Just a quick post today, I found this neat trick today and liked the space saving and reuse of things. Use a soda can tab to double stack your hanging clothes and save a bunch of space. This would also be good to pair outfits, like a shirt and pants for business dress.
1. Use vertical space
After talking with lots of Tiny House folks, I have seen this as a trend: maximize the vertical. Everything above 8 feet is all dead air if you don’t use it, so capitalize on that. You could have a small chest that takes up 2 square feet of floor space. If it is 4 feet tall, you will have around 8 cubic feet of storage. Take that to the ceiling and suddenly you have doubled or tripled your volume, but haven’t given away any more floor space which is a scarcity in a Tiny House.
2. Everything has a place and is in its place
When working with a small space I know that everything needs a place. Without it, your house goes from quaint to cluttered. Make sure every item you have has its own resting place and be sure that it finds its way back once you’re done using it. One lady who lives in a 90 square foot apartment said to me “if it doesn’t have a place, do you really need it?” and that’s a good point. Things that matter and are used are important enough to demand a place.
3. Double duty on items
There are those items which are by their nature, multi functional. You need to capitalize on these types of items. When you consider an item, you should always think if there is something else that can do it already. A perfect example of this is the end table, which transforms to a chair for extra seating. Check it out here.
4. Purpose built – built ins
Built-ins are nice, but built-ins with a purpose are even better. Think specifics. When paring down your possessions, you will identify the 100 or so items that will be contained in your house. Take stock of those items and let them dictate the form of your storage. If you are a ski patrol member, your closet should be able to fit your skis. If you live in colder climates, you will need more room for larger jackets than others might.
5. Go digital / paperless
As if being greener isn’t motivation enough, going digital, as I call it, means that you are able to reduce the tangible items you need. Digital files take up no space if you have them stored online, with the added advantage of being able to access them from anywhere. Combined with backing the files up, they become safer than real world things. The IRS officially accepts all scanned copies of receipts and bank statements. This extends beyond receipts: books on your Kindle, movies on your Roku, music on OpenTape, or recipes in a wiki.
6. Less is more
At this point I am preaching to the choir but, the question is not how to organize all your stuff, but on how to reduce the stuff to organize. The mentality needed is the same as you had if/when you went to college. The dorm rooms were tiny and you were broke. You only had what you really needed. Studies have shown that more stuff does not lead to happiness, so focus on the important things in life.
7. One thing in, one thing out
One principle that I like to pull from the Zen/Fung Shui school of thought is this. If you want to add a new item, consider adopting the rule that for every item you bring in, you must give up something else. Now, no cheating – like giving up a pen for an arm chair, but you get the idea. 8. Be intentional Living with intention will have a profound impact on your life. Be thoughtful in your actions and choices. This extends to your organization and stuff. When you consider purchasing an item, you must first evaluate it and decide if you really need it. I often don’t buy it right then, but next time I am in that store (in a week or two). If I still want it then, I usually go for it if it makes sense.
9. Think inside the box
This is a technique that I use when I feel that a certain space is cluttered or if I start stacking stuff. Take a box, fill it up with everything. Then as you need the items pull them out of the box. Six weeks later, if you still have stuff in the box – no, let me rephrase that, you WILL have stuff in the box – you can evaluate what is left. There is rarely an item that I have that I don’t use within 6 weeks that’s worth keeping. Detailed box theory.
10. Most used items easy to access
This seems pretty obvious, but having the most used items in the front means you are able to access them quicker and without disturbing other things. This ties back to being intentional. You should be intense about organizing your items in this manner. If you notice that there are items in the back that haven’t been touched in a while, it’s time to evaluate whether you still need them.
They say that their people in New York live like no one else; this is certainly the case for two residents who have taken up the task of living in apartments the size of a walk in closet. I had the great fortune to get to sit down with two women, Felice and Genevieve, who live in a 90 square feet and 105 square feet.
When it comes to living in a tiny space Genevieve told me you need “a place for everything and everything in its place” to make it work. Organization was something that she felt was really important for living in such a confined space. In the 4 years she has spent living in her 105 square foot apartment she has become quite masterful at maximizing space. Tiny House folks often talk about the “100 thing challenge” a method where-by we reduce our belongings to just 100 things.
There are, however, those things we simply can’t part from, for Genevieve it was shoes….62 of them to be exact! With no closet she uses a bookshelf and baskets to store all her clothes and shoes. From looking at all the clothes, it’s obvious that everything is kept “in it’s place”.
Felice put it well when she said “if something doesn’t have a place, do you really need it?” I couldn’t agree more and from talking to these two it was obvious that they were very conscious about what was in the space. Every item was intentional, thought out and agonized over out of sheer necessity. As a professional home organization expert, Felice spends allot of time in other spaces with people who have allot of stuff. She often starts out with clients by asking not what do you want to keep, but “What are the things you really want?” To select these items as if your house was burning down, which would you try to save first? By this method Felice is able to reduce her items to the things she loves most; In the case of her closet, when she opens it, she loves every piece of clothing there, if she doesn’t absolutely love it, it gets donated.
After talking to lots of people about living in their Tiny Houses, I have noticed that people stress the need to go vertical, in the case of Felice and Genevieve, this was the case as well. Even in apartments with 9 foot ceilings, they stacked to the ceiling, in the case of their beds, they were lofted.
Sleeping in such a small place seems to be across the board be approached by the use of lofting the sleeping area. With only 23″ of space between mattress and ceiling, Felice felt closed in when she first moved in, leaving her wondering if she had made the right move. Nowadays, she loves the coziness of the bed.
That feeling of coziness is something that translates to the whole apartment. “It feels cozy, I have a friend who lives in a big one bed room 2 blocks away, and we hang out at my place.” It is similar to living in a dorm room, where you have to fit all your worldly processions in a tiny space, but still make it livable, if not loveable.
Many of you know that I love to cook, so I had to ask about cooking in these places. Both apartments don’t have real kitchens. They instead have a cooking section where they can throw together food, I was impressed to hear that Genevieve is able to pull of eggplant parmesan in here “kitchen”. Living in New York does mean that they have access to great restaurants and stores, but when it comes to cooking at home, meal planning ahead of time is key. Genevieve is really big on meal planning and planning ahead. She makes meals that serves easily and can be eaten for several meals. “Planning helps keep costs and makes cooking easier.”
Doing dishes is an interesting affair, without a sink in the “kitchen” they end up in the bathroom, even having to wash dishes in the bathtub and air drying them on a wire corner rack (check out the photo, you can see dish soap in the tub lol).
In such a small space I have always wondered how much you can really get done, but talking with these two it seems that you can pull quite a bit off. From making fancy meals, to having 3 guests spend the night, or in the case of Genevieve, running a blog about beer (check it out at thehopshoney.wordpress.com) . Felice did talk about how sometimes she felt that getting out of the space to do work was necessary to focus, but at the same time she does cherish free time at home. With being in such a great location, she has her pick of great places to go to. From parks, restaurants, cafes they are all right outside her door.
To read more about these two check out my two blog posts about Tiny NYC Apartments:
Many thanks to Felice and Genevieve for such great info