Monday, August 22, 2011

Remote control in the corner pocket: Bedside pockets and caddies

My bed's getting pretty full these days. No, not in any kind of sexy-exciting way. But I sleep with two cats, two stuffed animals (don't judge), a sleep mask, maybe a book, maybe my laptop, sometimes my iPod, definitely my phone, and when I'm feeling lazy (a.k.a. every single day), I just dump my laundry on top of my bed and sleep underneath my clothes instead of folding them and putting them away. Needless to say, I often end up rolling on top of something in my sleep and waking up with a weird indent on my skin in the shape of an electronic device.

What I probably need to do (besides my laundry) is get one of these bedside caddies. Previously on TAA we showed you how you can make your own caddy, but when IKEA's offering up one for $4.99, how do you say no?

The FLĂ–RT from IKEA has space for "4 remote controls [and a] pocket on back for newspapers, magazines, etc." Unplggd even suggests that smaller electronics, like notebooks and tablets, could fit into the "magazine" space -- perfect for those of us who like to get lost on Reddit or TV Tropes until we drift off.

Even more streamlined are NeatSheets, which have a storage pocket built right in. It's more subtle than a caddy, but that can be to your advantage if you're keeping certain, uh, adult items close at hand. NeatSheets run $64.99 for a queen, and have a full range of sizes at varying prices. They even have extra-long twin, which is often the size of school-issue dorm beds and a perfect back-to-school gift for a college student. (And if you're a particularly hip and with-it parent or relative, you'll tuck some of those "adult items" into the pocket. You'll creep your kid out so much you'll be guaranteed they won't have sex for at least their first semester.)

Via Lifehacker and Lifehacker.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Odds n' ends: Real-Life TAA search, friends' blogs, and gravity-defying bike storage

Hear ye, hear ye!

Tiny-Ass Apartment is looking for some fresh new Real-Life TAAs! I'm particularly looking for Bay Area-based homes where I could come visit for a quick interview and in-home photo shoot, but all spaces from all parts of the world are welcome. And please don't think for a second that we're looking for magazine-perfect homes -- we keep it rill here at TAA. (Although yeah, maybe put away those dishes in the sink before taking pictures.) Check out the RLTAA guidelines here, and email me at simone (at)!

I also wanted to take a moment to plug my friends' blogs. I love these ladies, and you will too!

Sasha's Hollywood Bites - My girl Sasha is an LA-based entertainment reporter and amazing chef, and has accomplishments like reporting for NBC and starring in the Food Network's "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills" under her belt. Her blog features her reporting on the latest in TV and film, as well as restaurant reviews and tasty recipes.

Queerie's Sinful Misadventures - L.M., a.k.a. Queerie Bradshaw, is a recent law school graduate who has spent most of her life pursuing her passion for passion. She loves "shoes, social justice, and sex" -- and her new site is dedicated to all that and more. (Some content might be NSFW.)

Megan's and Meghan's and Laurie's and Sara's Stellar Four - These four ladies write about the girly side of nerdy, with equal parts thoughtful analysis of gender roles within the genre and squee-ing over their latest Etsy finds.

Jamie's How Very Jamie - A self-styled fashionista, Jamie combines the classic and the fun in her blog dedicated to personal style.

Sophie's Sophie's World (obviously) - How I spend my 9-to-5! Sophie Maletsky is a Bay Area-based children's party planner with over 16 years of experience entertaining kids. While we work on getting our main site off the ground (due to launch in September), Sophie shares her knowledge about kids, crafts, games, activities, parties, and running a successful small business on her blog.

Speaking of friends, I finally convinced one of 'em to contribute to this here blog! Kwame is an industrial designer with an incredible eye for fashion and design. But just beneath his spot-on style is a kind of rugged mountain man; he's a cycling enthusiast who knows a thing or two about things with two wheels. If you're likewise bike-inclined, take a look at this find:

Check it out: The Michelangelo Storage Rack by Delta Cycles. This rack holds two bicycles off of the floor in a space-saving vertical configuration. The true brilliance of this product however is in its clever use of the Immutable Laws of Physics. [Note: Kwame's also a TOTAL NERD. -- Simone] The Michelangelo rack is balanced in such a way that your bicycles' own weight keeps it upright and against your wall; no drilling, screwing, or mounting required. [Note: That's what she said. -- Simone] The designers calculated the the center of gravity of the rack, and then made it so that's where you hang your bike. The weight of the bikes are then evenly distributed between the two legs and the one part that touches the wall. It's subtly ingenious.

