Spring is here and with it comes warmer weather, blooming flowers, and (everyone’s favorite) spring cleaning. Living more simply is a great step towards sustainability, and spring is an ideal moment to tiptoe through the tulips toward that goal.
Here are five simple tips to try out this season to help you use your space to its fullest potential:
- Love it, Use it, or Lose it– This one comes first for a reason; one of the most effective ways to create more space in your home is to declutter by removing things you don’t need or want. Ask yourself when was the last time you used something. If you can’t remember, or it was over 6 months ago, consider getting rid of it. Take this opportunity to donate usable items to a charity, sell some things online or in a garage sale, or even trade with a friend for something you do In the future, ask yourself whether you truly need something before buying it- it will save you time next spring and, of course, money.
- Suitcases as Storage Opportunities – Do you, like so many of us, have empty suitcases tucked away in a closet, waiting for your next business trip or family vacation? Why not use them to store out-of-season clothes? As the weather warms up, the thick sweaters of winter can be hidden away in these suitcases, creating more space in your closet and making it easier to find the top you were actually looking for. Clothes aren’t the only thing that can be stored in suitcases, of course, depending on your luggage and your storage needs the list of possibilities is endless.
- Wall to Wall Solutions – If counter or cabinet space is limited in your kitchen, consider wall-mounted storage options. Whether it is a spice rack, pot rack, or knife rack, getting these items out of drawers and off of counters allows you to do more with your kitchen in the same amount of space. This applies in other areas of your home, too. Constantly kicking shampoo bottles in the shower? Try a shower caddy. Notice things building up in a particular corner of the living room? It might be a good place for a new shelf.
- The Eyes Have It – In many cases, the enclosed feeling of a small bathroom or other room can be moderated by using some simple visual tricks. Mirrors can create the illusion of added space in any room. In dimly lit rooms, consider adding or replacing light fixtures (don’t forget the LED bulbs!) and watch as the room appears to grow with the flick of a switch.
- Stick with It! – Once you get organized, stay that way! Devote a few minutes in your day to cleaning as you go about your business and see how long you can keep your space looking clean and inviting. If you slip up? No big deal! Keep trying until you find a system that works for you.
Maybe, once you have experimented with some of these space saving tips, you might even consider downsizing some day. A smaller home has lower heating and cooling costs, requires fewer resources to build and maintain, and can foster a true love for simplicity. It might seem extreme now, but you might be surprised how much less space you need to be truly comfortable. Find your Tiny House personality using this quiz.
In fact, this coming month we will be screening TINY: A Story About Living Small here at the Extension office. The film follows one couple’s attempt to build a Tiny House from scratch, and profiles other families who have downsized their lives into houses smaller than the average parking space. Why not come out on April 23rd to see the movie and talk with others in the community about ways we can live smaller? The discussion will feature experts in sustainability, design, and organization.
[Contributed by Heather Landis, UF Program Assistant]