Space saving Tips

downeastwavesJune 29, 2006

How about some space saving tips to share with folks. We are thinking of installing a stackable washer and dryer when our washer plays out--got it for 50 bucks when we bought the cottage a few years ago.

We use a solar close dryer now.

I know I have learned to "stack" stuff. I do a lot of crafting and I have many spaces that serve double duty.

For example my printers are stacked on top of the clear fronted drawers where I keep paper, greeting cards that are in various stages of production and other supplies.

We are very lucky in that we live in a 4-square. So the upstairs ceilings are tall and we do not have the slanted parts that capes have. This gives much more room. We have 2 rooms and a full bath downstairs and 2 bedrooms upstairs a sun porch and a nice landing area at the top of the stairs filled with books and a nice harvest table that I use for plants and crafting. One of the bedrooms doubles as my hubby's office and a guest bedroom.

I'd like to build in book cases in the stair well as the stairs are real wide and I think they would fit nicely.

Well, hope you will share your ideas and tips.


Here is a link that might be useful: Our Cottage

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Eastport is such a charming place to has so much to see..I'm in Ohio..not too much here..I think you are very fortunate to have your home in such a wonderful place.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 8:25PM
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Leasa, your home sounds wonderful. I love bookcases built *anywhere* they can fit. :) Your home sounds a lot like ours. We love books, and currently have them in bookcases, and under an armoire, piled on tables, etc. I want to build two floor-to-ceiling ones in my kitchen, in areas where really nothing else will fit (furniture, etc). For cookbooks, they really wouldn't have to be deep, so they wouldn't obstruct the flow in that area. I also would love to have some in my dining room, and my bedroom.

I grew up in an older Tudor that had built-ins everywhere, many with glass doors. That house was just a tiny bit larger than mine, and made such good use of its space, especially for a home built in the 2O's. I think that, in decorating my home now (a 7Os ranch), I still pursue the unique charm that house had.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 8:32PM
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Hi Leasa! I like the idea of built in bookcases in the stairwell. I've seen lots of pics of older homes with bookcases built-in like that and always think it is so clever and tastful. We squeezed a coat closet under ours. It has a shelf which is nice for winter gloves, hats, and some hooks for umbrellas - not that we use them much in So.Ca. - : )

One of my best space saving tips has been getting rid of STUFF! I've done so much purging in the last few years, I now have extra storage. Another thing I like are those plastic stacking drawers. They are clear, making it easy to see what is inside. And if you don't over fill them, they slide in and out very easily. I have two stacks of four in a laundry room cabinet where I keep various things that would just rattle around on a shelf.

I use plastic bins from Target for my fabric stash. They came with lids but fabric needs to breathe so I don't use them. Plus they are not always as tidy as the pic shows so the lids would be off anyway. lol


