Going from a bigger living space to a smaller living space is a reality for many people. In Small Space Organizing author Kathryn Bechen shares many small space organizing ideas and explains how to get rid of the extra “stuff” that is cluttering up your space, no matter how small or large it is. She helps you to better determine which items that you own are worth keeping and which items can be donated or thrown away so you and your family will not be surrounded by products that are not needed. She goes into a lot of detail about how to fit extra spaces into your small space, such as an office and/or an art center, and also helps you discover places to find extra storage space, such as under your bed or over a door by using compact under-the-bed, over-the-door, and/or stackable products. Each chapter goes into organizing details for each of the rooms that are common within small living spaces.
Reading this book has motivated me to evaluate my own small space, which is a small upstairs living area in a house. I already have one bag of items I don’t need anymore ready to get rid of. One of the things I noticed at first is that this book didn’t have any pictures inside of it, although I did find a lot of pictures on author Kathryn Bechen’s blog, which I think will help the readers of this book to be able to visualize some of her organizing tips. One of the other great things about this book is that there is a list included of where to find the storage items that are spoken about at the end of each chapter.
This book is most likely for people that are coming from larger living spaces to smaller living spaces and want to make the best use of their smaller spaces with compact storage methods. The ideas in this book can also be useful to people who live in larger spaces and want to cut down on the clutter in those spaces.
Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell for this review.
Questions and Answers from Kathryn Bechen:
Q: Do you consider small space living a "quality of life" choice and if so, why?
A: Indeed, I do. Whatever housing lifestyle choice you make for your family I think is okay, but I think that you should make sure you're consciously choosing, and not just going with a McMansion in the 'burbs or an acreage in the country with a big house because you feel outside pressure from anyone else to do so. I believe housing size is a lifestyle choice too in that housing size and the number of possessions in it take up time in your life, and time IS your life, so you want to be sure you're spending your time in a way that feels right for you because you can never get time back! If living in a large home with a large yard full of flowers makes you happy because you like having big family and friend gatherings there, and you are comfortable with all the time, maintenance, and expense that all involves, then I think a larger home is right for you. If, like me and my husband, you would rather live in a (high-quality) small space that does not require hours of cleaning and large outlays of money for home maintenance, lawn care, and furnishings, plus gives you more time to spend doing enjoyable things together, having small dinners with a few friends, and traveling, then I think small space living is for you. And always, no matter what the size of your home space, personalize the furnishings and decor to your taste so it feels beautiful to you. That doesn't mean you have to spend tons of money; it means choosing furnishings and accessories within your budget that you feel are attractive.
Q: What does "rightsized" living mean?
A: I think "rightsized" is a relative term, personalized to you and your family. A home that seems small to one family might seem big to another. A home that seems small to you at one phase of your life might seem large at another time in your life. When I personally think of small space living, I think of about 400-1200 SF, but some people might think my 1200 SF apartment is big. I've heard people say they're downsizing to a "small 2700 SF house." To me, 2700 SF is big! Again, I'd like to inspire people to make very conscious choices as to the size of home space they live in, so they're happy, because I believe when you're happy at home, it radiates out in a positive way to others in the world. Kind of like when you find the perfect jeans that fit just right! And likewise, I'll be bold enough to declare here that when your home space doesn't feel appropriate and supportive to you, you sadly radiate that crankiness out into the world too!
Q: What's the first step to downsizing?
A: Buy a 3 inch three-ring notebook and clear sheet protectors and a pencil case that you can put on the binder rings so you can take notes, keep biz cards etc. in the sheet protector, and put pens and your keys in the pencil case. Begin by walking through every room in your home and list out every large item and furnishing that you want to donate or sell so you will be able to see what you're going to have to move. Do this with any outside storage sheds and the garage as well. Don't forget the attic or other out-of-the-way spaces. It's not carved in stone; you may have to walk through your home numerous times, and you may have to negotiate the items with your mate and family as well.
Q: Can someone really be happy, and stay organized, living in just one room?
A: Absolutely! Some people actually prefer it, especially if they live in a studio apartment in someplace like New York City where the excitement and culture of the city is their "backyard," or in San Diego, where parks and beaches are the same. In one room, everything has to have its place, and I believe every home should have only the things in it that really bring you joy, but when living in one room, that's even more important. Make your home beautiful to you, even if it's one small room!
