By Erica Sofrina, author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World
If you live in a small place you must be committed to becoming a minimalist or you will forever feel overwhelmed by your living space. With a little planning you can pull it off and enjoy the deeper satisfaction a life that is not encumbered by stuff, allowing you greater mobility and the comfort of knowing you are leaving a much lighter footprint on the planet.
First, I would like to say that Feng Shui is about much more than organizing — but in dealing with small spaces, organizing becomes paramount. Please see my past articles on Yin and Yang, The Five Elements, Charting the Energy Centers, Feng Shui for Offices, Kitchens, Bedrooms and Family Rooms. All of these same principles will apply to small spaces, with the addition of a little adapting.
When you live in a small space you want to carefully access every object you put into it. Pretend you are living on a boat and think- efficiency! The one bowl you choose to keep in the kitchen should be something you love that can serve multiple purposes. A vegetable peeler doubles as a zester. Edit your plates to six favorite ones and have them double as serving platters. The goal is to create a peaceful space where every object you select brings joy and moves your life forward. It should fall into the category of useful, absolutely necessary, or something that inspires and uplifts. Become committed to the three R’s – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, and I would add a fourth-Revitalize!
Pearls of Widom from Professional Organizer Jeri Dansky:
1. Be very thoughtful about what you save.
Is everything you own worthy of a space in your home or office? Is it useful – like a toaster, or a shredder, or a great pair of shoes? Is it something that you find beautiful or inspiring – something you love? Or is it something with great sentimental value – one of a selected number of things you keep because of the sentiment? If it’s not any of these things, then perhaps it’s something that you can part with, and let it go to another home.
If you have limited space, you probably don’t have room for things that are just OK. Try to surround yourself with things that make your life easier, or make your heart sing.
2. If there’s something you use very infrequently, do you need to own it? Could you borrow it or rent it when you need it ?
3. You can limit the amount of space you’re willing to give to any type of item: only the books that fit on the bookshelf, only the toys that fit in the bins, only the greeting cards that fit in the box you designate for that kind of memorabilia.
4. Regarding the sentimental stuff: Sometimes it works to take a picture of an item, and let the original go.
5. For children’s art projects and schoolwork: Be selective in what you keep, or this stuff can overrun even a large space. Your children may have opinions on what they want to keep, too. In general, keep the essay about “My Family” – but maybe not the ones about less personal topics. Keep a few wonderful original drawings, but perhaps not the ones where your child colored in a form.
6. Make use of all the space you have. Sometimes that means adding a shelf to a cabinet, so the space can be used better. Sometimes that means putting artwork on the inside of cabinet doors. Sometimes that means using the walls – adding hooks, for example.
7. Pick your storage containers wisely. Square or rectangular pieces make better use of limited space than do round containers.
8. Keep the clutter from ever entering your space. Again, this matters for everyone – but even more in a small space. Get off junk mailing lists. (See http://www.recycleworks.org/junkmail/residential.html) Stop taking free samples of products you don’t really want. And leave the hotel toiletries in the hotel.
9. You may not have room to be a Costco shopper. If you don’t have room to easily store large quantities of products, limit how much you buy – especially for things you don’t run through quickly. (But do make sure you have emergency supplies: sufficient water, appropriate food items, etc.)
To Jeri’s pearls of wisdom I would add a few more tips…
Next: 8 more tips for living in small spaces