Here is a link that might be useful: fabric bins

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 9:45PM
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I have two china barrels - the kind movers wrap and put glassware and china in to move - or at least they did.
I have round table cloths on them and lamps. I love them and they hold a multitude of out of season tablecloths- clothes etc. One of them is wood and was my mothers who did the same thing when she had it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 11:04PM
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When we began to renovate, we had to remove the only existing closets in the house. ALL OF THEM!
You see, to get to the "master bedroom" you had to walk around the entire house. There is no central hall. You went through a little room (we will use as eat in kitchen), bedroom #1 and then into the master. We didn't need two bedrooms but we needed a music we took out the closets which were between the living room and now music room for walk ways.
The closets were around the fireplace, and had little nooks in them. So we were able to hang a curtain, and put a small shelf for shoes, and a coat rack on the wall to make a coat closet. Above this was dead space so I hung two shelves from chains into the ceiling! It's really cool looking, and it works! This closet gives us room for guest coats, the vaccuum, attachments and candles (our power goes out a lot).
On the other side I was able to put shelves in a niche, and curtain them off, and place a small shelf below that for knick nack display (which I need a lot of!!).
When you walk in our front door, you are in the living room. Hubby would throw keys etc. on the mantle. So I made him a little shelf "landing" for mail and keys. I put other small shelves here or there...up high, down low all over the house. You have to look to find some of them. I'm a collector. I need to use every possible space :)
Have you been creative and made empty spaces functional?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 12:01AM
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I love my stackable washer/dryer. I would never go back. my cottage is a 1947 "starter" it has an 8x10 laundry room on the back, but in a house this small I cant give up that much space for one use, and have been trying to renovate it to a breakfast/mornig room. I got some old wicker from an aunt, and its coming along. any how, for some reason there was a corner of my bathroom that had nothing in it. I used to have a cabinate there, but when I got the stackable, I measured the spot, and it would fit, so we plumbed and wired it in there. all my plumbing is in one spot, because the bath and kitchen are back to back, so it was easy to do. we wired it into the box out side by going up through the wall, accross the ceiling and out the end of the house to the box. my oldest daughter who is a pragmatic sort, looked at it and said, "Well, we got out towel warmer". its real nice to leave the dirty cloths in the washer after a day of gardening, and I do sometimes warm my towel and Jammies in the dryer for getting dressed after my bath in the winter. there is even room on top of the thing for a box covered with some pretty paper, on its side to hold towels etc. I wanted a basket, but then so would my Kittie.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 12:10AM
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I have a lot of what a friend of mine calls "hidden furniture". The desk has three small drawers across the front, but the top of the desk slides forward to reveal room for hanging folders in the back. My end table is an old sewing table (not for a machine) and has a sliding top with storage underneath. The platform bed has drawers underneath. For a while, I used a hope chest as a coffee table and kept out-of-season linens in it. The guest bedroom (it's just me in a 3-BR house) has a futon which serves as a couch by day and a bed by night. I'm also a great fan of wire closet kits, which let you hang two rods and add more shelves; I realize that the look is not for every décor, but it helps me out.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 10:22AM
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Steve, we have a futon, too, in one of our bedrooms/den/office. It's very comfortable for sitting and sleeping, and takes up less space than a bed for a traditional guest room. We just don't have enough overnight visitors to dedicate the space to a bed.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 10:50AM
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If you've got a reno opportunity, consider putting closet space under stairs (I have my shoe closet under the stairs leading to the second floor, and all my cleaning supplies storage under the basement stairs). Also, have seen shows where they're now building drawers in to the stair risers or building stairs as bookcases.

I have an 800 sq. ft. house (not counting basement) that's open concept on the ground floor. TV's on a wheeled cart - when company comes it gets shoved in its corner or even unplugged and moved to the basement.

What drives me nuts is that it's impossible to find decent furniture for small places. IKEA's good when you're 20, but not so great in your 40's Nightstand and dining table are my big challenges...


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 11:31AM
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Even if we have a full basement to store items, we don't like things that take up space. Therefore some creative ways of dealing with small rooms. The 3rd bedroom we use as a guest room and office, we put the desk and shelves in the closet as well as a futon from an European company. In the master room, we put in a cheapie small dresser in the closet and we have a tall dresser for each of us. In the dining room, there is my mother's buffet table which is used to store dining items and linens. We also use small scale furniture.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 2:01PM
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Bookshelves floor to ceiling: only take up a little floor space but so-o-o useful. Had builtins in previous house but now using two sturdy commercial wire adjustable-shelf units in kitchen...about 18"deep, 6 feet tall. Besides cookbooks, Toaster Oven, pots & pans for daily use, baskets/boxes/decorative old tins for placemats/napkins, all sorts of stuff, canisters for sugar,flour,etc. Extra china/glassware. Large & small 2-tier turntables great for canned goods/condiments/spices. And potted plants! I use my lower kitchen cabs (only 2) for big items like stockpot, bake/roaster pans, and the (4) upper cabs for china/glassware, tupperware and microwave cookware.

Diningroom/office combo has 4 white wood bookshelves about 72" tall, 18" deep covering one wall for about 200 garden books, office and crafts supplies/magazines/photos. We have black canvas/oak Director's Chairs (very comfortable, inexpensive, easy to fold/store away, can be used outside) with a huge teak table (usually partially covered with potted plants since it is under huge north window).

Bedroom has bookshelves 14" deep along 1-1/2 walls,some 5 feet tall, some running under windows. Hold shoeboxes, sweaterboxes, etc. plus more books and plants. 4 sets of stacking 6-drawer units which will go under hanging clothes in 2 large closets but for now they are alomg one wall. These eliminate need for chests or armoires...I use the top of one section of shelves for my cosmetics tray, baskets underneath for extras and hairdryer/ dresser!

Only one other bedroom and it is devoted to DH and his Model Railroad layout. Most shelves hold his architecture and railroad books, plus tiny little buildings..more plants!

Living Room has shelves running along 2 walls under windows, plants on top, books below. One wall by entry has tall bookshelf unit. Waist-high bookshelf separates entry from living room.

