Top 10 Small Space Hacks

I'm a believer in only living in as much space as you really need. Living small is cozier, environmentally-friendlier, and better for the bank account. Plus it forces you to be organized and have a space that's less stressful and easier to live in. 

Here are my top ideas for living well in small spaces based on hacks that I've used and seen:

Top 10 Small Space Hacks

1. Remove walls so that you have an open-space plan. An open airy floor feels much bigger.

2. Keep flooring, wall and ceiling materials consistent for a seamless look that tricks the eye into traveling further through the space.

3. Keep things organized and tidy, starting with the entry.

4. Use vertical space for storage and to create interest and a sense of height.

5.Use corner space wisely. You can really fit a lot into a tight corner.

6. Use mirrors and reflective surfaces to bounce light and make the room feel larger. And on that note, make sure you have clean windows that are kept open for maximum light exposure.

7. Turn awkward space into usable areas. Get creative.

8. Don't be afraid to use large pieces of furniture.

9. Use pieces with open legs, so that it feels more airy and less bulky.

10. Make your furniture and rooms do double duty. A desk in the living room can be used for office work and to hold the TV or components. Stools can be used as side tables and extra seating. A trunk can be used for a coffee table and extra storage. A dresser in a dining area is a sideboard plus storage.

I hope you are inspired to live small, and well! Good luck, and please send along any other tips you have. I am living small too, and always looking for new ideas. 

5 simple & sustainable ways to keep out the heat this summer

The Summer heat and stickiness is here, and air conditioners and fans across the northern hemisphere are swirling like there's no tomorrow. And like there's no energy bill arriving in our inbox next month. Have you noticed how dependent we've become on air conditioning? Remember when we were growing up and had to make do with hanging out in the basement to keep cool? 

To simplify our lives and lessen the impact to our bank accounts and the planet, let's consider moving back to the simpler ways that our parents and grandparents used to keep our homes cool. Maybe you don't need to give up the AC altogether and live underground, but solutions that keep the heat out of your home in the first place will dramatically reduce the need for energy-sucking machines. 

1. Curtains or blinds can block up to 60% of solar gain, so it really does make sense to use blinds or drapes through the summer. Be sure to have fabric drapes or roman blinds made with a liner for added insulation and also to protect fabric from fading. Keep the blinds closed when the sun is at its strongest in the afternoon. 

2. Keep windows shut during the day and open at night. Yep, it's that simple and it works. Make it even more effective by opening the bottom portion of double hung windows that are on the side of the house where the breeze is coming from, to let the cool air in,  and opening the top half of windows on the downwind side of the house to let hot air out. Heat rises, so naturally the hot air will escape easier from the top half of double hung windows. 

3. Awnings installed over windows with southern exposure can decrease solar gain by as much as 65%. There are some nice options available ranging from built-in roofing to retractable fabric awnings. 

4. Plant trees and vines. Climbing vines are surprisingly effective at keeping a house cool, and you can ask the nursery for varieties that won't hurt the siding or grout between brick. Trees and shrubs strategically planted to shade southern windows and your outdoor heat pump can also make a big difference on your energy bill. 

5. Cook outside. There's a reason old homes used to have 'outside kitchens' - it was to keep the heat out of the main part of the house. Take advantage of summer to stock up on fresh local veggies for outdoor grilling and salad making. 

Let's keep both our homes and the Earth cool by choosing simple and eco-friendly options more often. Check out some of these lovely ideas and resources for helping you keep the heat out this summer. 

Canadian House&Home

Canadian House&Home

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn

source

source

BHG- choosing the right trees for your yard

BHG- choosing the right trees for your yard

Make Laundry Easy and Fun: two key essentials

Yeah, I know...laundry...fun? It doesn't really compute. I mean is there anyone who really likes doing laundry? I know I don't. But over the years I've found ways to simplify it and make it more, well, maybe not fun, but much easier and at least somewhat enjoyable! Two things are key:

  • being really organized; and
  • making the laundry space pretty.

An organized and functional space where everything I need is accessible makes the job easy, and taking it up a notch with style makes me smile and appreciate the time I'm spending on the task. 

First get organized

Get everything for cleaning, caring for and repairing clothing, accessories and textiles in one place. That means all cleaning detergents, stain formulas, dryer balls, clothespins, dryer racks, sewing kit, iron and ironing board, and shoe care. Designate a spot for everything in a laundry room or closet/shelving close to where your machines are. In really tight spaces maybe this means a moveable cart that holds everything and you can wheel it to the machines when needed.

