Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sometimes the simplest things in life….Are “Old School”

It’s kinda funny as I look back on this year and the changes we have made. This time a year ago we were in the beginning stages of discussion about what we are doing? Why are we doing it? And what are we going to gain from it? My “real role” is running a staffing and consulting firm. We place people across the US in all levels and all departments. (A shameless plug, Kellen James).

As I digress, Juan and I have talked with countless Managers, Hiring Authorities and people looking to make a move and there seems to be a common goal ever since this economy took a dive…A need for a simpler life….A need for quality time with family and friends as that is what is most important.

Going back to my original thought (I know Juan says I have three or four conversations going at once), it was a huge undertaking getting ourselves situated in a much smaller space. Yet, we are so much happier now than when we were in a larger home. I am not a slave to my house/pool/yard. It is like living in a vacation home! (No not as cool as Ileana’s beach house/Previous blog article) But…it’s close.

We find ourselves enjoying our home, hanging out with friends and family here. We enjoy creating cool bar-b-que dishes and sitting at our kitchen table with a cup of coffee and just chatting. We can step outside (when it is not 114+ degrees) and get on our bikes and cruise the canal trail or walk to several neighborhood haunts and enjoy wonderful cuisine of all kinds.

We have an urban space which is very new to me and this area has 71 of these cute 900 sqft “bungalow style homes. There is a sense of great friendship and community here much more than when I was up in the “burbs” where everyone waves but drives right into their garage and shuts the door behind them never to see them until the following morning. We get together as a community for impromptu “happy hour” celebrate a birthday or hang out at the clubhouse to watch a game. It’s truly a community of friendship.

If this is the cost of downsizing and moving to the city?….I wished I did it years ago. So now I will sit with Juan, drink a nice cool “Arnold Palmer” and enjoy “Old School Style” listening to records on my 1962 Fisher Electra Stereo.

A small “taste” of what I am enjoying! Cheers!


Paradise Wrapped Up in an Adorable 934 Square Feet

“It’s not having what you want but wanting what you’ve got….I have no master suite but I’m still the king of me.” (Lyrics from Sheryl Crow~ and… words Ileana likes to live by)

Wow! I can’t (or won’t) tell you how long Ileana and I have known each other. Let’s put it this way, we met when she graduated elementary school and I graduated elementary school and met at EL Paso High! GO La High! Go Tigers! Here’s a picture of us when we were juniors and part of the cheerleading squad.

1923 Craftsman

For us from the late 1960’s early 70’s, we are so thankful (well most of us) for Facebook. It has given us an opportunity to peek into our friends lives and become a part of their world. Seeing how they changed, who they have become as a person and enjoying the little “Mini-Me’s” /their children, and how much they look like your best school mate when you were that age! I was lucky enough to reconnect with Ileana and am so thankful!

You see, Ileana get’s it…yup. She not only get’s it…she’s got it! She has a beautiful 1923 Craftsman with a Double-Clipped-Gable roof that she has lived in for over 5 years. Her castle is an amazing 934 sqft, 2 bedrooms 1 bath and all the charm in the world.
Guest Suite or Family Retreat!
Ileana said she had been living in the area and for some reason this house called to her. She found it and for 9 months, she would go by this” diamond in the rough” and say to herself…”This house is going to be mine.” She would tell her boys, anyone who would listen…”This is my new house!” Not everyone could see this house the way Ileana did. I guess many people would say Ileana viewed the house through beautiful stem wine glasses as she must be tipsy or plain crazy to want to purchase this house. From what she said, the house needed a lot of attention and love and she was the up for the challenge.

Rudy enjoying the deck

The house needed a new roof; a large hole in the foundation that if not stabilized would find its way down to PCH, weeds as high as 4-5ft high, many issues. However, she didn’t see those things and probably a good thing as she was so committed in bringing this beauty back to life.