Yeah, lots of books here but it's surprising how much furniture can be eliminated with shelving. I use clip-on inexpensive bullet-lights on shelves for general lighting...really highlights colorful bookcovers, plants, baskets etc. I like the look, but of course it would be possible to add doors for a more traditinal home.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 8:34PM
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I had a bad experience with a stack washer/dryer. Just want to warn everyone. I paid over $900.00 for a major brand set that when it was installed (by the store) I had to use one hand to hold the top open and the other hand to remove the clothes. The top would not raise all the way. It was a design flaw. The manufacturer replaced the stack washer with a normal washer at no charge to me, but they tell me they are still selling this stack set.

Instead of a replacement stackable, I hired someone to install a thick piece of plywood over the washer and put my dryer there. You must be careful to measure so you can open the top of the washer to remove the clothes and you must be able to reach the dryer vent cleanout, but I worked that out.

I also hired someone to install an extra shelf on top of my normal top shelf in my only closet. It's great for stuff not used every day. He also added some extra shelves in my little pantry for saran, foil, etc. My baking sheets and long pans lean against an up/down piece of installed shelving. It is great.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 4:02AM
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If you do have those slanty ceilings with the tiny walls beneath, kneewall drawers are the BEST. I've had them in several houses I've lived in. (I have always lived in small spaces, and except for one apartment and some trailers they've always been small old spaces.)

I had to chuckle at Sue's reference to cabinets and drawers under the stairs as being a new thing... it's an old trick used by boatbuilders and was very common in the early part of the 20th century. In my great-grandfather's tiny bungalow, built of scrounged materials during the Depression, if there was a place to tuck a drawer, even a little 4x4 drawer to hold pens and playing cards, he snuck it in there! He was a Navy man and so knew the value of maximizing every cubic inch of a small space. I wonder if that's where I inherited my love for built-ins.

A friend of mine who was a book fanatic lined the stairways and halls with floor to ceiling bookcases sized for paperbacks. You didn't even really notice the loss of 5" and he could store thousands upon thousands of books in a fairly short span. I plan to steal this trick, since 80% of my books are paperbacks. Deeper bookcases "steal" a lot more space.

FWIW on the washer lids that won't stay up - we had a flappy washer lid on a stacking washer/dryer in a condo we once lived in (the washer/dryer was quite old). I bought a good magnet from the hardware store and used it to stick the washer lid to the slanted underside of the dryer. Wouldn't do this to a machine with a computer, of course, but for an all-mechanical machine it worked well. We plan to get a stackable when our current w&d dies but they'll both be front-loaders.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 5:17PM
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I built floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room. SInce I collect vintage paperbacks, I also built one out of very narrow lumber and it takes up only 6" in width into the room.
Since I am a gardener and LOVE indoor plants, I needed space to put them. So I installed narrow shelves on brackets attached to the wide window frames. It was simple to do and looks great. I just had to make sure you didn't bump your head when you sat below them!!
Hubby and I are also record collectors, and "stuff" collectors. So on top of the book shelves 17" below the ceiling (the determined good height for "stuff", I put a continuous shelf both in the record room and the living room. I can put my vintage pottery and glassware up there out of prying kitty paws. I back lit it with strings of white christmas lights (which are hidden). I made valance boxes for the windows which adds more width in spaces for the shelf areas.
In the record room a friend helped me build floor to ceiling continuous shelving on 21/2 walls. The other wall and a half have shelves built half way up the wall to hold "stuff", and the open area underneath became the perfect cozy niche for two chairs and a corner table...nice and comfy for listening. The added bonus is that the records and shelving insulate that room from sound and heat/cold very nicely.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 10:29PM
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We have a mobile home with absolutely no storage. We have to use every square inch of space we have and maximize it. I put extra shelves in the kitchen cupboards to use that "up-high" unreachable space for storing dishes/appliances that don't get used very often. Stacking and organizing things instead of just clumping and tossing them in the cupboards helps create more space.

In our closets, we use a lot of the clear carts Diana referred to. I put drawers underneath the rod where I hang my pants to utilize that extra space. Underbed storage bins are great, too. I store sheets and off-season clothing there.

Accent pieces and furniture need to serve double-duty for us. We have an entertainment stand to house our DVD and VHS player. It also holds our DVDs, videos, cds, and gaming systems. I have a computer armoire that has some nice storage in it for my computer, printer, etc. and also has a pull-out desk area for working on a hard surface. A bench in the bedroom also serves as our hamper. I find taller, narrower dressers work better for us in the bedroom as they take up less floor space while providing ample drawer space. Plus, the top of the dresser can still be "decorated" with accents and you're not wasting too much head space.

