Tag Archives: Tiny Tuesday

Tiny Tuesday: Hang a basket on the wall

This functional basket replaced a cute but useless plaque next to the shower.
This functional basket replaced a cute but useless plaque next to the shower.

Baskets seem to be a theme lately — and for good reason: In a small space, a well-placed basket can mean the difference between a cluttered mess and an attractive living area.

Our bathroom didn’t look terribly cluttered, but some of my storage strategies weren’t as convenient as they could have been. Case in point: washcloths. I had the washcloths stacked in the cabinet above the toilet — neat and out of sight, but nowhere near the shower, which seems silly. Meanwhile, I noticed some more underutilized space above the towel ring between the medicine cabinet and the shower, so I decided to take down the decorative plaque that was hanging there and replace it with a water-hyacinth basket.

A single-unit storage cube would have fit in that space, too, but the one I had on hand was an open-backed model that would have been a pain to hang up, as I would have needed special mounting hardware. All I needed was a place to store a stack of washcloths and maybe an extra bar of soap or two within easy reach of the shower. As you can see, the basket serves that purpose nicely, and being made of natural materials (or maybe crumpled paper designed to look like natural materials), it will coordinate well with the rest of the bathroom when I finish painting my faux-stone mural in there.

When we build our tiny house, I’m planning a permanent structure, but a lot of tiny-house enthusiasts like to build theirs on trailers to avoid some building-code hassles and allow themselves freedom to travel without leaving the comforts of home. If that’s the direction you’re considering, you’ll want to swap shelves and cabinets for baskets wherever possible to keep your home’s weight down. (And yes, I’ll explain the building-code workaround I’m planning in a future post.)

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: Over-the-door basket

Yet another product-review-type post: I was at the hardware store the other day and found a nice assortment of cabinet organizers of various types, including some fairly elaborate slide-out racks and trash bins and drawers that looked promising but way more expensive and elaborate than I felt like messing with just then. (File those under “worthy of further research.”)

I couldn’t spare the time or money to buy any of the fancy organizers, but I found a great little wire basket that hangs over the back of the cabinet door next to the stove, allowing me to reclaim yet another underutilized space. It’s not a huge basket, but it’s big enough to hold a couple of water bottles, my apple corer and slicer, and my small bamboo cutting board, which I use all the time. (It’s not in the picture because I’d just used it, actually.)

Reclaimed a little space with this basket and got those bottles up off the bottom of the cabinet so they'd stop tipping over and falling out every time I opened it.
Reclaimed a little space with this basket and got those bottles up off the bottom of the cabinet so they’d stop tipping over and falling out every time I opened it.

I got my basket at Lowe’s for about $12, but I’ve seen similar products elsewhere and can’t imagine one would really be much different from another.

Emily

Disclaimer: As always, I just posted about this product because I found it useful and thought somebody else might, too. Nobody paid me or gave me free products or anything.

Tiny Tuesday: Repurpose a dishrack

I swiped an idea from my mom while I was helping her with the Thanksgiving dishes Thursday.

Mom and Dad redid their kitchen not too long ago, and their old dishrack wouldn’t fit well on the new counter, so they bought a new one.

Rather than throw out the old one, Mom stuck it in the bottom of one of the new cabinets, where it keeps the pan lids organized and easy to find.

Repurpose an old dishrack as a neat storage center for lids.
Repurpose an old dishrack as a neat storage center for lids.

Given the weight of some of those lids, I’m not sure how well this would work with a flimsy plastic dishrack, but the one Mom used is made of heavy wire coated with plastic, and I am fairly certain it’s been around longer than I have, so it’s obviously pretty sturdy.

The rack takes up more room than the lids would if they were just tossed onto the bottom of the cabinet willy-nilly, but for me, part of the appeal with the tiny-house movement is its emphasis on organizing your things instead of just cramming them in wherever they’ll fit and forgetting where you put them. I love the idea of having all my possessions in close proximity to each other so I can access them quickly and easily, but if my cabinets aren’t organized well, I’m going to lose that advantage.

