creative problem solving

Small Homes...making the most of small spaces is largely about knowing your priorities and being creative

I have always considered myself to be an efficient packer and unpacker, a master setter-upper of sorts. After moving several times as a military spouse, I learned how to quickly settle into whatever new space was deemed home. I had it down to a science. Given six weeks, I had everything unpacked, sorted, and cozy. Everything quickly in its place and where I would use it.

I have been fortunate to have enough space for what I need, use, and love. And, I enjoy finding creative ways to use ordinary things.

Recently, I moved into what has become affectionately know as ma petite chateau. I moved more than ten weeks ago into my little castle and am still making decisions about furniture placement and what will ultimately stay in residence. I have slowed down the process and am savoring the choices that I am making. No rush this time to finish in under six weeks. 

This petite home has all of the elements that are important to me, but in smaller proportions than I have had in the past. Making this work has given me the opportunity to stretch myself creatively. Smaller requires resourcefulness and out-of-the-box thinking as I repurpose my favorite things. Smaller has demanded honesty about what is most important to me, and courage to let go of the stuff that does not fit my life here. 

I am making space for new memories as I shed the excess that is no longer relevant. I kept a few large pieces of furniture that make me happy and have found that they are just right as long as I keep accessories and decorative items to a minimum. But the reduction in square footage from my last home necessitated saying farewell to the treasured antiques and heavy furniture that I have collected in my travels. They no longer fit.

Knowing my priorities has been pivotol in personalizing ma petite chateau

My priorities are space for solitude and rejuvenation, space for a little garden, space for books and reading, space for my desk and creative projects, space to linger over coffee and food with friends and family, and a pretty view from my kitchen sink. These are my simple pleasures. 

I am fortunate to have found just what I needed nestled among pretty trees and profuse honeysuckle vines in a city that I love. And, best of all, the beach is a fifteen minute drive away. Could it be that down sizing has given me room to breathe! I say, "Yes!"

That said, I am still making make tough choices about what to keep and what to discard. So, when I worry about not having enough space, I revisit my priorities. Too much in a small space feels overwhelming. I choose calm and the tranquility that it brings to my life.

This morning, I took a few minutes to do a little gardening...watering, deadheading, and a quick sweep of the dust from recent Santa Ana winds.  Although I miss my beautiful rose garden, I cannot help but enjoy the time that smaller has opened up for me. Waffles and coffee while I write, all the while knowing I have time for a few hours in Solana Beach when my work is done. Heaven!

While my garage is a holding space for the undecided items and the projects in process, there is still room to park my car in it. Most of my packed boxes have been sorted and put away; the sturdiest have been broken down for the next organizing project with clients. But, until a week or so ago, there remained several unopened boxes of books.

I was patiently awaiting the arrival of a bookcase to house my library, in the space I had designated as my "reading nook." I had ordered a bookcase that would fit perfectly in a corner of my bedroom. 

Keep pathways clear and open while unpacking. Better to have boxes than precipitous piles while you decide furniture placement. Yes, that is a sheet taped to the window until I choose window treatments because privacy is a priority.

Keep pathways clear and open while unpacking. Better to have boxes than precipitous piles while you decide furniture placement. Yes, that is a sheet taped to the window until I choose window treatments because privacy is a priority.

As luck would have it, when the bookcase arrived, the delivery men refused to carry it up the stairs. They said it was too big. I had forgotten to allow for the tight turn at the bottom of the stairs. There was no doubt in my mind that the bookcase was staying. I just had to find wall space for it without unbalancing the entire room.

It looks beautiful near my kitchen and petite living room; and, I see it every time I stand at my kitchen sink.  Now I have a view of the trees out the window and my books. Have I mentioned that books make me happy?!

Less-Stress Organizing Solutions_Small Spaces

The little nook that is my living room has a cozy rug, a sofa, a television and a place to rest a few coffee cups or dishes while relaxing. It is truly the passageway to go upstairs. But, a large mirror hangs on one wall reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space than actually exists. And books are close at hand. 

Today marks ten weeks and one day since I received the keys to ma petite chateau. And, everyday I find something to appreciate about smaller home living. I have everything I need.


Regrouping...what about the days that fall off the tracks?

We know the value of creating and following habits that keep all of our ducks in a row. My morning routine is usually streamline although to an outside observer might look like I am rushing around doing several unconnected tasks. I'm not. There is actually an order that makes sense for me.

The truth is, I am looking at the big picture as I let the dog outside, feed the cats, start a load of laundry, open the blinds, and put the kettle on to make tea. In the time it takes me to tend my pets and my home, my muscles have warmed up, I have shaken off the morning "sleepies" and I am ready to ask myself what is the best use of my day and ready to begin my plan, which by the way,  is written on the dry erase board on my refrigerator. These days are my Plan A days, and I feel on top of the world.

But what about those days that you over sleep or something unexpected happens that takes priority over everything else? We all have those days and it is okay to allow ourselves a moment of panic, anxiety or temper without judgement. It is also important to get back on the rails as quickly as possible. How this looks will depend upon what works for you.

Something I have found useful in my own life, is to take a look at my scheduled tasks for the day, the ones that are on a timeline. If there is something that can be moved to a later time, I will make those shifts to open up the morning to settle myself and do my soothing morning rituals. And, on those days that this is just not possible, then I move directly to the most important thing. Period!!

Those little things you do to start your day, will get fit in somewhere else. The dog will still adore you, the cats may leave a special present to announce their displeasure, and the laundry may pile up, but at the end of the day, no matter what happens next, you will know you did the most important thing. These end up being some of your highest value days, the ones that define your character, and allow you to practice creative problem solving.

Lastly, expect to have Plan B days.  I am a big believer in setting the bar high and believing in your dreams, so don 't misunderstand me when I say this. It does NOT mean that you are giving up, but rather that you are being flexible and kind to yourself. When we are tired, busy or over-fill our schedules for whatever reason be it the nature of our jobs or over enthusiastic scheduling, or are faced with an unforeseen emergency, there are little things we can do for ourselves ahead of time in anticipation of those inevitable, tightly scheduled days.

This will look different for each of us, so ask yourself, "What do I wish someone else would do for me?" And, then, do it. Do it for yourself. This may seem a strange suggestion, but if you have you ever set something out the night before because you had a few minutes and acted upon this good idea, you know what I am talking about. It could be as simple as counting out your vitamins the night before when you usually set them aside in the morning. Or clearing your desk and setting the mail by the front door with your car keys rather than wait til morning. Then when the phone rings, and you need to rally to Plan B, you will be ready. It is a little gift to yourself and who knows better what you need than YOU?!