And yes, like Diana said, the best thing we did was pare down and get rid of things we didn't need. When I had the room, I saved things just to save them- never used them. Now I keep only what we need. And we actually have a little space leftover.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 11:34AM
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I have those wire systems in my closets, thank goodness, because the bedroom closets are the size of coat closets. I can probably get five times as much into my closet as I could without them. The POs installed them, but I would pay to have it done in a heartbeat (and I am cheap!) A real lifesaver.

It looks like this (in a MUCH smaller closet):

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 8:15PM
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My last house was in a subdivision of 900-1000 sq ft homes built in 1950. Over the years additions were made, but at some point, a carpenter came through the neighborhood and added closets and nooks and cupboards in the wall of the dining L at many of the houses. My house got a neat cedar closet that is 4 ft by 4 ft and the door of it was a deep bookshelf. When getting the house ready to sell, I had it replaced with an oak bookshelf half as deep (The original carpenter had to make the back wall of the bookshelf smaller than the front opening to allow for it to open and close into its recess in the wall because it was a foot deep. The new shelf is shallow enough that the clearance is not a problem.)

These closets and cupboards are in the stairwell going down to the basement. Because the foundation walls are about 30 inches above grade, and because the carpenter put the closet high enough on the wall, you do not bang your head on the closet when you are at the bottom of the basement stairs. To hang your clothes on the rod at the top of the closet (up out of sight in the picture), you need a stepladder. But it works great for out of season storage. (And a good place to put bad kids, the house hunters always joke when I show it to them!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cick

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 11:08PM
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IKEA's good when you're 20, but not so great in your 40's Nightstand and dining table are my big challenges...

I don't understand this comment. Granted, IKEA is not heirloom furniture, but not everyone wants heirloom furniture. And some of us find the IKEA esthetic quite attractive. The fact that it tends to be designed for homes smaller than McMansions is a plus. What am I missing here?

I had a bad experience with a stack washer/dryer. Just want to warn everyone.

There are some front-loader washers that are sold with a dryer as a set that can be used side-by-side or stacked to save space (dryer must always go on top, though). Those sound like they'd be more ergonomically acceptable (and better performers) than the all-in-one units.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 8:14AM
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I'm not so comfortable in the Ikea couch that DH brought into the marriage. It's lower to the ground and we both have trouble getting out of it. It's also not as cushy as the new couch we bought. I'm not that padded, and the wood arms and supports can be painful after a time. Not that I don't love a lot of Ikea products. It's just that the furniture mostly isn't comfortable enough now a days.

For space saving, I built a couple of built-ins. One wall to wall to ceiling, but not very deep

and this one in front of the closet under the stairs

I like building, but I still haven't finished the one under the stairs. Always something to do....


    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 12:41PM
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Jennifer - you built those?!!! Fantastic work! Any suggestions of books or sites for others who would like to try their hand at it?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 9:30PM
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as far as washers and dryers go, the previous owners of my place bought a washer/dryer combo (all in one drum) to put in the kitchen. it sits in a cabinet and i can shut the door and not see it... which i like. apparently, they're somewhat common in europe but haven't been as well received in north america. the cycles are longer than a standard washer and dryer.. especially the drying cycle because it works differently than a regular dryer. it's not vented and it doesn't require any special wiring.. any socket will do.

another thing i have in the kitchen is a microwave/convection oven. it's the size of a large microwave and sits on a shelf which frees up more space for cabinets/storage where a normal stove/oven would be. i have a regular sized stovetop installed on the counter. i sometimes miss having a regular oven for larger things but, so far, i get by.

we have only one tiny closet, so i also like the 'under the bed' storage containers, too. my daughter has craft supplies in one and i have books and videos/dvd's in another. i love books, too, but since space is at a premium here i just borrow them from the library unless they're reference books that i'll use more than once. i gave a bunch of books away when i moved in here.. it was a bit hard to figure out what to keep and what to pass on to someone else. i do like the idea of built-ins though.

my coffee table is a hope chest and i keep linens in it. my night table is a small filing cabinet (dark green.. i was happy to find something other than gray! :) i also have a computer armoire that seems to hold a lot of stuff.

one thing i've noticed is that i don't hang onto things i don't use anymore, either. living in a small house takes some planning and organization.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 10:11PM
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I like the site for woodworking hits.
For these I bought the doors at HD and just made the boxes and shelves. I figured out how I could connect them with nails and screws, where the joins wouldn't be seen. I had a very narrow area at the top of the stairs, so I laid out my design and did a lot of measuring to be sure once the boxes were made the doors would fit exactly right on them.