If I were using a dishrack for storage in my own kitchen, I’d probably use that space to the right of the lids to keep my big wok out of sight but within easy reach.

Take a look around your kitchen and see what items you could repurpose to organize your cabinets. I’ve found a streamlined space makes food prep faster, easier, and much more pleasant.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: Space-saving gifts

Last year, I ran into a bit of a challenge as Christmas approached. Earlier in the year, a new Five Below store had opened in town, and on my first visit, I’d found a plethora of items I was sure my niece would love. I bought several, wrapped them, and stacked them on a high shelf in the bedroom closet.

As the year progressed, I added to the pile: a Hastings run here, a trip to World Market there, with new additions being wrapped and placed on the shelf as they came in, until the pile started encroaching on the space bags full of extra linens, and I started running out of places to stash gifts where the dogs couldn’t unwrap them.

As I wedged an awkwardly wrapped plushie into the space between a Death Star tea infuser and a set of Batman pint glasses, I thought: When we build our tiny house, everybody’s getting a gift card, because I’m not going to have anywhere to store all this.

Then the tags started falling off the presents while I was trying to figure out which ones needed to go to whose house on Christmas, and in what order, and I decided I’d just make the switch this year instead of waiting until we move.

Look at all that space they aren't taking up!
Look at all that space they aren’t taking up!

Maaaaan. Gift cards aren’t a new concept, obviously, and I buy a few every year (ask my dad how many Barnes and Noble cards he’s gotten in the past decade), but doing the vast majority of my shopping this way? Major stress reducer. No wrapping. No storing large items. No chasing the cat out of the presents 583,742 times a day. All I have to do is buy a few Christmas cards, slip the gift cards into them, and file them so they don’t get lost in the next month.

Bonus: If the recipients have limited space, they can use their cards to buy small items or consumables, so their gifts won’t create storage issues for them, either.

If you’re too disorganized to keep track of a gift card, another good option is to treat your loved ones to dinner out. I did this for my little brother’s birthday this year, and it was great: We got a nice visit, he got a meal he liked, and I got out of shopping. So. Much. WIN.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: One more IKEA project

This is the last of my IKEA fangirling for a while. I promise. I spent years rolling my eyes at IKEA and trying to figure out how their flat-packed furniture could possibly be any different than Target’s or Wal-Mart’s or anybody else’s — and then we got a store in St. Louis, and I walked through it and realized the difference is that their designers come from places where living quarters are often tight, which means their products tend to be versatile and space-conscious and fit well in smaller homes. Some of the furniture looks dodgy, but some of it is well-designed, and their storage tools? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

I’m not sure this counts as an actual “IKEA hack,” because I’m not altering anything — just repurposing it — and it’s a common item you could buy at your local lumberyard, so it’s hardly exclusive to IKEA, but I’m posting it anyway because it worked well and made effective use of an underutilized space.

We’ve always been in the habit of hanging our dishtowels off the oven door, because the oven door is handy, and really, where else would you put a dishtowel? In our house, the answer is “not there,” because Songdog has picked up a bad habit of standing right next to the oven, wagging his tail and knocking the towels onto the floor, and Walter recently noticed that dishtowels have fringe, which is obviously the Greatest Cat Toy EVAR, so now we’ve got two animals throwing my towels on the floor and covering them with their cooties. Gross.

Got pets? Mount your towel bar (or a big drawer pull) above the sink to keep them from messing with your towels.
Got pets? Mount your towel bar (or a big drawer pull) above the sink to keep them from messing with your towels.

On our IKEA run last month, I found a solution to the problem in the form of a cabinet-door handle that looks nice and projects out just far enough to serve as a towel bar. I drilled a couple of holes in the side of the cabinet above my dishrack, hung it up, and got my dishtowel up out of reach of overenthusiastic collies and marauding cats without giving up any convenience or any space I was already using.

