My Storage Locker

During my first year of graduate school I gained access to a locker in the urban planning building, which was a big help. I was living 7 miles from campus in the Cully neighborhood and commuting downtown by bike or bus, so it was fabulous to not have to schlep everything every day.

This week as I wrapped up my coursework, my FINAL final project was to clean out my locker. When I did, I discovered that over time I’d collected quite a bit of stuff. I also realized I wasn’t counting these items in My 200 Things Challenge. So I'm writing all about it to clear my conscience.

My locker became a repository for things that I used when I was on campus (textbooks, snacks, my chalk bag for trips to the climbing wall, etc.) But I had a bad habit of stashing stuff here that I intended to send to someone but never seemed to find the time to actually pop in the mail.

I was also startled to discover how much paperwork I'd collected over the past two years. My new year's resolution was to go paper free so I began Strategizing Digitizing. All my paperwork went into a file in my locker to be scanned (at some later date, of course, when I had time.) By the time I looked at that daunting stack of paperwork I decided I can't possibly need it all. I spent an hour Getting all My Docs in a Row and narrowed it down to just a small collection of documents that I really need. I’ll be scanning documents in the next couple days while I still have access to a high speed scanner.

In the end, there were just a few items to take home. A box of envelopes. My gym gear. Some uneaten snacks. And a gift (from last year!) that I need to mail (not pictured because that would ruin the surprise!) as soon as my sister Heidi sends me her mailing address (nudge, nudge!)

Smaller Than a Breadbox: Creative Tiny House Storage Solutions

The other day as I was showing my tiny house to some folks who plan to build one this summer, I pointed out some of the multifunctional objects, space-saving tricks, and storage solutions that make this 121 square foot space so livable and lovely. Here they are, in no particular order: Microwave = Smaller Than a Bread Box

  • Microwave = Breadbox: I didn’t grow up with a breadbox but I recently discovered that my microwave is a perfectly good place to store bread. No reason my microwave should only be useful when it's cooking food, right?
  • Pencil Holder = Sound System: A handy little wall-mounted cup was probably intended for pencils, scissors, etc., but a friend showed me that it also makes a great stereo system. The hyperbolic shape amplifies the sound when I put my cell phone into the cup, eliminating the need for a separate stereo system. Audio nerds might protest, but it’s worked just fine for my dance parties!
  • Desk = Dining Table

    Desk = Dining Table: Most of my furniture is built-in, including my window seat and sleeping loft.However, my desk is a free-standing table with leaves on either side that pull out from underneath. When I have friends over for a meal I shift the table over to the window seat so that one of us can use it as a chair.

  • The Slim Version: Of course, having the svelte version of something that would otherwise be bulky is a major space-saver, too. A smart phone, a refurbished MacBook Air, and a Kindle keep my electronic files organized and portable. (To learn which books I consider essential enough to keep in my little collection, check out By Hook or By Kindle.) My Envi wall-mounted electric heater has a space-efficient and energy-efficient design, which you can learn more about here: How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Heat a Tiny House?
  • wine rack tucked between loft joists

    Wine Bottle & Glasses Holders: My wine bottle holder is tucked between the storage loft joists over the window seat. My wine glasses are suspended from a holder in the kitchen between the joists of the sleeping loft. These were Brittany’s ideas and my guests appreciate them as much as I do. (Especially when I’m cooking dinner in the wee kitchen and invite them to pick a bottle to go with our meal!)

  • Baskets: Two laundry baskets slide under my window seat nook to provide storage for my hammock, backpacks, shoulder bags, and the set of sheets that aren’t on my bed right now.  A basket on my desk, which provides storage for office supplies like tape, rulers, and sticky notes, can be quickly and easily moved to my loft when I want to use the desk as a dining table.
  • hooks & shelves keep counters clear

    Hooks: I have a set of coat hooks behind my door, which I use for jackets and another set which I use for scarves. Several people have asked why I don’t put my scarves in a drawer. I explain that I think they’re pretty and I like using them as decorations when they’re not decorating me. A couple more hooks in the bathroom keep my necklaces and earrings organized. Hooks under the kitchen shelf are just right for mugs. Hooks on the kitchen wall are perfect for hanging reusable grocery bags and my apron. A piece of string suspended from two hooks between two loft joists is a functional paper towel holder. My dish rack is suspended from hooks so that water drains into the dishpan. My silverware stays in the little cup rather than having a separate drawer.

