Secret Knowledge: Thriving in a Small Space

Next in our continuing series about the Secret Knowledge held by Sightglass employees is Sam Abbott, a barista at 7th Street and the Ferry Building Farmers Market. Tiny houses, #vanlife — living in small places is hot. Always one step ahead, Sam has lived in 120 square feet for 6 years in an efficiency studio in the Tenderloin.

Trim the fat. “All my shirts are A-game.”  When you sleep under your clothes (Sam’s bed is inside his closet to save space) you don’t have room for those shirts that you’re definitely, for sure, probably going to wear someday if you finally lose those 5 pounds and you need to go to a funeral or a Hawaiian shirt party.

Make it do double duty. “You can use a Crock Pot as a heater when your apartment is tiny, and you also have hot food when you wake up in the morning.” Sam owns two Crock Pots. Keep your other kitchen stuff minimal: “Four bowls and four drinking cups and you’re set until the end of time.”

Hobbies take up space. “I want to do everything in this life, but it’s also good because this apartment has capped me a little.” That guitar that you’re probably not going to play? Gift it. But also embrace your passion; one corner of the apartment is soundproof so that Sam can make his awesome music. (Listen on Soundcloud!)

Make room for a pinecone. Sam collects a few things, but he keeps it reasonable; in addition to a single pinecone, he keeps one smooth piece of wood, the head of a guitar and seven quarters that are painted either red or blue.

(Ed. note: Why are some quarters painted red or blue? They’re “shill coins” that a bar uses in their own jukebox.)

Embrace saturation.  Living in a little room means that you, the essential, deep you, is distilled and concentrated. Also, “You own all your messes.”

Get the good stuff. Instead of many mediocre things, get one really high quality thing that will last. Sam’s last piece of advice? “Buy the good toaster oven.”

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