Over the past several months I’ve been trying to pare away at my existence, get rid of the excess. Part of the impetus is because my existence now involves a whole other little person with her own stuff and a tendency to leave a wake of destruction and chaos wherever she goes. Part of it is because we moved into a smaller house with this little tiny tornado. Actually, it’s a duplex — an 800-square-foot, two-story, two-bedroom apartment with a dryer in the kitchen and only one closet. Settling in has been a little bit like playing Tetris. But the limited space has really forced me to figure out ways to bring less in, and get more out, a nice side effect of which is saving resources and lots of money (even making some, too). Here are a few of my favorite space-saving ideas:
Get a library card I love books, and I like to own my books. But this whole public library thing is a revelation! My favorite feature is that I can request what I want online, which essentially allows me to have my own personal reading list queued up, for free. I’d guess my library card has saved me a couple hundred dollars this summer alone, and lots and lots of shelf space.
Try using a portable high chair Though we initially bought a classic wooden high chair, we recently switched to this one from Inglesina that clips onto the table. Coraline likes being right at the table with us, and ditching the big high chair gave us enough room in our dining room for a whole bookshelf!
Ebay, Craigslist, Freecycle One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so take an afternoon (or a whole week) and try unloading some stuff you have lying around but never use. It’s very cathartic. (They’re also great places to start looking if you need something — you’d be amazed at what you can find with a little patience and an open mind.)
Hulu & Netflix If you have a laptop, you can ditch the TV (or maybe sell it on Craigslist) and use Hulu.com or Netflix for your entertainment purposes. Tons of popular shows are available on Hulu — a free service — just days after they air on TV. This will not only save you money but may buy you precious family time; you’re less likely to just flip on the boob tube when you and the fam are bored if you don’t have one.
“A place for everything, and everything in its place” I once read somewhere that the average person could save themselves hours a week by doing household tasks when they first come up instead of putting them off. For example, taking 10 seconds to wash a plate once you’re done with it means you won’t spend 15 minutes washing all the dishes you let pile up during the day. I know that I thrive in a bit of controlled chaos, but that I also have a hard time thinking straight when everything is in disarray. Organizing things — into baskets, boxes, onto shelves or drawers — contains things and improves the functionality of a space, which is important, especially in close quarters.
Cycle out wardrobes Unless you’re planning a trip to Siberia in June, there’s no reason you need long underwear or parkas at the ready during summer months. When the weather starts to warm, start packing away your winter clothes, which will open up lots of space for storing other things. When the seasons change, switch it up. (Bonus: This may also dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend in front of your closet trying to figure out what to wear.)
Got any more space-saving ideas? Jot ’em down in the comments box below!