How about a book club ?

EATREALFOODNovember 12, 2012

I'm posting these titles before I have to return them to the library. They have some really good ideas, I thought some of you might find them useful:

*500 ideas for small spaces- easy solutions for living in 1000square feet or less(that's me !) by Kimberly Seldon

*Better Homes and Gardens small space decorating

*Country Living Small Space Chic by Gail Abbott

*Creative Finishes Series Painting and Decorating Tables by Phillip C. Meyer

After a complete escavation I'm still trying to pull it all together LOL

I did buy a comforter for $3 at a church flea market, it's temporary as I haven't put the bed together yet. Mattress/box spring is still on the floor...the Matelasse or Chenille bedding will come later after the bed is set up. I warned DH that once the bedding is purchased HRH(her royal highness) must get regular monthly manicures. He's usually very good about it but sometimes if he's busy he waits until she starts sticking to things...She loves my LL bean waterhog mat !

What are your favourite small space decorating/idea books ?

Here is a link that might be useful: vermont country store

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I don't know that I have any favorites. I don't think I've read any for small spaces. Which one of those did you like best?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Make Your House Do The House Work
A fantastic book on cleaning and making your house easy to clean. Great suggestions for both new construction and redoing things. A bit dated, but lots of great ideas still. Goes a bit overboard at times--pretty much suggests suspending EVERYTHING above the floor so you can mop underneath, including dining room chairs.... :)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:03AM
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I'm heading to the library today, thanks for the titles.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:11AM
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How do you suspend dining chairs?

I do try to keep everything off the floor. I find if I have to pick anything up to clean, I'll just avoid cleaning that room.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 7:14PM
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CamG you make me laugh. I plan on putting up a shaker peg rail and hanging my new used wooden chairs(3 different styles) in the sittingroom and 1 in the bedroom. I don't have a dining room, just a small round diner table. It actually is a table from a diner. It's not the prettiest(that's what table cloths are for, but it is sooo sturdy and compact. It seats 3-4 if the waitress(me) is attentive.
My DH sweeps up with his handmade Shaker broom that I bought him for his last birthday. In a (really)small space those Shaker peg rails work great. I'm going to put one up near the entrance for coats, umbrellas and shopping bags. I have no coat closet since we knocked it out. Now I can just walk into the kitchen on tile w/o worrying about the water & snow getting on the adjacent wood floor.
Marti- if I had to pick one it would be 500 ideas for small spaces,

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:30AM
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I don't have the book here to scan, but it was pretty retro-looking. Like a dining set inspired from the tea-cup ride at Disney World.

But I did find this online. Looks like fun! :)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:53AM
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I think I should install a heated shelf for my cat...then less sweeping as she would only come down for breakfast & dinner.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:06PM
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EATREALFOOD - I was actually thinking - given your screen name - that you are likely a very good cook and maybe you could give some vitual cooking lessons/tips to those of us that enjoy it but just aren't that great at 'throwing something together'. ;) I so love to cook but have to follow the recipe - if I veer off at all it's not usually a good thing!

camg-I need a book "how to get your kids and dog to do the cleaning for you".... If I could get the pooch to clean while I'm away - that would be fabulous...even if she'd just clean up after HERSELF!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 4:38PM
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Excellent thread! I am a person who turns to books when I want to understand something, so I have a number of suggestions to throw out:

First, I'll second what another poster said: Make Your House Do the Housework (Don Aslett) is a great book. Written by a man who's made his living as a custodian, he points out ways to design your house so that less cleaning is needed. I've incorporated some of these things into my current house, but other ideas are really only practical during a new build or remodel. Incidentally, I have not adopted any method of keeping my chairs off the floor.

To give an example of his ideas: He suggests that you should limit the number of entrances to your house; the theory being that it's easier to sweep one really dirty entrance than three slightly dirty entrances. Also, he says that every entrance should include a good, long doormat -- one that'll require 5-6 steps -- this keeps the dirt at the entrance rather than allowing it in the house. He wrote a couple other books, which I also read, but this one beats them all.

Most recently I've been reading Designing Your Perfect House by William J Hirsch, Jr. I'm not done yet, so I can't really give a complete run-down of it. It's about typical pitfalls and mistakes that people make in design planning. He begins with a good bit of philosophy of architecture, which is new to me, and I'm still digesting that part. It's a good book, and by the time I'm done I think I'll say that it's well worth the time.

Not long ago I read Better Houses, Better Living: What to Look for When Buying, Building or Remodeling by Myron E Ferguson. I highly recommend the book. The author is an engineer who worked in the construction field for decades. This very informative book helps with basics like how to decide where to situate your house on a piece of land, and it also discusses details that'll annoy you forever like dishwashers in the corner, doors that open across one another, and light switches located behind doors. He has attached a multitude of photographs to illustrate the problems that you want to avoid (or the proper scenerios that you wish to create).

You absolutely should read this book; if it helps you zero in on just 2-3 details in your house that would've caused you trouble, it's worthwhile. In reality, you'll find more. His book isn't particularly easy to obtain; I read about it, but I couldn't find it in bookstores and Amazon was sold out. I had to wait for them to restock. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can make the waiting easier by reading his blog online.

Being a teacher, I have to say, however, that this book deserves an A for content and a D for the writing. Mr. Ferguson knows his stuff, but he is tremendously disorganized in his writing. The book could've been 100 pages shorter, had he chosen not to return to the same topics over and over again. Also he tends towards wordiness and frequently makes grammar mistakes. I know that I read one particular sentence a dozen times (it contained multiple negatives), and I never did figure out what it meant. He really should've employed a writer to help him.