What really helped after putting up the wood was the stain and sealer for the final look. Also using solid wood molding and some iron-on wood for the edges, covered up the plywood edges.

Oh, and if you do this, I recommend very few drawers. I didn't realize how tedious it would be to put each drawer together and then to attach the drawer front exactly right. I so wanted drawers, but I certainly don't want to be building any more.

The biggest 'cheat' I feel I did, was figuring out beforehand the exact measurement of every piece of wood that I would need for, first the cabinets, then the shelves. I would compare that to a 4X8 piece of plywood and figure out every cut that was needed to get each piece. Then I went to HD and had them make every cut for me. I hate using the saw (table or otherwise) and for .25 cents a cut I got all the pieces I needed to just take home and figure out how to attach together.

It's surprising how things can turn out.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:58AM
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I will say I love the washer dryer combos. We had one in our flat in London, and it was THE BEST! You could make dinner and wash your clothes at the same time. By the time your dishes were done the laundry was folded and you were done with chores!!

Jennifer, I must say those are mighty impressive shelves.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 10:28PM
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Living in a smaller house is like living on a boat ;o)...that being said, we have our micro/convection oven built into a wall of our pantry, which is built in under our stairs. Not a drop of space gets wasted in our little house! We have a front-load washer and dryer in a closet in the kitchen. We use the top of the washer and dryer as a 'landing space' when we entertain. Just open the closet doors, put an unusual piece of fabric/tablecloth/sheet over the top and draping down the front, and voila! instant buffet/bar/whatever you need. We have a wire shelf above the W/D, which stores paper goods and laundry supplies. I installed a roll-up blind in front of the shelf, so that when we use it as a buffet, etc., I roll the blind down to cover the shelf. Hey! Any port in a storm! We're in the process of building built-in bookshelves/TV unit/storage on one wall of our living room. I'm a handy gal, and I looove building gives me such great satisfaction. Here's a pic of our under the stairs storage, along with our 'built-in' a smaller home, you definitely have to get creative.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 1:50PM
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We gave up a closet that wasn't really being used all that effectively in order to put a stacked washer and dryer in our mudroom upstairs. We have a king sized quilt and got the biggest machines we could fit. They're FANTASTIC and probably tied with our master closet project for the best functional change we've made to our home. Everything JUST fits too.

Here is a copy of the plans I drew up for it (we ended up going with a wider cabinet and a simple wall for the alcove)

And here is a before/after shot:

I haven't decorated this room yet, we still need to strip wallpaper and paint etcetc. But for right now it works and that's the important thing.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 1:01PM
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Not really a space saving tip, but didn't know where else to put this hint.

My bedroom is quite small, 10'9" x 12'. The previous owner had one of those big fat mattresses and a big bedframe. The whole thing looked way too big for the bedroom. When I bought my bed, I had them get me a low profile box spring. It's only 3" shorter but made a real difference. I also did not get a pillowtop - from experience I can tell you the pillowtops all mash down after a few years. So that cut some height off the bed too.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 1:11PM
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I am a real DVD movie enthuist. But all those DVD cases take up a lot of room on a shelf. I bought from KMart (you can get at walmart too) a binder that is ment to hold DVD movies in a clear plastic sleeve. I can get about 45 dvds in this binder which only takes up 3 inches of space compared to 2 FEET of space if they were still in the cases.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:33AM
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Ikea sells a DVD tower. It's about eight feet tall, way over my head. But it stores DVDs like crazy. I own over 100 DVDs and it's only half-full!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:01AM
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I love IKEA for little things like that! They also have a lot of bookshelves that are odd sizes. My husband's computer desk came from IKEA. It has a cabinet on the bottom to conceal the computer, the desktop folds up to cover the screen and keyboard, and there are open bookshelves above. It's a great use of space, and keeps the cats from playing with the cords.

I'm very impressed with everyone's built-ins. I think I need to learn your skills!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:56AM
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julsie...I read your post and thought you wrote "and it keeps the cats from playing with the cards"...those cats just can't control themselves when it comes to Spider Solitaire!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 12:11PM
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LOL! When one of ours was a kitten, she used to climb on the desk to watch Solitaire. She wasn't interested in anything else that happened on a computer, but she had to watch the card games!

One thing I wish I had in my house is an actual utility room, rather than a laundry closet. There's no good place to keep the litter box.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:25PM
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I used to think that Ikea was just for college but when I redid my kitchen I found that they had some newer pieces that were better and more $. I got a dining room table white pedestal, a L shaped sectional that fit exactly in my space (all the other ones I looked at were too long, My corner computer desk. For me I have found that they now have some better pieces that fit well in a small house. I also love my kitchen cabinets.

