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Category Archives: Stuff

Organization for the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….. Maybe not quite as much here in Phoenix AZ…but I am sure in other parts of the country.
I know you are also saying…”Why the heck is Shawn talking about Christmas when we haven’t even eaten the turkey and “camped out on the couch enjoying the football games.”
Well…the reason I am starting now is since October you have been getting into your attic/garage/basement/shed/storage unit pulling out the holiday decorations. This is the time as you go through each holiday event (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years etc) look and see if you can better organize your decorations.
Sometimes the hardest part is taking the time to go through everything and see what you wish to keep, throw away or pass down to others…getting it organized. THEN…the next thing to think about is storage solutions.
As I have preached on several occasions, the key to small space living is great organization. Heck! The key to sanity with holiday décor regardless of size of home IS organization.
Let’s start off with ornaments. I remember growing up; my parents had the ornaments in their original packs. (Okay 1960’s) Although it kept the glass ornaments secure, you had a bunch of these small cartons you had to stack up in storage or in a box; however they were never quite the right shape to put in the bins etc. Or…you had all the ornaments in one giant box where they clanged on one another or wrapped in tissue and you never seemed to have enough room to put all your ornaments in one box.
So look for storage solutions at Target, Wal-Mart, IKEA or specialty container stores where you might find more specific needs at a slightly higher price. I’ve included a couple of ornament storage solutions that make it easy to organize and protect your precious ornaments year after year.
Strings of lights are always a challenge. One thing I decided to do was pre-lit Christmas tree. That way I do not have to spend the time weaving in strings of lights before I get to the fun part of decorating. So many trees are easily assembled with the pre-lit lights…no headaches in connecting etc. If you are investing in an artificial tree, be sure you get one that you are going to enjoy for years to come. Artificial trees are great as they can hold your heavier ornaments and be displayed a lot longer than a real tree. If you like the smell of a Christmas tree, try purchasing greenery at a nursery. You can decorate your mantels or other areas with the greenery and adding ornaments as well as having that great Christmas tree smell.
For outdoor lighting, be sure you have them neat and bundled. You do not wish to be spending your next year of decorating trying to eliminate the big “KNOT” in your string of lights like Clark Griswold had in “Christmas Vacation”. There are plastic boards you can wrap your lights around, a reel style that you can wind your lights on and easily spin off when needed, OR….a cheaper way is to get heavy duty cardboard, cut in a large rectangle shape and wrap a string of lights around. Only string one per cardboard, that way you can determine how many you will be using each year etc.
Bottom line you want to make decorating for the holidays easy.  There is nothing worse than dreading the thought of decorating. If you do not have your items easily accessible…try to find a spot in the garage or in a shed where you can get to your boxes easily.
For me….decorating for the holidays is such a joy. I LOVE the Christmas season. And if you take the time to organize your decorations, clear out what you do not want or use and have it easily accessible, you’ll be more apt to put them up each year! 
 HAPPY ORGANIZING HOLIDAY SEASON!
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A Sideboard That Becomes So Much More!

Are you familiar with the game tetris? I used to play that game all the time. Thank God my iPhone has “an app for that”.  A puzzle where you have to connect different shaped “bricks” to create one consecutive line that will disappear if done correctly. If you don’t, the bricks stack up and you lose.
Well there is a wonderful “out of the box” thinker/artist…well I am sure he is much more than an artist, named Pedro who resides in Lisboa, Portugal who created this beautiful sideboard.
A great solution for a very small space such as a studio apartment or tiny loft. Another way to have “three solutions in one!”
Yes…the inspiration came from the tetris game. Checkout the photos and do you see the “cut-out” design? Very much like the bricks from the game? Yet, it is a wonderful space-saving piece of furniture for storage… THEN it can become a place to eat as two blocks pull out to become benches and a long slender “brick” becomes the table.
Think of the functionality. You can dine, work, store and enjoy this beautiful piece of art…yes, it is art…very clever yet functional (yes, function is my word of the day).
T@tris furniture Satisfying the most hidden sins“-Pedro Machado. More info on Pedro Machado…check out his gallery. Or you can email him directly, pedro@atipic.pt.
 

How about 450 square feet?

The great people at *fair companies have found another gem in small space living. As I call it….”right-size” living. Could you live in 450 square feet? I think if you have what you love and need, great organization and the right furniture…OR…customizing your furniture to work in the space…any small space is possible.

