Jun 17, 2010

Small Spaces (Merrick)

About two months before Philip and I got married, we bought our first home. It was a condo in an unfinished complex, and when we found it, the building was about four months from being completed. We purchased the two-bedroom condo, and would excitedly drive over once a week to see the progress. Our building is three stories, and as we visited the construction site, we realized that the workers always worked on the top floor first. From then on, we would scope out the condo's on the top floor, and then we would know what projects awaited our home the following week. This gave us a little advantage.

When we visited the third floor one day, we saw they were installing shelves in the bedroom closets. Upon seeing the layout of shelving, we decided they were wasting so much space and thought we could do better. Because our shelves wouldn't be installed for another week, we went home, designed a better shelving layout that used almost the exact same amount of wood, drew up a little picture, and then called the builder and asked if he could do our shelving layout instead of the generic one. Of course he said yes.

In our tiny condo we have very little storage space, but because of this easy adjustment, we nearly doubled our shelving space, and were now able to fit our dresser in the closet, which tripled our storage space. No extra cost, and no need to buy expensive shelving units.

Many people with small apartments or homes complain about the lack of storage space. But are they using their space the very best they can? Are they utilizing every inch of space? By simply asking our builder to make a small adjustment, we made the most out of our pretty average size closet. This is only one of the ways we have made the most of our small space. I'll show you a few more ways in the next post.

Until then, tell me a few ways you are frugally making the most of your space, whether big or small.


Packrat said...

Even though our house is 2200+ square feet with walk-in closets under the eaves, actual storage is huge problem. (Old Craftman style houses weren't built with much storage.)

One really great storage area that was put in our kitchen (probably in the 40's) is an extra set of cupboards that go all the way to the 9 foot ceiling (above the regular cupboards). This is wasted space in so many houses. (Since the cupboards are too high for me to reach even with a step stool, I store holiday decorations in them. The cupboard doors are so well built and tight that nothing even gets dusty in them.)

Depending on how your bathroom and/or kitchen is arranged, opening a wall and installing shelves between the studs is sometimes an option. These shallow shelves perfect for storing toiletries and canned goods or displaying pretty glassware. Flat cupboard doors can be added to keep little ones out.

As I get older (it is getting more difficult to get up off the floor these days!), I find that I really, really want slide out shelves in the bottom cupboards. As it is now, I have very little in these cupboards so it wasted space.

Kimberly F. said...

That's great initiative on your part. I'd be interested to see what the original shelving plan was.

Lady Susan said...

This is an issue I am currently dealing with. I have been trying to simultaneously purge non-essentials and also find a home for the stuff we have. The layout of our townhouse is not super smart and I feel like there is a lot of wasted space. Also, I feel like the furniture that we have is not effective. Meaning that the space it takes up is more than the storage it provides.

Am really interested in figuring out how to use our space better.

Shannon said...

I love that you're covering this topic! My husband and I are buying our first house and downsizing considerably from the large house we were renting. (That's how we're saving money this...lifetime!) The closets in the house we're purchasing are wide and fairly deep with just a bar all the way across. I'm sure we can use the space more efficiently (without spending a ton on “organizers”). Seeing your suggestion really helps me think about the possibilities.

Some things I love about the house are in the kitchen. There are slide-out shelves for pots, pans, etc like Packrat said she likes. They are wonderful for keeping order and not losing things in the back. I also really appreciate the lazy Susan devices in the corner cabinets. The kitchen is a U shape so we have two corner cabinets that could be a bunch of wasted space. Now I can just spin the shelves and reach everything.

Kymberly Foster Seabolt said...

Living in a 100 year old home with 11 3/4" deep (yes really) closets means we had to get creative or live with all our worldly possessions piled in the center of rooms.

Over the years here we have literally "captured" from every nook and cranny. Up, out, under stairs. We enclosed a "cute" back porch we did not need and created a mudroom we couldn't live without.

After storing the holiday items (a once per year need) in an "under stair" area adjacent to our kitchen for years, I literally had a "Eureka!" moment when I realized the pantry I desperately needed had been under my nose all that time.

$100 (or less) in shelving later and a few hours later I finally had a big pantry!

We also had the cupboards that used to stop well short of the ceiling. While the decorative/dust collective aspect of the cupboard tops was nice, what we really needed was STORAGE in our c. 1904 kitchen. Thus, were added another set of cupboards on TOP of those to equal double height cabinets to the ceiling. I now have storage for all that "once in a while" kitchen equipment.

Ditto the laundry area (very similar to yours).

I can actually say I have "more than enough storage space" in this house now, and, if I do say so, we added more "charm" and "character" too.

I applaud you for catching the condo closet situation early. In our case we had to "make up" for 100 years and found that living within the space allowed us to figure much of this out.

Granted my husband has learned to dread the phrase "honey I was thinking ..."