Also on stacking washers and dryers. I got a set from Danby which is a euro company from Home depot. It is a front loader that the dryer sit on tops (it attaches with suction cups) and it was about half of what the other front load stackables. The front loaders are way more energy eff. I had to have a stackable to be able to sink my refrig into the wall of the laundry closet so I could open my kitchen. I don't know if Home Depot still sells the Danby but I highly recommend it to anyone with a small space.

Also on stacking washers and dryers. I got a set from Danby which is a euro company from Home depot. It is a front loader that the dryer sit on tops (it attaches with suction cups) and it was about half od what the other front load stackables. The front loaders are way more energy eff. I had to have a stackable to be able to sink my refrig into the wall of the laundry closet so I could open my kitchen. I don't know if Home Depot still sells the Danby but I highly recommend it to anyone with a small space.

Here is a link that might be useful: my ikea furniture

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:31PM
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I love your house, Liz! You got some cute stuff from IKEA. The sectional looks great, and I never would have guessed it was assembly-required!

We got our stackable washer & dryer at Sears -- it's a frigidaire set. Lowe's carries the same ones, but both stores offer price matching and at the time we got a better deal from Sears. Free delivery or somesuch. But our water bills dropped because of switching to the front-loading washer, and the set was only about $1000. Plus, front-loaders are gentler on your clothes, saving me the trauma of buying new jeans as often. :-)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:04PM
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This is kind of a weird space saving tip: my dining room table has a laminate top and solid wood legs, so that we can use the tabletop for crafts, as an extra desk and as an ironing board and not have to worry about messing up a good wood table. We just put a tablecloth on it when visitors come so that people can still see the nice legs but not the crummy top.

I got fed up with my one-piece washer/dryer and bought a high-end European washer and dryer and stacked them. I find that with a smaller home it is useful to get better quality appliances to minimize noise and vibration.

Julsie, litter boxes sure seem to take up space. I want to get a kitten but it seems the best place for the litter box would be the bathtub!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:09PM
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I, too, took up woodworking in order to make good furniture that would fit our tiny house and optimize storage. I never could have managed without our basement, though. Even on the stairway to the basement we have a pegboard on which I can hang the electric broom, stepstool, extra kitchen gadgets and even potholders and kitchen towels since there's no wall space in the kitchen itself and until recently I had only one real kitchen drawer. I'd installed a long cantilevered drawer unit over the radiator where I gained at least some shallow drawer space for kitchen utensils and was able to fit some stools underneath. The back basement wall came with some built-in cupboards and I bought a 48" VersaCabinet at HD for $100, plus an 18" drawer unit with a cupboard over it to fill out the wall. They'll cut the melamine shelving or even the 4x8' sheets to size so one can add more shelves without needing to cut it up yourself. I shopped all over to find the plastic drawer thingies to fit the shelves in the new unit which makes access so much easier. I always look for furniture with storage possibilities. In the guest room, we bought a trundle daybed instead of the bunks my son used and on the end I found some wood hampers that serve as end tables and then hold bedding and pillows. Even how you install flooring can add to the space visually. In the kitchen & bath, installing the tile diagonally really makes the rooms look larger. And don't forget plastic bins for on closet shelves.

We're finally moving to a larger house, but it's an 1873 row house with not much storage so I've been adding lots of cabinets in the basement and customizing the interiors to hold all our stuff. Ikea is a good source of inexpensive closet and kitchen fittings...such as a "D" shaped lazy susan for blind corner cabinets at only $37. Wire basket drawer units that can be retrofitted into closets or cupboards. K-Mart's Martha Stewart line has some really different vinyl coated wire racks for kitchen cupboards that help optimize cupboard organization. I've noticed that different stores have slightly different sizes in these sorts of things, so I shop around with my interior measurements until I find something that will work without wasting space. I even make my own drawer dividers using 1/4" thick handiboards in 2" or larger widths, cut to fit. I'm always dismayed at the total wastage of the premade plastic drawer organizers.