Here is a great video … a little long (a little over 9minutes) about a school teacher who purchased a tiny space in Manhattan. See how this space was transformed AND the “morphing cabinet”!

If you haven’t…you need to check out *faircompanies. Or you can go on YouTube, like me, and check out their videos. Juan and I have spent an evening just going through all the videos about beautiful people around the world enjoying a more meaningful and simpler lifestyle. Very inspirational stuff!

 

 

Happy 1 Year Anniversary

I can’t believe it…time has gone by so quickly. This time last year we were busy building our IKEA bed and finally moving in to our 900 square feet of happiness!

However, it was a HUGE transition for us which we embraced with all the gusto of school kids at recess (I know… picture it). We were throwing out STUFF, donating STUFF, garage selling STUFF and “craigslisting” STUFF! (I know, not a real word, work with me)

We couldn’t be happier…so much so that we question our thought process of going even smaller. Not that I am wishing to start the whole moving scenario again….just thinking if we could manage a smaller space and I am confident we can.

Things we’ve learned along the way this past year

1. When you think you’ve eliminated enough things, go back again and eliminate more. It’s important to really think about the amount of furniture you are going to have, clothes, dishware etc.

2. Rethink furniture! If you have the large overstuffed sofa with the huge arms, this may not be the best piece to add in your small space. Seek out mid century modern furniture through vintage stores or Craigslist as well as stores/manufactures that specializes in small space living such as IKEA, Resource Furniture, Desk Murphy Beds etc.

3. Eliminate three sets of “whatever”. You do not need three sets of dishes, 8 styles of stemware, 12 packs of utensils or huge multiples of anything. Use the good dishes…keep them… enjoy them. Don’t leave them covered up to use once in awhile…use them NOW. Time flies very quickly and the next thing you know you will be handing them down still unused to the next relative.

4. Go back to step 1. I am sure there are some things you need to go back and get rid of…go ahead do it!

5. Utilize and invest in storage solutions! I highly recommend taking the time and either building or purchasing all kinds of storage solutions for your small space. It is amazing how easy it makes managing the space on a daily basis. I purchased dividers at IKEA for our large drawers that are under the bed. They help keep my “unmentionables” (My Mom’s fluffy way of saying bras and underwear) as well as socks, pantyhose, trouser socks and scarves…easy to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Other storage ideas such as containers for many of your food items such as flour, sugar, brown sugar etc. Place them in beautiful containers on the counter which can free up space in cabinets. I could go on with all the storage ideas; bottom line is that organizing your “STUFF” is essential in a small space living.

6. Multi-purpose furniture. Living in a small space, you do not have the ability to have a craft room, an office space and guest bedroom should relatives/friends come into town. Purchase or create multi-purpose furniture that will assist you in making three rooms in one! Sources like Resource Furniture, Murphy Desk Beds, LOFTwalls etc

7. Keep It Simple! For me, I like it clean and simple at home. I love seeing the beautiful wood of the furniture and simple furniture. I do not like having a ton of “knick-knacks” everywhere, tons of paintings…lots of STUFF everywhere. Remember you have to clean all that stuff often so keep it simple.

8. Always check in with Step 1. If you have spent time in your new small space and find there are things you THOUGHT you were going to use and did not, maybe it’s time to let go.

There seems to be some sort of “pack-rat” in all of us. So many of our parents and grandparents did with so little and now our generation is about accumulating and gaining more and more STUFF in our lives. It’s time to lessen the burden and get back to enjoying life and enjoying a simpler lifestyle.
Happy 1 year anniversary in our 900 square foot home.

P.S. Juan says that a great alternative to a missing spare bedroom…is called a hotel.

 

The love of Craigslist!

I have learned to LOVE Craigslist! I can sit on the couch with my iPad and search till my heart’s content. It is great to see midcentury modern “anything” and vintage Christmas stuff too. Now I know I am in a small space and I am not rushing out to buy more STUFF! However, there are times I find great things for great deals. For small space living, you can find mid century modern furniture and other great items that will fit in a smaller house. I’ve seen a lot of IKEA as well as CB2 (It is the more modern side of Crate & Barrel).