Quiet time for two

So….she took a leap of faith and purchased the house. (Again some people thought she was crazy) After signing the papers and getting the keys to this tiny bungalow, she and her family began outside trying to tackle the landscape (which took 12 weekends of hard work.) Her neighbor comes out one day shortly after she purchased and asked “So when are you going to tear down this place?” Ileana had no plans to tear down the house and over the years she and her family tackled many projects and now they enjoy a beautiful piece of paradise at the beach. When many begin to pack their bags to head back home from their vacation at the beach…Ileana and her family enjoy vacation EVERY DAY!


Party cart on coasters also storage

Ileana and her family have done incredible things in creating a spacious place. One smart and creative idea, they built a guest house suite. It is a beautiful 124 sq ft guest house for when friends and family come to visit. Or…when her sons friends are over, they can hide in their little retreat! This is a great idea if you own a small historic home and wish to add more square footage without damaging the integrity of your home especially if it is of historic value.

Loads of storage

Another thing to bolster more square footage was to create additional outdoor living spaces. They created four separate areas outside where one can escape with a good book, magazine or most importantly a nap. By creating these outdoor relaxed seating areas for cups of coffee in the morning, a casual dining area for impromptu family dinners or a cozy place to lay and bask in the sun…one can have multiple options to escape and enjoy a space of their own.  



Lastly, but HUGE on the scale in the importance of living small….multi-purpose furniture. As Ileana can attest, you have to have the ability to utilize space with functional furniture that can double as an office desk by day and dining table at night. Or storage… as this is vital with small spaces especially much older homes where closets were very small or non-existent. The ability to store extra clothing, bedding or other items is essential. 
Ileana was proud to let me know that this past May; her house was placed on the historic register. It is registered as the Chapman House as this is the original family that built the home. I get the feeling that Ileana and her family are honored to have this house…to make this house their home. A strong memory that she has kept all these years is a conversation she had with her abuelita (grandmother) when she was a very young child. Ileana told her abuelita that when she grows up, she was going to live in a 1920’s bungalow.

Sunsets from the living room

Funny thing…Ileana is living in a 1920’s bungalow; actually the house was built in 1923. Another reason this house belongs to her…the house was built on August 3rd, 1923. Would you believe August 3rd is her birthday. 


A New IKEA Update

I received kind words from the President USA for IKEA, Michael Ward. He stated in an email “It is always so fun and gratifying to see the exciting and creative solutions people come up with to make their lives at home more comfortable and inspiring!  I hope that you continue to enjoy your home, and we are glad to been a small part in its creation.” How refreshing to get a response from Executive Management of a huge corporation. For someone at that level to take time to respond…which only took a few seconds to type up….means so much. This does speak volumes to me as my main role in life is a Recruiter and working day in and day out with companies and candidates….well that is a whole other story AND if you are ever interested in learning about that side of my life, please check out our People “geeks” blog. (I know another shameless plug).

Also, I received a great comment from Janice Simonsen. I can only assume, but not certain, that she is a part of the IKEA team. Anyway, she reached out to me to tell me about a great website where IKEA fans can add their spaces/rooms on the site IKEA Share Space gives you an opportunity to upload photos of your room where you have purchased IKEA products, tag them so people checking out your room can see the product and get some great inspiration from others on what they did in their spaces. If you have a small space? Storage challenges” Or just don’t know what you want to do…check out IKEA Share Space for some great ideas that you can take to create your next small space!

Next, Living in 934 square feet in paradise everyday….


The New IKEA Book Is Here!

It’s that time of year; the new IKEA book is out Whooo Hoooo! When Juan came walking in from the mailbox, I could see the tiny little BIG book tucked under his arm. So I patiently waited for him to put it down….Ok…put the book down Juan….Quit talking to me and put the DARN BOOK DOWN!

IKEA really has it down with small space living. Every nook and cranny can be utilized with “multi-purpose” furniture. Really cool! How many of you (raise your hands) LOVE heading to your nearest IKEA store to check out their “small living” spaces? Well, those of you fortunate to have an IKEA near you, it truly is an experience. It’s so fun to view outside the square footage of the space you are about to enter and be amazed at the way you can make a home out of 600 square feet or 248 square feet or dorm room living. You have every convenience.

