Small Bathroom Storage

bathroom-storage-682x1024The bathroom is typically the smallest room in any house, yet it houses the most diverse collection of “stuff.” Creating bathroom storage can be a challenge, but a little creativity can go a long way.

As always, when floor space is limited, go up:

  • Hang a cabinet with compartments on empty wall space.
  • Purchase inexpensive crates from a craft store and paint to match your bathroom, then hang them.
  • If you have enough room above your bathroom door, it is the perfect spot for an additional shelf.
  • A peg rail with a shelf sitting on top of it creates dual storage options.
  • Hang a magnetic strip on the wall for metal items such as bobby pins or scissors.

You can maximize your bathroom storage space in the cabinets under the sink by doing the following:

  • Use stackable bins or sliding drawers.
  • Hang organizers on the inside of the cabinet doors.
  • Use shower caddies for more than just hanging in the shower.

If you are able to create them, recessed shelving to the ceiling or niches are a good way to add more bathroom storage options. Or you can use moveable storage like a ladder or a step stool with compartments.

Instead of using an etagere over your toilet, hang floating shelves instead to maximize that small space.

Repurpose the unexpected:

  • A lantern can become a toilet paper holder.
  • Slim spice racks can fit into a narrow space.
  • Mason jars are a fun and stylish way to store just about anything.
  • Wicker baskets are an attractive storage option, and they can be stacked as well.

For such a small room, there are a multitude of storage possibilities available! The only limit is your imagination.

Check out our Small Bathroom Storage Pinterest Board for more ideas!

Chemical Storage

chemicals-1024x680Poisonous substances are a part of our everyday life. Potentially dangerous chemicals can be found in every room of the house. We often assume we know how to use and store these chemicals, and don’t read the safety information. However, many accidents occur due to unsafe chemical storage practices.

When storing household products, the main concerns should be:

  • Child safety
  • Indoor air quality
  • Preventing damage to household equipment
  • Preventing damage to the environment

Many of us store fertilizers, paints, and other high-powered chemicals in the garage. These can include:

  • Car related products: antifreeze, oil, waxes and cleaners, batteries, gasoline, windshield washer fluid, engine additives
  • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer
  • Latex and oil-based paint
  • LPG cylinders, gasoline and other fuels

The guidelines that should be adhered to for garage chemical storage are as follows:

  • Keep products out of reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked, secure area
  • Store products in their original containers
  • Clearly label and date any alternative containers
  • Keep containers tightly sealed and dry
  • Store products away from any well or waterway
  • Keep products in a well-ventilated area and away from sources of ignition
  • Store batteries and flammable chemicals in an area shaded from direct sunlight
  • Store products by type

High shelves and tightly sealed containers will keep harmful poisons secure. Store products by type and in a place with good ventilation. Pesticides should be on the highest shelf while paints should be on a different shelf.

Make it a matter of habit to check chemical storage areas to ensure that containers are closed tightly and that their sides are not bulging. If you can smell a household product while it is in storage, the lid may be loose or ventilation may be insufficient to protect your health.

Most household cleaning products and pesticides are reasonably safe when used as directed. Taking extra care with them will make certain that no accidents will occur.

The Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit is the first step to cutting your energy bills. When you put into effect recommended energy efficiency upgrades, you can save 5-30% on your monthly energy bill. You can either have a professional audit done, or do it yourself. 

A home energy audit helps to:

  • Pinpoint how you use energy
  • Determine where it’s being wasted
  • Prioritize your efficiency upgrades

If you have a professional energy audit done, an energy auditor will:

  • Analyze your energy bills
  • Complete visual, health and safety inspections
  • May use special equipment such as a blower door and an infrared camera to detect sources of energy loss

An energy audit will utilize the data collected to provide you with a home energy report that will show you which energy efficiency upgrades are best for your home and your potential energy savings. 

You can also conduct your own home energy audit. A do-it-yourself home energy audit can help you pinpoint some of the most pressing of your energy efficiency needs. 

A DIY home energy audit should focus on the following:

1. Locating air leaks

  • Make a list of obvious air leaks or drafts
  • Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard, the edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling
  • Check for leaks on the outside of your home, especially in areas where two different building materials meet
  • Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding
  • Look for leaks around windows and doors

Seal air leaks by plugging and caulking holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring.

2. Remember ventilation

  • Always be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution
  • In homes where fuel such as natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood is burned for heating, make sure the appliance has a good air supply 

3. Check Insulation

  • In the attic, determine whether openings for items such as pipes, ductwork, and chimneys are sealed
  • See if there is a vapor barrier under the attic insulation. Large amounts of moisture can reduce the effectiveness of insulation and promote structural damage

4. Heating and Cooling Equipment

  • Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Check the filters on a forced-air furnace and replace them as needed
  • Have a professional check and clean your equipment once a year
  • Replace an older system with one of the newer, energy-efficient units

Compact Florescent Light Bulb5. Lighting

  • Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of the electric bill
  • Replace inefficient bulbs with energy-saving incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

6. Appliances and Electronics

  • Estimate the energy usage of appliances and electronics in your home
  • Strategies for reducing their energy usage include:
    • Unplugging an item when it is not in use
    • Using the item less often
    • Purchasing a new, more efficient product

Remember that a home energy audit is only the first step to cutting your energy bills. Making the recommended energy efficiency upgrades is what leads to energy savings.

