Tips for Living in a Tiny Space (NOT a Tiny Home), Part 2 - The Tips

See "Tips for Living in a Tiny Space (NOT a Tiny Home), Part 1 - The Backstory" for the backstory. 

Now... drum roll please... Here are the actual tips.

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Organization is one of the keys.

I have gotten multiple sizes and shapes of containers through the years. I ramped that up with a lot of  Dollar Tree and Amazon shopping to find specific items needed to make the best use of every available space I have.

Having two incomes didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try to save money every way I could so I buy sodas in bulk when they are on sale. However, I needed places to keep them.

One day I realized I had a little bit of space (about a foot) to the left of the fridge where I kept TV trays. They were rarely used, so I found a shelf that could hold soda 12-packs. I used paper trays on two shelves to put paper plates and bowls and included a basket on the top for chips.

-        It’s imperative to lower expectations of having the perfect aesthetic.

      When there are only inches of areas where you can see the walls between the sheer amount of furniture you have AND you are living on a tight budget, items that typically would have been put in cabinets are in plain sight. The size and functionality of furniture is much more important than whether the pieces are the same style. There isn’t much room for d├ęcor. 

``    I have a few flat places where I put our favorite decorative items but mostly use shelves on walls above the shorter pieces of furniture for that. Shelves are some of my best friends.

-         When you have the choice, choose the same or similar colors for areas. The small milk crates on the top of the fridge are white, as is the fridge. The basket on top of the shelf I bought for 12-packs is gray to go with the silver of the shelf.

      The majority of the furniture in here is brown (though different types of woods and shades of brown) except for one end table that’s silver – but it’s not beside any of the wood furniture.

      To this end, contact paper is my friend. When a piece of furniture is a very different color from the surrounding items, sometimes contact paper works to make it blend. Paint would do the same job, but it’s permanent and I never know how all this will work if we move.

-        Think vertical.

This is a common piece of advice from organizational experts. Again, shelves are the hero here. I have shelves in our “pantry,” shelves under the bathroom sinks, shelves in the closets, and many stackable paper trays in the study.

If I can’t go wide, I go high.

Think outside of the box for unusual solutions to tiny living issues.

Like I said earlier, at first food that would typically be put in a pantry or cabinet was in dresser drawers. When that dresser was moved to another room after our wedding, we added one that’s a stackable cabinet (used typically for sweaters) over three large drawers.  

Currently, six drawers of the old nine-drawer “pantry” (dresser) include kitchen supplies, silverware, Ziploc bags, etc. Three are for meds, miscellaneous items like nail polish, and basic office supplies I use a lot when I’m working there.

After we got everything else set up, I realized we needed a coffee table, but couldn’t find one that would fit in the tiny open area in the kitchen/den. 

I finally decided on a bedside table – the kind from hospitals (though this one is nicer). It has a height adjustment, an advantage of converting it into a standing desk. It’s just the right size and, as a bonus, moves around easily so we can use it multiple ways.

I’m the kind of person who wears clothes more than once if they aren’t dirty. It bothered me that I had nowhere to keep those clothes since I wouldn’t put them with the truly clean ones.

Earlier I forgot to mention command hooks are also my friends. I got four clear hooks and put them on my bathroom wall. Now I'm able to keep those clothes off the floor and wear them again.

Though I care for the environment, we use paper plates. Life is hard enough without taking all of our dishes into the kitchen to wash – and then having to either let them dry on the countertop (which also doesn’t have much space) or sorting when using the dishwasher.

However, I can’t stand using plastic cutlery. I had silverware from my old home but needed a solution for cleaning the forks, spoons, and knives.

I decided to use the bathroom sink. It took a lot of searching to find a dishpan that would fit and small drying rack. But eventually, I found what I needed.

There was still the problem of having dried food become one with the silverware before I had time to wash it. (Freelancing = long hours.) 

I bought a few large plastic cups. I fill one half-way with water and add the silverware to soak until I have time to give them a bath.

It’s not the best solution – the cutlery water gets incredibly gross and washing anything in a bathroom sink has issues - but it works.

Over-the-door hooks and shoe holders are two more of my friends.

Some doors have multiple hooks; some have just one. But there isn't a door in my living space that doesn't have at least one hook. Purses, backpacks, laptop bags, and jackets or coats all live on these hooks.

Clear shoe holders on the backs of two doors hold charging cables, short extension cords, our most used tools, and similar items. It's a great way to organize a lot of small items where they can be seen easily. 

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Living in a tiny space isn’t what I would consider enjoyable. It’s barely manageable at times. Number one… I wouldn’t trade having this time with my parents for anything, especially since my dad passed away about six months ago. Number two… I’ve gotten to live out my dream career.

Number three… though it’s been very challenging at times, secretly I love the challenge. It’s can be fun to work hard to find a solution to a problem that no-one else has. It’s completely up to me to figure it out.

And when, months or years later, I notice that one of my solutions is still working, it gives me so much satisfaction. Sometimes when I think about the day I’ll need to move, I hope I’ll still recognize the lessons living this way taught me and continue to appreciate the stigma of living in a tiny space.

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