It also features two "Easy Adjust Arms" that can be configured to cradle your precious bicycle frame securely, and soft rubber feet won't slide or damage hardwood floors. It's available from for $55.64 (kind of a random price, but okay).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trapped in the closet: Organizing non-clothes items in your closet

The other day we covered alternatives for storing clothes in closet-less rooms, the idea being that closets are for clothes, not people.  But that's not entirely true -- closets are for much more than just clothes!  (They're still not for people, though.) (Except for R. Kelly.)

There's your linen closet, your storage closet, your utilities closet, your shoe closet, your board game closet, your closet with a secret passage in the back, your closet for monsters -- although it's pretty likely that those are all the same closet, if you've got a small apartment. (At least the monster can occupy himself with Monopoly while waiting to jump out and scare you.) Let's take a look at some storage tips for all those other odds n' ends that end up inside.

From Pinterest (original source unknown), a clever hanger to neatly hang your scarves and pashminas. Edit!: sharp-eyed reader Nessabirdie let me know in the comments that this hanger is available from The Container Store. Well done, Nessa! Thank you!

Better Homes and Gardens has a good one: use shower curtain rings to hang your purses, making them easy to slide around to find the one that matches your outfit.

Keep all your sheet sets as organized as Martha's by folding them and putting them inside one of the set's pillowcases. (And if you need a tutorial on folding a fitted sheet, check out this video from Lifehacker.) (Via Storage and Glee.)

Finally, if your closet likes to fill up with old electronics and computer junk as much as mine does, take a look at this cord storage solution from Instructables (via Storage and Glee).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carving out a closet: sectioning off space to serve as storage

I don't know anything about this fine young gentleman other than he was photographed at a demonstration just before New York voted to legalize gay marriage, and that I really want to be his friend.

He's also absolutely right -- closets are for clothes (fabulous, fabulous clothes), and not people who are made to feel different. But... what if you don't have a closet?

According to real estate law, a bedroom is a room that 1) has a door that closes, and 2) has a closet. But the reality is that sometimes we have odd-shaped apartments carved out of what used to be large old houses, or single-room studios that used to be part of a warehouse, and all sorts of weird situations that sometimes leave us without a proper closet. So, how's one to store their clothing collection?

There are a few options, like wardrobes, but try this on for size: section off a part of your room as a closet using a curtain. This takes installing a curtained door on a normal closet to the next level -- instead, you're essentially installing a curtain that runs the length of a wall, a few feet out from that wall. (I would suggest 2.5 - 3 feet to make sure it's deep enough for your hangers to fit properly.)

From This Is Glamourous via Re-Nest

From West Elm via Crafty Cook-Ups

If you don't want to bother covering up with a curtain, you can still designate a part of your room as closet space while leaving your clothes out and in the open. You'll have to take care to keep up with your hanging and sorting, 'cause there's no hiding your mess. But if you view your clothes as wearable art, then show 'em with pride!

From Jenny Shus

Found on Lovely Undergrad'sPinterest

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hack your way to superiority: Lifehacker's small-space tips

Lifehacker is a regular stop on my Google Reader train. They have amazing tips and tricks for, well, life -- everything from productivity to work to your home. (Their photography articles have been invaluable as of late, since I'm finally learning how to use a camera that didn't come inside of a phone.)

And the best feeling in the whole wide world is reading Lifehacker and seeing an article on something I already do. That's when I like to get out my Smuggie and pat myself on the back.

But there is still much for me to learn, and Lifehacker's Top 10 Space-Saving Household Projects is chock full of good ideas. Observe:

7. Fold Your Clothes Efficiently for More Drawer and Suitcase Space

Whether you're trying to pack light for a trip or just fit as many clothes into your dresser as you can, proper folding technique is key. For packing a suitcase, you're best off rolling your clothes, stuffing your folds, or using the bundled packing method for a space-efficient, wrinkle-free suitcase. Suit wearers will want to brush up on folding and packing a suit coat the right way, too. At home, make sure you know how to fold a dress shirt effectively to save closet space, and fill your drawers from front to back instead of top to bottom for easy access.

3. Use Every Inch of Your Shelves

Shelves are a great way to store your stuff, but if you find even your shelves are cluttered, there are other ways to maximize your usable space. With the magic of magnets, you can store things on the underside of your shelves or on the wall behind them. You can also save a lot of shelf space by using collapsible items in your kitchen.

In addition to tricks like these, Lifehacker frequently features beautiful and organized workspaces to serve as inspiration. A particularly apropo example is Mnerd's tiny corner desk area; with only 274 square feet in his apartment, Mnerd (who has the best username ever) still carves out a neat yet inspiring space to GTD. (That's Lifehacker speak for "get things done!")

