Thursday, January 8, 2015

Living Small: Room by Room Critique

Living in a small house has many benefits: less cleaning, lower utility bills, lesser tendency to collect "junk." However, small homes have their drawbacks, one being less storage options. As a small-home owner, you may only have so many cabinets and closets. Your pantry--if you're lucky to have one at all--will be teensy and certainly not walk-in. While this lack of space may prevent you from hoarding unnecessary items, it also prevents you from being able to stock up on supplies and essentials. Plus, what you do have must be neatly organized in order to avoid feeling like your cabinet contents are going cascade all over you every time you open the pantry door.

In order to learn some new tips and tricks for organizing a small home, I turned to my favorite small-home resource: Apartment Therapy. This month, Apartment Therapy is running its annual January Cure series, a month-long endeavor to clean, tweak, and organize your living space. I decided to sign up (and you should to!). While I'm sure I won't have time to execute every single Cure assignment, I do plan to actualize at least some of them and maybe save the other suggestions for later use. Perhaps the winter will be long enough--and we'll be cooped up often enough-- that I'll find time to complete all of them before spring.

The first phase of the January Cure is to Plan Your Cure, or as I think of it, complete a Room-by-Room Critique.

Essentially, you will move through your home, room by room, noting any little "issues" you encounter on a notepad. These issues could be anything from "junk piling up at the door" to "loose cabinet handle" to "dim lighting." Any item or situation that bothers you and needs improvement should be jotted down on your pad. After you've completed each room's critique, look over your list and select 3-5 items that you actually can address. The purpose of this assignment is not to overwhelm you with issues but rather to just give you an idea of problems--both small and little-- that can be corrected over the course of the entire year.

A little trick I usually employ is to view my room through the camera lens of my iPad or iPhone. Just snap a picture or two of the room and then view them for anything that really jumps out. It's amazing what our eyes tend to gloss over due to familiarity. But then, when viewed through your camera lens, suddenly that same item or problem juts out. Somehow, I feel like the camera distances me from the room, allowing me to view it as a visitor seeing the space for the first time.

Bearing in mind that our home renovation is still underway, I dutifully marched around the house, pen and paper in hand and no doubt giving Mark heart palpitations. Oh no, what project is she thinking up next?

Here are my results.

Living room:
  • coats tend to be tossed on the couch or dining table
  • room seems dim--need another source of light
  • basket to house throws and blankets
  • replace ceiling fan with something more stylish and actually operational
  • fill blank space over TV console table-- a clock? a mirror?
  • find a better storage solution for Solo's dog toys

Dining room:
  • create storage solution in living room so that coats don't wind up on dining table
  • create storage somehow on back of basement door--to corral odds and ends/ Mark's hiking gear

  • finish kitchen remodel of course
  • add transition floor piece in kitchen doorway
  • create storage on back of sink cabinet doors
  • find some place to better store saved grocery bags
  • re-organize pantry, especially the bottom shelf
  • re-organize and de-clutter the cleaning cabinet
  • de-clutter dresser top
  • create jewelry storage
  • place rug at foot of bed
  • purchase blackout shades for windows to correct "missing" blinds

Office Area:
  • organize clothes in closet
  • finally install closet doors.
  • re-position and possibly replace ceiling fan
  • smooth ceiling where wall was removed
  • install outlet covers
  • solve computer cord nightmare under the desk
  • install new wall sconce and correct its light switch

Guest Bedroom:
  • organize top shelf of guest closet
  • purge any unused items from closet
  • purge unused items from bookshelves-- donate to library?
  • list big printer (stored under bed) on Craigslist
  • purge unused/torn duffel bags in storage under bed
  • provide under-the-bed storage for guest room
  • empty "grad-school" crate at base of bookshelf and replace with two fabric baskets--possibly "guest laundry" area?
  • replace medicine cabinet with new mirror and sconce
  • clean out and reorganize sink cabinet
  • replace vanity with new vanity, counter top, and sink
  • replace blinds with new, sleeker shade
Obviously, I may not be able to tackle every item on this list, but I plan to use this list as a reference for small improvements throughout the year. Sometimes the littlest change makes all the difference.

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