Living Small in a Big World

Some days I feel overwhelmed with s.t.u.f.f. – literal, physical, because-I-went-out-and-bought-it "stuff."

Just this morning, I did an inventory of the electrical appliances in my kitchen.

I found the following:

  • stove
  • refrigerator
  • microwave
  • water distiller
  • air popcorn popper
  • crock-pot
  • roaster oven
  • toaster
  • food processor
  • personal blender
  • hot water dispenser
  • juicer
  • dehydrator
  • bread machine

And these are only the things that are out on a shelf, table or on top of the refrigerator.  In my cabinets you will find the following:

  • blender
  • can opener
  • waffle maker
  • stick blender
  • small food processor

When you consider that my kitchen is 10'x9', has one door opening and one door to the outside, that list is really amazing, isn't it???

We do use almost everything in that first list on a weekly basis, so it really is more efficient to have the appliances out where they are easily accessible. 

I think that whoever the person was who created those "appliance garages" in newer home construction was absolutely *brilliant*!

The rest of our home is, likewise, very small (less than 800 square feet of living space); and is also, likewise, jam packed with "stuff".

Due to that, we have obviously had to come up with some "coping mechanisms" – some ways to make this small space work for us and for all of our big stuff.

I know that, these days, many people are trying to simplify.  I thought I'd share a few of my ideas with you.

Plan #1 – The Desk

Hmm…right…we don't have a desk.  If we did have a desk, we would have no room for it.  So what do I do with all of my bills, financial budget, receipts, coupons, and the like?

I use this:


A lap tray.  It can move around the house with me, no matter where I am for the day.  Everything stays tidy and neat.  When Doug has receipts, he put them in the little box (the box in which the bank mailed our checks to us). 

The large box (a card sorting box from Hallmark – free with a purchase of so many cards) holds all of 2010 receipts, check stubs, January-July budget pages, and bank statements. 

To be honest, that box is very full.  I am hoping to be able to finish out the year with it, but if not, I will store it somewhere and find another box to travel with the lap tray.

I also keep my coupons here, along with bills to be pain, calculator, pen, pencil, checkbook and tithe envelopes.  Everything is right at my finger tips, no matter where I choose to settle to work on the budget.

Where does my budget lap tray roost when it is not in use?  Here:


It isn't lovely, but it is up out of our way and it doesn't block our view of the tv.  It works for us.

Plan #2 – The Work Bench

I have a business:  a jewelry-making business.  So I need a work bench, right?  Well, yes, a work bench would be absolutely "loverly", as Eliza Doolittle would say!!! 

However, if I had one, there is no place to put it in the house.  I live in Florida, so working outside on the porch is not an option for about 9 months of the year.

Here is my solution:


A rolling microwave cart

Everything I use to make jewelry, my shipping materials, my books, my photo props, my finished pieces and all my tools and supplies fit on this.

When I work, I can easily move the 2 containers from the top, and use the surface there to work.  I also have another lap tray on which I work most of the time.

This cart can also move around the house with me.  It usually stays parked in my bedroom, in front of the dresser.  I do have plans to clear a corner for it soon, so that we don't have to roll it out of the way to get into the dresser drawers.

So, those are two solutions that we use to help us live small in our big world.

I would love to hear if you have any "small living" solutions!  I can certainly use more ideas on fitting us into the house.  Isaac's equipment will only keep getting bigger, as it has to grow with him; so we will need to make even more space as the years go by.

Please leave me a link here in the comments if you blog on this subject!  I look forward to reading your ideas!



4 thoughts on “Living Small in a Big World

  1. We lived in 625 sq. ft. apt. when we first came to Korea. So I should know something about it. But, we also got rid of *everything* to move over here; so, the amount of space actually felt “roomy” at first. As we once again accumulated possessions, it went from “roomy” to “crowded/cramped”…
    I think I am the master of “underbed storage”. Your bed can be raised on risers, if need be, to accomodate Rubbermaid storage containers (think they are called “wrap and craft boxes”) which will hold a lot. I think we had 4 or 5 lined up under the bed. They were easily accessible; just pull out the one you need, get what you want, pop the lid back on and slide it back in. Some beds are built with storage underneath; but the Rubbermaid fit our budget!! We had a foldable bed in David’s room (probably wouldn’t work with Ike’s needs, though) which looks like a sofa; but lays flat to make a bed at night. The “sofa” gave some empty space in which to play during the day; during the night bed took up literally all the space there was! Over-the-door racks are my other favorite things. Depending on door size and how tight it fits during humid weather, you can have racks for shoes, towels, videos, or even canned goods on the back of any door of the house. Ahhh, maybe not a good idea for the front door, as everyone in the living room could see your canned goods! 🙂 On the inside of kitchen cabinet doors had a spice rack, knife rack, hooks for pot holders, etc. Also taped up recipes and impt. info on the inside of the doors instead of putting on the fridge… It just seemed “bigger” when the fridge had NOTHING on the outside. Often there is underutilized space above washer and dryer… If you have a top-loading washer, keep a laundry basket or other basket on top that can be easily moved to put/take out load of laundry; but during the rest of the day can be used as storage. Mesh bags for dirty clothes instead of hampers. Some have a retaining ring at the top; can hang from a hook instead of taking up floor space. No coffee table; or, get one that has storage built into it. Same with end tables or nightstands, etc. Hanging mesh “hammocks” to hold soft toys or lightweight balls (don’t know how many of those you have); again, it is up off of the floor; and, to some extent, out of sight…so the room feels more “spacy”. Maybe none of this has been helpful; please feel free to use your “delete” button liberally! And if you want to pare down your kitchen appliances, send me the waffle iron LOL. (I actually saw a waffle iron in a store here in Korea for the first time last week. It was a “Hello Kitty” waffle iron!)


  2. Karen, these are GREAT ideas!!! I just mentioned the hanging kitchen baskets to Doug last week.
    Now that we are eating lots of fruit and veggies, we always run out of space to set them out. (tomatoes, onions, etc that shouldn’t go in frig). One of those baskets would get them up off the counter space.
    The under-bed storage doesn’t work well for us, since due to back issues I can’t bend to get into them easily. Using a mesh hanging bag for Ike’s toys would work, and would clear a little space.
    Yep, no coffee or end tables. I have a piano and a huge china cabinet, so any “regular” space is used up!
    I plan to put up some more ideas soon…do you mind if I mention some of yours? 🙂


  3. No problem; use whatever ideas are useful…
    A piano and a china cabinet. Is your piano upright or a Spinnet? (I’m pretty sure you don’t have a baby grand in your sq.ft…)? I remember seeing a pic of your VERY beautiful china cabinet on your blog a while back. I remember it because it looks just like the one I left behind when we moved to Korea!!
    May the God who is the God of order, not confusion, bless you with many more ideas for using your space!!


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