9 Needful Things

When I was planning to downsize and go tiny, getting rid of stuff was my top priority. I donated and sold what I knew I’d never use again, and threw away plenty of “why do I even have this?” items. Buying more stuff was the furthest thing from my mind until I started unpacking. Tiny living requires less stuff overall. However, I realized that I needed a few thoughtful items to help keep my space organized, comfortable, and looking good. I’d like to share a few of my favorite things that have allowed us to have a cozy, clutter-free, and happy home in less than 200 square feet.

Thin Hangers

Tiny closets don’t have to mean tiny wardrobes. Capsule wardrobes are good in theory, but maximizing your space on the closet bar is more efficient no matter how many pieces you have. We have five feet of closet space in our entire home, but I’m able to fit a surprising amount of clothing by merely stacking my hangers downwards.

I traded in all my plastic hangers for the skinny type that are covered in velvet. I’ve hung a small lock washer over each hook, and I stack the hangers downwards. This sort of organization is extremely helpful in maximizing space without eliminating clothing. My closet is much shorter than most so I can only stack five items downwards before I run into the floor. My dresses are on hangers, folded in half at the waist, and my pants are also folded in half. For skirts, I’ve used the washers on regular clip hangers. I don’t have room for too many once-a-year items; however, this space-saving method allows me to have almost as many things as I want.

Decorative Tissue Box Holder

Tiny homes often have limited storage. We need to be mindful of items we keep out because they’re inevitably going to be on display. I always have a box of tissues handy, and although tissue boxes come in lovely colors, who wants a cardboard box as a focal point?

When I decided to purchase a decorative tissue box holder I was ill prepared for the myriad Tissue Box as Home Decor options. I began my search on Etsy and found over ten thousand options ranging from under $10 to over $75. About three pages into the overwhelming search I felt like I needed a snack and a glass of wine. I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking looking for the tissue box holder of my dreams.  I eventually settled on one in a rich, chocolate basket weave that matches my walls and interior woodwork. Much like everything else that is forced to be on display in my tiny home, the nicer it looks, the better I feel about leaving it out for all the world to see.

Decorative Baskets

My cabinets and closet don’t offer enough storage space to tuck everything I own neatly away, but decorative baskets seem to do the trick. We have two baskets on either side of the bed that compliment my tissue box holder, and my husband and I use them like nightstand drawers. They add a decorative element while allowing us to have a nightstand when we wouldn’t otherwise. Plastic storage bins are often a go-to in tiny homes, but I’ve found that baskets look so much nicer on display.

Two Things to Create Vertical Storage Space

People in larger homes don’t always think about using their vertical space. When storage space is already limited, utilizing vertical space can often provide room for things you don’t otherwise have a place for.

In my home, I have a few vertical bars installed on the ceilings that we have hung small hammocks from. The bedroom hammocks hold our seasonal gear. Right now, mine is filled with hats, scarves, gloves, and the huge, cozy socks I wear at home when the floors are cold. In the summer, I store bathing suits, a beach coverup, flip flops, my sun hat, and my favorite Turkish towel that doubles as a sarong and scarf. More on Turkish towels soon. In my kitchen/living room, we have three hammocks used for food storage. In one, I keep soft things like bread and chips, and in the other two, I store fruit and veggies that don’t need to be refrigerated. If you have higher ceilings, hanging three-tiered metal baskets offer the same smart vertical space usage. 

Shelf risers are another must-have in my home. I have two taller cabinets but few tall items that need cabinet space. By using shelf risers, I’m able to create a removable shelf which nearly doubles the storage space. 

Bins for Clothing

I have no drawers for clothing, so I rely on bins and baskets that are kept inside cabinets. When I was getting organized, the hardest part of storing my clothes was the Tetris-like game of finding the right bins that would fit the oddly shaped cabinets. I got lucky with flexible fabric bins that hold their shape well but also bend to fit the shape of the cabinet. I store things in these bins that fold well; pajamas, workout clothing, and winter base layers.

