Well… not really. For Adrian Crook it’s a way of life.
I’d say his kids look pretty darn happy.
When I read about Adrian’s lifestyle I felt intrigued to reach out to him. I find his way of living so extremely interesting and truly inspiring. You can read our interview below:
- Maximize floor space: If you don’t need a coffee table, get rid of it. If you can wall-mount your TV instead of having a big AV stand, do it. If one sectional sofa offers as much seating as a loveseat and three chairs, get the sectional and free up floor space. Floor space is king when there are kids involved as they still want to romp around, even in small spaces.
- Don’t block windows: Let as much natural light in as possible. Avoid putting a large couch, or TV unit, or headboard, etc in front of a window. If you do have to, keep the item low (i.e. the chaise portion of a sectional). Small and dark does not feel nice to live in.
- Constantly move stuff out: We frequently make trips to the Family Resource Centre, where we donate items our family no longer needs to families who can’t afford those things in the first place! Not only is this a great lesson for the kids in how we help those who are less fortunate, but it’s imperative if we want to keep our own space livable. Our only available storage is an in-suite storage unit that has so little in it that we’ve converted it to an art room for the kids. They get so much use out of that… there’s no amount of “things” that would be worth hoarding at the expense of that room, for instance.
- Use vertical storage: We bought one of those IKEA 5×5 bookcases and the versatility of that means that all the kids toys, our books, the Xbox 360, stereo speakers, cameras and other electronics, files, and so forth all end up in it. And it looks great. That one addition freed up so much space and clutter from the rest of the apartment. Use vertical surfaces over horizontal ones as much as possible to maintain floor space.
- Avoid high structures: We’re fortunate to live in a place with high ceilings, so it will tolerate some tall structures (like the aforementioned book shelf, or the boys triple bunk) better than a lower ceiling place would. But adding tall skinny structures to a small place will close it in – especially if they are dark wood or black.
- We walk everywhere. One term that’s been coined to describe some suburban environments is “obesogenic” – which means a place that promotes excessive weight gain, by over-reliance on cars, primarily. Walking everywhere downtown is not only the easiest way to get around, but it’s precisely the type of ambient exercise we need more of as we get older (and that kids these days often don’t get enough of, with screen time the way it is). The kids and I will often walk 5-10km a day, which would be unheard of in suburban environments.
- Closeness to cool stuff: Not a day goes by where we don’t comment on how easy it is to access all the best things in the city, for adults and kids alike. A block away is the main library. Numerous public plazas, live event venues, kids places, parks, and so forth. If there’s something cool happening in Vancouver, chances are it’s only a few blocks away from where we live. That’s pretty tough to beat. Having lived across a bridge before, I know that even a 20 minute drive downtown is often enough to kibosh a fun evening out, especially when you’re tired after a long day of work and commuting. So being right next door to everything fun means you’re way more likely to “pop out” for an hour or two, when you might not otherwise.
- Lighter footprint: We have less stuff and we use less resources than a house would. Our utilities bill comes to about $35/month, for instance. In my former life as a suburban house dweller, I recall some months where that bill would be 10 times as much as that. I love that we consume less than most two person households, let alone other seven person homes. As a society I think we have a resource problem. Depending on your perspective, either over-population or over-sconsumption is the root cause. With five kids, clearly I don’t believe over-population is the issue, so I figure it’s my responsibility to show my kids how we can live with less – and be happy about it!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Adrian. All the best!
With this time of year being the perfect time for spring cleaning maybe Adrian can inspire you (like he did for me) to donate a few more things this year. Do you really need that extra toaster?
Tune in this Thursday for my DIY Faux Brick Wall Post.