Tag Archives: Tiny Tuesday

Tiny Tuesday: Capsule wardrobe

Most of what I do lately is done with my end goal — a tiny, off-grid house in northern New Mexico — in mind. (The longer this election cycle drags on, the more that idea appeals to me. Let me just vanish into the high desert and live in a way that obviates the necessity of interacting with other human beings altogether.)

Anyway. A tiny house, typically defined as 300 square feet or less, requires a certain commitment to minimalism. Items that make sense in 690 square feet won’t make sense in 300, so I’m constantly looking for downsizing opportunities.

One area I’ve downsized considerably is my wardrobe.

I’m not going to tell you how to choose the items that should go into a capsule wardrobe. There are plenty of resources online to help you with that; Project 333 is a good one to get you started. I will, however, point out some considerations that helped me make decisions as I downsized.

1. There are only seven days in a week, and I only work five of them. We do laundry once a week, so I really don’t need more than five outfits that are presentable for work and two that are suitable for whatever rough-and-tumble activities I choose to undertake on weekends. I try to keep a couple of spare work outfits on hand in case I spill something on myself (likely) and a couple of spare weekend outfits on hand in case I get sweaty or muddy or soaked with pond water (also likely). But I don’t have much beyond that.

2. I’m not willing to squander precious storage space on things I can’t wear, so anything stained, smelly, too big, too small, unflattering or damaged went out the door.

3. A couple of cardigans and a couple of hoodies take up less space than a closet full of bulky sweaters. My summer and winter wardrobes are virtually identical: black T-shirt and khakis for work; jeans and a T-shirt for weekends. Add a cardigan, hoodie or flannel on cold days, and I’m comfortable regardless of the season. I also have a couple of broomstick skirts, which store easily and work fine with a black T-shirt and cardigan for those rare instances when I need to dress up.

4. Comfort is king. I wear a pair of 16-year-old tan suede Birkenstock clogs at least 300 days a year. If it’s cold out, I wear them with socks. If I need to dress up, I wear a newer pair of charcoal wool Birkenstock clogs. I also have a pair of black Justin boots for snowy days; two pairs of running shoes (your risk of injury is lower if you rotate between pairs); and a pair of Dansko clogs I bought for a job interview one time and have worn maybe a half-dozen times since. That’s it. I’m not wasting closet space on uncomfortable heels or colorful shoes that only match one outfit.

I still have more clothes than I need, but not by much, and by keeping the inventory small, I can find things easily and don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out what to wear. If you’re trying to save space, I highly recommend giving a capsule wardrobe a try.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: Shoe-hanger spice rack

shoespicerack

Living comfortably in a small house depends, to a great extent, on how efficiently you use all of your available space — including areas that in most houses are underused or overlooked altogether.

The back side of my basement door, which is right next to the refrigerator, was one of those underused areas. I considered custom-building a set of shelves to install on the back of it to hold jars of spices and boxes of tea, but then I remembered I’m lazy, so instead, I just went to the dollar store and bought a $6 over-the-door shoe rack.

If you’re willing to spend more, you can get similar racks with clear pockets so you can see what’s in them, but I wasn’t willing to spend an extra $5 to $10 for that feature, so I just labeled the pockets with a Sharpie, which works fine.

It’s not the prettiest storage system I’ve ever come up with, but it doesn’t need to be; it’s not as if we’re entertaining guests in our unfinished basement, and if we were, I’m sure they’d be too busy shuddering at the cave crickets under the stairs to pay any attention to the shoe rack full of spices hanging on the back of the door anyway.

Each pocket was designed to support the weight of a shoe, so keep that in mind when you’re figuring out what to store in there: Big plastic jars of spices are fine, but canned goods probably aren’t. That was fine with me, as I have a lot of spices in large containers, and sticking them in the pockets freed up shelf space for heavier items.

If you want something nicer, Pinterest has all kinds of plans for building custom door-mounted pantry shelves, but if you just want to reclaim some unused space without spending a lot of time or money, a dollar-store shoe rack will work perfectly well.

Emily

Tiny Tuesday: Broom and mop storage

This is such a simple thing, I’m not even sure it deserves its own entry, but it has come in really handy, so I’ll post it anyway.

I got tired of knocking over brooms and mops every time I pulled the stepstool out of its spot next to the refrigerator, so I got online and found myself a nice wall-mounted storage rack to take advantage of an unused space next to the basement steps.

Any time I can get some benefit out of an unused space, I'm calling that a win.
Any time I can get some benefit out of an unused space, I’m calling that a win.

The model I bought cost about $15 and has pull-down plastic hooks between the broom-storage brackets, making it perfect for storing my broom, dust mop, sponge mop, dustpan, watering can and plastic-bag dispenser. It’s out of sight, easily accessible, and makes use of a previously dormant space — all essential in tiny-house planning, and very helpful even in our house, which is about twice the size of most tiny houses.

I can’t remember what brand mine, is but it’s very similar to this one. I highly recommend one if you’ve got an out-of-the-way spot to hang it.