Renewable Energy Sources

Solar-3-2011_11_17_0003Many sources of energy can be described as renewable since they do not deplete resources to produce energy. They provide an alternate ‘cleaner’ source of energy, negating the effects of some forms of pollution. Some of the more well-known forms of renewable energy are listed below.

Solar power refers to utilizing the sun’s energy to produce electricity. New technologies are developing at a rapid pace as solar cells become more efficient, transportable and even flexible, allowing for easy installation.

Wind power converts wind energy with wind turbines into electricity or mechanical energy. Large-scale wind farms are typically connected to the local power grid with small turbines used to provide electricity to isolated areas. Residential units are entering production and are are capable of powering large appliances to entire houses depending on the size.

Geothermal energy is extracted from the large amount of heat that is created below the Earth’s surface.  A large geothermal plant can power entire cities while smaller power plants can supply rural villages or heat individual homes.

Hydroelectricity is electricity generated by use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. Hydroelectric power remains one of the more cost-efficient means of generating renewable energy. There are environmental concerns associated with the damming of rivers and ecological impacts stemming from this practice. However, once a hydroelectric complex is constructed it produces no direct waste. 

A couple of subsets of hydroelectric power are tidal energy and wave energy.

Tidal energy production is similar to the way a wind turbine produces energy. Many tidal stream generators rotate underwater and are driven by swiftly moving dense water. It is generally more environmentally friendly and causes less impact on established ecosystems. Wave power is the use of energy generated by ocean surface waves. 

These four forms of renewable energy are the most feasible and most environmentally conscious ways of creating sustainable and clean energy.

Air Purifiers

Air_purifierAir quality is one of the most important factors when it comes to our health. Pollen, dust, and other allergens can lower the quality of life for anyone. It is to keep these factors in mind when attempting to keep the air in your space as pure as possible.

Air filters can do a great deal to improve indoor air quality. They can also leave your home significantly cleaner. They are an important component to consider when it comes to improving the air quality of your space.

Some of the benefits of an air purifier are as follows:

  • It eliminates particles in the air that can lead to certain respiratory problems
  • It is one of the most efficient ways to increase ventilation
  • It provides higher air quality around you
  • It lessens your exposure to pollutants and harmful chemicals
  • It filters smaller allergens like pollen, viruses, bacteria, pet dander, molds, dust mites and other pollutants from the air in exchange for fresh air

The Environmental Protection Agency and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission both endorse the use of air purifiers to clean indoor air. Air purifiers vary in their effectiveness, so the key to achieving proper air filtration is choosing the correct device.

Both the EPA and the USCPS say that the value of a filter should be measured based on two factors:

  • Efficiency: How much harmful material it removes from the air
  • Airflow rate: How much air it is capable of drawing through the filtration system

These two qualities should be considered together: a filter that removes a high number of toxins is not useful if it has a low circulation rate, and vice-versa.

Air purifiers are not cure-alls, however. They are not an excuse to avoid taking other measures to purify the air in whatever space you use.

Ottoman Beds: Multi-Function Furniture

ottoman-bed

Photo via BuzzFeed

Like futons and sleeper couches, ottoman beds are frequently used as guest beds.

They are popular as an attractive way to conceal the bed in a studio apartment, college dorm room, guest rooms, living room, bedroom, or anywhere else you might need an extra bed. If you have space concerns, having a sleeper in your living room rather than a sofa might be the perfect solution. Any room can then double as a guest room.

There are two main types of ottoman beds: folding beds and storage beds. Folding ottoman beds can be used as a footstool or coffee table when the bed is folded away, as the bed is concealed within the structure of the ottoman. They are usually available as a single bed, although there are some larger ottomans that unfold into a double bed. The mattress can be one or more foam cushions concealed within the ottoman, with or without a metal supporting frame. Some designs have a top that lifts up to reveal a mattress and frame contained inside the ottoman, and some are just a stack of cushions that unfold to create the bed.

Storage ottoman beds look like a standard bed and have a top platform that lifts up to reveal concealed storage. The mattresses for this style are not required to fold and are available in traditional bed sizes, from single sleepers to large king beds. Larger designs provide additional storage space but they are not as compact and portable.

As with any piece of furniture consider your needs, especially whether it will be primarily used as a bed or seating. Ottoman beds provide a singular blend of style and comfort combined with functional versatility, serving as a seat, a footrest or a bed.