Our son, too, likened our house to a ship...every square inch is utilized and even though my husband still has his college notes and we have books out the wazoo, at least the house looks spacious and uncluttered. As I'm moving the kitchen I'm flabbergasted at how much stuff is in there! I'm having trouble finding room for it all even though I cleaned out a lot of stuff that I didn't use when I redid it a year ago.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 2:26PM
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Through miscommunication we discovered hidden storage. I had purchased a built in ironing board and asked my DH to install it on the wall to the left of the closet. He cut the hole in the wrong BR before I realized his mistake. We framed out the space between the studs (interior wall) and my DD uses the shelf unit for DVD's and small books/pics. It's in a spot where you couldn't put furniture anyway.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 1:22PM
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just dicovered this forum and actually live in a fairly lg. house but it was handbuilt and has built in everywhere.
my gmas house had floor storage , by installing steel lockers between the joists and recessing a wood door when building her house they had these in each room .
I use those shoe storage bags on each door I just counted 9 of them 2 are homeade from cotton and one stores tools
I have one in the pantry are with food in it.
these are real handy for sewing rooms
I started using these when d.d was born and we lived ina 900sq.ft. house we used one for "baby stuff" and another for clothes .
I saw somewhere once "pre built" built ins that were just plastic shelves made to the dimenions and all you did was find the studs and cut out the dry wall .
would be an easy shop project . like the forum thanks so much Rick

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 5:27PM
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Here's another idea which I haven't done yet but my neighbor did. It would only work if you have a slab foundation (no basement) and access to an attic. This is a one story house. They had their heater in a closet in the hallway. They had it installed just above in the attic and freed up the square footage below.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Like all of you, I've learned to look for ways to use every bit of space in my three bedroom ranch. For a number of years, the third bedroom was my sewing room but when we started a home-based business, I needed that room for an office. Without a place to have my sewing set up all the time, I found it inconvenient to use my machine. One day the light bulb went on. At the end of the hall was a space 4 feet wide and about 30 inches deep. I'd built in bookshelves there but suddenly realized I could take out the bottom three shelves and build in a cabinet to hold my sewing machine. I left the upper three shelves to holding patterns and other sewing supplies and installed a fluorescent strip under the lowest one. The sewing cabinet has a kneehole and on the left, a door concealing two shelves. I have a floor to ceiling curtain I can close to hide the whole thing when I'm not using it. I love it! Sometimes I'm a genius. :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 12:49PM
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Thank you all for great ideas for space saving tips.

Diana ~ I would love a wall of your plastic bins only mine would have all sorts of yarn, and fine crochet threads in them. I do have three of these with yarn in them. (I had inherited my late MIL's stash of yarn and needed a compact solution for storing them. They are out in my wash-house/garden shed right now.) Plus I would use some for seashells that we've been collecting for years and starting to collect more of for outdoor projects.

I did a search for IKEA stores and none can be found in our state. The closest one is 380 miles away in Atlanta, GA. Guess I won't be shopping there anytime soon.

This is a great thread. DH and I are working on decluttering and that gives us more space. Plus rethinking spaces gives us more ideas.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 1:43PM
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WOW! We sure have a lot of great space saving tips!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to post!


    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 8:03PM
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Like some of you, I have a lot of built-in open shelving in my living room. Unfortunately, I have collected so much stuff over the years that the shelves are crammed with stuff and they look really messy. Bad feng shui. I plan to have a carpenter install some sort of shoji screens or doors to cover up the clutter.

In other rooms we have some big cabinets from IKEA that hold a lot of stuff.

But the best technique for storing stuff in a small space? Getting rid of what I don't need! I have a continual bag in my house for the Salvation Army, and I'm trying to get better at parting with those things I've kept because "you never know when I might need. . .".


    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Flowerlady, Those bins are on shelves in that bedroom's closet. When our sons moved out we repurposed their rooms. : ) One is my sewing room, the other a den/office. DH put shelves in the sewing room closet - just used those metal strips with the metal brackets and laminated white shelving, all bought at HD. I didn't need anything fancier since they aren't really seen due to the bins covering them. We stored the closet doors in the attic just in case we sell someday or decide to repurpose the room again.

Do any of you watch that show, Mission Organization? They have lots of good storage and decluttering ideas. I saw one recently that suggested using similarly shaped plastic food storage containers. They are easier to store and many of them have lids that can be snapped and stacked together so all stay in one place and easy to locate the right size. I picked some up yesterday at the grocery store and now have twice the space in the drawer I keep them in as before. I love decluttering! : )


    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 2:00PM
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flowerlady6........get IKEA's catlog and order. It's interesting shopping in their store, but easier to order from the catalog.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 2:41PM
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With 1180 sq ft, we have become space saving experts.

Most of the furniture in the living room is double duty...a fold out sofa, a chest for a coffee table, and a chest of drawers cut down to fit under the window.

The open kitchen is nice, but the white refrigerator was glaringly obvious from the living room side, so we hid it with a three-fold screen.

