Archives for Small Spaces
The post “Space Saving Appliances in Paris” on Apartment Therapy has been taking up room in my thoughts for the past month. Specifically, I can’t stop thinking about the range-oven-dishwasher unit pictured in the article.
Unfortunately, the post didn’t include any links to such a device, so I finally broke down and took to relentless searching on the internet. As far as I can tell, hours later, there is not a company selling these space-saving devices in the U.S. market. Some older RVs and yachts are outfitted with a Modern Maid brand range-oven-dishwasher, but since Modern Maid was acquired in the 1970s, the units went out of production (if you have one, Maytag is the current owner and provides repair parts).
The most popular unit sold in Europe appears to be the Candy Trio 501X:
It is an impressively small 86.3 cm x 59.7 cm x 60.0 cm three-purpose unit, and is perfect for a London flat. If Candy could switch up the voltage requirements, I think it also would be perfect for a studio apartment in the States.
Does anyone know of a similar unit I’ve overlooked being sold in the U.S.? If so, please share. I know our small-space dwellers would appreciate a link.
The three hens who live in this modernist dwelling must have very refined aesthetic sensibilities. I can easily imagine them inside the coop perched atop tiny Eames shell rockers discussing the exhibition of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel collection at the Portland Art Museum.
I’ll freely admit that the coop is a thing of beauty, but not everything with a clean and uncluttered design makes your life easier. Call me crazy, but I’m actually glad I can acquire eggs without engaging in small-scale urban subsistence poultry farming. Division of labor means I can make an omelet without the concomitant obligation of having to clean up chicken droppings.
It’s been a fun Halloween week here at Unclutterer, and we hope you have a terrific time celebrating the holiday officially tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy these links related to uncluttering, simple living, and some randomly cool things:
- Recent bride Naomi Selden wrote about how to create a clutter-free wedding registry on D. Allison Lee’s Organize to Revitalize blog. If you’re getting hitched, this is a wonderful resource.
- E-book owners might be interested in Leatherbound — a website that compares prices for e-books from around the web to find you the best deal.
- If you live in a small space, Matroshka may have some space-saving furniture options for you. Production appears to be limited at this time, but the company is growing.
- I’m drooling over this Stackable Oven-To-Table Cookware that was featured on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn. I don’t typically make eight casseroles at a time, so I have no need for it. But, I’m happy to know it exists.
- The website She’s Next, a site “featuring 60-second inspirational videos for 21st century women,” launched this past Thursday. Erin is one of the presentations, talking about where to get started in your uncluttering efforts.
- Website ZenHabits has a quick resource for unclutterers from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project: “Nine Quick Tips To Identify Clutter. I especially like the question “Was I ‘saving’ it?”
We’ve always been a fan of coffee tables that convert into full-sized dining tables. They’re a good solution for people who live in small apartments, but still want to be able to have friends over for dinner parties. The BADA table from EcoSystems takes the idea of the transforming dining table even further. It works as a desk, dining table, and loveseat.
If you’ve seen any great furniture that multitasks, please share it in the comments.
The website Freshome recently featured a beautifully designed studio condo in New York City’s East Village. The space is only 500 square feet, and the architecture firm JPDA found a way to take advantage of every inch of it:
I truly love the storage in the risers of the stairs. I also love how the space has a designated office built right into the room.
Be sure to check out all the photographs of the condo. I’m pretty sure the bathroom sits in the closed space between the kitchen and the living room (under the stairs) and the area between the front door and kitchen is storage. (A final note: I think the 15th picture in the series is from the Indigo Lounge redesign and incorrectly in the photo series for this home.)
After looking at the picture, I spotted the chair’s $3,300 price tag and quickly closed the catalog. No offense to the designers or the wonderful folks at DWR (it really is an attractive piece of furniture), but $3,300 is way above my price range.
Sleeper chairs are fantastic additions in small spaces because they work double duty as seating and guest accommodations. One of these multitaskers in a living room or office is perfect when you don’t have a guest room or space for a larger sofa sleeper. My husband and I have been considering getting one for my son’s bedroom so that when his cousins or friends spend the night they won’t have to sleep on the floor, and he’ll have a comfortable space to sit and read the rest of the time.
A little more in line with our price range are:
For $130, Target has a single sleeper:
For $20 more ($150), Target has a sleeper lounge chair:
JCPenny has the Sleepy sleeper chair for $500 that is available in nine different upholstery options:
And, for $1,000, is the sleek Vincent twin sleeper from CB2:
You don’t have to spend $3,300 or add a spare room onto your home to increase the number of sleeping accommodations you have to offer guests — a sleeper chair might be all you need for your small space.
Alec Farmer, a graduate student in Glasgow, Scotland, is spending a year living in a micro-structure and is blogging about his experience on the new UN v2.0 site. The UN in the blog title is an abbreviation for urban nomad, and it aptly describes Farmer’s interesting project in small-space living.
The structure Farmer built to live in for the year was designed more than 30 years ago by famous minimalist architect Ken Isaacs.