Holiday Cards

holidaycardbowlIf there are special mementos from the holiday season that you can’t bear to remove, think about storing them in a glass bowl or other container as a table centerpiece.
We found a great article on the Better Homes & Gardens website that helps you find ways to decorate and organize your home inexpensively.

Great decorating doesn’t have to cost a fortune — in fact it doesn’t have to cost anything! Use these FREE decorating solutions to give your space a whole new look.

Here’s the BHG article.

Task List Systems that Work

to-do-listPeople often make task management more complicated than necessary. To be successful you have to develop a task list system to manage your time so you can get more done in that time.

The exact tool is not as important as the process. You can waste a lot of time experimenting with tools and not get any work done.

Some task list best practices are as follows:

Create a system:

  • There are so many to-do list systems, from software to online apps to complete project management tools to pen and paper. It really doesn’t matter what you use. Just make sure that it’s something you can understand, keep up with, and modify to fit your needs.

Getting started:

  • Write down or type every possible task that comes to mind.
  • Separate the tasks into categories.
  • Break everything down into individual actions: if you have a large project, develop small tasks that will get you to the finish line.
  • Use verbs: every task item should be a specific act you need to do, so start everything with an action verb.

Managing your list:

  • Prioritize: look at each category and mark items that are of the highest priority.
  • Make a realistic “today” list: by creating manageable and achievable lists, you will be more likely to stick with it.
  • Be flexible and willing to adjust: avoid thinking of your system as being set in stone. Your list should be able to adapt with the changes in your life.

While there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things on your to-do list, you can still prioritize those tasks that are important. Have a plan for what to accomplish each day and work towards that plan. Reward yourself when you meet or exceed your goal.

Organize and Clean the Refrigerator

refridgeHave you ever attempted to clean your refrigerator without completely emptying it first? Depending on the condition of the fridge, this can be a losing proposition that could take twice as long as emptying it in the first place.

Easy steps to an efficient job include:

FIRST THE INSIDE…

  • Clear a surface within several paces from your fridge. If clear space is unavailable, set up a card table or kitchen cart as your “staging” area. On this surface place your cleaning supplies. Choosing an all-purpose nontoxic cleanser is important for your own health and that of your family and pets. Some suggestions are dish detergent, white vinegar, or a cleanser from a trusted label. The words “keep away from pets or children” are an indication that the product might not be safe to use. Containers of warm water, biodegradable sponges, and small washable rags or microfiber cloths are critical tools for this job.
  • Place a tarp, newspaper, or a towel on the floor in front of the fridge to catch any drippings or debris. Using painters tape to secure the cloth to the floor is a good precaution for avoiding falls or another mess.
  • Empty the contents of each shelf or drawer in your fridge and place them together in a different spot of the staging area. Some sticky labels will remind you what goes where when it is time to put the items back in the fridge. Decide what items are outdated or unwanted. Now’s the time to empty the containers in the trash, or better yet, compost them. Clean containers can go in your recycling bin. Unopened items that are still good can be donated to a food shelf.
  • Remove racks and bins and put aside. Wipe the inside of the fridge thoroughly, dunking your cloth or sponge in the pail frequently. Refresh soapy water as needed.
  • Clean racks and bins and replace in the fridge.
  • Wipe off all items on your staging surface and put back in appropriate places.

NOW THE OUTSIDE….

  • Remove all papers/photos, and magnets items from the sides or door of your fridge. Recycle or trash all items you no longer want, stow away in a keepsake drawer or box, donate, or re-gift for the NEW YEAR.
  • Wipe down all sides. This is a good time to check for leaks at the back of your refrigerator, which might indicate the need to empty the catch pan, to defrost your fridge, or to arrange a maintenance visit.
  • Replace “fridge art,” keeping in mind that less clutter will make your fridge and your kitchen look bigger.

YOU ARE DONE, SO CELEBRATE!

Tiny House Movement

Community Photos

Community Photos

The tiny house movement is both a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in, and a growing real estate trend where people are choosing to live simply in smaller homes.

A tiny home is typically anywhere between 65 to 400 square feet, whereas the average American home is around 2,600 feet. Tiny homes emphasize living with less and decreasing environmental impact.

Why are people joining the tiny house movement?

Environmental concerns:

  • A reduced carbon footprint
  • Reduced electricity and fuel use
  • Less space to heat/cool
  • Smaller and fewer appliances
  • Utilizing multi-functional furniture and vertical space
  • Many tiny homes are built from recycled/repurposed material

Financial concerns. Smaller homes are more economical in terms of the following:

  • Taxes
  • Building
  • Heating
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Over half of tiny homeowners have no mortgage

Shrinking square footage can create a less cluttered, simpler lifestyle:

  • Streamlines time spent on household chores
  • Creates greater awareness regarding purchasing and consumption decisions
  • Helps to get rid of mental and material baggage

A smaller home can save both time and money. The simplicity required in living small can reduce your environmental impact and give you greater peace of mind in the bargain.

Visit our Tiny House Movement board on Pinterest for more information & photos!