The sunporch has been used to winter over plants, and for buffet serving when we entertain. It was formerly just a junky space, with a washer and dryer to one side. The best thing we did was to separate the space to create a laundry room/pantry.

And now we are getting ready to move and start over again, but I will always love this little house and the joy that it has brought us. The recent remodeling we have done actually makes it easier to move, since I can always remember it looking at its best.

Here is a link that might be useful: home photos

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 11:31AM
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We visited with a friend the other evening and she had all kinds of things she got from the Ikia store!

It was fun to see her space saving ideas.

I'm going to go look up Ikia's web site!


    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 12:01AM
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IKEA's bookcases and kitchen cabs are good quality for the money. Their upholstered furniture, OTOH, is not so hot and won't last long.

One item we are investing in is a wallbed cabinet. Remember the old Murphy beds that came down from a closet? Nowadays they come in cabinets. There are different mfgs, some are bolted to the wall, some are freestanding; they are raised/lowered by either pistons, springs or just by gravity (counterbalanced). Some even have desks or tables attached so that when the bed is raised, you can turn the room into an office or workspace without bringing in extra furniture.

They are not cheap, but can be a great way to have a multipurpose guest room that is truly comfortable for an occasional guest(s), while still allowing you some flexibility in using the space.

Be aware that like all custom furniture, it usually takes 6-8 weeks to deliver.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sample only-local wallbed company's products

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 7:38PM
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I have some tips for space saving
We have no useable attic or basement and can't put a shed on our lot too small and against homeowners assoc rules soo our garage has to store alot of what was in our attic plus all our shed stuff and all our garage stuff. Although we sold alot when we moved of items we wouldn't need- table saw- table sander etc we still have all the small garden tools,small power tools, chemicals and 3 bikes, 2 garbage cans 2 roll away tool boxes+ lawn mower. We get all this in the garage and our 2 cars with the use of Shelves my husband built and peg racks. WE also have a collapsable huge workbench on hinges that folds up onto the wall when not in use.

For items that were stored in our attic- i.e. christmas decor and seasonal decor I have had to find a way to put it into our master closet - I have managed to get it all to fit with Plastic bins of all sorts and hanging racks

Here are some pics of our craft studio / home office. I do all kinds of things and dh is a leather carver.

This was our office/ library at our old home this home was 400sf less than what we have now
There was no room in this office for a conventional desk so I came up with this plan for the desk and shelves and dh executed it. I stored all my office ware in the baskets- bills, stamps, scissors etc

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 10:51AM
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Diana (angelcub) has the best tip - get rid of the STUFF! I once read a quote that has stuck with me--does your stuff add to or detract from your pleasure? When my place starts looking all cluttered, I am defintely not liking my surroundings as much.

A lot of you mentioned bookshelves. I have lots of open bookshelves, but it keeps my books and other junk on display and it adds to the cluttered look of my space. I'd like to get some sliding shoji doors to cover up the shelves, or maybe get a whole new wall of cabinets put in. Does anyone have any pictures of great-looking walls of storage that look great?


    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 7:30PM
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I really need these space saving tips, they are all great ideas! I am esp. interested in the "drawers in the stair risers" How can I find out how to buuild these? It's not something you can find in any do it yourself book. How does this work? Has anyone had this and could clue me in? I would appreciate it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 7:41PM
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emagineer might want to look at the modular units similar to Targets. They have options for drawers, doors, etc. which can be stacked or set side by side. The ones at target look a bit cheap, but know there are others available from closet stores and places selling storage items. If you are handy, screw them together and into back wall for stability. Adding wood trim to edges meeting stairs would make them look like they were built in. You are right about the lack of search for plans. I did find an interesting site and added it below. Your other option is library or searching books on storage solutions.

My space saving tip is vacuums. The last few years I have gone through far too many that cost me far too much money. Figuring the best was worth 200 or more, which just hasn't been the case. They don't seem to be built as well as past remembered, constantly changing belts and hoses getting clogged. My son suggested that I quit dumping money into them and gave me his tiny upright which is a hepa, bagless and cost him 40 dollars. This thing won't go away and just keeps working like new at 2 years old. It picks up even better than the larger like units, much easier to use weight wise. For the price I could buy a new one every year and not feel bad about it. Space saving....takes up half the room and store it in my coat closet.

And a hint....I like bagless because I don't have to buy bags. But they sure plug up the filters and got tired of tring to keep them clean. Decided to try my shopvac in garage to vacuum out the filter and hoses, they are like new doing this.

Here is a link that might be useful: stair storage

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 12:40PM
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