonville

The couple who both work in event design/planning (she for All Together Now and he for Strongwater Food & Spirits) cherish their small space for its simplicity, it’s minimal footprint, and its adjacency to public transportation and the rest of the city.

Bigger isn’t always better. Large homes lead to more maintenance costs as well as time costs. It’s so easy to incur hundreds of thousands in debt in just a few years with student loans, a mortgage, and cars. I think we are living in time where economic freedom is becoming a top priority versus consumption and material things. Also, we are constantly stimulated, so having a clean and simple home can be soothing and comforting.

My favorite part of my home is my sunroom. The light is amazing and I am often tied to my computer for work, so soaking up the sun while I work makes life a little more blissful. Second is my bathtub. Bubble baths are the shit.

Purchase and/or keep everything with intention. So many people hang on to things that they don’t love or that have no purpose in their homes and it causes clutter and mess. Make sure you make rules for yourself when you purchase new items. I will hold off for a long time until I find the right chair or the perfect piece of art to be sure it’s right for me.

Dani Grosh and Michael Wilkinson, Harrison West

The newly engaged couple have their life condensed into one floor—albeit one with a unique bedroom containing a high vaulted ceiling and faux fireplace, a large second story porch, an office, and a converted dressing room/closet.

There’s a brilliance that comes with the design work in these small and functional living spaces. Every detail is intentional and no space is taken for granted—it’s a liberating way to live. Many of our family and friends have been talking to us about downsizing, simplifying, and purging their things lately—reasons vary from decreasing their environmental footprint to simply not wanting as much stuff. People are realizing that they can live happier and fuller lives with less but needed to see it before taking that step themselves.

Realistically, we just don’t need that much space and it’s not important to us. Big yards and sweeping floor plans are great for some people, but it’s just not what we’re after right now. Plus, we have great parks in walking distance, and enjoy the flexibility to be able to pick up and move very easily if we wanted.

We don’t have a dishwasher, so when we first moved in I was pretty hung up on it. Michael must have washed the dishes for the first few months we lived here. Things changed when I visited friends in Seattle and was shocked to see that they had a working dishwasher, used it for storage, and washed all their dishes by hand. They inspired me to get involved with dishwashing—which is good for Michael because I’m not much of a cook, so now it’s how I contribute in the kitchen.

We made the clothing racks, which was so easy. The space might be a little excessive to some, but it’s temporary, I know it’ll be the first space to go when we need a nursery. Michael loves the kitchen, the exposed brick and hardwood. The room floods with natural light and we spend a lot of time entertaining in here. The bar is really functional and he loves whipping up cocktails and cooking brunch and dinner.

A little thoughtfulness and invention has gone a long way in our small space. We like to re-purpose materials, like the piping for our clothing racks, and we make or find a lot of our furniture. Michael made our headboard from beautiful reclaimed Ohio barn wood, and I was passed down an incredible industrial style drawing table from my uncle that is now our dining room table. We like to build and be creative, but also surround ourselves with meaningful finds that get a lot of love.


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