Our Floorplan

Our Floorplan
900 sq ft

About Me

My photo
Call us crazy, nuts or temporary loss of senses. That's what they said....this is about the quiet quest to simplify our life! The process of eliminating the clutter and stress and taking back our freedom. Like many small business owners….we were hit hard due to the economy. We found ourselves rethinking the direction we were heading. Should we gamble and keep the big house and "stuff" because that's what everyone does or do we reexamine what is truly important in our lives? 9 Hundred Square feet is an open-ended journey in living “Smaller, Simpler and Stress-Free” lives!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bicycling throughout Phoenix and Paradise Valley AZ!

You recently read “Juan’s perspective” on our bicycling adventure over the weekend and what it means to him to enjoy a simpler lifestyle and riding bicycles….well it goes the same for me. As I mentioned just the day before, you get an opportunity to enjoy the world passing by at a much slower pace.

I could ride all day long every day if I could. Of course the Arizona heat does not make it optimal bicycling weather, however, Juan and I get up before dawn in the summers to get in as much of a ride as possible. Now….it is just beautiful outside and I can ride all day…

The coolest thing we saw yesterday was something I had never seen before and was so amazed at the beauty of this sculpture. Obviously someone left a bale of hay for him to enjoy and what beauty this gorgeous steed is.

Imagine all the parts and pieces of yesterday’s history form this magnificent animal, right down to an old sewing machine that was plucked out in the midst of sewing.

Vacuum cleaner, silver pitcher, old ornamental ironwork, egg beater, tractor seat and so much more are the bones and make-up of this beauty.

So, Juan and I decided to stop and take some time to enjoy this beautiful piece of art. I see that the artist did sign his sculpture…his name is Carlos Cobos. I tried a “Google” search on his name and the horse and did find where someone from Paradise Valley purchased this piece about a year ago.

However, it is not placed in their backyard hidden from the public…he is proudly placed at the corner of McDonald and Tatum for all to enjoy!

We stopped to enjoy…. and so we mounted our steal steeds and ventured on back home. It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

You never know what adventure the ride will bring….

An Urban Hobo Adventure

When we set out his morning, we stopped at the gate to decide where we wanted to ride? More to the point, it was a debate over who had the best coffee. Initially I had wanted to pick some place new. A place that might afford us a change in scenery. Ultimately we agreed on one of our usual hangouts (Einstein’s Bagels) because we love their coffee. We did however, decide to explore a new route.

A few minutes into the ride we had to pull over because I wanted to get a picture of my bike. Actually, my new kickstand. (It’s funny how excited I get over a new piece of equipment.) 

Treat #1. The first leg of our trip had us riding directly towards Camelback mountain. The “Praying Monk” was looming larger and larger as we continued on our Easterly course. We rode almost to the base of the mountain. In all my years here in Phoenix, I’ve never been this close to the Monk.

I thought the next leg of our trek was going to be  bit boring as we were riding down the sidewalk, next to the main street. Not too much excitement here. At the first stop-light, Shawn made another route suggestion and had us cut through the Chase parking lot at 44th street and Camelback (a gorgeous Mid-Century Modern  building.) We’ve ridden past here a thousand times and admired the architecture. Today, since it was Sunday,  we were rode on the actual customer sidewalk. Treat #2, a naked lady! Well, a statue of one anyway. There are several statue’s surrounding the perimeter of the bank. I’d never noticed them before. 

You see the most wonderful things from the seat of a bike!

A short time later, we reached our coffee stop. 

Over breakfast we planned out the return route. We were pretty sure where the road would take us, but had never driven/ridden this particular stretch. As we were riding along, enjoying the scenery  we pulled up short! Treat #3. We discovered the coolest statue I’ve ever seen. A life-sized horse made out of every imaginable salvaged item. The individual pieces were not very big, but together they formed the horse. There was even a fresh hay bale! We spent a considerable amount of time examining the statue from all sides. It was fascinating!

Back on the bikes and we continued on our way. Shawn’s guess was correct. We ended up at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard. Treat#4. We stopped off at the Barry Goldwater memorial. It’s pretty cool.

