Living Large in a Tiny Home

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Undoubtedly you’ve found yourself scanning through TV or surfing the web and come across a home so small you can hardly believe someone could live in it, let alone choose to live in it. But the reality is that the “tiny house movement,” or perhaps better called “downsizing” to a more humble abode, is real and has only just begun to get the attention it deserves.

You know you can't resist a good HGTV weekend binge

You know you can’t resist a good HGTV weekend binge

Here at ShipShape, we have been living the tiny house lifestyle for almost a decade (we’ve even written about our 360 sq foot life here and here). We love our dear cottage not just for its undeniable charm but also because it proved to be a challenge that only honed our organizing skills that much more. So if you find yourself intrigued with the tiny house life (or perhaps still can’t wrap your head around it), here are some suggestions we’ve gleaned from our experience:

  • Choose the best item money can buy. Whether you are in a tiny or tremendous space everything matters. Don’t buy cheap, buy smart. Make it something you are in love with that will last the test of time. This applies to furniture, furnishings, clothes and such.
Tiny home, BIG style

Tiny home, BIG style

  • Build up. Use your vertical space. Go as high as possible with shelves, closets, bookcases and storage cabinets.
  • Think outside the box. Our ottoman also serves as a holding place for current papers and filing. Flip the top over and it’s a cocktail tray.
Stairs can double as drawers! Genius!

Stairs can double as drawers! Genius!

  • Create zones. Even in a small space, you will want a lot of the same features of a bigger home. Instead of rooms we created zones. The bigger room encompasses a living room, dining room, office and kitchen zone.
  • Shop small. Avoid buying bulk items unless you are one of the lucky few to have lots of storage space. It may be tempting to have 50 rolls of toilet paper or 3 bottles of ketchup but think of the valuable space it take up.
The bonus is... cute accessories!

The bonus is… cute accessories!

Following these simple tips will help you live large in a small space. Remember: just because your space is tiny, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fill it with everything that makes you… you! Use the nice dishes, flatware, linens and other fancy items. Why wait!

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Interested in downsizing your living space? Still baffled by the tiny home craze? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

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ShipShapeDoes

New Year, New You

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The final days, minutes, and seconds of 2015 are upon us! And you know what that means….. champagne! friends! family! and of course.. those pesky (but necessary) resolutions.

Amen sister!

Amen sister!

In our quest to seek out some fresh ideas for those new year promises, we found an excellent list posted on RealBuzz.com. Here’s a sampling of their fantastic ideas:

  1. Get your photo taken in five interesting places
  2. Learn a decent party trick
  3. Try a new food each week
  4. Do something nice for others every day

Click here to read the rest of the Top Ten list!

We wish you a 2016 filled with reasons to smile, occasions to celebrate, kind gestures, and, of course, freedom from clutter.

And don't forget... POSITIVITY and a GOOD ATTITUDE!

And don’t forget… POSITIVITY and a GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR!

Got your own unusual new year’s resolution? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

And if the New Year’s spirit has you thinking about finally opening up that cluttered utility closet, check out our Before & After slideshow below!

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The Good Clutter

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Recently, the New York Times published an article called “Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter.” As you can imagine, we perked up at the idea of embracing the meaningful chaos in life. Being at peace with your stuff is half the battle in creating a happy and healthy living space (ok, it’s probably most of the battle). Here’s an excerpt from the piece, written by blogger Dominique Browning:

…Over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.

Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?

It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.

In accumulating, we honor the art of the potter, sitting at a wheel; we appreciate the art of the writer, sitting at a desk; we cherish the art of the painter, standing in front of an easel. (By this litany ye shall know that I have many books, many paintings, many pots — and many more things I love.)

We love it!

We love it!

