Just how tiny IS a tiny house?

“Living smaller is a relief.” ~Margareta Magnusson

Americans are downsizing. Well some are. Others aren’t “supersizing” to begin with. I’ve seen my profession grow alongside an overall trend towards having less. This also includes the tiny home movement, which has captivated the US.

So I headed down to see Ryan McCue, Scott Updegraff, and Hero the dog at Tiny Home Connection in Lakewood, Colorado to learn about these mini dwellings. Here’s what I found out!

What happens at Tiny Home Connection?
If you’d like to build your own Tiny Home, you can come put it together on their property. While there, you can get expert advice with their consulting services if needed. If you need some of the work done for you, they’ll hook you up! Maybe you just want it built for you? Of course!

How big small is the average tiny home?
The original tiny homes are just over 200 sq. ft. However, the guys have found that the sweet spot for most people is between 400 and 600 sq. ft. Hey– that’s bigger than my first apartment!

Who is moving into these units?
Older adults who have decided that the Joneses have too much and they don’t care to keep up with them. People who want freedom of time (taking care of a big house takes work!) and freedom in their finances (read this article to see how much a big home costs to store your stuff!)
Also, Millennials who have decided to depart from the spending habits of the previous generations. Many are graduating college with a lot of debt and don’t want more. Surveys show that they’d rather spend the money they have on experiences instead of material items. Without much “stuff” they are also better able to be more transient. Basically, people who want “the simple life” according to Ryan.

Why a tiny house?
Besides freedom of time and money as mentioned above, there’s also closeness. Families build a bond due to living in close proximity with one another.

Are you interested yet? If so, give the boys a ring or check out their site or Facebook page. Also, they are planning meetups in the future so maybe you want to get on their list to come find out more! (I can’t give any deets yet, but it sounds like they plan to have some cool stuff going on down there!)

If you’re not quite sold on the idea of a tiny house yet, check out this article on “smaller houses” from Forbes. And if you just like the idea of living simply wherever your at, give me a call 🙂


Dollar Tree Organization

My favorite products 🙂

If you feel like just breathing the air at another store costs you money, you might want to look at the Dollar Tree. While many products are unique or worth paying more for, sometimes a bin is just a bin and you could find something less expensive to get the job done.

So if you’re worried that it will be too expensive to organize your home, take a look at these finds from the Dollar Tree– where EVERYTHING actually is $1! There are more great products to be found here, but I want to list only what I’ve tried and favor.

Drawer Organization

Click here to find them

These come in a few sizes and you can mix and match in any drawer to make some custom organization. It’s better to see if you can find these in store to get exactly what you need. Click the pic 🙂
It might seem a little strange, but ice cube trays make good organizers for sewing drawer embellishments, jewelry and any other small trinkets. They’ll cost you more elsewhere, so snag them 2/$1 at Dollar Tree.

Pantry and Closet Organization

Get a set of these in matching colors or complimentary and create a cohesive look. Wrangle all of those little granola bars in a pantry, or travel sized toiletries in a linen closet.
They also come in white, primary colors, and metallics!
These handled baskets are great and they’d cost you a lot more elsewhere. I can’t wait until they come out with new colors! Handy for closets, cabinets, or even your refrigerator!
I can think of endless uses for these and they’ll nest inside each other when not in use. They also come in a taller, more narrow version.
How about labels for your containers of dry goods? They have regular….
….or dry erase!

Office and School Organization

I love these magnetic tins. You can put paperclips in them to hang on your filing cabinet or in a locker. You can put spices in them for your kitchen, or findings in your craft room too!
These pouches with snaps are great! They are better for items you’ll only need to access once a week or so, otherwise you may want to upgrade a little
With so many sticky notes to choose from (there’s more than these!), why would you pay more than $1?!

Everywhere organization– please!

Something I often find everywhere in a home (especially with kids!) is TRASH! Often there’s not a waste basket close by and so garbage winds up in weird places. These come in black and white and for $1 you can put one everywhere you might need one.

A final note: most of these are sold in bulk from the site so unless you need many, try finding them in store first. Different stores carry different items so you can try more than one. If they don’t carry it in store you can always as the manager about ordering. If you need to order online, technically all sales are final but I’ve been told by my local store that they would exchange unused product one-for-one in store for something else.

Happy shopping!

One Thing Organizers Find in Every House

You’d be surprised…

Long passed away pets, old love letters, and unmentionables, which is why I won’t mention them. Organizers get up close and personal, and we see a lot of things. Pretty much nothing phases us. Unlike a magazine page or Pinterest pin, you actually live in your home and there is evidence of that. We’re all mostly the same and you are totally not being judged in any way.

However, there is something that I come across repeatedly and I want to address it: organizing and/or cleaning supplies. Storage bins and baskets of all sizes, printed out materials about organizing, cleaning liquids of all kinds– often unused or still in packages. One realistic client joked to me as we kept finding these items, “Don’t you love seeing our pitiful attempts at organization?” Again, I don’t judge.

I see these items as a realization that something needed to be done about the mess. However, it also reveals a bigger issue. The thinking that an organizational system or program alone will fix the problem.

For organizational systems to work, there are two other parts that need to be in place.

  1. A reasonable amount of items. You must first edit your clutter. Just buying containers to corral it in new and fancy ways won’t cut it.
  2. Implementation. Let’s face it, these products don’t use themselves. Sometimes you need an organizer to motivate you to tidy up and keep you on track. (Click this to see Why You Need an Organizer!)

My client last night had a binder full with an organizing program she had purchased…we found it underneath the mountain of stuff on her desk. But good for her! She realized she needed help to get the ball rolling and contacted me, and together we had tackled that mess in no time. We recruit professionals of all kinds for their various specialties– maybe an organizer should be your next call!

(PS BONUS! One other thing we always find is a serious overage of pens and pencils. We accept this as a fact of life. I don’t know where they come from exactly but they multiply like bunnies! Don’t worry, everyone has this problem.)

Working with a Professional Organizer: What to Expect

NO we are not afraid of the Skittles that have been buried under your files for 5 years, and no, this is NOT the worst we’ve ever seen.

Organizers recognize that our clients come to us in various states of vulnerability and that it’s difficult to open up your life to someone. Trust that you are in good hands. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to work with an organizer and hopefully this will banish any worry.

To start with: The session usually begins by establishing a way to sort items. This often includes boxes or bags labeled TRASH, DONATE, OTHER ROOM and others depending on your situation. Your professional will help you decide.

The items you’re deciding to keep will start to be grouped together as well. These categories often develop as your organizer starts to see patterns and gets an idea of what you use regularly and how/where you use it. You will be asked several questions pertaining to this as you chat along the way. If you ever used one of those little shape sorters as a kid– you can totally do this!

Expect your organizer to begin to feel like a good friend. Personal, warm, and sometimes overly honest– totally helpful. They’ll keep you on track and maybe remind you to take breaks.

At this point things might look messy: FEAR NOT! Depending on whether your organizer has decided everything needs to be pulled out to get a good look at it or how many little piles of do-dads you have, stuff may be everywhere. Sometimes this feels a little overwhelming to the client. But just like so many things, things often get worse before they can get better. At this point, things are about to wrap up!

(Sometimes this process will take more than one session. If so, things will be tidied enough to make your place livable until next time. If you’re willing, homework might be assigned such as sorting paperwork or other things you can do on your own before your organizer returns.)

Ahhh….now that we’ve edited your belongings, things can be put back in a way that makes sense. Your organizer will ask more questions about what and where things make sense to you in order to come up with a system that is easier to use and maintain. Now that you have less “stuff”, there should be a place for everything. Sometimes organizational items will need to be purchased, but often I find that we free up usable storage bins in the process that can be used in the end.

At this point, many organizers will talk to you about a plan to keep your space tidy or get some dates on your calendar so you’ll remember to revisit the area for maintenance. You might also schedule to work on the next space with your professional.

This is where you’ll feel spectacular! Basically everyone reports feeling great after this process and the science backs it up. You’ve made a clean sweep of the clutter that’s been causing you stress, and now it’s time to enjoy your space again.

How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

Hint: It’s way too much.

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My second passion besides organization is frugal living. Or maybe it’s my first.

As an organizer, I’m aware of many different kinds of costs associated with clutter, but I began to wonder exactly how much time & money it translates into. I did some digging. It was shocking… I’ll get right to it.

 

Financial Costs

On average, you’re paying about $15 per sq foot of your home per year according to AARP. So, that big bouncy ball from the dollar store that’s been sitting in the corner for 5 years has now cost you $75. Multiply that by everything in your home that’s not regularly used. Woah.

Enter storage units. There are 5 times more storage facilities in the US than there are Starbucks! Let that sink in. According to Forbes, Americans spend more than
$24 BILLION a year for storage. AARP mentioned one widow who rented storage space for three years after she “downsized”. In all she paid over $11,000 to store $1,000 worth of items before paring it down.

A few more:
-late fees for late or unpaid bills you’ve lost
-throwing out food, make-up, and other things that spoil because we couldn’t find them
-REPURCHASING things you know you have but can’t locate

Cost of Time

It’s been reported that over a lifetime, the average person wastes between 1/2 and one year looking for misplaced items.

Additionally, the National Soap and Detergent Association (who knew?!) estimates that decluttering eliminates 40% of all house work. How ’bout that?

Emotional Costs

I can’t say enough here. I’ve experienced:

-Children with ADHD that simply can’t concentrate in their spaces and are overwhelmed
-Spouses who argue and rant about the messes, marriages strained
-Higher stress levels in all family members due to feeling enclosed and lost items

Here is a link to a study that shows how clutter leads to higher cortisol levels and depression rates and lower marital satisfaction. I’ve seen it first hand.

There’s simply a mental angst to spending so much time and money on a home and not being able to move around in it. Lifehack mentions loss of focus and productivity.

 

The Final Verdict?

Many people believe that getting rid of things will be a waste of resources. The truth? It’s costing you more time, money and emotional equity to keep them. Start your organizational journey today!

 

 

Day Fourteen: Photos and Memorabilia

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On the wall in my laundry room hangs an avocado green General Electric clock that hung for years in my grandmother’s kitchen. In my bedroom I have my other grandma’s sewing box, full of my threads and buttons along with her pincushion (although I will admit I painted white over the icky color it started life as). My jewelry collection includes pieces that were passed to me.

Does being a minimalist mean that you can’t keep family heirlooms? Of course not. But you should know that you don’t need to keep them all. Just a few great pieces that fill you with joy and some photos will do.

So how to decide what to keep, and what to do with the rest? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Was this object something that my relative really loved? (Or do I really love it?)
  • How do I feel when I look at this? Does it make me happy, or do I feel weighed down by it? (The answer to this becomes more evident if you’re in the process of moving.)
  • Can it be be (immediately) useful to me in some way?
  • Is there another relative who might enjoy this more?
  • Will my children realistically want this?

Photos may require an extra question: Does anyone know who the people in these pictures are?!?

In my case, a lot of things had been passed to me because no one else wanted them. With the photos, I enlisted the help of some older relatives to identify the subjects, kept some, pitched some meaningless ones, and passed on others that would mean more to another family member.

With objects, I tried to keep things that would be useful to me or that I could display and enjoy regularly. After all, what’s the point of keeping something that stays in an attic or storage unit?

When you’re finished, get some photo boxes, albums, or frames for your pictures. Make sure you try to list the subjects on the back. Otherwise, future generations may not enjoy them. Display or use your other memorabilia. Sit back and smile.

Day Fourteen: DONE!

Day Thirteen: Toy Box Editing

If I didn’t have this, would I buy it again?

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I can’t remember where I first saw that question in regards to purging items, but it really stuck with me. It seems to me one of the areas this can be most helpful to consider is the toy box.

With Christmas coming up, it’s a good time to go thru toys before more items come in. First you’ll have to decide whether you kids should be around or not (you know them better than I do!). Then, it’s time to tackle the toys.

It can be hard to part with toys (for parents and kids alike!) but it’s good to consider the fact that when there’s too many, it’s overwhelming. Additionally, most of the time they can’t be utilized to the fullest because a lot of mess means there are lost or misplaced parts, etc. Marie Kondo, organizing expert and author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up states, “When we are overloaded with books or other objects, our ability to receive and appreciate new information is dulled.”

Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that this is necessary, follow the steps below or check out this handy chart for a decluttered play area.

  1. Set aside a few favorites or things that are often used. These will stay and are non-negotiable until your child grows out of them.
  2. Anything that’s broken or missing an unreasonable amount of pieces needs to go.
  3. Anything that hasn’t been played with in awhile needs to be shown to the door as well.
  4. Everything that remains needs to be sorted so that all the pieces are together, etc.
  5. Search Pinterest to explore some ideas for toy storage that would work for you if you don’t already have a good system. Ikea has a great series of systems for this but there are plenty of other options.

The discarded toys need to be thrown out if they’re mangled. Anything usable could be donated, passed on to a friend or relative, or taken to a children’s consignment store like Once Upon a Child.

Day Thirteen: DONE!

Day Eleven: The Medicine Cabinet

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This phrase can refer to a lot of things. For some people, there really is only that shallow cabinet in the bathroom that holds some assorted bandages and a small bottle of Tylenol. For others, there’s a whole pharmacy of medicines and vitamins behind one of the kitchen cabinet doors. For this challenge, let’s include all of these categories of items.

First, pull every one of your items out of it’s hiding spot. As you do, check the dates. Anything expired automatically goes in a box or bag to be disposed of (more on that later). Any bandages that have gotten old (and therefore not very sticky) can go as well.

Next, group like items together and consider the best way to store them. For instance, you might take all of the first aid items, put them in a labeled plastic basket, and place them in front of a cabinet where they will be easily found in an emergency. If you take several different vitamins, you might do the same with those, and so on. If you have only very few medicines, you might consider getting a good lazy susan for your cabinet so you can locate what you need with one easy spin!

As far as disposal, depending on the medication, you may want to check with your pharmacy. If you’re tossing prescription painkillers, for instance, you might want to see if your pharmacy or police station has a day for you to bring in such items or if they know where you should take them.  Please dispose of all medications responsibly!

Day Eleven: DONE!

Day Ten: THE FILING CABINET!

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This is another one that can be scary. It’s a larger version of our day one challenge, getting rid of papers.

Therefore, I’m going to try to break things down with a few easy pointers:

  1. See this link to figure out what needs to be kept and what doesn’t.
  2. Check out this video to see one great way of keeping manuals and owner’s guides. (Better yet, remember that you can find most of them online, and pitch them!)
  3. Once you’ve pared things down, check out this filing system for one neat way to keep things in order.

Container Store Visit

Yesterday I covered some different options for inexpensive organizing. This led to a chat about storage options with an out-of-state relative in which I mentioned The Container Store. The reply came, “What’s The Container Store?” GASP! So today, I thought I’d pay a visit to the popular retailer where there is a place for every thing! What do they have? Closet systems, storage drawers, baskets, bins, drawer dividers, and do-hickies! You can take a peek at some of the most interesting things I found there today. Enjoy the slideshow!

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Finally, if you’d like a more extensive tour of The Container Store, you can follow one of my favorite organizers, Alejandra Costello, as she does a three part video series highlighting this fun place! Start here and enjoy!