Use baskets, bins and crates to keep everything tidy and separated based on task. Label them so everyone knows where to find what's needed - and where to put it back!  Keep detergents and stain removers in glass jars so it's easier to see when they're getting low and need refilling. Designate a bowl or hanging pouch for loose change, buttons that have come off and socks without mates. 

A laundry bar for air-drying clothes is ideal, but an inexpensive folding or tilt-out rack on the back of the door or wall works well and saves space. Or pull out a folding rack to hang over a door when needed and slid in between the machines when not. I also use pegs on the wall and have clothes hangers on them ready and waiting for wet clothing to be hung to dry. Get creative - even a long towel bar hung on the underside of the bottom shelf in the linen closet is a great option.

Designate a space to fold - whether it's a counter that's kept clear over or beside your machines, or a bed where you fold everything immediately and put it away. I recommend NOT folding on your dining table or coffee table where it could sit for days. Your bed is a better option if you don't have room within an actual laundry room. You can't go to sleep at night if there are piles of clothes on it! 

The other key to easier laundry duty is making collecting it simpler. Ensure there is a laundry hamper for everyone in the house, including one in the master bedroom or bath,  one in each occupied room, and one in every heavily used bathroom. Encourage everyone in the household to use their hamper in their room for their dirty clothes so you don't need to go around searching for laundry that needs to be done on the floors, under beds or buried on hooks piled high. Dirty towels, face cloths and kitchen dish cloths go into the bathroom hamper. And consider options for hampers that are easy to carry to the laundry area. Large canvas bags could work well - and two of them in each bedroom labelled for darks and whites makes separating loads a breeze. 

Then make it pretty. 

A laundry space that's pleasing to the eye will help you stay organized and make the task more enjoyable, as you'll be more apt to be present and at ease in your surroundings. Paint the room your favourite colour, or add a fun wallpaper to the back of shelving units. Choose textured baskets or vintage crates to warm up the space. Add a butcher block or quartz slab across the top of the machines to make folding a nicer job. Make cute cafe curtains and put them on an extension rod to hide the machines if they're out in the open in a bathroom or hallway. Put a beautiful and soft rug down for your tootsies. Install a barn board floating shelf over the machines for displaying pretty jars of detergent, stain remover and scented linen water. Keep lavender essential oil handy and put a couple of drops on dryer balls or cotton lint sheets- the sweet scent will put you at ease every time you enter the space, plus make your clean sheets and towels smell heavenly. Hang kid's drawings or an inspirational quote on the wall. Frame a handy stain removal cheat sheet (download one here) so it's both stylish and practical. If your space has a window, add a plant. Even (or especially) if you don't have a window, make the space bright with white paint and good lighting. 

Ideas for a Small Laundry Space

You can see below from the small laundry closet in my previous home (a tiny condo) that even the smallest of spaces can be organized to be very functional. I really needed to make the most of this small space for storage capability and better functionality. And of course, to bring in some style! Here's how I did it. 

There were 12 inches of space between the wall and the laundry machines, which is exactly what was needed for the IKEA LACK wall shelf. It fit perfectly and tightly so I didn't even need to anchor it to the wall. It's tall so takes full advantage of that awkward space and provides shelving for laundry soap, cleaners, an iron and lots of other laundry care and repair needs. 

I wallpapered foam core board from the Dollar Store and cut it to size to go behind the shelf unit. This hides the mess of pipes behind it and adds interest. I then wallpapered a matching strip on the opposite wall (it's removable wallpaper so great for renters) over which I hung pegs for air-drying clothes and hanging a small ironing board so it was off the floor.

DIY laundry organizing and labels

I continued adding style by using glass jars for laundry soap and mason jars for home-made cleaning solutions. Now I have them on hand quickly when I need them and can identify them by their handwritten labels. 

I also took old cleaning spray bottles, covered them with scrapbook paper and labels, and filled them with natural home-made solutions, including a lavender linen water that I use on the sheets and towels when they're dry.  

You can download the free labels and formulas for these non-toxic and simple cleaning supplies right here. 

Baskets keep sewing supplies, shoe cleaning items, lightbulbs and candles tidy and easy to find. A matching large basket on top of the dryer allows for clean blanket and linen storage.

Hope this helps you to simplify your laundry tasks so they are a little more enjoyable and generally make your life easier.