We most certainly applaud Ms. Browning for recognizing that the things we pick up along the way make our home a reflection of who we are. Here’s our take on her point of view (with some ShipShape additions):

  • Browning is right to say that we honor the artist when we feature their pieces in our homes – and that includes everything from a book, a painting, a vase, or even a tchotchke picked up at a street market in one of our fabulous travels. But let’s make sure we recognize that the items themselves are not special on their own. It is our memories that are special. When you see that tchotchke, you might remember the sweet, salty air of Venice, Italy, and the little shop you popped into before your dinner on the waterfront (getting hungry yet?). You remember the person you were with and how you wanted the day to never end…. and that’s how you will feel when you see this item that others might think was simply junk. What brings a smile to your face should always have a place. 
I can taste the pasta now

I can taste the pasta now

  • That being said, if you attach a time, place, and relationship to every item in your home, you will never win the clutter battle. There is no embracing the special significance of items if they are blocked, hidden, or obscured by mountains of other less meaningful items. This is most likely why Ms. Browning’s article calls it “the art of clutter.” It is an art form, even in its most chaotic sense. You must edit, and rearrange as needed to maintain your sanity (and space!). RememberIf you treasure everything, everything you treasure is of no value. 
  •  Browning also writes about a clutter “set point,” which she explains as: “The stuff we accumulate works the same way our body weight does. Each of us has a set point to which we invariably return. Each of us has been allotted a certain tolerance, if not a need, for stuff; each of us is gaited to carry a certain amount of weight in possessions.” Yes, we agree, BUT (and that’s an important BUT), your set point isn’t only about tolerance or ability to fit items in your home, it’s also about comfort. Your set point should be a reflection of the amount of space you have, AND your sense of freedom over your stuff. Just because it can fit, doesn’t mean it does fit.
Some might say "too cluttered," but we say, "if it's you, go for it."

Some might say “too cluttered,” but we say, “if it’s you, go for it.”

Finally, Browning’s article closes with this:

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they feel like … home.

A home that is uniquely theirs, and uniquely beloved.

Well, that’s certainly something we can tweet about.

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Got your own feelings on “good” clutter? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

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The Spring Cleaning Purge

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Spring Cleaning… or Spring Cleansing? Here at ShipShape we prefer to embrace both, especially since a good cleaning can most definitely cleanse your soul. As the warm winds of April blow away the lingering cold of March, you may be tempted to avoid a good cleanup in favor of snapping out of your winter induced cabin fever. We say, go for it! Embrace the outdoors! Breathe in the freshness in the air, the scent of fresh flowers and newly trimmed grass — allergies be damned!

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But if you can’t shake that nudge to get into the spirit of a good Spring Cleaning, here are some quick tips to scratch that decluttering itch:

1. TOSS: Expired food and spices. Unfortunately, these cannot be donated, and it’s best to keep that pantry full of the freshness that Spring brings!

2. RECYCLE: Plastic or glass containers without lids, and lids without containers! Mismatched socks might be cute, but mismatched tupperware is a recipe for clutter.

Liberate those lids!

Liberate those lids!

3. DONATE: Clothes that haven’t fit you for at least 3 years — as if you need a good excuse to indulge in some new fashions!

4. TOSS/RECYCLE: Articles on health issues which are older than a year. They have either become obsolete or can be found online.

And we guarantee there will be loads more articles on kale....

And we guarantee there will be loads more articles on kale

5. RECYCLE: Old computer manuals. When you’re up to an iPhone 6, there’s no need to hold on to your iPhone 3, 4, or 5 instructions.

6. RECYCLE: Outdated technology like computers, wires, track pads, printers and monitors. A quick google search will uncover your local electronics recycling facility, or locations/dates when those items will be accepted.

And who needs manuals when there's Siri!

And who needs manuals when there’s Siri!

7. TOSS/DONATE: Broken toys or toys that your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc have outgrown. Broken toys cannot be donated, but shelters or daycares are ready and willing to take on more fun items for their kids.

8. DONATE: Torn or worn out towels, bedding, or rags. Where to send these items? Animal shelters! Even our little Sundae can get behind that!

Bed sheets are kind of my thing

Bed sheets are kind of my thing

9. DONATE: Unused toiletries, especially ones from hotels. A woman’s shelter will love these so donate them gladly… and that goes for unused make up or body care as well.

10. ALL OF THE ABOVE: Purge and pass on anything that makes you feel bad about yourself. Whether it’s any of the items we listed, or anything that keeps nagging you, Spring is the time to ring in the new — a perfect time for a soulful cleanse.