Back on the bikes and heading for home. We had a very fun ride along Lincoln Drive, up and down the hills. What started out to be a routine ride for coffee, turned into a great adventure. An unexpected ART ride! By throwing the planning out the window and looking for any route but the usual, we were treated to some very cool surprises. This was by far the most fun ride we’ve taken in a long time. It just goes to show that you never know what adventure the ride will bring. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Urban Hobos And 2 iPhones!

As Juan and I continue our adventure in our 9 hundred square foot home (aka right sizing) and becoming a one car family, we are dedicating as much time possible to riding our bikes from getting “here to there”….”Point A to point B”…”Hither and Yon”…(you get the picture)

So we set out early in the AM for some breakfast. It was great as we have been waiting so long for the weather to cool off in AZ and F-I-N-A-L-L-Y the morning was a cool 57 degrees! (For us that’s cold)

Its cathartic…..I flip my leg over the saddle and take that first push off…I am totally free. Free of the week’s stress and worry…free of things I can’t do…because there is one thing for sure…I can ride this bike! It’s so quiet early in the morning. The only thing I hear is the click of the gears advancing and the rhythm of the pedals going round and round.

Also a chance to put our new iphone 4S’s to work. Juan and I are not professional photographers by any means, however, we alwqys have our iPhones on hand what better way to stop and take a few photos. 
Dylans...across from LGO
So off we go to LGO (short for LeGrande Orange) for some hot coffee and a bite to eat. We love the architecture of the midcentury modern buildings here in central Phoenix. Through this corridor are gorgeous homes built in the 1960’s PLUS a lot of great multi-housing spaces which I showcased in an earlier blog (Bicycling In Search Of Small Space Living).

What a beautiful morning and a chance for Juan and I to enjoy a simple lifestyle and plan the rest of our day. Other errands we needed to attack on our bikes OH… and clean the house will be on the list PLUS get the bar-be-que cleaned. The great thing about the house and bar-be-que…it would only take 1 ½ hour at most.
Quick photo stop

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Okay...okay...I know...you are barely carving the pumpkins and have all the scary decorations and bags of candy in time for the "trick or treaters". So why in the world am I talking about ho-ho-ho and jingle all the way?

Black & White Checked Cross
 Well I wanted to show you what I've been doing in my tiny little house during the hot days of summer.

I've been fascinated with making jewelry with wire. I love seeing how one can bend and weave the silver or gold wire into beautiful wearable art.

"I could do that!" I thought to myself and started practicing on stainless steel wire. I didn't want to start with the real silver or gold wire.....it really sucks if you mess up and then you've wasted the wire and the money.

So, I began making charms and adding Czech glass beads. I really got into making these charms and decided to create tin ornaments and attach them onto the ornaments. They are my Christmas charm ornaments! ( I know... not a super clever name)

They are hand made using tin as the cut outs (tree, dove, cross, star and ornament) I like the ones in silver with the hammer texture, however my Mom suggested I paint some...so I did.

I'll show you the ones I've come up with already and show you some in detail. I am not a professional photographer so forgive me for just laying them out on my patio table. (Smiley face)

So enjoy a brief video montage and a little christmas music to get you in the ho-ho-ho mood!

I would like to know your thoughts on these and to help me... Let me know if you like the painted ones or prefer the ones that are not painted.

Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my 900 square foot home due to ornaments laying about amongst the jack-o-lanterns and fall leaves.

I'll clean up....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This “Small Space” Living Stuff Is Catching On....Or Rather Is On!

My orange vintage patio chair
 There is a huge trend where living small is going BIG! (I know I know trying to be funny and clever with my wording) Anyway…it’s true. I continue to research on the subject of small space living and finding so many people embracing it. Not just "Middle Class America"...architects, developers, custome home builders...the list goeas on.

First off… back in the 1950’s the average size of a home was less than 1000 square feet.  Fast forward to the early 2000’s the average size grew a little over 2,300 square feet….a big climb over 50+years.

According to the American Institute of Architects, floor plans and lots continue to decrease (over the last couple of years) due to people wanting less maintenance and less worry. I am originally from Texas…everything is big there. You own a BIG house, you have BIG land, and you have BIG Texas hair! (wink wink smiley face!) You are also brought up with the idea that having and owning BIG means living well. You are successful…you are prosperous…you are someone people need to know.

