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Author Topic: Home: Tiny apartment living - on a budget  (Read 3597 times)

PerditaPickle

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Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« on: December 31, 2015, 04:12:29 pm »
Hi all,

My New Years resolution (one of them) is to declutter, and more to the point organise our home.  We live in a tiny flat (we call it a flat here in England, but I used the word apartment in the thread title for clarity).  We also don't have a lot of cupboard/closet space.  You can't move anything in here without a heap of other things falling over because there's nowhere to store stuff, so it all gets heaped up on the tops of the furniture & the kitchen countertops.  This gets very exasperating on a daily basis - also you can't always find stuff because it's not quite where you thought it was.  It's been known to make me late for work and all sorts.

We're both hoarders, a bit (we each claim that it's not us, it's the other but in truth we both do it - anyway, that's a fair bit of clutter laying around the place whichever way you look at it).  But anyhow...

My question is this: does anyone know of any good websites for brilliant storage solutions which don't cost an arm and a leg (as we're also on a budget).  Or does anyone have any tips they can share, perhaps if you've been in this situation yourself in the past?

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 10:33:27 am by RandallS »
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Scales

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2015, 06:44:51 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184259
Hi all,

My New Years resolution (one of them) is to declutter, and more to the point organise our home.  We live in a tiny flat (we call it a flat here in England, but I used the word apartment in the thread title for clarity).  We also don't have a lot of cupboard/closet space.  You can't move anything in here without a heap of other things falling over because there's nowhere to store stuff, so it all gets heaped up on the tops of the furniture & the kitchen countertops.  This gets very exasperating on a daily basis - also you can't always find stuff because it's not quite where you thought it was.  It's been known to make me late for work and all sorts.

We're both hoarders, a bit (we each claim that it's not us, it's the other but in truth we both do it - anyway, that's a fair bit of clutter laying around the place whichever way you look at it).  But anyhow...

My question is this: does anyone know of any good websites for brilliant storage solutions which don't cost an arm and a leg (as we're also on a budget).  Or does anyone have any tips they can share, perhaps if you've been in this situation yourself in the past?

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)

 
Similar situation, so I don't have a ton of advice, but adding shelving in all closets not filled with coats (and the laundry room, if you have one) helped a lot for us. Keeps stuff from getting completely heaped up, at least.

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2015, 08:57:53 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184259
Hi all,

My New Years resolution (one of them) is to declutter, and more to the point organise our home.  We live in a tiny flat (we call it a flat here in England, but I used the word apartment in the thread title for clarity).  We also don't have a lot of cupboard/closet space.  You can't move anything in here without a heap of other things falling over because there's nowhere to store stuff, so it all gets heaped up on the tops of the furniture & the kitchen countertops.  This gets very exasperating on a daily basis - also you can't always find stuff because it's not quite where you thought it was.  It's been known to make me late for work and all sorts.

We're both hoarders, a bit (we each claim that it's not us, it's the other but in truth we both do it - anyway, that's a fair bit of clutter laying around the place whichever way you look at it).  But anyhow...

My question is this: does anyone know of any good websites for brilliant storage solutions which don't cost an arm and a leg (as we're also on a budget).  Or does anyone have any tips they can share, perhaps if you've been in this situation yourself in the past?

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)

 
If it's actual hoarding, seeing a therapist is a good idea.

If you're just having a lot of stuff, then it's much easier and cheaper to have less stuff than it is to organize it all. Odds are good you don't need to keep all of that stuff, and getting rid of the stuff you don't need will make it a lot easier to organize.

I find the videos on http://www.alejandra.tv/ to be very soothing. Apartment Therapy tends to have lots of good ideas. They have an organizing course called the January Cure starting the 1st that's free. Otherwise, Pinterest will have a ton of suggestions for you.

I like Marie Kondo's system of only keeping things that spark joy, but I have definitely found it to be not right for everyone.
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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2015, 10:38:59 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184259
Hi all,

My New Years resolution (one of them) is to declutter, and more to the point organise our home.  We live in a tiny flat (we call it a flat here in England, but I used the word apartment in the thread title for clarity).  We also don't have a lot of cupboard/closet space.  You can't move anything in here without a heap of other things falling over because there's nowhere to store stuff, so it all gets heaped up on the tops of the furniture & the kitchen countertops.  This gets very exasperating on a daily basis - also you can't always find stuff because it's not quite where you thought it was.  It's been known to make me late for work and all sorts.