Got any other tips and tricks for kick starting your Spring Cleanse? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you!

SPRING COUP

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Resolution Solutions

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168343358We’ve all been there: the first week of January and your resolve has never been stronger! Eat better, exercise often, keep tidy, make time for friends – you are a superstar! And then… ever so slowly February rears its head and your New Year’s resolutions seem like distant memories. How quickly your excitement can fade, and all your good intentions are beaten down by how busy and stressful life can be.
But fear not! Here at ShipShape, we believe in you! Keeping your resolutions should never feel like torture, and backpedaling should never feel like failure. Improving your life one step at a time should bring you joy and comfort. It should be a positive experience… and nothing else.
PrintSo, if keeping things organized both mentally and physically is on your list of resolutions (or you just added it this very minute), we’re here to help! Here are some of our best tips:
1. It’s been a month since Christmas and Hanukkah, and that gift your Aunt Cheryl got you is still sitting in the box. Aunt Cheryl means well, but she isn’t exactly the person you’d hire to be your personal shopper. Remember: Once you receive a gift and have said thank you — DO NOT feel obligated to keep it if you don’t like it. That’s why they call it a gift. You are free to let it go. And we all know Aunt Cheryl would rather you be happy than feel guilty (well… maybe).
Who... me? Neverrrrr

Who… me? Neverrrrr

2. You look at your list of resolutions and it seems endless. One person could not possibly turn that many things around in one year. Do yourself a favor: DO NOT get hung up on improving EVERYTHING. Write down three things you want to do in the next month. Make them achievable. Want to challenge your diet? Go meatless once a week instead of committing to vegetarianism cold turkey (pun intended!). Want to declutter your entire house? Start with something simple like the medicine cabinet. These might seem small, but they will be meaningful to you and give you the confidence to move on to bigger things!
Now that's a resolution I can get behind!

Now that’s a resolution I can get behind!

3. Decluttering your home doesn’t need to only serve the purpose of creating a nicer aesthetic. Purging does not always mean trash bags upon trash bags. Teach your kids generosity. Let them donate old clothes and toys to make room for the new ones they just received. It will help out your community and nourish your soul – what could be better!
The feel-good type of decluttering

The feel-good type of decluttering

4. Weight loss is by far the most sworn upon resolution out there. In the dead of winter you dream of the beach, the sand… it’s just your swimsuit that gives you nightmares. Our tip? Pack up all the clothes you hope to fit in to one day. As the weight comes off, reintegrate those clothes into your closet, and store away the clothes that are now too big for your svelte frame. Your closet does best when it reflects who you are today.
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Got any other tips and tricks for sticking to those pesky resolutions? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you!

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You, Me, the Dog (again!) and Bi-Coastal Living

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As bi-coastal, 360 sq. ft-loving professional organizers, you can imagine we field a lot of questions that all boil down to the same common thread: How do you make it work without pulling out all of your hair?

Trust us, it isn’t the easiest thing to live on two coasts, carting our beloved Sundae back and forth, all while occupying a total square footage that would make some of you break out in hives. So how do we handle it? By following these 5 simple, life-saving (and hair-protecting!) tips:

1. Feel at home no matter where you are. Whether you are also living the bi-coastal life, or you find yourself on an extended business trip or travel excursion, make sure you bring the most important things with you. Yes, pack a photo of your loved ones, and your passport (those are no-brainers). What we mean is… bring a piece of YOU with you no matter where you are. For us that means: 2 espresso makers (back to that life-giving idea!), special pillows, favorite snacks, Sundae’s favorite dog toys, and of course, that pair of black pants that make you look fabulous. Bring both the absolute necessities, along with these comfort must-haves, and you’ll never feel out of place.

Ma! Don't forget my laptop!

Ma! Don’t forget my laptop!