It is great to see this trend of small space living and what I have termed “right-sizing” your life really catching on. However, I am a late bloomer on this subject and as my desire to learn more about living in small spaces, I have found so many people (experts at small space living) who have been doing this for quite some time. One person in particular is Sarah Susanka, FAIA. Sarah is an acclaimed architect and truly “gets” small space living. This is nothing new to her as she wrote a book called The Not So Big House back in the late 1990’s. She states “Not So Big doesn't necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live”. That’s how I feel about the term “right sizing”…it’s not about downsizing or losing everything but right sizing to adjust to you and your family needs.

Sara is working on a project in Libertyville, IL called the Not So Big Showhouse being built on School Street in Libertyville, IL.  This taken from the School Street Libertyville website;

SchoolStreet Homes is defying national housing trends by bringing high-quality, architecturally designed homes to the marketplace at value driven prices. In just one year, 24 of 26 homes have been purchased by eager buyers. The Front Porch Revival homes blend almost seamlessly with the neighborhood's existing turn-of-the-century homes -- along with a historic school that will be transformed into 15 urban lofts. Each design offers a tailored floor plan with classic architectural style including American Craftsman and Bungalow. SchoolStreet Homes is connected to Libertyville's vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown and just blocks from a commuter rail train station”.

Yes, the Showhouse Sarah created is a much larger home (2,450 sq. ft.) actually...the house I sold was smaller than this yet I moved to an even smaller space which is our current 900 sq. ft. home, however they are creating other smaller sized homes including the 15 urban lofts that will be in the historic school building. Some of the lofts will start at 710 sq. ft.  up to 3,100 sq ft (the penthouse). I would want the 700 sq ft -850 sq. ft. myself! The goal is to connect the neighborhood with the community, you must check it out.

Our friends from Resource Furniture are also involved in providing furniture in the Not So Big Showhouse. I will follow up with another blog about the furniture being used …..Stay Tuned!

Final thoughts… I like to live in 1000 sq. ft. or less… for me and Juan this is perfect. I do not think I would like to go smaller than 700 sq. ft. however, some of you might relish in the challenge. For others, you could never think of living in 900 sq. ft. However, I would ask you to take on a challenge. On a weekly basis, check mark how many times you come into a certain room and the length of time in there. You may be surprised with the results. Just a thought! (wink wink )

Sunday, October 23, 2011

We're Just Urban Hobos

Juan's bike
 Several years ago, Juan and I got into bicycling. I found that when I'm on a bike it doesn't feel like exercise. I can get on and go for hours.

For me..... one of the few things in life that can bring such wonderful memories of being a kid is getting on my bike. The world moves at a slower pace. It's about you motoring the pedals and zipping through the neighborhoods listening to the surroundings, smelling the fresh air, feeling the breeze on your face....being free.

My bike
As Juan and I embark on almost a year of downsizing right-sizing our lives, we are learning to enjoy the simpler things in life. Since I recently posted mine and Juan's perspective on becoming a one car family... what greater joy for us to embrace our bicycling and making it a part of our daily lives NOT just for exercise but a way of life.

We thought it would be fun to incorporate our bicycling into our blog to show you that living in a small space....right-sizing our lives and living a simpler lifestyle might get you thinking about what's more important for you and your family. Not asking you to give up on the finer things in life (I have not given up on style, designer anything and my love of clothing) but to eliminate any excess you may have. Remember what I always go back to.... keep the things that are beautiful and you hold dear to you and use them. Use the nice dishes...use the silverware....use the fine furniture....enjoy your things.

I will add updates on our rides and how we incorporate bicycling into our daily lives. Today, we headed out for a ride to get some breakfast. The weather was perfect and we had an opportunity to see some frightening things along the way....

Beware all who enter!!!
Mwahh Haa Haaaaa (Must repeat in a scary voice)

I hope you will enjoy my quest for living in a small space, enjoying a simpler lifestyle and incorporating bicycling into our daily lives! In the meantime....I will enjoy my cup of coffee.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yard Sale A Success

Well....we are tired. We got up at "O Dark Thirty" in preparation of setting up and displaying our lovely treasures. Ready with change and open to bartering.

We had another neighbor joined us who was looking to rid some extra STUFF as well. We looked over one another's tools, books, glassware and treasures and gave each other a high five to sell it all!

