Small, But Not Minimal

Friday, June 29, 2018

Back in 2014, I came across this tiny apartment on Refinery29. I loved it right away because it shows that small-space living doesn't have to be minimalistic or impersonal. Today, I saw that the very same apartment is now for sale (for more than half a million dollars!) Of course, like any apartment for sale, the place has been staged with fewer belongings for an airier look. I thought I'd repost it here as a reminder that small does not have to mean minimalist. This apartment, which was also featured on at the time, really feels like someone's personal home—filled with antiques, collections, and art.

Check out the difference between the staged and unstaged living space below, and my original notes on the design below that:

The "bedroom" and "dining room" both fold away. This view of the living room shows the apartment with the Murphy bed and the dining table both folded away. It looks a lot like any New York City apartment's living room to me, which I like.

Here you can see the Resource Furniture bed folded down (I'm not sure what model it is). I have said it once, and I'll say it again: Murphy beds are amazing. They clear up tons of floor space during the day, and they are as comfortable to sleep in as a regular bed (I swear!). It's like gaining an extra 30 square feet.

Above you can see how close the kitchen is to the living space—close! In the right-hand corner the cabinet doors hide the dining table.

And here, you can see the table folded out; on the right are additional storage cabinets. Clever, right?

This shot is looking from the "living room" towards the kitchen. If I were to do one thing over in this apartment, I would have suggested they run the cabinets straight up to the ceiling like we did with our small kitchen remodel. Not having pots stacked on top of your cabinets really streamlines the look of the kitchen--and you wouldn't believe how much extra storage space you feel like you have.

I love that the couple splurged on a nice stove (with what looks like a fancy, little exhaust fan at the back!), even though their kitchen is teeny-tiny. The close-to-the-wall pot rack, magnetic knife block, and wall-mount paper towel holder all make up for lack of drawer and counter space. 

Lastly, looking straight on at the Murphy bed with the bed folded away with storage on the left. 

Update: LifeEdited also posted about this tiny home and included a great overall room shot here.

Photos by Max Touhey.

Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

Monday, April 16, 2018

I love a good decluttering. Getting rid of unwanted and unloved things gives me such a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And the funny thing is, no matter how vigilant you are about keeping clutter out of your life, it has a sneaky way of returning: magazines pile up,  party favors creep in, socks go missing and their mates hang around, pens migrate home from the office, your collection of glass jars and tupperware containers gets out of control. If like me, you are craving a good spring clean out. Here are a few creative ways to start the decluttering process:
Timer Method Set a timer for a period of time in which you go through a room looking for items to throw away/recycle/donate, as well as items to be returned to their proper homes. Set it for 25 minutes, and it's officially the Pomodoro Technique.

 • One-Item-A-Day Commit to getting rid of an item a day for a month (or longer!).

 • Gone Box  Place a box in every room that needs decluttering and every time you find something you’re ready to part with, place it in the box. At the end of the month, take them all to the Goodwill or other charity.

 • The 20-20-20 Challenge Locate 20 items to throw away, 20 items to donate, and 20 items to be returned to their proper homes.

 • Photographic Evidence  Take photos of your home to gain a fresh perspective on where clutter lurks. This is a tip that Celerie Kemble shared with me long ago in an interview about decorating. But I found it surprisingly effective for decluttering! Don't believe me? Take a look at what this room above (our old living room) and what it looked like in a photo before we staged it for sale, as it is shown above. At the time, I didn't realize how cluttered our place had gotten!

 • Snowball Method  Get rid of one thing on Day 1, two things on Day 2, and so on until you are getting rid of 30 things on Day 30. This sounds like a lot, but it is possible. I've gotten into the 20s and quit, but one day, I'm going to make it to 30.

 •  Buddy System One of the most effective ways to declutter, choose one of the methods above and agree on a plan with a friend. Then text each other pictures of what you’re throwing away/donating each day. My friend and I have done this with the Snowball Method and it is a magic bullet of motivation.

Digest 2.9.18

Friday, February 09, 2018

Here is a short list of what's caught my eye lately—from an adorable house reno (above) to a yummy recipe, and a healthy dose of green thinking for you. Enjoy!

Dreamy #littlehouse.

That's the GJORA bed from IKEA (and this photo makes me regret not buying it for myself!).

I love this waste-saving idea so much.

Might be popular in France come 2020.

A next-level pegboard concept.

Change your life in 30 days.

Shades of gray.

Thinking about upping my bread-baking game.

Tried this recipe and loved it—it's weeknight friendly too.

Old-school delivery, new-school milk.

Let's nix the 6.

Toy Creep: A Tale of Three Dump Trucks

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My son is 2 ½ this week and he’s more of a little boy than a toddler with each passing day. Along with boyhood comes an onslaught of toys, and I’ve been thinking a lot about their place in his life and in our home.

Before our son was born, I read everything I could on blogs about the intersection between parenting and minimalism. I devoured Rachel Jonat’s The Minimalist Mom. Later, I dove into Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, an inspiring book that advocates for fewer toys, reduced clutter, and an overall spirit of less. Both books are worth reading and will help motivate parents to get a handle on their kids’ clutter, but neither prepared me for the reality of what I’m calling “toy creep.”

Our son still has many fewer toys than his same age peers, but little by little, his collection has grown, and I can now understand how families end up with the insane amounts of playthings that I find in most homes. Let’s take my kid’s dump trucks as an example of how we all end up with so much.

Dump Truck #1 entered our lives last summer. We’d gone to visit friends at their beach house for a weekend, and I’d neglected to pack any toys. Our son didn’t need a toy (he was having a blast playing with the garden hose), but I decided we’d get him a toy dump truck that we could play with in the sand, partly out of a nostalgic desire to return to the toy store that had been in this town since my own childhood. He loved the vehicle. 

Dump Truck #2 came on the scene over the Thanksgiving break. We were headed home with a four-hour flight ahead of us, and I knew a new toy would chip away at the plane time we needed to fill. Again, he was delighted. He started referring to it as “special dumper” and the new toy went into constant rotation.

Dump Truck #3 was a Christmas gift. My husband’s father observed that his grandson loves trucks, and wisely chose a set of construction vehicles as a holiday gift. When the package arrived in the mail, our son was thrilled to discover the new dump truck.

So, here we are, the proud owners of three dump trucks. Our son happily plays with all three, and they don’t take up much room, so I have no real motivation to insist that we pare back, but I can also see how this is just the start: How long before Dump Truck #4 and Dump Truck #5 turn up? I’m trying to figure out how we begin to cull the less-loved toys, especially now that our boy has developed strong opinions about everything

If any parents of older children have advice, I’d love to hear it. And if I have any advice to share, I’ll post it here.  

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