We're both hoarders, a bit (we each claim that it's not us, it's the other but in truth we both do it - anyway, that's a fair bit of clutter laying around the place whichever way you look at it).  But anyhow...

My question is this: does anyone know of any good websites for brilliant storage solutions which don't cost an arm and a leg (as we're also on a budget).  Or does anyone have any tips they can share, perhaps if you've been in this situation yourself in the past?

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)

 
I live in a very small flat myself, so I feel the pain of lack of storage. My advice is to invest in shelves. Whether it's plain old ordinary wall shelves, or a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf unit, it is amazing how much it helps when you can get stuff up and off the ground or off of your end table. Hardware stores sell plain shelves and L brackets pretty cheap, and of course there's always IKEA. (I firmly maintain that you can make IKEA shit look nice and not like a college dorm.) If you're short like me you'll probably want a step ladder, too.

As for resources, Jack has already suggested Apartment Therapy which is a wonderful site. I also quite like UnfuckYour Habitat for cleaning inspiration and tips.

If you're going to reorganise your whole home, I think it helps not to try and do everything at once because you'll get overwhelmed. Tackle the job in sections, and give yourself breaks. In order to make room in your home, you'll have to get rid of stuff too. Be ruthless - if you haven't used something in a year, you probably don't need it unless it's an earthquake kit or something.

If you have a legit hoarding problem, I agree again with Jack that you'll probably need therapy. If you just accumulate stuff, I think that actually might be fairly normal. I have a few friends who are very cluttered - to the point that I personally feel uncomfortable in their homes - but they're happy and are still able to find their keys every day.

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2016, 03:51:10 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;184269

As for resources, Jack has already suggested Apartment Therapy which is a wonderful site. I also quite like UnfuckYour Habitat for cleaning inspiration and tips.


Seconding both of these. I live in a smallish apartment myself (it's a studio), and I've lived in even smaller places.

One thing in particular that I like about Unfuck Your Habitat is that it defines being organized as a skill. (This includes knowing how to store things, getting rid of things, and buying new things.) Buying a bunch of boxes and baskets isn't much use if you don't know how to use them effectively. Also, learning a skill is usually cheaper than buying gadgets :)

On the physical side, going vertical is a must. I like those over-the-door hooks and hanging shoe organizers. Also, if you're not already folding your laundry, *do it*. Even if you don't have a place to put it yet. Nothing else changes its volume like folded vs unfolded laundry, it's truly astounding.

Another thing that helps is owning compact versions of everyday items. So I have a travel iron instead of a regular iron (and a little tabletop ironing board), a laptop instead of a desktop computer, a dish rack that's only 6 inches wide, and so on. These are usually just as functional as the full-size versions, especially if only 1-2 people are using them.

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2016, 08:17:26 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184259

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)


Shelves, shelves and more shelves!  A good way to tame clutter is to create little shrines everywhere, that way you'll feel inclined to keep the spaces clean and tidy.  This works well with top shelves, tables, nightstands, etc.  

For your hoarding tendencies, you could start by getting rid of doubles.  Take them to goodwill, that way you're not just tossing them but passing them along and help a charity.  Then you can move on to getting rid of things you haven't used in the past year, then the past six months, and so on.  It will be hard at first but you'll feel great once you start freeing some space.

Also, think of your home as a temple and you'll feel more inclined to keep it beautiful.  Get a few indoor plants or a fresh bouquet of flowers every now and then for a quick lift if energy.

Good luck!

PerditaPickle

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2016, 08:23:21 am »
Quote from: Jack;184268
I find the videos on http://www.alejandra.tv/ to be very soothing.


Thanks - is there a charge for using that site?  If not I might give it a try and see if anything pops.

I'm a dreadful technophobe (can just about work my laptop) so although I've tried I cannot get my head around Pinterest and Tumblr, unfortunately (and it would stress me out to try again).