If you’re unfamiliar with Isaacs’ work, Dwell magazine created a design leader video series that included Ken Isaacs and the structure at the center of the UN v2.0 blog. (The structure first appears in the 4:16-long video around 1:26.)
Farmer’s adventure begins in September (I’m assuming at the same time the Glasgow School of Art, where Farmer attends, starts its fall classes). His first entry on his site explains the reason for the experiment:
Having studied [the Urban Nomad] subject for a few years now, one can only speculate so much. Reading can only get you so far, before you have to take another step and actually try it.
So thats what I’m doing.
Follow along on Farmer’s micro-structure living journey at his blog UN v2.0. You also can download a free copy of Isaacs’ How to Build Your Own Living Structures through the PDF library at The Pop-Up City. This document includes architectural plans to a few micro-structures designed by Isaacs.
(via The Pop-Up City)
I fell in love with the Papervore Coffee Table by Pigeontail Design the moment I spotted it on Design*Sponge last week. I’m now plotting “accidents” my current coffee table could suffer so I can replace it with this:
Simple, modern, multipurpose design — the Papervore Coffee Table makes my heart go pitter patter.
A number of really cool things have moved across my desk this past week, but none of them are necessarily large enough for a post all their own. Enjoy exploring these uncluttering and organizing tidbits:
- Much like the Lifehacker Pack of free downloads for Windows that we linked to on June 3, we now can link to the “Lifehacker Pack for Mac: Our List of the Best Free Mac Downloads.”
- Lifehacker also had a great post about a creative way to display a collection in a small space.
- ThinkGeek featured a Universal Network Cable to make patching for rolled, crossover, straight-through, ATM/loopback, and T1 as simple as turning the dial on a single cord. The select-a-cable idea is uncluttering genius.
- SwissMiss’s photo gallery of the amazing use of space 505 square foot apartment literally made my jaw drop.
- Also on SwissMiss, a pretty cool storage stool and coat rack in the article “Cutter Stool and Wardrobe.”
- I may end up writing a full post on this next item, but since I have yet to install it, I don’t feel qualified enough to do more than share a link right now. The program Papers for the Mac allows users to manage files and create groups similar to the way iTunes works. I’ve been looking for a document manager exactly like this, and am really excited to give it a try.
- We all know about reusable grocery bags, but did you know you can get reusable produce bags, too? Amanda at Metrocurean introduced me to the Produce Stand Collection of vegetable bags.
- More suggestions for how to get rid of relationship clutter post-breakup from the wonderful D. Allison Lee.
- After the “The mess he made: A life-long slob decides it’s time to get organized” article ran in The Washington Post, there was a live online discussion with Mike Rosenwald and Randy Frost “Hoarding intervention: A life-long slob gets organized.”
- Finally, after our controversial post on Simplified Spelling earlier this month, a reader sent us a link to a really fun YouTube video of Ed Rondthaler (he’s 102 in this video). It’s a lighthearted critique of English spellings, but maybe not safe for work in one short spot mid-way through the video. Best to watch it at home.
Dwell magazine recently published a fascinating piece on a new trend in pop-up furniture. “Pop-Up Schmop-Up” highlights mostly space-saving furniture for public spaces, but it starts with the Armin Wagner cardboard Pop Up Desk for homes and offices:
Next up is Rogier Martens’ POP-UP 2010 public benches:
My favorite item not pictured in the article, but certainly mentioned, is the Urilift public restroom. It’s a public restroom that raises and lowers out of the ground at certain times of the day. There is a not-so-safe-for-work but amazing marketing video showing exactly how the toilet operates. These pop-up restrooms would be perfect in D.C. where our public spaces have so many different uses over the course of the year — festivals, protests, inaugurations, parades, sports fields, sunbathing, tourist walkways, etc.
Check out the full article for even more amazing pop-up furniture products. These products all remind me of Gary Chang’s Incredibly Efficient Efficiency, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of these kinds of space-saving designs. I love to see designers thinking outside the box — literally, in the case of Wagner’s Pop Up Desk.
We’ve featured some transforming wall beds on the site before, and now we want to show you more of them in action. The New York company Resource Furniture has made a demonstration video of all of their amazing space-saving furniture:
Actually, they’ve made two videos, but the second one is produced in a way that kind of makes me motion sick. Regardless, if you live in a small home or have a room that serves multiple purposes, transforming furniture can be a wonderful way to make better use of your space.
The French company Focus has designed a truly beautiful barbecue grill that folds into the wall:
From pg. 120 of the focus catalog, the Sigmafocus:
Finally — an alternative to the unattractive contraptions on capricious wheels that have cluttered up our gardens and decks for so long. The Sigmafocus and the Diagofocus [another product Focus offers] prove that aesthetics and ergonomics aren’t confined to interior design. It can be used with either wood or charcoal and comes equipped with a stainless steel grill and a range of barbecue tools. The quality and thickness of the steel used guarantees the longevity of the barbecue, which meets the EN 1860-1 standard.