Bonus: The handles were on sale in packs of two for $7, so I’ve got a spare I can hang somewhere else when I figure out a good place for it.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: IKEA shoe bin

As always, product reviews are provided as a service to readers. Nobody gave me any money or free products or anything like that. But if somebody would like to give me free stuff to review, I’d certainly entertain offers to that effect.

As I mentioned last week, we made an IKEA run a couple of weekends ago, and I picked up a bunch of stuff that looked handy. One of the things I was really excited about buying was a set of plastic shoe-storage bins I’d inexplicably passed up on a couple of previous trips.

I’d been storing some of the stuff I use outdoors in a peach box on top of a small plant stand near the back door in the kitchen, with several other items stashed in a wall-mounted flowerpot I’d picked up at Target a couple of years ago. That setup was convenient, but it was starting to look pretty cluttered, so I decided I’d buy a set of those shoe bins and hang them on the wall below the planter.

That would have worked fine if the measurements had been clearer, but they weren’t, and I didn’t have a tape measure with me, so I ended up with a nice set of wall-mounted bins that wouldn’t fit on the wall I had in mind.

No matter; I’ve been on a hang-stuff-off-the-sides-of-the-cabinets kick lately, so I decided to move the plant stand out to the front porch and attached one of the bins to the side of the cabinet, where it now stores an assortment of gloves, tools, mosquito dunks, beekeeping equipment, and various other items.

Everything in this corner is hanging up because I can't set anything on the floor without blocking the heat register.
Everything in this corner is hanging up because I can’t set anything on the floor without blocking the heat register.
For a relatively shallow bin, this thing really stores a lot of stuff.
For a relatively shallow bin, this thing really stores a lot of stuff.
From this angle, the single bin has sort of a toilet-tank aesthetic, but it looks better in real life.
From this angle, the single bin has sort of a toilet-tank aesthetic, but it looks better in real life.

The other two bins went to live in the bedroom, where they’re currently storing socks and underwear, although I’m thinking of moving them to the office and hanging them above Song’s crate to store leashes and stuff instead.

They’re plastic, and you’re not going to fool anybody into thinking they’re not plastic, but they’re handy, relatively cheap ($40 for a set of three), and look a lot better than having a lot of small items out in the open, cluttering up a table or shelf. I can think of several ways they’d work well in a tiny house. Highly recommended.

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Check your supplies

This post could fit under either Eco-Saturday or Tiny Tuesday, as it conserves both materials and space. You might already be doing it; if you’re not, it won’t cost you anything except a little time, and it might save you a few dollars.

Many years ago, I decided to boycott Wal-Mart. I really wasn’t sure I could pull it off, as I’m prone to work on projects at odd hours and frequently ended up having to make Wal-Mart runs to buy supplies or materials for whatever I was doing. Without the convenience of 24/7 access to paint, basic hardware, and whatever else I might need to complete a project, how would I get by?

Among other things, I discovered I was terrible about buying duplicates of things I already had, simply because I didn’t bother to check before I shopped.

Sometimes a project calls for a specific item; for instance, I made some repairs to my dining-room floor today and found a certain type of screw worked best for the job. If the item I need is a specialty item I’m not likely to have on hand, I’ve no compunction about going to the hardware store. But more often than not, I can make do with whatever I have.

When I quit shopping at Wal-Mart, I had to improvise. If I needed inch-long screws at 3 a.m., I had to remember where I put the leftovers from my last project. I spent a lot of time rifling through my toolbox and using up odds and ends I already had instead of going out and buying more just because I was too lazy to look for my existing stock.

This saved me money, obviously, and it allowed me to reclaim some storage space. It also saved resources: the materials to make whatever item I’d decided not to buy; fuel to get it from the manufacturer to the store; fuel to drive to the store to pick it up.

Over the years, this has become habit. Very rarely do I buy new items without checking first to see whether what I have will work — even when I’m shopping during normal business hours.

If you’re looking for a way to help the environment and your pocketbook, I highly recommend taking an inventory of the stuff you have on hand so you’ll know what you already have and won’t waste money and resources buying new every time you need something.

Emily