We're not hoarders to the point of requiring therapy, but my husband is just (bless him) on the lazy side and cannot be bothered to get rid of e.g. packaging, so I find it stuffed down the sides of furniture - it's amazing how much of it builds up.  He also collects specific paraphernalia for hobbies, some of which is quite bulky - I've asked him if he's able to pare some of it down but he says he uses it all.  And finally we both like to upcycle things for our hobbies - I'm an environmentalist, so I feel it's a good thing if we can make use of something that would otherwise go to landfill.

For my part, I've been poor for so many years (all my life really) that I cannot bear to part with items which might have a use and save us money in the future, that's my problem (and yes it's one I'll have to watch in case it ever reaches the point of requiring therapy in the future!).  Often I have places in which I store such items, but then I find that I can't get at the storage place because a heap of other stuff's been piled in front of that cupboard/shelf/whatever!

We have shelves in every location in which shelves can safely be installed, as the brickwork in our (rented) flat is so crumbly that stuff mounted on walls using screws tends to fall down, taking a chunk of plaster with it.  We have over-door hooks on every door.  We have a travel ironing board, and whilst our iron is full size it has it's own storage so is not one of the issues; we have a GTECH Airram which takes up no more room than a carpet sweeper.  Kitchen appliances are all the smallest models which we could find on the market.  I've been in the process of gradually giving away unused items for some months already, especially clothes, but I can only manage to carry a small amount per trip (and only have limited time available).

One of the things that's been bugging me lately is that we've too little room for all our groceries (our one available cupboard is full of tins, jars, etc), so on grocery shopping day and for that half of the week we end up with dry goods stored on our kitchen counter-tops, which then have to be moved out of the way in order to prepare anything in the kitchen - irritating!  I'm trying to think, can I suspend anything from the ceiling?  I'd be frightened to hang pots and pans up there in case the ceiling plaster is similar poor quality to our walls, but I think I've seen things which you can hang e.g. bunches of bananas from?  Something like that, but that I could use for other stuff besides bananas...?
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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2016, 10:50:12 am »
Quote from: Pickle;184350

We're not hoarders to the point of requiring therapy, but my husband is just (bless him) on the lazy side and cannot be bothered to get rid of e.g. packaging, so I find it stuffed down the sides of furniture - it's amazing how much of it builds up.  He also collects specific paraphernalia for hobbies, some of which is quite bulky - I've asked him if he's able to pare some of it down but he says he uses it all.  And finally we both like to upcycle things for our hobbies - I'm an environmentalist, so I feel it's a good thing if we can make use of something that would otherwise go to landfill.

For my part, I've been poor for so many years (all my life really) that I cannot bear to part with items which might have a use and save us money in the future, that's my problem (and yes it's one I'll have to watch in case it ever reaches the point of requiring therapy in the future!).  Often I have places in which I store such items, but then I find that I can't get at the storage place because a heap of other stuff's been piled in front of that cupboard/shelf/whatever!

We have shelves in every location in which shelves can safely be installed, as the brickwork in our (rented) flat is so crumbly that stuff mounted on walls using screws tends to fall down, taking a chunk of plaster with it.  We have over-door hooks on every door.  We have a travel ironing board, and whilst our iron is full size it has it's own storage so is not one of the issues; we have a GTECH Airram which takes up no more room than a carpet sweeper.  Kitchen appliances are all the smallest models which we could find on the market.  I've been in the process of gradually giving away unused items for some months already, especially clothes, but I can only manage to carry a small amount per trip (and only have limited time available).

One of the things that's been bugging me lately is that we've too little room for all our groceries (our one available cupboard is full of tins, jars, etc), so on grocery shopping day and for that half of the week we end up with dry goods stored on our kitchen counter-tops, which then have to be moved out of the way in order to prepare anything in the kitchen - irritating!  I'm trying to think, can I suspend anything from the ceiling?  I'd be frightened to hang pots and pans up there in case the ceiling plaster is similar poor quality to our walls, but I think I've seen things which you can hang e.g. bunches of bananas from?  Something like that, but that I could use for other stuff besides bananas...?

 
I'm the crafter and 'just in case I need it' person in my house, so I can definitely identify!  One thing I find helps me is to go through my collected stuff periodically and really question keeping anything I've had (and not used) for ages.  Or work on planning projects to use the most bulky stuff!  Or ask myself how much it would honestly cost to replace it (and is it worth the stress/clutter to hold onto something that might be extraordinarily cheap to just buy if I actually need it in the future).