This wall barbecue for gardens and balconies folds up, so that when closed it takes up limited space.
Attractive in both open and closed positions, it offers a range of cooking heights. It is easy to fix to any-wall (there are only two fixation points).
The generous ash pan allows the barbecue to be used a number of times without having to empty it out. The disc that attaches to the wall protects the wall from smoke.
I couldn’t find a price or shipping details, but the full contact information for the company is in the back of the online catalog and on the company website. I cannot tell you how amazing I think this grill is, especially for someone like me with the world’s tiniest backyard. Genius!
After watching the YouTube video of Gary Chang’s 344-square-foot apartment, writing about Japan’s hotel “capsule” housing and reading WSJ.com’s blog post “The Optimal Amount of Living Space,” I’ve been wondering: “How much dwelling space do humans require to be happy and safe?”
Since safety and happiness are major concerns in U.S. prisons (“happiness” in the sense of keeping rioting, violence, and suicide rates at a minimum), I expected minimum square footage per inmate mandates to exist. Turns out, the federal government does not define how many square feet a prisoner is required to have for conditions to be considered something better than “cruel or unusual.” As a result, inmates are given anywhere between 35 square feet (common when two prisoners share a 70 square foot cell) to 100 square feet (quite uncommon, but more likely to be found in solitary-confinement situations where prisoners never leave their cells). And, research about the penal system shows that rates of riots, violence, and suicide don’t appear to be directly correlated to cell size (much like job satisfaction isn’t based on office size).
The amount of space humans need to be happy and safe, therefore, is quite minimal (based on how it’s configured, it could be difficult for most people to even lie down in 35 square feet). So the question isn’t really one of need, but one of want.
Many factors go into answering the question: “How much space do I want to be happy and safe?” Location of property, floor plan, cultural norms, rent/mortgage, amenities, storage, air quality, and aesthetics are all considerations that weigh into an individual’s want response.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much space you want? What factors are guiding your answer? Are you letting your stuff dictate your response? I’m eager to read your thoughts on this issue in the comments.
Last year, we wrote about Architect Gary Chang’s amazing 344 square-foot apartment with sliding walls. We recently discovered that Chang let video crews into his Hong Kong apartment, and now we can see his design in action:
Chang’s tiny apartment is proof that small-space living doesn’t prevent someone from living large. If you can’t see the embedded video, check it out on YouTube.
Reader Brittney submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I appreciate being uncluttered. It’s the only way I can stay organized and focused on the tasks I enjoy doing. My greatest obstacle is memory clutter. My family moved all my life. I live far from my loved ones and see them once in 5 to 10 years due to financial restrictions. As a result, I have boxes of family photos, cards, high school and college mementos, childhood drawings, well-worn childhood dolls & toys, yearbooks since middle school, etc. I irrationally keep these things to fill the loneliness I feel with my loved ones scattered around the world. But the memory clutter is suffocating me. How do I minimize this memory clutter without emotionally scarring myself.
I know how to display photos, but what about all of this other stuff? How can I possibly display and store such varied items in a one-bedroom apartment without looking like a junk shop? Help!! Thanks, in advance, for your desperately needed ideas.
A great question, Brittney. Sentimental items are difficult because some of the trinkets are clutter and some aren’t. One thing is for certain, though, keeping and displaying all of it doesn’t work for your space.
Start by sorting through all of your items and tossing out the junk. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find items that you can’t even remember why you’ve kept them. You might not have a lot of these types of things, but it’s best to get rid of the obvious clutter first.
Once the obvious clutter is gone, go through your items a second time. Sort the items into three piles: 1. Can be photographed or scanned and still have the same impact, 2. Definitely want to keep and display on my shelves, 3. Can’t yet decide what I want to do with the item.
For items that landed in the first pile (photographs, memorabilia, drawings, cards, etc.), set up a light box for the non-flat items and take pictures of them. Then, either scan all of your photographs or have a company scan them for you. Once all of the items are digitized, make digital scrapbooks of all of the images.
Next, make room in your space for the items you chose to keep and display on your shelves. Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to dust and sacrifice space to store. You will likely find a few important pieces are worth displaying and more valuable than having everything out on your shelves. You notice objects more when they’re not in competition with dozens of other objects for your attention. Shadow boxes are a great idea if you don’t want to use shelves for these items. Group like items with like items, and aim for quality, not quantity.
(For advice specifically about yearbooks, check out this post and its comments: “Yearbooks: Worth keeping or clutter?“)
The third pile — those things you don’t yet know how to handle — are always the most difficult to process. I recommend putting them all in a box, writing a date six months from now on the lid and on your calendar, and putting the box on a hard-to-reach shelf in your closet. When the date six months from now rolls around, photograph or scan every item that you didn’t touch a single time over the six-month period. You were able to live without the items for six months, which means you can live without them physically being in your space. An image of the item should be all you need in the future.
Thank you, Brittney, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Good luck to you as you go through this process. Also, check out the comments with more suggestions from our readers.
Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.