Lessons in Tiny Living II

As life in the time of Covid has most of us sticking close to home and practicing a new way of life inside, we’re all left with a few open-ended questions about how to best get along while literally rubbing elbows with our families, partners and roommates. To answer that, we tapped a few folks from the Old Pal community of sailors, #VanLifers and world-travelers to share their lessons while living in small spaces as we all get a little more intimate together.

In this edition we look to Old Pal collaborator Ryan Lovelace and his wife Katie, whose footloose approach to life design has inspired many who have seen their vibe documented in books, films and magazine articles. Most surfers have come to know Ryan through surfboard shaping, as he handmakes some of the most progressive surfcraft in the water today. Katie’s creativity shows up in a wellness clothing offering called Psychedelic Honey that inspires women from land to sea.

Running two small businesses in coastal zones has not only informed a focus on only the essential needs in life but also their living situations. For a while, roots were planted in ‘Ophelia’, a 1940s school bus that has since become Old Pal’s ‘Cosmic Collider’ flagship vehicle. They’ve since moved on from their rolling home into closer quarters on a 1970s toller boat with their more nimble Island Fox restored and ready for quick strike surf and fishing missions.

We chatted with Katie and Ryan as they dug in on a Hawaiian island to wait out this current situation. We can all learn a little from their lessons in tiny living as we do the same.


If you need space, make sure you get it outside of home or if you know you’ve got a few hours in your tiny zone alone, maximize it and soak it in! I’ve found a lot of times having a small space to yourself really makes it easy to enjoy the silence—there’s less around you to distract, and anything you might forget about doing that needs to be done is right in your face so you can’t forget about it for too long. Having understanding about the fact that you’re never going to be 100% out of each other’s way when you’re home is just a part of it, it can either be a bad thing or it can be a force for growth. It asks you to pay more attention to each other’s movements and intentions and provide space for each other.


The best secret about a small space is that it cleans up quickly! If you teamwork it, usually a tiny home can be pretty dang clean top to bottom in about an hour. I definitely can’t say that about a full size house or space and we’ve definitely enjoyed that about our places over the years.


There’s a great book about this that my friends wrote; it’s called Tiny Mess. My best recommendation is if you have any say over the layout of your small space, is to make your food area a priority—there are very few things you have to do at home. Eating and prepping food is one of them, so make sure your space allows for that to be enjoyable and easy so it’s not a drag.

We can generally make about anything we want to prepare with a skillet or pot, solid salad bowl and a cutting board. We keep our toaster under the couch and use it once or twice a week, and we don’t have a microwave so our kitchen footprint is straightforward and pretty to the point which makes things easier.


Katie and I spend most of our time outside the house, so when we’re home we’re usually cooking or relaxing and enjoying each others’ company—a pastime that has become ever more important lately as ‘outside the house’ is less available. Lately, we’ve been playing a lot of Go Fish, it’s quick enough to play a game here and there and doesn’t involve a screen, and it still has all the highs and lows you need out of a good game! Reading is a great one as well…one of those things so many of us say we’ll do and never ‘have time’ for. Quiet mornings on the couch clearing out a chapter of a good book is pretty hard to beat!

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