2. Keep a travel kit packed at all times. Traveling can be such an ordeal (and we know that’s an understatement). If you know you’ll be going back and forth, do yourself a favor and permanently move some items into a travel kit and let them take up residence there for a while. Here are our travel kit essentials:

  • 2 sets of headphones (1 noise-canceling) photo 2
  • A fully charged iPod
  • Charger cables for all electronics
  • Foldable slippers to wear to the bathroom
  • Inflatable back pillow
  • Pashmina shawl/blanket
  • Compression stockings

And in terms of your toiletries, we suggest:

  • Lip balm
  • Saline nose spray

  • Moisturizer
  • Advil/Motrin/Pain Reliever of choice
  • Decongestion medication
  • Nail file
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Onetime use toothbrush

And some important others:

  • Cereal bar
  • Car Service Coupons

3. Create a ritual for your arrival. It can be very disorienting to go between places (especially when time zones are not your friends). Create a ritual for each time you travel, whether it be meeting friends for dinner, taking a yoga class, shopping for groceries or just taking a walk around the block. These rituals will help ground you and work off jet lag. It takes approximately one day for each hour of time difference for your body to acclimate (a great excuse to elongate your trip!). If you are still feeling foggy, don’t worry – you’ll catch up and be at your best in no time.

Sure beats my old datebook!

Sure beats my old datebook!

4. Maintain an online calendar. We swear by Google Calendar (synced up to our smart phones, of course). The ability to check in on your schedule from anywhere, at anytime, is a 21st century luxury that we have fully embraced. Color-coding is a must and creating different categories could not be easier. Not losing track of your appointments (and yourself!) will make traveling or living bi-coastal much less of a headache.

5. Scan your most important documents. We’re talking medical records and legal documents. Scan them, save them to your phone or laptop, and let your emergency contacts know how to quickly locate them. It is particularly important to keep records of your prescriptions, dosages, uses, as well as physician information. These should travel with you wherever you go.

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Got any other helpful tips for living in 2, 3, or 4 places at once? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you!

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You, Me, The Dog and 360 square feet

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Ever wonder how two professional organizers “make it work” in their very own home? You probably start to imagine thousands of square feet, peppered with beautiful storage spaces and fabulous decor (or at least we hope so!). But in reality, our Oakland home is a mere 360 square feet, and we share it with a little rascal named Sundae.

Who, me?

Who, me?

How do we squeeze it all in and keep sane? By using these simple tips… and remember, whether you have 360 square feet or 3,600 – you’ll find universal truths lurking in each one of these:

1. Consolidate functions. 

You can imagine our kitchen space is limited… and someone’s gotta make dinner for Sundae! Our solution: consolidate. We installed our cooktop on top of our dishwasher, eliminating our oven. Instead of a built-in oven we use a very sleek and modern convection counter top oven that does the trick just fine! Acknowledging what you need and what you can do without will help a space function that much better.

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2. Edit and weed out constantly. Books, paperwork, supplies, dishes, groceries… sigh… can you sense the piles starting to grow? In our home, we like to keep things streamlined – otherwise, the walls start to close in on us. If everything has a place, remember to return it there as often as you are able.

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Best to always make room for wine.

3. Make space for precious items to shine. We’ve talked about this before (remember those great niches?), but it can’t hurt to remind you. Making room for items that inspire you – like artwork, photographs, and cherished tchotchkes – is essential to turning a house into a home. But feel free to spice it up from time to time by switching out photos and rotating artwork. Make the space truly your own.

4. Have external storage. Beyond your outdoor shed or indoor Rubbermaid container system, consider investing in outside storage. It can certainly feel impossible to have all of your things in one place at one time – and lucky for you, you have options!  We love love love Makespace.com – a company that will actually deliver boxes for you to fill up and then picks those boxes up to store them. As the beloved Barefoot Contessa would say.. How easy is that?

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5. Keep one space quiet. Quiet from noise, but also quiet from clutter. Even if it’s simply one counter, your bed, or the bathroom – one space should be sacrosanct. In 360 square feet, it is essential that we have a space to quiet our minds – otherwise we’d completely lose them. Before you begin to organize, or attempt a decluttering afternoon, go to this place and take a deep breath. It works wonders.

Sundae prefers under the couch

Sundae prefers under the couch

Got any other helpful tips for making the most of your space? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you!