Be sure to check out Lifehacker regularly for more hacks and inspiration like this. Perhaps someday they'll have an article on how to make a Smuggie of your very own.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Ottoman Empire (full of furniture, for some reason)

Target is basically my favorite store. Here's how I roll: I walk in, grab one of their sleek red and gray carts, toss my purse in, walk past the accessories section, ogle the purses, wish they were real leather, swing by the cosmetics section, check out their Essie nailpolish colors (they never seem to have the most recent collection), then move along to the very exciting things I actually need. I inevitably end up at the checkout with cat litter, tampons, maybe a bottle of wine or pint of ice cream, and I wonder to myself what other items I should throw into my cart so that I don't look like the crazy cat lady that the cashier will surely think me to be.

On my most recent trip, these caught my eye. We've covered storage ottomans (over on Design*Sponge) and ottomans and trays before, but these are a bit of both.

The open wooden frame of these ottomans provides a small bit of storage -- perhaps a stack of magazines or a basket with your remote controls in it. With the flat side up, you've got yourself a tiny coffee table or side table. And presto-changeo, with the cushioned side up, you can put up your feet or create extra seating for a guest.

Perhaps next time I'll put one of these in my cart along with my Friskies, Tampax, and Ben n' Jerry's -- and a shovel, roll of duct tape, and handsaw.  You know, just to make 'em wonder.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I choo-choo-choose you: A train caboose turned home

If you see a classified ad that says, "Cabooses for sale," I wouldn't blame you for thinking something... salacious. (Especially if the ad were in a paper like L.A. Xpress.) But in 1975, Marcia Weber saw that very ad in the back of the Wall Street Journal and it turned out to be actual cabooses -- the train kind.

Marcia and her then-husband purchased a wooden Soo Line train caboose, built in 1909, as a vacation home. Years later, Marcia decided to make the train car her primary residence.

The caboose is only 337 square feet, and sits on a piece of track on her property in Northwest Pennsylvania. Back in 1976 it cost $6,000 -- but it's required a bit of renovation since then. The caboose originally didn't have any heat or plumbing (they had installed electricity prior to Marcia's moving in, but it was obviously not original). These basic necessities, along with a bathroom, a front porch, and some other upgrades to make the place livable, were added. But outside of these renovations and a few cosmetic touches, everything is as it was in 1909.

Marcia had her doubts about moving from a 2,500 square foot house to a tiny caboose, but now absolutely adores living in her "36-year labor of love." “I sold 95 percent of my belongings and feel very free as a result,” Marcia told the Tiny House Blog. “Plus, I can clean the whole place in fifteen minutes. The area here is absolutely beautiful and I spend a lot of time sitting on the deck reading and just looking at my surroundings. It’s all mountains, ponds, and open space.”

Sure, it may not be a big caboose, but it certainly is a cute caboose.

From Tiny House Blog via Craft, and Dornob.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A safer book nook: DIY shelves in your fireplace

We've covered using nonfunctioning fireplaces here on Tiny-Ass Apartment before; the possibilities of what you can stuff into your fireplace are endless. But for some, storing books in your hearth is a lil' too close to book burning. At the very least, there's a concern about the lack of respect the tomes are afforded, and a worry about how dirty and sooty they'll get.

Now, as a book lover myself, I can understand. There's nothing like feeling a page between your fingers, hearing the binding crackle as you open it, smelling the paper and ink and... OH OKAY I WANT A NOOK. They're so bad-ass, with their e-ink and their wifi and touchscreens and magic gagetry. But still, I feel that paper books do deserve respect and a pride in their display. That's why this idea from Better Homes and Gardens appeals to me. It still utilizes the unused fireplace space, but shows you how to create a shelf inside to protect your paperbacks. It's the best of both worlds.

Via Better Homes and Gardens.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Square pegs: pegboards in the kitchen

Apartment Therapy: Chicago

We've already covered ad nauseum how I'm not the greatest cook.  But there is still a way in which I might be able to emulate Julia Child, one where there's a low risk of my setting my stove on fire.

Child's considerable collection of kitchen accoutrement was displayed on huge pegboards in her kitchen, with the outline of each item drawn onto the board for quick and easy identification when putting those tools back in their proper places. One could immediately see and grab the thing that they needed, wasting no time when racking that lamb or filleting that fish or whatever it is that real chefs do.

More of Julia's impressive boards (

Pegboards can be a great way to increase your storage space in a small kitchen, and to keep yourself organized -- no more searching for that one whisk that seems to hide at the back of your drawer. Putting your tools up on the wall makes use of otherwise wasted vertical space, freeing up precious counter and cabinet space.

Apartment Therapy: Chicago

CafeMom's The Stir

Pegboards can also serve as a kind of decor. Colorful boards, like the ones below, can add a pop of bright color to your wall, tempered by the shiny brasses, silvery steels, and black irons of your cookware.