For storage, I am a HUGE fan of containers.  I wash and save a lot of containers, then use them to manage my stuff.  I find coffee containers are great for organizing craft stuff (as well as spice containers for smaller things).

For the kitchen storage, we have one of those free-standing plastic set of drawers (we stacked two of them, so it gives us 6 drawers and stands about 4ft tall).  The drawers are a great place to store packets, mixes and other smallish things that tend to not stack well.  We also have a free-standing microwave stand (which is pretty similar to a bookshelf, except it has a tiny drawer...but you could easily use a bookshelf).  We keep some of the bigger pots and things on it, as well as big box foods (cereal, crackers, granola bars) and cup of soup things.  And cookbooks :P

I definitely love over the door hooks.  I use them in the bathroom for extra towel space (there are three of us and only two towel rods), on the front closet (for hubby's horribly grungy work hats), and in the laundry closet (for the broom, grill brush, duster and stuff like that).  I was thinking, in the kitchen, you might be able to find a free-standing hat/coat rack to hang pots from.  You could add plant hangers to make multiple tiers of hanging space too.
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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2016, 11:18:12 am »
Quote from: Pickle;184259

Also, does anyone have any tips as to how to address the hoarding behaviour, both in myself and my husband?

Many thanks :)

 
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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2016, 01:20:09 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184350
We're not hoarders to the point of requiring therapy, but my husband is just (bless him) on the lazy side and cannot be bothered to get rid of e.g. packaging, so I find it stuffed down the sides of furniture - it's amazing how much of it builds up.


He is very, very lucky to have such a patient partner. I'd go nuclear on him.

Quote
For my part, I've been poor for so many years (all my life really) that I cannot bear to part with items which might have a use and save us money in the future, that's my problem (and yes it's one I'll have to watch in case it ever reaches the point of requiring therapy in the future!).  Often I have places in which I store such items, but then I find that I can't get at the storage place because a heap of other stuff's been piled in front of that cupboard/shelf/whatever!


I too grew up poor, so I understand the impulse. (My mother to this day has a tendency to buy shit because it's on sale even if she doesn't need it at that moment.) Thriftiness is a virtue, but if you wind up hanging on to crap that you simply are not using then you're not actually saving money. You're just eating up space and making your problem worse. Nobody needs a cupboard full of empty jars unless they're super into home canning. Keep a few, sure, but if you have not used something in a year? Pitch it. I have a problem with hanging on to cool looking bottles, and every so often I have to sit myself down and say, "hey, guess what, you're not using the damn things for the projects you had imagined. Out they go." Because, surprise! I always wind up with more bottles.

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2016, 01:24:05 am »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;184358
Thriftiness is a virtue, but if you wind up hanging on to crap that you simply are not using then you're not actually saving money. You're just eating up space and making your problem worse. Nobody needs a cupboard full of empty jars unless they're super into home canning. Keep a few, sure, but if you have not used something in a year? Pitch it. I have a problem with hanging on to cool looking bottles, and every so often I have to sit myself down and say, "hey, guess what, you're not using the damn things for the projects you had imagined. Out they go." Because, surprise! I always wind up with more bottles.

 
This is super on point. Pickle, if you can't FIND things when you need them, odds are good you're actually spending more money than you're saving because things you can't find or access are essentially useless, and when you need those things, you still have to go out and find replacements.

If you have literally installed shelves on every surface that can shelf and you are still stacking things everywhere in front of other things, and can't put your food away, you really need to consider whether it's cost-effective for you to store the things you are storing. Odds are some of them are broken or spoiled or you've got fourteen pairs of safety scissors or something.

If the idea of getting rid of "useful" things is hard, maybe you can try going through and weeding out the obvious trash and byproducts of laziness. If you go through everything looking for trash, this will have the side benefit of getting you to actually look at everything you have stored up.

As another alternative to getting rid of "useful" things, consider not bringing anything new into the house except perishables for a period of time, maybe a month or two, and instead focus on using up what you have. This is great for getting rid of pantry stuff or soap or other things that tend to pile up when you find really good deals.
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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2016, 06:50:55 pm »
Quote from: Jack;184376

As another alternative to getting rid of "useful" things, consider not bringing anything new into the house except perishables for a period of time, maybe a month or two, and instead focus on using up what you have. This is great for getting rid of pantry stuff or soap or other things that tend to pile up when you find really good deals.