It started off quiet and then we had several short bursts of people with dollar bills in hand and change jingling in their pockets. My neighbor started off with the first sale of the day and we laughed as what we thought would go first...didn't. However, slowly but surely we did manage to have a good yard sale.

Highlight of the day.....with our goods all displayed on the freshly landscaped lawn, the sprinklers decided to start. However, we managed to assist one another and moved everything out. Of course it was a good laugh as we out-smarted the sprinklers. Alas...we were wrong as it lured us back on the lawn with a false sense of security only to go off again two hours later AND the few things we had left...got wet. We all got wet.

At that point we decided it was time to close up shop. We had a successful day and what was not sold was donated.

The best part was that we stopped to slow down for a morning and spend some quality time with each other and with friends.

Living a simpler life is awesome!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Yard Sale Is Upon Us!

Well, we are prepared and ready for our yard sale tomorrow (Saturday). We’ve gathered, dusted off and cleaned our “vintage goodies” for our perspective buyers to “wheel and deal”!

I am excited due to the fact that we are eliminating more STUFF from our storage and home and will soon be ready to decorate our spare room.
All the exciting things and ideas we will have at our fingertips from such great resources out there like;

These are just a few of the resources out there that “small space dwellers” la la LOVE!  In future blogs I will continue new discussions about many of the products and services out there dedicated to small space living.

Wish me luck on the yard sale!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cleaning Up The Details

With this whole "right-sizing" our lives, I have tried....really tried...in getting more and more organized. I've realized that the more organized I’ve become... with every space, room, closet and drawer, the easier my life becomes and the quicker I can get out and enjoy life.

I've taken the time to take each section of our space and find the best organization tools and products out there to help me be more organized. I am convinced...you should take the time to find (or create your own) storage solutions. Take that extra step! Although you’ve cleaned out and rid yourself of the extra stuff...take the time to add/create storage within storage solutions.

Okay so get to the point...with many of the drawers I have, I've added dividers to keep everything in it's place. Admit it, those sock and underwear drawers can become unruly the minute you are running late and flying (yes flying) through your drawers. All that time you took to neatly fold all those "unmentionables" is nothing but a flurry of multi-color and lacy carnage. (Wow that's a picture for ya). First time in years, I added the dividers for me and Juan and it makes it so much easier because everything has a spot, nook or place.

My latest find is something Juan has kept for years. However it is a great piece to add to my office/workspace in organizing many of my art supplies for example.

This beautiful piece is actually a cash register drawer that belonged to his grandparents who owned a furniture store.

So with a little clean up and teak oil...I will have a cool vintage organizer with great history.
See... you don't have to rid yourself of family heirlooms or vintage pieces; you just need to think outside the box and repurpose them.

So the next time you are cleaning out your garage or tinkering around a junk store, be creative and find other ways to store, divide and conquer organization.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Juan’s Perspective On The One Car Household

I got my driver’s license when I was 15 ½. I bought my first car when I was 16. Since then I’ve owned a couple more (okay, 38 at last count). As much as I love cars, I’ve been advocating that we become a one car family for several years now. Shawn was less than enthusiastic at first!

Shawn and I began working together in February of 2005. At that point, one of our cars always remained in the garage as we carpooled. In 2008, we began to occasionally ride a bike to work (one or both of us). Bicycle commuting has since become a passion (when the temperature is bearable). So over time, we decreased our need for two cars even further.

Last year when we moved to Central Phoenix, we lost our garage, so one of the cars was relegated to the carport and the other to the extra (uncovered) space. At this point, the idea of selling one of our cars began to build momentum. I had a full-size truck and Shawn had a Mini Cooper. With gas prices nearing $4.00 per gallon, you can guess which vehicle remained in the parking lot most often. This past summer we officially became a one car family. I have to say, I haven’t missed the second car one bit! Less maintenance, insurance, etc. One less headache.

Living in Central Phoenix gives us greater access to the places we’ve always frequented. We tend to drive even less now, because we can ride our bikes more often. Monday through Thursday we drive to the office. Friday’s we work from home. Saturday and Sunday we try to keep the car parked and ride our bikes as much as possible. Before you start commending our efforts to save the planet or start labeling us as tree-huggers, I must confess. Our primary desire to ride our bikes is born out of a passion for riding. The environmental aspect is an added bonus.