Q: What's your best tip for creating a foyer if you don't have a "real" foyer?
A: If you enter right into your living room, create a "foyer" near the front door using an attractive small bedroom nightstand. Hang a mirror over it, and place a basket under the legs of the nightstand. Put your keys in the nightstand, put your shoes in the basket, and check your "do" every day in the mirror before you leave the house.
Q: What are your two best small space organizing tips?
1. Keep your gadgets and appliances simple by buying only what you'll truly use.
2. Use all-white dishes and clear glassware to cut down on how many dish sets you buy. If a dish breaks, you can easily find a new similar white piece and not have to get a whole new set.
Q: How in the world can you create a "spa-like" experience in a teeny-tiny bathroom, especially if the kids' rubber duckies have taken up residence?
A: In a small home, especially if there is only one bathroom, the bathroom should ideally be totally free of clutter and toys. You can achieve that by giving each family member a plastic basket or tote to hold their toiletries and toys. Instead of being stored in the bathroom, each family member keeps their basket in their bedroom and carries it to and from the bathroom. They also keep their own towel and washcloth in their bedroom--hang it on a hook in the closet. Many of us used this M.O. in college. Assign time slots for each family member to bathe for 30=45 minutes daily each so there is no squabbling about sis taking too long in the bathroom. Set a timer if need be. Make it a family rule that each member will respect others' time in the bathroom and not interrupt so each family member feels they can have their private bathroom "spa time." And last but not least, each family member cleans up after themselves immediately after their bathroom time so it's clean for the next person. No whiskers in the sink and no pantyhose dripping on the bathroom rod!
Q: What's your best tip if a couple has to share a small home office?
A: (Laughs.) Pray! Seriously, unless you work on projects together often and need to collaborate, each person should have their own side, corner, or at least a desk that's uniquely theirs, and the other person should not invade their turf without permission. Do your best to keep order on both sides; don't let it get totally out of control with clutter as that's disrespectful to your mate if you are sharing a space. That being said, Nancy Neatfreak is going to have to lighten up a bit if she's married to Max Messy. My husband and I share a home office, and he has one side of the room and I have the other. I systematically put everything away at the end of the day, and he's a little bit looser with his paperwork, but not a messy. He uses a big black chair and office armoire that closes up so I can't see his paperwork, and I have an Old World feminine style desk that I love, and a pretty slipcovered chair. Put your personal decorative stamp on your side of the room, and don't worry about your styles matching. When people walk into our home office they laugh and immediately comment on whose side is whose because it's very obvious!
Q: What's your best organizing tip for kids sharing a bedroom?
A: Just like a home office shared by mates, kids should each have their own side that's personalized to them. Or at least their own bed if using bunk beds, for instance. I think each child should have their own desk for school studies as well, and their own dresser and side of the closet.
Q: How is it possible to create an organized "library" in a small home?
A: Buy tall white bookshelves and line your longest living room wall as a focal point. Arrange the books on the shelf in an artful way, mixing in collected knickknacks for an interesting look. Or, today your e-reader, in lieu of bookshelves, can be your library in a small space if you don't want to dust bookshelves. Also, if you have a dining nook, you can put floor to ceiling bookcases to create a charming little library.
Q: In your book you talk about the binder notebook method. What is that exactly?
A: It's the three-ring binder notebook I mentioned in the downsizing question above. It helps you have a portable place to jot down your thoughts, plus store biz cards and fliers from housing developments you're touring etc.
Q: What free download do you have today for our readers/listeners so they can get started right away in organizing their small space home?
A: Go to www.SmallSpaceOrganizing.com and sign up to get the free article I wrote, Small Space Savvy in a Big Stuff World. There's also another free home organizing and decorating article there as a bonus.
BIO FOR AUTHOR KATHRYN BECHEN:
Kathryn Bechen is an award-winning professional writer whose articles have appeared in popular national and regional magazines and newspapers. She specializes in lifestyle feature articles and has also published several organizing and decorating e-books. The lifestyle companies she founded, Organized with Ease and Kathryn Bechen Designs, have served clients worldwide. Kathryn has organized and decorated 13 personal small space residences together with her husband Steve, and they currently live in their favorite small space ever: a 1,200-square-foot high-rise apartment in beautiful San Diego, California. She blogs about timely lifestyle topics at www.KathrynBechenINK.com.