May 2007 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: 11 Ideas for Organizing in Smaller Spaces

Living in the San Francisco Bay area where housing is expensive, I’ve worked with many people who have small space challenges. Here are some ideas on how to organize to make the most of that smaller space.

  • Let’s handle the obvious one first: Get rid of anything you don’t use and/or love. Go for quality over quantity.
  • Eliminate most bulk purchases. Yes, you’ll want to have an emergency supply of food and other items. But don’t get carried away with the Costco shopping.
  • Make the most of your closet and cabinet space. I’ve often found that adding another shelf is extremely helpful. Using stackable or nesting containers can also help.
  • On the subject of containers: Square or rectangular containers will make better use of space than round ones.
  • Make the most of your clothes closet space. The usual “single bar with a shelf above” configuration leaves lots of wasted space for most people. Consider a double hang bar; drawers, shoe racks, or other containers you can put below the clothes hanging from that single bar; and storage that hangs from that bar. Or splurge and get a custom closet system.
  • Use the inside of closet and cabinet doors. For example, in the kitchen you might hang wrapping products, lids, a cutting board or spices inside a cabinet door.
  • Use the walls. Some ways to do that include hooks, shelving units (the options are endless and can be customized to your space), and wall-mounted magazine racks. In the kitchen, Julia Child and Frank in New York have hung pots and pans from the walls.
  • Use furniture that provides storage options. Lots of beds do this; so do some ottomans. Trunks can be used as coffee tables or end tables.
  • Save space in your kitchen cabinets and drawers by using collapsible items.
  • Reduce the number of toys you need to store by joining (or starting) a toy co-op.
  • Eliminate paper by scanning; see the product of the month below for more thoughts on this. Even without a scanner, you might consider getting rid of catalogs, clippings, etc. if the information can be easily found on-line.

Product of the Month: Fujitsu ScanSnap

I first saw the ScanSnap quite a while ago, and I’ve wanted one ever since. Unlike my perfectly serviceable flatbed scanner, which handles pictures just fine, the ScanSnap will create PDFs from the scan — just what I need when scanning documents rather than pictures. And it’s fast, and it takes up very little space on the desk. Most reviews I’ve read are raves.

The first papers I’m scanning are those that were a pain to file, because I’d only have a couple pieces of paper on a topic, like organizing garages — but they still required their own file. Now they join the other garage-related documents I already had on my computer — much nicer! I’ve also discovered that the normal scan (lowest resolution and smallest file size) works just fine in most cases.

With scanning being so quick and easy — and with files created in the format I want them in — I can already see that a lot of paper will be heading toward my recycling bins over the next few weeks.

Note: The links in this post have been updated since it was first published. And the current ScanSnap model is not the one I own, but it still gets rave reviews.