The bottom line is this, selling my car did not send my world spinning out of control. If anything, my quality of life has improved. As I stated, one less headache.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Are Now A One Car Family…For Now

Roughly 50 years of motoring have all added up this; Mini Cooper!

I was always opposed to the idea of Juan and I being a one car family. I don’t know…for me I felt like Juan was trying to limit my escape route options (wink wink smiley face)…Being the “little woman at home and asking her hubby for permission to drive the car somewhere” AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! I know  I know ….I’m a little crazy when it came to the thought of us with one car. However, trying to “right size” my life and incorporate a more sensible lifestyle, I finally made the decision to be a one car family.

Juan and I own a business, work together constantly, do things together always, and are best of friends forever. So it would make more sense for us to be a one car family. Well…we did it and so far so good. I am always fearful of an emergency, you know I am out and about and Juan is at home and there is a crisis…dog is hurt or something like that, how will we cope? I am constantly worried about these things that I wouldn’t worry about if we had two cars. Alas, nothing earth shattering or any sort of an emergency has popped up and I guess when they do I will deal with them.

So together we enjoy my Mini Cooper. Always wanted one and so glad I got one (last year). I have to tell you….for me it was like the same feeling I had with my first car. It’s simple yet zippy and sure darn easy to find a spot to park! AND, we are able to really pack up and go. For such a small car it does hold a lot and takes me and Juan everywhere from Point A to Point Z!

As always…”right-sizing” doesn’t mean you have to give up on the nicer things in life. I say why not get what you really want... just don’t need 3, 11 or 20 of the same things that are collectively less expesive. Spend the money once and use the one!  (wink wink, smiley face)  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Things I Enjoy In Life!

Update: Regarding spare bedroom.

As you know from my blog several weeks ago, Juan and I are trying to rid ourselves of more stuff! We've enjoyed the freedom we have found with less house to clean, less backyard to maintain, less stuff to deal with. We are approaching our next garage sale and we are "giddy" (I know don't hassle me on the flowery words) with excitement. This right sizing is great!

It's Friday and we are working from home and I am enjoying two of my favorite things.....

A Bicycle ride....

A soy latte

Enjoy your day however it may be!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“Right-Sizing” Is Truly About Living A Simpler Life!

"Right-Sizing" Is Truly About Living A simpler Life!
So many people have been plagued in our state (AZ), CA, TX and many others with fire. The severe drought has caused all the beautiful vegetation to become dry and become fuel for a simple spark of a cigarette, lightning strike or unattended camp fire.

Families interrupted in their lives by fire officials alerting them to a fast moving fire approaching their home. Time is of the essence and must evacuate the premises within minutes. What would you do? What would you consider precious enough to “Garb-N-Go” in a moments time?

For me….I would grab my animals (two dachshunds and one crotchety 31 year old parrot), Juan (Love that guy)….Hmm what else? What would I find that important? My iPhone, Laptop, iPad….(Okay, Okay, all my techy gadgets)…photos…however I have scanned all of them and have them safe and secure in my iCloud. (wink wink smiley face) Hmm what to take? I guess if I had more than five minutes, let’s say 30-60 minutes, I would think of immediate needs such as clothing, toiletries that type of stuff. I love my vintage school chairs, my father’s grandfather clock…some sterling… (Heavy sigh)…this is hard for me.

In my mind, I feel that I have the most precious things with me, Juan and my animals. Of the few other things I would take, what “STUFF” do I really need in life? So...did you try this little exercise with me? What would you take? THEN think to yourself ALL the extra stuff left in your home. No, I am not stating that you should live in a travel trailer…you, your spouse kids and pets. I am only asking you to think about what you have and what you need. Are there rooms full of clutter, heck…are there rooms that you are not using? Are there spaces in your home, storage, office, (life) filled with “STUFF” and clutter? Would it be possible to “Right-Size” your life? Yup, I said it…not downsize….right-size.

As I mentioned in the beginning when I first started this adventure in blogging, Juan and I were looking to get rid of clutter and right-size our life. When people heard that we were moving into a smaller space, we were greeted with sad faces and long hugs…concerned that we have “lost our spot on the social pedestal of life”, lost our status, Ugh..d-o-w-n-s-i-z-e-d!

