The Daniels Team's Blog
Whether you’re a young professional moving to an urban flat or an empty-nester looking to downsize, the challenge of living in a smaller space is sometimes daunting. The things you want (keepsakes, books, collections, specialty kitchen appliances) and the things you need (room for clothes, a home office, space for a guest) vie for the same square footage. How can you fit it all into your space without it being a cluttered mess? Find the hidden spaces in your home.
Of course, first up is getting rid of items you no longer use, want, or need. Once that’s done, take stock of what remains. Seasonal items should go on one list and everyday items on another.Resourcefulness
Pass a critical eye over your furniture. Can you use space under, behind or above it? Will it do double duty?
- A narrow bookshelf set behind your sofa provides storage for seasonal items and functions as a sofa table.
- Stack vintage suitcases or trunks filled with blankets, seasonal clothing or keepsakes beside the bed or sofa as an end table.
- Slide baskets under a coffee table for smaller items you use often. Or turn a cubby shelf into a coffee table for dual use.
- Put storage bins under the bed for sweaters, blankets, or guest pillows.
- Store sheets and extra blankets under your mattress.
- Use a tall bookshelf behind your bed. It replaces the headboard and nightstands, then adds extra storage both above and behind the bed. Keep seasonal items on the lower shelves behind the mattress and items you use often in the exposed shelves above.
- If you rarely bake, store pans in your oven.
- Typically eat take-out? Store extra dishes in that unused dishwasher.
A little creative effort goes a long way when looking for space. Hack something you already own or an inexpensive purchase into multi-purpose storage.
- Hang shower rings from a hanger to hold scarves, ties, or tank tops.
- Install a towel bar to a closet wall below the hanging clothes and hang your heels over it, freeing up much-needed floor space. Or, use a peg rack or stick-on hooks to hang sports shoes and flats.
- Use binder clips to hold computer and charging cords in place and off the floor.
- If the space between your bed and the wall is too small for a side table or nightstand, hang a floating shelf to hold books, your cell-phone, and glasses.
- Add cushions to the top of a low storage shelf to create extra seating.
- Add stick-on hooks to the insides of cabinet doors to hold lids and cutting boards.
Innovative storage is an industry all its own. Retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, IKEA, Target, and several online-only outlets specialize in dual-purpose pieces to help get the most use from a small space. Here are some you may find useful:
- Look for an ottoman that makes into a sleeper. Use it as your coffee table, then pop it open for casual overnight guests.
- Buy a platform bed with drawers or one that lifts on hinges to access storage underneath.
- Install a table that hangs on the wall and folds down when not in use.
- Install modular shelving with a deeper shelf at desk height for a home office solution.
No matter how small the space, there are ways to maximize it. If your home is on the market, ask your real estate professional which items to leave out and which to find a hidden home to make the best impression on a buyer.
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If you’re new to gardening, you may think you have a brown thumb just because your first few tries ended up in dried brown heaps. That might be because you picked more sensitive or temperamental plants without the experience necessary to baby them along. Instead, opt for some of the more natural plantings that are great for beginning gardeners and even children.
- Zinnias: These annuals grow only for one season, so you need to plant them every year, but their bright and colorful flowerheads are magnificent as potted flowers or in the garden. They also come in many shapes and sizes, so if you plant many different types together, you’ll constantly be surprised by the shape and color of the blooms.
- Sunflowers: These colorful blooms have large, easy to work with seeds that grow into large, happy blooms. If you grow the massive or mammoth varieties, they’ll grow extra-large heads and make great eating seeds (but save a few to plant for the next year).
- Snapdragons in yellows, pinks, and whites invite butterflies into your garden. They even survive tough spring and fall weather.
- Pansies can grow in very cold weather, making them the perfect plant to start indoors and set out on your porch to add some color even before all the snow has melted away. If mulched property, pansies overwinter in some regions meaning you don’t have to plant them again each year.
- Marigolds have cheerful yellow or yellow and orange blooms that bring warmth and a splash of brightness to any garden. They have the added bonus of scaring off pests and insects so your gardening won’t succumb to sure destructive flies and nematodes if you plant marigolds around the edges.
- Impatiens won’t make you impatient. Their pretty, delicate blooms in all shades of red, pink, lavender and white grow great in pots and in shady beds alike. You can even keep them as houseplants provided you continue to trim them when the blooms fade.
- Begonias are the perfect plant for hanging baskets and garden beds. Their lush greenery with bright flowers nestling in the folds adds a colorful splash to any porch or garden.
- Daffodils are early spring risers form their hardy bulbs. If you plant them in a sunny area of your garden, you’re sure to have bright yellow blooms to greet each spring.
Consider planning seedlings (partially grown plants) rather than seeds if it is your first gardening experience or if you want to make sure you have the curb appeal you desire. If you’re a first-time gardener, join a gardening club or spend time with your local nursery professional so that you know which flowers to plant in your area for best results.