Front view



From our recent posts…we are cleaning out and “re-purposing” our spare room and we’ve decided to make it an office/workspace dedicated to working from home and also managing our art supplies for our other business ventures! With that in mind, we are letting go of this cool mid century modern office desk. It is too small for us to utilize and we are looking for a table that is narrow in depth and extra long in width. 
Hopefully, Juan and I will be able to show you our finished workspace in a few short weeks. In the meantime, if you are in Arizona and have a need for a beautiful walnut mid century desk….it’s ready to go to a new home!
I really enjoy creating new spaces that add a lot of organization and function to a room. Everything has a spot. Easy to manage and easy to keep clean is my motto. I am constantly thinking about ways I can declutter or make better use of items I currently own. Sometimes it’s thinking outside the box and reinventing something (like my cash drawer into a cool bead divider) that makes it funstional.
By the way….what have you found on Craigslist or other venues such as garage/yard sales, vintage shops etc. Would love to see and be happy to share your latest finds and organization ideas in your small space.





 

October’s Outstanding Moments!



Living room with coffee table AND nesting tables underneath

Happy November! Wow another month has rolled by and we are on the fast approaching countdown for the holidays.
Something we are planning to do at the beginning of each new month is provide you the “Greatest Clicks” (literally) of the previous month…in case you missed any.
Juan and I so appreciate “y’all” (yes, originally from Texas) checking out our blog and we hope to continue to provide great information and insight on small space living as well as fun, clever and “space-saving” ways to decorate your small space! 



 

This “Small Space” Living Stuff Is Catching On….Or Rather Is On!



My orange vintage patio chair

 There is a huge trend where living small is going BIG! (I know I know trying to be funny and clever with my wording) Anyway…it’s true. I continue to research on the subject of small space living and finding so many people embracing it. Not just “Middle Class America”…architects, developers, custome home builders…the list goeas on.

First off… back in the 1950’s the average size of a home was less than 1000 square feet.  Fast forward to the early 2000’s the average size grew a little over 2,300 square feet….a big climb over 50+years.
According to the American Institute of Architects, floor plans and lots continue to decrease (over the last couple of years) due to people wanting less maintenance and less worry. I am originally from Texas…everything is big there. You own a BIG house, you have BIG land, and you have BIG Texas hair! (wink wink smiley face!) You are also brought up with the idea that having and owning BIG means living well. You are successful…you are prosperous…you are someone people need to know.
It is great to see this trend of small space living and what I have termed “right-sizing” your life really catching on. However, I am a late bloomer on this subject and as my desire to learn more about living in small spaces, I have found so many people (experts at small space living) who have been doing this for quite some time. One person in particular is Sarah Susanka, FAIA. Sarah is an acclaimed architect and truly “gets” small space living. This is nothing new to her as she wrote a book called The Not So Big House back in the late 1990’s. She states “Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live”. That’s how I feel about the term “right sizing”…it’s not about downsizing or losing everything but right sizing to adjust to you and your family needs.
Sara is working on a project in Libertyville, IL called the Not So Big Showhouse being built on School Street in Libertyville, IL.  This taken from the School Street Libertyville website;
SchoolStreet Homes is defying national housing trends by bringing high-quality, architecturally designed homes to the marketplace at value driven prices. In just one year, 24 of 26 homes have been purchased by eager buyers. The Front Porch Revival homes blend almost seamlessly with the neighborhood’s existing turn-of-the-century homes — along with a historic school that will be transformed into 15 urban lofts. Each design offers a tailored floor plan with classic architectural style including American Craftsman and Bungalow. SchoolStreet Homes is connected to Libertyville’s vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown and just blocks from a commuter rail train station”.
Yes, the Showhouse Sarah created is a much larger home (2,450 sq. ft.) actually…the house I sold was smaller than this yet I moved to an even smaller space which is our current 900 sq. ft. home, however they are creating other smaller sized homes including the 15 urban lofts that will be in the historic school building. Some of the lofts will start at 710 sq. ft.  up to 3,100 sq ft (the penthouse). I would want the 700 sq ft -850 sq. ft. myself! The goal is to connect the neighborhood with the community, you must check it out.
Our friends from Resource Furniture are also involved in providing furniture in the Not So Big Showhouse. I will follow up with another blog about the furniture being used …..Stay Tuned!
Final thoughts… I like to live in 1000 sq. ft. or less… for me and Juan this is perfect. I do not think I would like to go smaller than 700 sq. ft. however, some of you might relish in the challenge. For others, you could never think of living in 900 sq. ft. However, I would ask you to take on a challenge. On a weekly basis, check mark how many times you come into a certain room and the length of time in there. You may be surprised with the results. Just a thought! (wink wink )
 
 
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