I struggle to buy into the idea that a minimalist life has to ‘look’ a certain way. I don’t believe that ‘minimalist’ spaces need to be empty, all-white spaces devoid of any colour, texture or stuff, in order to be ‘right’. So, imagine my surprise when I recently fell in love with an Airbnb that checked off most of the ‘minimalist design’ boxes.
I was traveling a couple of weeks ago for work and, because I didn’t book the conference hotel in time, had booked my first ever Airbnb. Let me tell you, I was more than excited. I couldn’t wait to have my own space for a week, away from the other delegates (more on that later), and the general buzz that accompanies a big event like that.
Over the course of the week that I was there, every time I walked into the apartment it literally put a smile on my face. I instantly felt at ease in the space, like I was meant to be there. I can’t really explain it. But, every time I came ‘home’ for the evening, I immediately felt so calm. It was like everything was right in the world again.
It’s been two weeks and I’ve had some time to reflect on my first ever Airbnb experience. I think there are a number of reasons why this space made me feel, frankly, happy.
1) It was Tiny
It will come as a surprise to no one who has read Tiny Ambitions before that I love small spaces. After all, I am saving up for and designing my own tiny house. This Airbnb was tiny – even by Toronto standards. If I had to guess, I would say it was around 500sqft. But, it felt so instantly homey to me that I didn’t mind.
Since moving into our 1800sqft. apartment, I’ve felt dwarfed by the space. There is just too much of it and it doesn’t quite feel like ‘ours’ yet. So, in a way, the Airbnb was a relief. It had just enough room for the essentials and nothing more. But, and this is key, it was clear it was designed to be that way.
Our apartment is one of 4 units in a massive house that used to be a single-family home for a family with 11 kids. The consequence of this is that, while our new space is big, the space itself is not well planned out. It’s basically just a bunch of big rooms forced together and called an apartment.
2) It was Modern
On any given day, if you asked me what my design style was, there’s a 50/50 chance I’d say modern or rustic. Luckily (for me), two weeks I was digging the modern vibe.
But, my love of the modern, white, clean lines of my Airbnb is in no way connected to my minimalist mindset. Again, one does not necessarily equal the other. There is a very specific reason why I think the modern space appealed to me. If you were following along on my Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know I was in Toronto for a work conference, which gives me hives.
I’m an introvert (shocker, I know), so conferences and other social event are incredibly draining for me. By the end of a conference day, I need to shut out the world and give my brain a rest. I think that’s why I appreciated the modern design of the Airbnb. It was simple, bright and non-distracting for my exhausted mind. I could just ‘be’ in the space. I didn’t need to over think or worry about it.
3) It Wasn’t Mine
Airbnb’s feel fundamentally different from a hotel. The Airbnb I stayed in felt homey, inviting and warm. In contrast, the hotels I normally stay in for work are uninviting and cold somehow. In hotels, you get a sense that everyone else staying there is there for the same reasons you are. There is an air of transientness to it.
My Airbnb, on the other hand, was in an apartment building and was part of a downtown community. It was like the building lived and breathed and was full of purpose. I know that sounds outrageous. But, that’s how it felt.
The Airbnb wasn’t mine, I was just renting it. That means the whole experience was relatively free of responsibility. That’s not to say I didn’t respect the space and treat it like my own, because, I did. In fact, I actually cared for the space more than a typical hotel room. The reason I did that brings me to my last reason why the space made me happy.
4) It Was Someone Else’s
The Airbnb I stayed in belonged to someone else. And, when they’re not hosting guests, they actually live there. Some people might find that disconcerting like they were playing house. But, I actually found it comforting to know that someone else called that space home. It was a stamp of approval somehow. Something about hotels always seems artificial and staged to me. I can never quite settle into that space. In real terms, that means I’m always exhausted when I travel for work because I never sleep. In a shocking twist, I actually slept in the Airbnb, and slept well. I was so shocked when I woke up the first morning there and realized I wasn’t going to be a zombie for the rest of the day.
The Connection Between Space and Wellbeing
All of this probably seems like terrible complaining. What does it matter what your space is like or how it’s organized?
But, that’s the point! My experience showed me that spaces can have a positive impact on the way I feel.
Does that mean I’m going to change my tiny house design to something ultra modern? No, I don’t think so. I value organized spaces where everything has a home, over what that actual organization looks like. However, what I will take with me from the Airbnb is a renewed importance on brightness (i.e. light), cozy textures, simplicity, and community.
Is your living space important to you? Could you care less about where you live and what it looks like? There’s no wrong answer, let me know in the comments!
If you missed last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about aligning your finances and your goals, you can listen to it here. Stay tuned for a new episode on Thursday (or Wednesday night if you’re on Anchor).
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions