Monday, April 26, 2010

Filling In the Spaces

A well-meaning family member purchased a gift subscription to Better Homes & Gardens for me. It's a lovely magazine, full of fantastic ideas ... most of which won't work in my space, but which often give me some ideas and/or inspiration, which is probably the point of the magazine, right? They set the bar, show the ideal, as it were, and then challenge us to adapt their ideas to our space.

Usually, though, the ideas really won't work, because I don't an extra bedroom to renovate into a Japanese bath or an unused attic space for a new playroom, and so I flip through the magazine, skim a couple of articles, clip a recipe or two, look at the pretty pictures, and, then, toss it in the recycling bin.

When I pulled the most recent edition out of the mailbox and read the headline "More Room: How to Help a Normal House Live Extra Large", I was excited. I thought, "Cool! Ideas for making our small space seem larger."

Flipping to the story and reading the first paragraph was a face-slapping reminder of how subjective the American idea of "small spaces" is.

It reads: It would be easy for Kendra Lewis to rattle of reasons she can't do this or doesn't have room for that in her 1600 square-foot ... bungalow. But excuses aren't her thing. She loves the challenge: how to make cramped rooms feel right for her 6-foot-4 husband and 5-year-old son.

Yeah. How about making a 1500-square-foot house in which live EIGHT people seem a little bigger?

I'm not bitter, just amused, and despite the fact that my house would NEVER be featured in Better Homes & Gardens ... or my "garden" either, for that matter ... I think I've come up with some pretty creative solutions for maximizing the space we have.

My favorite is this one:

It's a canopy stuffed animal holder above Precious' bed. They have a lot of stuffed animals and couldn't bear the thought of parting with a single one, but the corner-o'-stuffies was where the third bed was going to go when Big Little Sister moved out of her room to accomodate Mama Daughter and Mr. Field-And-Stream. We could have put the bunk beds back up, but I really wanted them to feel like they each had their own little space.

There isn't a lot of floor space in the room, but they each have shelves and storage space for their things, and that's good ... for now.

I also like this solution:

These are our cross-country skis, stored on the wall behind the front door (we have no garage, no basement and no outside storage - one winter, we stored the skis on the ski rack on the top of the car for almost the whole winter, but when the snow melted, it just looked weird ;). We also hang our cloth grocery bags and the dogs' leashes there.

And, of course, nearly every wall has a shelf attached.

The space above the windows in the dining room and office was being wasted, and so I filled it ;). It seemed the perfect place for my office supplies.

We're working on cleaning up, clearing out, and organizing our outdoor space to make it more efficient and usable, too, and as soon as we get a couple of things built, I will share some pictures.

The thing I've learned in our nano-farming adventure is that everything needs to be used as efficiently as possible. There simply isn't any room for waste.

I guess it would be easy for me to rattle off the reasons I can't do or don't have room for ..., but I'm not made that way either.

Afterall, life is about possibilities, not limitations, and despite cramming eight people, two dogs, a rabbit and a guinea pig into a 1500-square-foot house, we still managed to find room to set-up our brooder ;).

Possibilities. Right?


  1. LOL! Maybe Better Homes and Gardens should do a spread at YOUR house! I know I look at their stuff and shake my head, too. I mean, the places they showcase are lovely, but they aren't really practical for the folks I know.

  2. Your canopy idea is great. I know how it's hard for children to part with their favorites, and they are all favorites, after all.

    LOL, I love taking my mother to the hairdresser so I can look through all the magazines - Real Simple, Womans Day - for recipes.

  3. Ha ha! Amen! I grew up in a house like that...eight people and eight cats. I tell these boys they are so LUCKY to have rooms of their own. Such decadence!!!

    Real Simple is another magazine I laugh at. It's like BH&G for Neo-Yuppies.

  4. Tell me about it. My childhood home had eight people, sometimes ten, in 960 sq ft! We did have a garage, but we made it work. Also, my dad is the biggest packrat. By the way, I love your storage solutions!

  5. Love your storage ideas - the kids storage reminds me of the net storage in our old VW camper. Old campers and single wide mobile homes had great storage - used every inch and we've adapted some of them.

    For instance - closets with a regular door - on the door wall there is usually 1 1/2 - 2' of just wall inside - we've put in hooks and stored stuff in bags, space on the sidewalls that the shelves don't cover we've put holders for mops, etc or fishing poles, and more hooks to hang stuff. I'm a big fan of the 4-6" storage space whether it be under a stair tread, bed, in a closet, under a piece of furniture or on the ceiling.

    I find the BH&G, Real Simple, Woman's Day, Family Circle, etc genre of magazines to be a waste of time and encouraging spending money on things you don't really need rather than turning a problem into a solution with little or no money involved.

  6. OMG I miss you! Just checked in on your blog and I love this!! Better homes and Gardens?! Holy S*#! Japanese Bath! Hah!
    Hope you and yours are well, I think of you often :) Rachael