Category Archives: Living Small

I Put it Somewhere….but Where is it? Tips for Organizing in Small Spaces

As many of you now know Kevin and I are striking out on our full time Avion life adventure in just a couple months. Your probably tired of seeing my periodic “days to go” count down on our Facebook Page! (Thanks for not complaining out loud!)

In this blog post I am going to cover:

  • The basics of downsizing
  • Methods and questions to use to help the process
  • Organizing Tips for small spaces
  • Real life examples/photos of what we found works well
  • How to find stuff after you have done such a great job organizing
  • The benefits you reap!

Getting Organized and finding places for everything we need (or think we are going to need) is getting really tough. FYI—Weekend, Week long or even month long trips are nothing like figuring how to move your entire household onto a rolling 32 by 8 foot tube of aluminum!

We ascribe to the adage that everything needs a place and that “place” becomes its “home” and after each use..it goes back there. No longer can you use a kitchen item and leave it on the countertop, use a tool and leave it on the coffee table (what coffee table??) or leave pairs of shoes or slippers lying by the sofa or door (yes, you know who I am talking about don’t you!)

So I have come up with some handy tricks/tips/steps to help with this process of our final downsizing. I think that these tricks/tips/steps can HELP YOU even if you are a weekend warrior camper, a few week traveler or…like us…full timers (or wannabees down the road).

BUT FIRST….SOME BASICS:

Don’t kid yourself!!! Downsizing takes work, it takes time, it takes hard-core REPEATED evaluation of you real needs & wants, things you covet beyond reason and….Yup! time for that item to go to someone else’s home–or into the trash bin!

I love the Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying and simplifying your lifestyle and your home & personal possessions– “stuff”. I have read her original Tidying book (twice) and listened to it on Audible twice now too. It has sunk in…but its still not easy. In essence she has you ask basic questions and below I have tweaked it for my own use….and share with you….

  • Relative to how many people are in your household…how many (insert word here like…coffee mugs) do you need? How many do you use daily? weekly? If you are like me…you have ONE favorite china one, and one favorite travel mug. Pass along your extras via donations, gifts, etc. to others who may need them more.
  • Does it bring you joy? Are there things in your closet, on your mantle, on a wall shelf that simply evoke sense of deep joy when you look at them? touch them or use them? Do they hold such sentimental value that without them you would not feel whole or connected to your family, your past or where you have been through your life journey? Then keep them (at least for now) and bring them along on your future journey or ask a family member or trusted friend to keep them safe for you.
  • Create your must haves from your closet based on clothes you wear routinely, that you feel good wearing, that are more classic in styling and can be layered depending on seasonal temperatures. This is your A pile. I started separating them out 4 seasons ago in a separate place in my closet so I know exactly who they are now! Now move onto your B pile—the occasional or seasonal clothing/shoe/coat items. Pare these down- you do not need 3 winter coats and 4 pair of boots! Finally, the C pile...you bought “cause it looked good (or fit)”at the time-but not so much anymore, or you wore it to one event and it now has dust on the hanger…you know what i mean! My closet was full of them too! Go through each pile again…be honest, use that repeated evaluation mode and weed out more. I am on about mode #8. Donate these items or sell them if they still have some value. By doing this you send those un-needed items to a new home where they can bring joy (or warmth) to someone who really could use them. No item likes to be left forgotten in a closet or cupboard- they want to be used!

TIPS FOR SMALL SPACES:

  • Watch a Marie Kondo video on how to properly fold items before putting them in drawers or totes. It really does work!
  • Overhead cabinets for clothing or kitchen soft goods like dish towels, pot holders, cloth napkins are great, but using soft sided storage cubes or plastic shoe boxes helps to keep things organized and in place. In truth, overly heavy object should NOT be put in overhead cabinets (the airlines knows what they are talking about here!) you could risk the cabinet pulling away from the wall supports at some point if heavy items are bouncing around as you roll down the road-or may simply be heavy enough to push open the cabinet and fall on the floor during travel.
  • Especially for the kitchen, select items that have multiple uses! Like the collapsible food storage container that doubles as a salad or ice cream bowl or when mixing up pancake batter. The roll up dish drying rack that doubles as extra counter space overtop the sink. We have links to many awesome products here on our “Amazon Fav List”, (just a list of things we like and use).
  • Bathrooms are WAY smaller than in a “sticks n bricks”. Medicine cabinets are small with short heights for items. Purchase travel size or small size of bottled items first and refill them as needed from larger more cost conscious size bottles you store under the sink. This will mean less dragging the big bottles out from under the deep recesses of your bathroom sink cabinet!
  • Use the clothing rod in your shower to hang bathrobes and jackets you may use nearly every day. Most of us RVing do not shower every day due to the amount of water it uses- we do a “bird bath” in-between shower days with baby wipes or similar cleansing cloths.
  • If you don’t already have a shelf behind your sofa that sits down about 8 or 9″–make one! It does not impede the jack knife feature. We utilize this space fully (90″ long by 7″ wide) for things like our TV remotes, Thermacell lantern and refills, binoculars, flashlights, small solar powered puck lights and more! (see what we use to hold them below!)
  • We raised up our original Avion jack knife sofa by 6 inches to gain very valuable storage space underneath our sofa. Yes, we needed to make a new sofa skirt to hide stuff underneath but that was a small price to pay for DOUBLING our under sofa storage. We used 2by4 blocks 2 stacked on top of each other, bolted to the floor then the frame of the sofa bolted to the blocks. Here is the link to that project-LINK

USEFUL ITEMS- DESCRIPTIONS, PICTURES AND WHERE TO GET!

Below are photos of items we have found to be super useful. In most instances they can be found on our Amazon FAV list. This is not a store we get a residual from, its merely our list of items we have used and liked and want to share. The album below shows the items. Underneath the album I have indicated where we have purchased some of the items (when I can recall where)

  • Plexiglas Magazine Holders: for under kitchen cabinet cleaning supplies were purchased through The Container Store-LINK
  • Wire framed, and/or fabric covered bins were purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond but can also be found at many retail stores. SOFT sided ones work best for overhead cabinets due to the curve of the roof line.
  • Fold down counter extension (in our ’73) was the top of a TV tray from Walmart
  • Assorted lidded shoe bins and plastic storage bins under sofa are from Lowes/Home Depot and Walmart
  • for the following items, refer to links in our Amazon FAV list:
    • Rollup Dish Drainer
      • Collapsible food storage/prep containers
        • Grey lift top ottoman (is collapsible too)

HOW TO FIND STUFF AFTER YOU HAVE TUCKED IT AWAY IN A GREAT STORAGE PLACE!

We have all been there. You put something away and now its in a bin, closet drawer or somewhere you cannot find it!  right?!!

OUTSIDE: We have done inventory sheets on our exterior “basement” storage areas. Everything goes back in the same place after each use. Remember they can only hold up to 25lbs each on an Avion! These bays are not waterproof- so anything you put in there should be able to stand getting wet. We do use some heavy duty shrink style bags for some gear and they have worked against wind, mud and weather conditions. The storage bins behind the tires are the most apt to get wet!

In our truck “Merlin” We also utilize a DECKED drawer system in the bed of our truck for quick reach of all tools needed, auto supplies, etc. We then do a paper inventory and label each storage bin we have in the extended high cap of our truck. And we created a master list of where each one is placed in the bed–no fishing around and having to take it all out each time to find 1 thing we need! see our Facebook page for a whole post on this!

INSIDE THE TRAILER: Here are some tips on how I have found to help with that!  You may notice some are repeats from our slide show above but you may have missed something!

Fabric/Soft sided Bins 

I hang a spare key fob off the handle and write inventory on each fob

more….

I use green painters tape and write contents on outside of each bin. This helps Kevin put stuff back where it belongs too!

Hard to see into drawers!

We have this cupboard between our living room and hallway that has 3 pull out drawers. Each can hold up to 40 lbs per the original sticker. The top drawer is very high, above eye level and you cannot see into it so I put green tape on the metal outside facing forward so when the drawer is pulled out, you can see what gets stored in there! Works like a charm so I actually did it for each of the 3 drawers so Kevin also knows where to find what!

WHAT IS IN IT FOR YOU? I can honestly say our downsizing journey has had the resulting feel of heavy burdens being lifted off our shoulders. We actually sold a lot of stuff on ebay and Facebook Marketplace, especially our other hobby gear and made enough to pay for some of our Avion upgrades in the process.

Life is simpler, closets and cupboards are less full….but our life just gets more fulfilling! Here’s to happy trails and beautiful sunsets!

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