Travel out of country taught you any thing?

ClareOctober 27, 2005

I'm wondering if your travel out of country has taught you anything about making use of your space. Whether you have implemented what you learned or not.

Watching an old musical with my husband made me think about this. The story was set in Paris, and in the beginning of the movie the artist main character woke up and hiked his bed up to the ceiling via pulleys. Abracadabra: bedroom dispelled from studio apartment!

A friend who has travelled through Central American makes use of cloth bags hung on wall pegs to store all sorts of things, as did many of her hosts there.

My friend from Russia taught me to hang decoratively painted folding chairs on a wall until they are needed. When not in use, they are art works to look at. And I learned to roll up winter blankets and tie them with grosgrain ribbon to use as decorative pillows through the warmer months. Some blankets get put into pillow covers sewn just to cover the uglier blankets.

What have you seen in other countries that was a clever way to make use of limited home space?

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I lived in Taiwan and learned that the people there have no clutter. When I'd visit the homes, I'd feel as though I was entering a hotel room before my luggage arrived. Even the kitchens had nothing on the counters. They do, though, have wonderful cupboard/drawer systems in which to put their things.

One of the more traditional homes that I visited was owned by a farmer in the country. They had very few utensils. Also, the children had no beds. They would pull out mats to sleep on each night. I asked the kids if they'd prefer a bed and they said definitely not.

The homes had marble flooring which, I found, was easier than carpet to clean.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 3:07PM
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Marble floors! Wow, I hope those were some cushy mats! Marie, could you tell me about the cupboards and drawers?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:07PM
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This may not count as it isn't travel-related, but it is European -- this past spring I visited my first IKEA store in which they created a tiny kitchen-bedroom-living room apartment (European or NYC-inspired, I'm not sure, but it was tiny) that was as complete and efficient as a houseboat. Everything was functional, no space was wasted, storage was cleverly placed, and I was completely impressed. I particularly liked the built-in storage drawers and shelving beneath and around the beds.

The IKEA style doesn't go with my decor, but their storage ideas got me thinking.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 9:04AM
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Clare, it's easier if I tell you about the house we were renting. In the master bedroom, there was one long wall of cupboards. Inside the cupboards, there were rods to hang clothes and drawers to use instead of dressers. There was even a set-up for ties. On top were more cupboards that could be used for major storage. At the end of the cupboard wall was the door to the bathroom. That whole section was the same wood as the cupboards, so unless you knew that was where the bathroom was, you'd never find it. (I had to originally look for it myself. LOL). I miss that bathroom because it was all marble.

The other bedrooms had similar cupboard walls. One, though, had built-in bookshelves next to the cupboards.

The most amazing thing was that every spot in the house of usable space had built-ins, even the small spot under the steps next to the garage. If I won the lottery and were to build a house to my specifications, I would much rather have the built-ins than buy the bedroom sets.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 9:39AM
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I think the most striking differences I see are that folks outside the U.S. (and, probably, Canada) get by on much less space than we Americans seem to need. Other posters have mentioned some of the space-saving measures folks in other countries use.

When we visited Japan, we stayed in Japanese-style hotels. In those hotels, the floor of your room is tatami (reed) mats. The bedding is a cotton mattress and linens which are rolled up and stored away when not in use and placed directly on the tatami for sleeping. Very functional; very space-saving (the disappearing bedroom!). In Japan we also got used to seeing smaller versions of almost everything, including city delivery trucks which were about the size of the smallest cars you can buy in the U.S. One room of our hotel had the washing machine that did all the laundry for the hotel -- a big ol' Maytag top-loader and dryer (!). It seemed huge among all the smaller items we were seeing around us. And, all told, people in other countries seem to have a lot less stuff than Americans do.

One other difference I have noted is that central heat and air-conditioning are less prevalent than they are in the U.S. -- at least among more-developed countries in Europe and Asia.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 11:15AM
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