Take page 30 for example, the basic bookcase…What a great piece to do so many options. We took a book case that was four cubes long and two cubes high (Yes, very technical terms here). We added the doors and made it into a cabinet to hold boundless amounts of Juan’s main wardrobe, T-Shirts! In living in a small space you always want the rooms to appear bigger and a great way to give that spacious look is to add legs. If at all possible, “lift your furniture”. I know that sounds strange but it truly gives a small space an “open and airy” look!

Fold up t-shirts, organize purses or tri-fold your jeans

IKEA can give you so many options at such a great price. If you truly are waiting for a vintage mid-century desk but need something in the meantime, check out IKEA. You may also find you like it just as well AND it does mix very well with different styles.

Also think outside the box…we turned the book shelves into extra space for our clothes by adding the cabinet doors, everything stays neat and hidden. They also have drawers you can add to book shelves to organize smaller objects such as scarves or jewelry.

Added simple straight legs to lift cabinet off floor

For all you smart phone users, IKEA has their catalog available on The App Store and Android Market. So when I am sitting patiently in the waiting area at the Doctor’s office… as my Mom provides details of her ailments plus her weekend activities of garage sales and great food…I sit and electronically thumb through the pages. You can miss so much on a page that you have to go back through 3-5-7 multiple times!
Speaking of waiting for perfect pieces or allowing for extra cash to funnel our way….We took our old office cabinets from our office in our old home and made them our bed side tables for the time being. Hey, it works, right? It may not be optimal for many but until I am ready to look for a better piece of IKEA or other furniture….it works!
By the way…if you recall in my blog (I Thought 900 Square Feet Was Small) I mentioned how hard it is for me to give up the accessories like purses and SHOES!!! Well check out page 280-281 in the IKEA book…great storage solutions to hold all my shoes. I need more shoes to fill in all these racks! 

 I am lucky to have an IKEA store near me so I can see, feel and touch all the great stuff! Also they have a cafe where you can enjoy great breakfast, lunch and dinner at very affordable prices.

That’s the other thing about IKEA…great prices on all products. Yes, you may have to assemble pieces of furniture but it truly is worth it. Very simple instructions….even I can figure it out! So if you ever have any challenges with space, need multi-purpose furniture or seeking a piece of furniture that will fit in an odd shaped corner of a room?….You’ve got to check out IKEA. I am sure they will have something right for your needs.


I thought 900 Square Feet Was Small….

Anyone here ever seen the show on HGTV, “Small Space, Big Style”? I LOVED that show! Juan and I never missed an episode. The show hasn’t been on for quite awhile however even back then, we were fascinated with what people were living in and enjoying a simpler life.

What it came down to was the essentials. Things people found most important to them in order to enjoy their space without feeling so cramped and crowded. I STILL struggle with “giving up” stuff. I can never have too many shoes, purses, accessories. But how do you store these items???

I guess if there are multiple people that are going to live in a small space you certainly BOTH have to agree to jump in with both feet. As I mentioned in prior blogs, it is very hard to “UN-condition” yourself to what you have grown to know all your life. Choosing to eliminate the extra “stuff” in your life and only keep the things you use regularly….well it is a very hard step to take and we are still learning and eliminating STILL!!! It’s a slow process however we are embracing it fully.

So, some things to consider….

  • Prepare to eliminate a lot of stuff! Only keep the things you will use regularly and don’t be afraid to use the silver, special glasses, the dishes you save for special occasions.
  • Think about multi-functional furniture (If you go really small…Office workspace becomes dining table)
  • Think about RV or Boats….If you were to live long-term on a boat or in an RV, think about the functionality of the spaces. Think about what you could possibly live with and/or without since you won’t be able to take it all and cram it in live with all that stuff.
  • If you have the opportunity to have a patio/deck/porch…any outdoor space, make sure you design an exterior room as part of your square footage. You might find you spend most of your time there. (Not always applicable if you live in extreme heat and humid climate OR extreme cold and wet) however, there will be times of the year you can and will enjoy the outdoor space.
I found this last week to give you an idea what someone will go through to have a Manhattan zip code. You thought 900 square feet is small? How about 78 square feet!!!!!
Next….Great places to find multi-function frurniture
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