Juan and I beg to differ… we “right-sized” to enjoy and live a simpler life. Yes, we rid ourselves of the extra baggage and “Stuff” (I know always my favorite word however using it a lot right now). We spent a lot of time thinking about the space we truly needed for ourselves and what’s important to us. Everyone might have different needs in life and may require a little more space or maybe even less. How about you? What would you do? I’ve had the opportunity to receive direct emails from great people reading my blog encouraged by what we have done and taking their first steps to right-sizing their lives... people who have successfully started living a simpler lifestyle with less square footage. I would love to hear much more from you. Respond anonymously in comments; email me (Shawn Smith) whatever you like. Tell me if you are feeling the way we did last year... Or if you have been doing this and why you did it. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sometimes You Just Luck Out!

Well, I'm on my iPhone trying out the "Blogger App" and posting "off the cuff". So be kind should the font be illegible or the pictures off slightly....Here we go.

Just this weekend, Juan and I were discussing our spare bedroom and what we want it to become. We've started by selling some stuff on eBay, donation and yes...STUFF off to the garbage.

Another living space we need to work on is our back patio. Right now...a concrete slab, a bed of dirt that borders the slab and my bar-b-que. Juan and I were standing in the patio enjoying the cooler AZ morning and began discussing what we wanted to create in our back patio.

Juan thought to create multiple seating areas. A couple of small tables that we could put together for a small gathering or separate for more informal dining.

Well it was a start and thought we could begin searching. I LOVE vintage finds and finding good deals. Love to fall upon furniture I can repurpose or get for a steal. For me...the hunt is half the fun.

Sometimes you have the "luck of the Irish" on your side...or just plain luck. Our community, Patio71 has a community page where neighbors can post invites to various events and parties, seeking a lost beach towel or "seeking some ranch dressing".

Well a neighbor posted on our community page she had a bistro table and chairs in need of a good patio. I saw the post and picture and thought surely it was gone....but it wasn't! Juan and I scored!

So Juan and I will begin the process of creating a beautiful backyard space in our 9 hundred square foot home.

So a quick picture....yes it's dark but I'm trying to post off my phone and promise to show you a cool and finished outdoor space.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Juan’s Perspective On The “Value” Of A Garage

As Shawn noted in her recent post (So You Are Now Minus A Garage…Now What?), when we decided that Patio 71 was “The Place” for us, we knew we’d be losing a garage. This was not a deal breaker because we’d already been through the Pros/Cons exercise. However, I must admit it that it had me feeling a little bit uneasy. At first...

I grew up in Central Phoenix, just a few blocks from where we presently live. Back then all of the homes in the area had carports with an attached storage room. So, the idea of carport parking was not too hard to wrap my arms around. Besides, we park under a carport at the office, so it’s not like our car is going to get any more/less dusty at night than it does during the day. The real attention getter was that my “extra” storage space was being drastically downsized.

Shelving and room for tools

Room for more bikes! Able to store all our needs


In earlier posts, we discussed the "weeding-out" process. Once we’d tackled that, it became apparent to me that I didn’t really need as much space as I imagined. I just needed a place for my toolbox and a few other necessities (i.e., carwash supplies, spare bike parts, a couple of bikes, etc.). When we moved into Patio 71 last winter, we brought 5 of our original 10 bikes with us. Through careful planning and a trip to IKEA, we managed to store everything we need in our 4x8 storage room (including 2 mountain bikes).

Just prior to writing this post (this past weekend in fact) we pared our collection of bikes down to 2. We could store our current stable of bikes in the storage room, but with the extreme heat, we prefer to store them inside where the “soft” parts don’t dry out. Since we’re a little bike crazy (or just plain crazy) our bikes have become “art” in our office space. So, we actually have unused space in our storage room.
In retrospect, I have not missed the garage one bit. Along with the loss of the garage, we also got rid of the guilt which faced us every time we left/returned in the car and surveyed the accumulated clutter that always seems to invade its way into a garage. Now we simply park and go inside.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shout Out To *faircompanies

In past articles, I wrote about *faircompanies and their journey in sustainable living. Going green, living smaller….simplifying your life! I am inspired with so many people they film and what they are doing to live a better lifestyle.