  • Shelves: Strategically placed shelves keep my dishes and pantry items within reach and within sight. All this use of vertical space keeps my countertops clear for food preparation. A magnetic knife strip below one of the shelves keeps my knives close at hand but safely out of the way. Storing knives on a knife strip seems to keep them sharper than putting them into a drawer or butcher block.
  • Storage Loft = Extra Bed

    : My two dressers stacked one on top of the other other provide plenty of storage space for my clothing, craft supplies, tools, and paperwork. I haven’t yet gone paperless with all my LPOIP (Little Pieces of Important Paper), but it’s a project for a long rainy day. Two plastic drawers in the kitchen provide ample space for kitchen gadgets.

  • Storage Loft: With all this storage conveniently located in strategic and useful places, I don’t end up with much need for a storage loft. My storage loft is the spot I stash away a suitcase of off-season clothing, my camping pad, and a couple empty boxes I used for moving. I’ve also slept up here when I’ve had company, offering my bed to my guests. I imagine anyone taller than 5’2” would find it uncomfortable, but it works fine for me, so my Tiny House Sleeps 5 Comfortably.

Tiny House Sleeps Five Comfortably

My friends Sarah and Jesse from Walla Walla visited yesterday, bringing their pup Dodge along. It was fun showing them the Alberta Arts District and it was chilly enough that our cocoas were a perfect warm up treat. Jesse cooked us a fantastic squash soup in my tiny kitchen and he served it with homemade bread. Delish!

In order to accommodate everyone for the night I moved the camping gear that I usually store in my loft over to the host house where I stashed it in a corner of my neighbor's room since she was out of town. I set up a bed for myself in the storage loft above the door with a foam pad and plenty of blankets and pillows. Raffi slept with me, Jesse and Sarah had my sleeping loft, and Dodge claimed my giant pillow chair as his bed. We all slept really well and they only tricky part is that I only have one ladder. I'd crawled into bed last so the ladder was on my side. In the middle of the night Jesse, not wanting to wake me, managed to climb down from the sleeping loft using my kitchen counter! Did I mention he's resourceful? And tall!
I'm glad my tiny house was Sarah and Jesse's first stop on their road trip down to California. They live at West End Farm in Walla Walla and they left me with farm treats: pumpkin bread and apricot jam. It was a delight having my friends here even if the visit was too short. And it's nice to know that as long as everyone likes each other a lot my tiny house can comfortably sleep five!

You Know Those Boxes in the Garage?

The ones you never unpacked from the last move?

I don't have any of those! Hooray!
Today I unpacked my belongings into the tiny house and all my thoughtful consideration as I downsized seems to have paid off. The goal is to have a place for everything so I can put everything in its place. I'm pretty close to meeting that goal. With a few more tweaks I think I'll have it.
My cordless drill and driver set was put to use for a couple of "remodeling" projects. Some of the spaces that worked well for Brittany weren't as ideal for me. I am more a drawer person than a shelf person so I changed the height of a couple of shelves in the kitchen to create space for drawers and baskets I could use for kitchen gadgets and food. I also changed the bookshelf heights to better accommodate my small book collection and I raised the height of the window seat so I could slide my laundry baskets under there since I plan to store my scarves, mittens, hats, etc. in them this winter. I moved a couple of hooks, too, and I'm realizing hooks are awfully useful for taking advantage of vertical surfaces in a small space.
Then it was just a matter of unpacking everything into the spaces. There are a few things that seem luxurious and unnecessary (do I really need a hand mixer? probably not, but if it makes me happy, it's worth having!) Everything fits and there's room for more but I'm going to make a concerted effort to not accumulate any more stuff!
I don't have electricity or water set up to the house yet, so tonight I'll be using candles and probably turning it early because I'm exhausted. It seems like it shouldn't have taken all day to get settled, but moving always takes longer than expected, even in a tiny house!