Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding Room For Your Stuff

Very quickly, I wanted to throw in a blog that's actually on topic for what I claim the topic of this blog is supposed to be: Smaller Living.  Today it's about the need for space that you didn't plan for.  I'll try to keep it short.

Where does your trash can go?  What about your dirty laundry?  What do you do with the forty-eight extra rolls of toilet papers you bought when they were on sale?  What about that twenty-five pound bag of dog food?  In a "regular house" even if it is considered on the market to be a smaller home, there is generally room for some these things, but in a tiny home you can't be so sure of that.  You almost can't know until you get moved in and try 'er out what exactly you are going to need extra space for, but extra space is at a premium, and you can bet you're going to be needing it.

The next couple or three blogs are going to be about my solutions to some of these problems.  Mind you, they're not perfect solutions and they are subject to change, and I'm wide open for any good suggestions.

#1 - Where does the trash can go?

This seems like a minor issue on the surface, but that's because your trash can right now has a place and isn't bugging you by being there.  At our old house the trash sat beside an end cabinet.  Many people keep them under the kitchen sink.  I looked for all the solutions, but in our case there was only one: under the sink.  Unfortunately, under the sink is prime real estate for pots and pans as well as cleaning products, trash bag, bug spray, dish soap, scrubbies and those sorts of things.   Like a lot of travel trailers, the area under the sink is kind of "joint storage" which is accessible from outside.  My husband has the trailer hitch and the awning stuff poked up in there, and I stuffed the nut picker in there because it's handier for me from the outside, too.  Of course the plumbing to the sink takes up some precious space as well, so, nope, I can't use that space to house a trash can.  So where is it?

It sits -- out.  My trash can just sits out for all the world to see.  I leave it in front of the least used cabinet and I slide it around from place to place with my foot when I'm working in the kitchen area.  I got a small basket and we empty it every day.  When we move to our own property I will keep a large trash can with a lid for the outside, but for right now we are in a camp ground trailer park and we have a dumpster handy.

#2 - What do I do about food storage?

I have several cabinets that could be used for many, many purposes, but I chose to empty them and use them as a pantry.  We like to keep a decent amount of food storage for emergencies, and we don't consider this an option.  Food is probably the hardest thing to store because it requires extra care and because you can be sure to need access more often than just about any other storage area you are going to use.

The first thing I can, and must, do is keep it organized at all times.  In small spaces, the slightest disorganization can cause chaos.  I make it a point to arrange the shelves often.  They are used a lot, things are shuffled around frequently, and things get stuffed and shoved and knocked around all the time.  I have to get in there every couple of days and tidy things up.  It's no big deal and not too time consuming, but it is an absolute necessity to maximize space.

Despite the fact that I allowed so much storage to go into pantry space, it's still barely enough, and not nearly as much as I had or would like or need.  I have made some interesting arrangements to accommodate the excess.  Some food is not going to be used right away and is packaged in such a way, or can be repackaged in such a way as to make them good candidates for outdoor storage. I chose to take some of my canned goods, staple items, condiments, bulk items and the like, and put them in storage totes.  I put them outside, under my trailer, out of the sun and elements. I put the totes up on supports, just in case, so that they won't ever be sitting in rain water.  They are readily accessible, but out of the way.  I had some cheap totes to begin with, but I've been replacing them all with more durable ones.  The outdoor weather and temperature changes will effect the integrity of the plastic and I don't want to run that risk with my foodstuffs.

I did the same with a few pots and pans and other household items once I realized how well it worked.  I don't use every single pan every single day, so why not store some of the ones I'm not using so often?  I don't want to go nuts and line my whole trailer with totes, but I think having several in the back near my steps is fine. It has helped.  If I were settled on my own property I might have a shed and I could store them there on shelves, but for now, this is working well.

That's it for now.  In the next couple of days or so I'm going to talk a little about the one thing that I have found the hardest to adjust to.  In fact, I haven't adjusted.  It is the bane of my existence.  If I have any advice it is to plan however you must to avoid what I didn't realize I would be dealing with when we made the move into a tiny home.  See you then.

(photo credit)

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