life in a tiny apartment.

February 27, 2013


Tip #53: Tiny things matter, too.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about importance of organizing the insides: all the little spaces in an apartment that you can close a door on and look the other way. I wrote about how the inside of one of our three toolboxes wasn’t particularly spartan, but how everything had its place, how if I needed our tiny stapler, I would know where to find it.

Here’s the part I missed: the stuff in the other two tool boxes. And if I’m really honest, I also ignored the pile of crumpled sticky notes and the errant bobby pins and the spare change in that one tool box that James did sort through.

As a child of the 80s, I grew up watching a lot of Sesame Street. In fact, in our house, New York’s Channel 13 was the only one we were allowed to watch, so I became somewhat of an expert. One of these things is not like the other? I aced it every time. More importantly, I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for my love of order and organization. That, and my fastidious father. This weekend, I woke up on Saturday morning and decided to really organize. Every solitary screw and tape measure and dried out rubber band came out of our tool boxes. I vacuumed out their insides. I washed them down. I sat in the middle of our “living room” and organized all of the contents according to use and size and this time when I filled the toolboxes, I did it in a way that actually makes sense. I threw away the roll of unsticky tape we’ve been carting with us since North Carolina, I gave one of our two tape measures to a neighbor, and I parted with at least one square of used-up sandpaper.

Working at things little by little is all most of us can manage most of the time, but in my view, there’s nothing so satisfying as a mammoth overhaul. Nothing in these boxes is more than six inches across but strewn across the floor, they take up half of our apartment. It’s nice to know they’ve been corralled. This time, in a way that makes sense.

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  • Reply Chloe Moon February 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I really need to organize my drawers and insides of containers because I feel like I have a million bowls and cups everywhere full of miscellaneous things!!! It does seriously make a difference!! =)

    Ergo – Blog

  • Reply Rebecca Alexis February 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Everything does have a place! Sometimes you have to create it though. I am still ignoring the boxes we threw into the garage when we moved here a year and a half ago. Must untangle them soon. Thanks for the inspiration. xo

    • Reply Erin February 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      courage, friend!

  • Reply Faith February 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    My hubby and I are in the process of moving, and I did some similar organizing before we started packing. The apartment looked like a bomb went off but after I was through, I felt like a champion! So nice to know what we have, and where everything is.

  • Reply Ashely Schneider February 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I'm posting a similar photo tomorrow! Have you seen this site?

    • Reply Erin February 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      i have! so great.

  • Reply Mags Pomichowski February 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Great tips!


  • Reply Debs February 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Can you please come to Florida and help me? Pretty please?

  • Reply Julie [Plums for Breakfast] February 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Incredible photo. I envy your ability to make everything fit. I love the toolbox idea, though, that would be a very smart thing for me to start doing in my art room / pantry / hall closet. Someday.

    • Reply Erin February 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      never too early to start 😉

  • Reply JuleBerlin February 28, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This looks like the Moma exhibition "Waste Not" from the summer of 2009! So now you have created your own modern art masterpiece. 🙂

    • Reply Erin February 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      oh! thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Soledad February 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I'm curious:
    Do you normally organize things like that on the floor, or that was just for the photo (which is awesome but for me, impossible to achieve)?

    • Reply Erin February 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      ha! not just for the photo! i wasn't actually planning to post about this process, but i liked how everything looked all lined up, so i decided to snap the picture and follow up with a post!

    • Reply Soledad March 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      I'm even more impressed now! Beautiful job!

  • Reply Julia @ WritersBlockNearYou March 1, 2013 at 3:54 am

    This post makes my OCD brain happy. 🙂 I feel like I regularly go through everything in our tiny space to organize and purge. I keep thinking we will eventually run out if things to donate, but we never do!

  • Reply Kirstin March 3, 2013 at 4:11 am

    It's like that scene from Amelie showing her dad's likes and dislikes, one of his likes is to empty his toolbox, clean it out and reorganize it 🙂

  • Reply Rand October 4, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I’m jealous of your ability to identify what is needed and organize and at the same time, both surprised with how little you have and yet surprised that you had things like old tape that never got pitched.

    Living in a too-big-for-me house means space isn’t an issue, its more about peace of mind. But when I can easily store larger quantities of things I find that it impairs my ability to identify what is truly necessary.

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