SassyRadish's Flickr

The Kitchn

Putting all of your pots and pans on the wall can lead to a cluttery feel, certainly. But as Thomas Jayne says in his piece for Interior Design, Julia Child was "hospitable to the point of flirtation," and that her pegboards "contrasted remarkably with modern style kitchens where all the equipment is hidden and all the surfaces too clean and stark (kitchens we used to laugh at and call Gropius-gone-wrong.) But, then her kitchen was radical too, because virtually every piece of cooking apparatus was displayed, certainly not the norm, but nonetheless a remarkable, welcoming gesture." After all, a kitchen should be a place where you can feel right at home amongst your tools, cooking food to share with loved ones.

Or in my case, microwaving leftover pizza.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A tiny island for a tiny budget: shopping the Treasure Island Flea Market

Even though I've spent my entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area (sans four or so years), until this weekend I had never set foot on Treasure Island. But after my coworker Freda came into the office gushing about how awesome the place was, I had to check it out.

Treasure Island is an entirely man-made island, attached to the naturally-occuring Yerba Buena Island by a narrow isthmus. It was built by the federal government in 1939 for the World's Fair, and later became an airport and then a Naval base. The Treasure Island base was decommissioned in 1996 (along with the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco proper), and was then opened up for public use. It's been a mixed bag; there's been some film production located there (like for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Matrix), housing for the Job Corps kids, and now several wineries make their home there. There've been even more recent efforts to develop more housing there and make it attractive to residents and businesses. But as Freda liked to point out, the entire island is full of toxic materials, and since it's made of landfill, it runs the risk of liquefying in an earthquake. There's also the problem that there's nothing there. No gas station. No grocery store. No nothin'. And the only way to access it is to take the Bay Bridge from either San Francisco or Oakland.


Yep, it's named after the Robert Louis Stevenson book, a fact not lost on its residents

But still, it's such a unique place I'm even thinking of exploring their housing options. The views are breathtaking, it's removed from the hustle of the city but still mere minutes away (depending on Bridge traffic), and it's just... neat.


Photo by Freda Maletsky

We started our day under an enormous statue of a woman that had been brought back from Burning Man. We then hit up the food trucks (Chairman Bao's steamed buns are delectable!) and wandered around the flea market. The Treasure Island Flea Market is still really new; its first show was this past May, so the one we attended was only their third time out. (And apparently they used to charge to get in -- don't worry, they scrapped that idea quickly!)


The flea market was pretty much what you'd expect from a Bay Area market. It was small (not nearly as huge as the Alameda Point Antiques Fair), and its booths ran the gamut from great vintage pieces, handmade hipster wear, and garage sale junk.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On the hunt: Apartment searching tips and tricks

We have a new employee over at the party planning business, and I just love her. She and her boyfriend are from 'round these parts, but are moving back to the Bay Area after living in another part of the state, and her tales of searching for an apartment have been really... sad. Good apartments are hard to come by these days, and the few that do become available are descended upon by hordes of eager renters like buzzards on roadkill. There were apartments she saw that were snatched up by someone else within mere hours of their listing.

While this tough competition might be just a part of your usual San Francisco existence, it's becoming more common across the country as a result of the economic downturn. Says Phil Villarreal on The Consumerist, "Although the depressed housing market has made things easy for home buyers, it seems to have had an adverse effect on renters, who face more competition with perhaps fewer openings than ever. Thanks to former homeowners who suffered short sales or foreclosures and are forced into the rental market, there are more renters playing musical chairs."

Still, there are tools you tech-savvy readers can use to give yourselves a leg up. One of the coolest and most highly recommended is PadMapper.

PadMapper scours listings from places like Craigslist,, and, and lays them out on a searchable Google Map. Pick your neighborhood to see all the listings, then use their filters to narrow down your search. They have your typical criteria, like maximum rent, number of bedrooms, and if pets are allowed, as well as the age of the listing (very useful when good homes go lightning-fast). They also have what they call their "Super-Secret Advanced Features" which allow you to view average commute times to your work or school, the neighborhood's walkability, even its crime stats. You can also show nearby amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and gyms. Once you've got a few pins left on your map, you can click them to view the listing (along with their photos) on the spot. Finally, once you find the perfect pad, you can save it to your favorites.

Another tip to keep in mind when searching rentals is to do your due diligence and check on the background of your potential landlords. CasaSugar's Kristy Korcz used Yelp to read the reviews of a building she was considering. She "checked up on the rental agency that runs the building on Yelp, and found that they've recently been sued multiple times for withholding deposits, overcharging, and not responding to essential maintenance requests like a lack of water and heat, and locks being broken on the front gate (leaving the mail boxes totally exposed). Who would want to live in a place like that!?" Bullet. Dodged.

Via PadMapper, Consumerist, Lifehacker, and CasaSugar.

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