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Small pleasures: Learning to live with less

Credit: Studio 13 Photography/Lesle Lane

Since Marie Kondo came to town, the design world has been obsessed with ways to clean up. In this trio of recent books, authors showcase three different ways to shrink your footprint, from decluttering your existing space to living large in cozy, compact homes. Even if you're not ready to make a big change to small living, each book offers inspiring looks into the lives of the less burdened, and actionable tips to employ in your own life.

Downsize: Living Large in a Small House

If the thought of going smaller is overwhelming, author Sheri Koones can help ease you into it with Downsize: Living Large in a Small House (Taunton Press, $34.95). This 234-page hardcover book is a great primer that's equally suited to empty-nesters and environmentally conscious builders alike. It features case studies of 33 North American homes in cities and rural outposts ranging in size from a fairly expansive 2000 square feet to a more compact 571 square feet. It's full of tips on creating and inhabiting smaller spaces, and offers 275 photos, plus floor plans and breakdowns of each home's green features.

Tiny House: Live Small, Dream Big

Sometimes the best things come in the smallest packages. That's the case with this pint-sized, 5.5-by-7.5-inch, 256-page hardcover book, Tiny House: Live Small, Dream Big (Clarkson Potter, $18.00). It's written by Brent Heavener, founder of @tinyhouse on Instagram, and features 250 color photographs of some of the smallest homes in the world, from lakeside cottages in Finland to spectacular tree houses in the Canadian woods to repurposed busses. More of a picture book than a guidebook — the few bits of text inside are printed in an almost Lilliputian font — it's nonetheless packed with inspiring ideas on how to a build beautiful, efficient life in an economy of space.

Less Stuff: Simple zero-waste steps to a joyful and clutter-free life

More of a philosophy book than a décor guide, Less Stuff: Simple zero-waste steps to a joyful and clutter-free life (Hardie Grant, $24.99) is about creating a new way of living that's not just organized, but minimized. Author Lindsay Miles takes readers step by step and room by room through the process of determining what can be repaired, what needs to be recycled, what can be rehomed, and what should never be brought into your home in the first place. But it's not about guilting readers into action. Rather, workbook sections of the 224-page paperback let readers take things at their own pace, and help them determine for themselves what it means to live with less.

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