Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living Small: Love Your Space

Recently, Apartment Therapy revved up its 2014 Small Cool Contest. I've been dying to submit our house to this contest but have decided to wait until our major interior renovations are completed. I don't want to submit a wonky, half-finished kitchen photo.

All these adorable, itty-bitty entries (my favorites so far can be found here and here) have made me ask: What are some things I've learned, living in our small house?

In keeping with the spirit of Small Cool, here are Amp & Abi's tips for living in a small space:

1. Display functional items.
One of the biggest obstacles in a small home is storage. Our home's previous owner attempted to solve this problem by building closets and cabinets everywhere. Every wall in the kitchen had cabinets, to the point where they even jutted in front of the windows. The upstairs (roughly 450 square feet) had not one, not two...but six closets. Yes. Six. Our upstairs was a veritable matryoshka doll: open a door you find a closet, then another closet, then another closet, then a cabinet inside of that closet.
These "storage solutions" impeded life and light flow in the house; so our first order of business was knocking down and removing nearly all of it. Once that task was complete, we set about to create functional yet pretty storage solutions. We installed open shelving in the kitchen and utility rooms and turned two "mini-closets" into book shelves. These improvements allowed us to not only display books and collectibles but also functional pieces: like the chalk-labeled glass containers in our kitchen. These containers house everyday items like flour, sugar, laundry detergent, even Solo's doggy biscuits. I like them because they not only keep things in order but also make otherwise mundane items pretty.

2. Don't be afraid of color.
A recurring trend in home decor--especially among the blogging world--is white walls. While I understand the value of white to make a space appear larger, I also tend to find white walls to be somewhat clinical. When I bought our house, everything was too white--the cabinets, the walls, and the floors. Adding color to the walls was the best decision I've made. Note, color doesn't always have to bold and crazy, even a muted grey can add some pizzazz to a room.

3. Multi-purpose like a villain.
In a small space, you become a multi-purpose ninja. Need a work space, a dining table, and a desk? Why, here's the handy dandy coffee-eat-write-footprop-game night table. And when all else fails, remember that you can always go vertical. Wall space doesn't have to be decorative or bare. Use it to hold kitchen utensils or pans in the kitchen or ties and jewelry in the living spaces.

4. Edit. 
This learned trait is hard for me. I tend to turn into a fat little nesting bird, wanting to cluster my favorite things around me into one cushy, comfy pile. Then, one day, I wake up suffocating beneath a pile of unnecessary junk. When you live in a tiny house, not everything fits. You don't want guests to feel maze runners every time they try to walk from the living room to the bathroom.
"Walk through that door, dodge the dining table, take a turn at the keyboard, jump over the doggy bed...and its the last door at the hall." I managed to keep most of my favorite pieces, but a few of my favorites had to be put into storage: namely, my keyboard and my grandmother's yellow chair. As much as I covet a piano, some things will have to wait for our next house. And, hey, it's always good to learn to do without.

5. Stay clean and organized.
This is the cardinal rule. Keeping things clean and clutter-free make small homes feel so much airy and roomier. It doesn't take long in a small space for little piles to feel like big piles. Plus, keeping ahead of the junk-onslaught makes cleaning days that much easier.

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