02 April 2009

Small Is Cool.

Apartment Therapy has been one of my favorite sites for a few years. It's a great resource for home design inspiration, organization and decorating. Per their name, they concentrate not only on living (well) in smaller spaces, but also on living with less stuff that you don't really need.

One of the things I love about Apartment Therapy is their mantra of small is cool. Every year, AT holds a "Smallest Coolest Home" contest that looks for "beautiful, inspiring and ingenious use of small spaces from coast to coast." Winners get cash money and gift certificates from Room & Board. Not bad.

Although I'd never win one of those contests right now -- the winning entries almost always have cool, modern furniture and brilliant storage, decorative and design concepts -- I try to abide by their 10 Tips For Small Space Living.
  1. Double duty. We try to find and highlight furniture that does more than one thing. I am the proud owner of a bad-ass* Crate & Barrel day bench that also provides storage for miscellaneous boxes and electronics, and moonlights as an awesome place to get your nap on.

  2. Regular edits. Make sure you're reviewing your possessions twice a year to keep them to only the things you use and/or love. I probably do this only about once a year, but when I go through my stuff, I go through it quite thoroughly. Decluttering is pretty therapeutic and I love the fact that I can get by just as well with fewer things. Clothes are my hardest problem, though.

  3. Convert a closet. Not really an option for me. Although my current closet is a pretty large walk-in, the shelves are filled with clothes and most of the floorspace along the walls is occupied. However, I was able to snugly fit a chest of drawers and my clothes hamper in there.

  4. Go vertical. If you really want to maximize storage, have those shelves go all the way up. Not too big of an issue for me; I'd rather have things inside drawers than exposed on a shelf (with the exception of my closet). I only have one medium-sized bookshelf in the living room with a few textbooks and picture frames on it, so shelf space is not a concern.

  5. Digitize media. 99% of my music, television, photos and movies is either in my laptop, external hard drive or iPod. No more heavy CaseLogic CD albums for me.

  6. Have a landing strip. This will keep clutter from overwhelming a small space. I don't want to drill any holes in my current apartment, but when I lived in a loft in the north end of Seattle, I installed a small "floating" shelf a few steps from my front door for keys, mail and receipts. It was an easy and convenient way to keep miscellaneous crap from filtering into my house. Plus I never lost my keys.

  7. Have a space for everything. If something doesn't have a home, it's not going to get put away and will likely be sitting around for months. This is a battle I'm slowly winning. My greatest nemesis is old school documents. When I do get around to filing them away, there's a great sense of accomplishment, but they tend to pile up in random places once in a while.

  8. Put your apartment on a diet. Only bring things in if you're taking something out. I'm pretty good at this. I haven't significantly increased the volume of stuff in my place since I moved in three months ago. Hopefully I'll maintain this all year.

  9. Keep things monochromatic and consider sight lines to make a space feel larger. While my apartment isn't monochromatic, I like to think I possess a decent sense of design and arrangement. I consider myself a minimalist to begin with and appreciate the use of white/negative space to make a place bigger. (Plus, I hate clutter so it works out.)

  10. Stop designing for who people expect you to be. Instead, find out who you are and what you need. Then, start to edit. Not much to add here; I already know what I like and don't like in terms of design and flow when it comes to my living space. It's worked out for me so far; I haven't been called a slob yet ...
*Yes, I used the term "bad-ass" to describe a day bench.

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