I'm commonly asked about my small space living essentials-- what would I recommend to others who are about to downsize, and what can I simply not live without?
The answer, of course, depends on the context. My life with West (our toddler) is so different than it was with just Stanlee and Sophee (our pups). And my life with all three of them is almost unrecognizable to what it was when Adam, Stanlee and I moved into the Cottage years ago. (Similarly, my office and business needs have evolved enormously as well.)
In other words, there's no easy answer. It all depends on what you love, who is sharing your space, and the ways in which you need your home to function. But, for what it's worth, here are my go-to, must-haves, across all categories:
WHAT: Gathre Mats
FOR: Life with a baby, toddler, pets, outdoor adventuring, etc.
WHY: These clever mats are versatile, affordable, and adaptable. (And they only require as much room to store as a blanket.) They come in numerous sizes and colors. For babies, you can toss a small mat over your Dock-a-Tot or changing table, making it easy to clean. For toddlers, you can slide a medium-sized version beneath their high chair. For pets, you can wrap a larger mat around your sofa cushions to keep them clean and wipeable. For picnics, playrooms, and furniture assembly, they are useful temporary ground coverings.
WHAT: This Is Ground (organizational accessories)
FOR: Home-office needs
WHY: Travel accessories are great for everyday use in a small space, and This Is Ground makes my favorite leather gear for folks on-the-go. Swap out a standard workstation for a beautiful, organized, mobile office via these types of brilliantly designed tech accessories.
WHAT: Collapsible Vacuum Cleaner
WHY: You can make room for a full-sized, cordless vacuum in the smallest of homes, as long as the model breaks apart into components. (View the full post on the cottage vacuum cleaner / storage solution here.)
WHAT: Compact Scanner
FOR: Home office needs + everyday decluttering
WHY: Use this portable scanner to keep your business and personal records digitally organized and accessible while eliminating your paper piles and file boxes. (Read more about the scanner here.)
WHAT: Compact air filter with heating and cooling features included
WHY: Clear your home of air pollutants while also heating/cooling multiple rooms via a compact, all-in-one air filter. If you're in a small home or apartment, this handy little unit will most likely service the entire place. The heating and cooling functions might save you from having to buy (and store) fans, space heaters, and even an AC unit. (We got this one when West was born-- we love it, and regret not buying it sooner.)
WHAT: iPad (I know, I know, but hear me out...)
WHY: Most of us have a love/hate relationship with our gadgets. Whether we like it or not, they now hold our record collections, libraries, maps, photo albums, televisions, cameras, address ledgers, games, and so much more. Consider opting for digital versions of items you used to buy or collect in tangible form, when possible.
WHAT: Single-Cup Automatic Coffee Maker
WHY: As romantic and beautiful as pour-over and French press coffee methods are, many people just want a modern, automatic coffee maker. Try a model that requires no pods and no filters, like this single-cup brewer, which is small, uncomplicated, and easy to clean
WHAT: Over-the-burner cutting board
WHY: All small-space dwellers could use a bit of spare counter space. Provide yourself with a few extra surface inches by using an over-the-burner cutting board in your kitchen. (As always, please keep safety in mind.)
WHAT: Roll-up Drying Rack
FOR: Everyone + Life with a baby
WHY: Regardless of whether or not you have a dishwasher, we all need a place to dry kitchen items. Keep your counters uncluttered by using an over-the-sink drying rack that can roll up when not in use. This item is particularly handy when it comes to drying baby bottles and breast pump parts, but it's also ideal for drying standard dishes and plastic bags.
WHY: I can't tell you the number of times a basic S-hook has saved the day in our tiny cottage. Apply an S-hook to turn any grommet, railing, hooked ledge, or dowel into a makeshift spot for drying clothes, hanging accessories, stashing reusable shopping bag, keeping items out of the jaws of pets or hands of kids, and so forth.
WHAT: Hardware Organizer
WHY: Create a straightforward spot for items such as jewelry, makeup, plugs, batteries, craft materials, and miscellaneous “junk drawer” items via a standard hardware organizer. (Pick a tall, shallow design that consumes less space, and can tuck out of sight in a closet or cupboard.)