In the US we have such a different thought process about living. Sometimes I feel it is about where you are placed in society….Keeping up with the Jones’….STATUS!. In many European countries, people enjoy living in small spaces and enjoying the things they truly need to sustain and enjoy life. Yes, George Clooney might own a villa in Italy or others live in much larger living spaces….however, I find that the people I have met in my travels were happy in a very simple flat or apartment with 400 square feet looking out to breath taking scenery.

I have included a recent video from Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolas Boullosa of *faircompanies. In this video, they visit Bordeaux’ Right Bank and the picturesque Passage Buhan where De Marien and Buchholtz show us how life in a garage can be quite beautiful and even stylish.

It is a long video (13 ½ minutes)…so when you have some downtime watch it. It is in French with subtitles. I am so intrigued with anyone that can take such a small space and create a beautiful home.

Monday, October 3, 2011

So You Are Now Minus A Garage…Now What?

When Juan and I decided to move into a smaller square foot home, we knew we were going to have to make some sacrifices and concentrate on the reason why we were doing this. One of the BIG BIG issues… A Garage. I know most men would whimper at the thought of eliminating the most precious room of the house (ask my middle brother). Even Juan was a little upset at first…heck I was too. It was great extra storage room. Yes, a place I could buy more STUFF and store it. However, there are truly great reasons for having a garage.
A place to keep your cars especially in the extreme heat of AZ
A great place for holiday storage (I know I am psycho about Christmas)
A place for those extra toys such as motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles (Bicycles are the key for me and Juan)
A place to keep your tools for all the “Honey-Do’s” and carpentry work (Yes, Juan is very talented in that arena)
Let’s go back to the bicycles. When Juan and I made the decision to downsize, we each had five bicycles. Yes, I had five bikes and so did he. Why, you ask? Besides the LOVE of bicycles and bicycling….we had different bikes for different applications. (Mountain, Road, Touring or just Cruising)

So we decided that we truly needed to figure out the kind of riding we wanted to do and pare down to one bike a piece which is what we FINALLY did. Seriously it was just this past week that we did this. Even though we have been in the 900sqft home for months!

I’ve been asked on several occasions about storage and what were my thoughts about storing certain items especially bicycles. Many couples out there, like me, have been challenged with downsizing and losing the garage. What to do with bicycles that you still enjoy to ride but do not have the storage or garage space AND…do not wish to leave outside due to weather? Why can’t you integrate your bicycles with your décor? YOU CAN!
Our current set up in our spare room

Right now as Juan and I are still “editing" our spare room that will soon be an office/workspace/bedroom, we are creating a piece of artwork on the wall that is called our bicycles. Why not work it into your space? If you have a studio apartment, you can have a pulley system and have them hanging up high. Or you can do what we did and purchase a gravity rack that does not need to be bolted into the studs and hang a couple of bicycles.

HOWEVER, you can do one step better and purchase a beautiful bike shelf! Chris Brigham has created a beautiful bike shelf that, with simple instructions, you can mount on the wall and hang your bike. It is taking utilitarian one step further by making it useful yet beautiful and simplistic in design.

Chris spent his adult life as a Graphic Designer (Check out his website “About”) all along thinking about working with his hands. You see what an incredible and talented individual he is by visiting his website and checking out many of his designs. Chris had no formal training in furniture design, turned his garage into a woodshop and began building furniture. He taught himself and has built quite a successful business for himself (theknifeandsaw.com).  

Chris saw a need when visiting friends in San Francisco and NYC where storage is a challenge and where to put one’s bike. He saw a need for some “bike management” and created the bike shelf. It is easy-to-install (mount to wall studs) only leaving screw holes when gone (great for renters). It comes in walnut or ash and looks beautiful on the wall. You can add some books or other lightweight items (holds up to 40lbs) keeping more clutter out of the way.

Are you challenged with a couple of bikes in your small space…getting in the way? Do you find yourself moving your bike from one wall to the other to get it out of the way?  I would suggest you check out Chris’ Bike Shelf and get one…or two. What a great way to display your beautiful bike, add other accessories and have room to move around.

Chris Brigham can be reached at his website www.theknifeandsaw.com