THIS. You can always save 100% by not buying anything.

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 01:03:03 pm »
Quote from: Pickle;184259

We're both hoarders, a bit (we each claim that it's not us, it's the other but in truth we both do it - anyway, that's a fair bit of clutter laying around the place whichever way you look at it).  But anyhow...

My question is this: does anyone know of any good websites for brilliant storage solutions which don't cost an arm and a leg (as we're also on a budget).  Or does anyone have any tips they can share, perhaps if you've been in this situation yourself in the past?


 
I have been there, as I'm a crafter and I see a lot of things as "potentially useful." I also go to thrift stores a lot, and there's a strong temptation to hold onto "this really cute skirt that once fit me/might one day fit me" etc rather than re-buying clothes. (but space is definitely also a resource one is consuming in this case.)

I'm definitely still dealing with this, but one thing that helps me is to have a dedicated container/space for each type of thing. So I do have a storage bin for out-of-season clothes (winter clothes in summer, for example). If there's extra room, clothes I really, really like but don't currently fit can live there. I also have a several bins for yarn, but if the yarn starts to overflow, then I need to use it up before I acquire more. Reusable tote bags: have they outgrown their storage space? Some of them need to leave. Same with mugs, no matter how adorable they are. Etc.

I find it can also be helpful to have a friend sit with me when I'm deciding. Not a judgy friend who will just tell me to chuck everything, but someone understanding who can help me take things to recycling/thrift store/etc., and understands the emotional attachment to things.

On that note: if there's something you do have a lot of emotional attachment to, say a t-shirt from a really great concert or event, but you never plan to wear it or make a t-shirt quilt and you actually have a drawer full of such t-shirts...you *can* decide to take photos of these things and keep the photos instead of the physical object.

As for around the house clutter -- I have a basket next to the sofa where I put "current knitting projects and books I'm reading and other things" to try to keep up with clutter. Sometimes it overflows, but I'm working on it.

What really motivated me is that my partner has asthma, so the cleaner/less dusty things were, the better she could breathe. Also, the fewer things my pets might accidentally ingest.

Hope some of this helps, and good luck!

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Re: Tiny apartment living - on a budget
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2016, 09:06:57 am »
Quote from: lizcommotion;184585
if there's something you do have a lot of emotional attachment to, say a t-shirt from a really great concert or event, but you never plan to wear it or make a t-shirt quilt and you actually have a drawer full of such t-shirts...you *can* decide to take photos of these things and keep the photos instead of the physical object.


I have actually done this, more so with my partner's t-shirts (he has a huge collection, and will still wear the really sentimental ones even when they've developed holes in them, but just occasionally he parts with a shrunk/falling apart one & I'll photograph the design for him before giving it away/tearing it up for cleaning rags).  I reckon I could definitely do more of this.  I'm also scanning paperwork so I can dispose of a lot of originals, but it's only a flatbed scanner (no multi-page feed) so kind of slow going.

Quote from: lizcommotion;184585
What really motivated me is that my partner has asthma, so the cleaner/less dusty things were, the better she could breathe. Also, the fewer things my pets might accidentally ingest.


Actually this applies to me too - well, not the partner with asthma but the pets, and I myself have a dust allergy & there's definitely some particularly bad spots in our home which have so much clutter in them that when it is necessary to retrieve something from that area I will be sneezing the rest of the day, until I shower and wash my hair.

Just a small update: I purchased some small, inexpensive storage items including a 3 tier hanging fruit basket which has already made a bit of a difference in our kitchen cupboard (as I'm not actually using it for fruit but instead for dry goods, such as packets).  I've got some other items I'm waiting for the deliveries to arrive.  And we've both been having a bit of a clear out & re-organise in the meantime.  It's a gradual progress, but nonetheless it's some progress already.

Thanks to everyone who posted a response/s.  :)  If anyone else comes across this thread and has a brilliant idea do please feel free to post it, as it may just be one of the things that could make a real difference  :D:
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 09:10:05 am by Pickle »
"Everything's made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and... sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything's got 'em all mixed up just right."
Character Nobby Nobbs in the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Truth

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