Earlier this year I read The Construction of Houses, Fourth Edition on my Kindle. Author: Duncan Marshall. It was a free Kindle book, but it helped me understand things like foundations, trusses, support beams, and so forth -- things that really matter a great deal. Now when I look at floor plans, I understand why things are drawn as they are and why certain things really can't be moved around here or there. It's dry as dirt, but I do recommend it.

About two years ago I became enthralled with the The Not So Big House series by Sarah Susanka. She also has a blog online. I bought her entire series (used from ebay -- they're not new books) and enjoyed them all, though they do become a bit repetitive. I agree completely with her main theme, which is that we should build houses only after considering exactly what we need and want from those houses. She advocates building well for your everyday needs rather than stretching your budget to include seldom-used formal living rooms, dining rooms and their ilk. She also discusses in detail how human beings like "cozy spots" -- spaces within spaces -- such as window seats, nooks, areas with dropped ceilings, etc. And she advocates the concept of having "away rooms" that will provide for quiet. Much discussion on trusses and garages and how they've led to houses "looking bigger". I like the exercises that she proposes in her books; for example, she tells you to come up with a list of adjectives you'd want to describe your house. When I realized I was writing words like cozy, homey, light-filled, cottage-like . . . I knew I should stay away from modern, dramatic, show-y and so forth. Another exercise tells you to make a list of all the activities you expect a certain room to support; this helps you decide how you want to use your space. For example, some of us might say that our bedrooms are JUST for sleeping and dressing. Other people might say, no, I want to include a spot for drinking morning coffee and watching the news, I want a small writing desk, and I want storage space for a collection of music boxes. Thinking these things through helps you get your rooms right.

Warnings: I find it ironic that her "not so big" floorplans are all larger than any houseplan I've considered. This is a definite must-read, though you should not come into this book thinking that smaller house = less money. Her ideas are expensive to incorporate.

Okay, I'm branching out a bit, but when I looked at my house-building shelf, I saw Landscaping With Fruit by Lee Reich. I do recommend this book as well. The author gives a very basic run-down of how to go about choosing trees and bushes that'll provide you with shade, seasonal color and also food. Good discussions on just what will/won't grow in your location. Now that we've picked the site for our house, I am planting pecan trees soon (because they take so very long to "take hold" and begin to produce).

I recently bought Designing Your Dream Home: Every Question to Ask, Every Detail to Consider, and Everything to Know Before You Build or Remodel by Susan Lang. I'm not into it yet, but I think it's going to be much like Ferguson's Better Houses, Better Living. That is, descriptions of pitfalls and mistakes that often occur simply because people didn't think things through. I look forward to reading it.

One last book on my bookshelf deserves a few words here, but this book I do not recommend: Eat In Kitchens by Catherine Warren Leone. You might enjoy this book if you are completely unfamiliar with kitchens and want an overview of what might be included in such a room. On the other hand, since you very likely are familiar with things like ranges, islands, tile, windows and sinks, you are not likely to actually learn a single thing from this book. She presents many pretty pictures (though not nearly so many as you can see for free on Houzz or similar websites), and she gives mind-boggling facts such as sinks are available in single, double, or triple bowl models -- but she doesn't give any help on why a person would choose one over the other. You could literally learn just as much by walking through Lowe's Home Improvement. I bought this book (used for $3 -- waste of my $3) thinking that it'd help me with appropriate choices and dimensions for an eat-in kitchen. Nope.

I think I have a couple other books that might be helpful, but they're not in the right spot on my bookcase, so I can't locate them right now. When I find them -- probably under my bed or sofa -- I'll come back and give you a description.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:55AM
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EatRealFood -- A heated cat shelf is genius! Even without heat, a cat shelf is a good idea. Back when I was in college I lived in a rented house in which my bedroom faced a busy street, and I had a carpeted, store-bought cat perch for the window. My beloved kitty spent 90% of his time on that perch watching the action below.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Over the last ten years I think I've managed to check out every decorating, remodeling and home building book in our library system - I'm guessing nearly a couple hundred! A few books I kept checking out over and over again until I finally coughed up the bucks to add them to my personal library; while not necessarily specifically small house books, I found a couple of Taunton Press books, "Updating Classic America Capes" and "Updating Classic America Colonials", focus on the style of homes I love, which tend to be smaller in size and rich in detail.

For light reading I love the series of delightful books written by Beverly Nichols, a British author who wrote about his homes, gardens and cats - three of my favorite things! :-) Over the years he lived in small cottages and at one time a Georgian manor house. Also, English Home magazine always features at least a few cozy cottages, along with the grand manors - I just received my Christmas issue and now I can't wait to decorate my home the day after Thanksgiving!

By the way, we have a heated bathroom floor - our cat is practically glued to it ! We've gotten use to walking around him when we need to use the facilities!.:-)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:29PM
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I just finished "Designing Your Perfect House" by Hirsch as well. I downloaded it on my nook but ended up buying the hardcover as well. Some things you just need to hold and look at IRL - especially pictures. I thought it was a good read, well laid out and thoughtful. I haven't read any others as far as home design goes. I can see if I started browsing at the book store I'd spend a lot of $$. Best get my library card out.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Thanks everyone for the book recommendations, I will look for a few of them at my library tomorrow. I'm just beginning planning for a small home we intend to build over the next year or so. Some background reading material is just what I need.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 10:19PM
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