“Stick-On Lighting”

When we moved into our home, our closets and cabinets were so dark that it was hard to see inside them without taking things out or using a flashlight. Our kitchen has a wired light under the cabinet which gave me the idea to explore battery-powered stick-on lighting options. I have one on either side of the closet and one in each of the two largest cabinets, and they’ve made a world of difference.

Reusable Silicone Storage Bags

I love Ziplock bags, but I don’t love throwing them away after every use. For dry goods and non-food items, I tend to use them until they’re about to die. Last year I discovered a hole in a bag I’d been using as long-term storage and I decided there had to be another way.

A quick trip down the Google rabbit hole brought me to reusable silicone food storage bags, which are kind of a miracle, regardless of the size of your home. I purchased a set immediately. I’ve been using for about a year, and they’re still in excellent condition.

Not too long ago I had something to store, but I didn’t have a spare reusable bag. Out of the blue, one of my blog followers coincidentally reached out to me the next day and offered to send me a set if I’d spread the word about how these bags keep single-use plastics out of the oceans. How did she know I needed another set? Maybe these are magical bags…

The benefits of reusable food storage bags are threefold. First, they’re washable, so you’re dramatically reducing your need for single-use plastics. Don’t we all want to keep single use plastics out of the oceans and landfills? Second, they’re exceptionally sturdy so they’ll stand up to just about anything. Third, if it fits into the bag, the bag will hold it securely, without a spill. Think tea bags, Legos, soups, flour and sugar, produce, meats, and whatever else you like to store in ziplock bags.

You can purchase your own set of awesome, reusable ziplock bags from Storelite. You can also contact Storetite directly by email. Storelite is also on Facebook and Instagram.

Turkish Towels

I’ve been in love with Turkish towels for a few years. They’re the little black dress of the towel world, seamlessly transitioning from a bath towel to a sarong to a tablecloth instantly. They’ve transformed my tiny bathroom into a spa, but I love them for a few more reasons than aesthetics.

Turkish towels dry so much faster than regular terrycloth towels. If your tiny bathroom only has one towel bar and you’ve had to rock paper scissors your significant other for towel bar privileges, you might want to consider a Turkish towel. If it’s wet from a typical shower, it will dry in significantly less time which means you can roll it or fold it until you’re ready to use it again. Speaking of rolling or folding, these towels are surprisingly thin so you can store quite a few in the space that one terrycloth towel takes up.

I was lucky enough to connect with Carol and Susan, the founders and co-owners of Marmara Imports. Their mission at Marmara is to offer exceptional, eco-friendly, fair-trade textiles to the U.S. market and beyond. Carol and Susan believe in supporting global artisans in their endeavor to sustain not only themselves and their families but also the ancient ways of weaving. To that end, they partnered with Figen Subasi, a woman-owned business, in Babadagh, Turkey. Figen has a small atelier where she employs, for a living wage, twelve weavers and their families to produce Marmara’s beautiful products.  Figen’s dream, and now theirs is to open a school to teach the younger generation the art of hand looming textiles.

Turkish towels, known as pestemals (pesh-te-mahls), are the traditional towel used in Turkey and are known for absorbency and softness. Compact, lightweight and quick to dry, this eco-friendly product is really more than a towel and should be used with imagination. Think sarong or shawl, throw or tablecloth—when you’re living tiny every piece must have more than one purpose and these towels certainly provide that.

Check out the online store at www.marmaraimports.com and use code TH10 at check-out for a 10% discount.

I hope some of the items on my list will help make your tiny space a bit more comfortable. Tiny spaces are usually cozy by default. However, it takes thought, planning, and sometimes, the addition of a few new items to go from a basic small space to a place you can call your very own tiny home.

I have adventures at sea and on land with my husband and our little dog too. If you’d like to know more and see a tour of our sailboat, please visit us at our website.

Written By: Tiffany Bee for Tiny House Magazine Issue 72

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