Tip #171: Ditch your ironing board.
I’m sure I’ve said it before: You don’t need much of anything small-space specific to get by in a small space. But sometimes having something specific helps.
Mostly, I’ve found, I need to find out what works for me and that finding out what works for me is usually done through a bit of trial and error, a bit of searching, and bit of just living in the space between for awhile. To be clear: I’m talking about the search for the perfect small space ironing board here, but lessons abound.
We gave away our ironing board just about a year ago. For the first time ever we’d gotten a window air conditioner and when fall rolled around, we needed a place to store it that wasn’t the window. We hemmed and hawed and played closet Tetris, and eventually we found a place to stash the A/C unit, but it cost us our ironing board.
James and I toyed with buying a small vintage ironing board—of the tiny arm ironing board variety. And we considered getting a smaller, exceedingly affordable model from Ikea. The vintage route felt precious but not practical. The Ikea route felt practical but still too bulky for the space we had available, which was approximately none. Mostly we didn’t iron anything for a few months. When we did, I put a towel on the kitchen table, which was fine, but a bit rumply. The story, of course, could end there. Making due with what I already have—rumples included—is the place I return to most often.
But in this particular case, I wanted to find a solution that better approximated the thing we’d decided to live without. Something firm enough to yield a nice crisp crease when the occasion merited one, but discreet enough to disappear when it wasn’t in use. I wanted something I knew I could use without burning the place down or ruining a bedspread or a table or anything else in my wake. Imagine my delight when on a cold March morning, I read Jolie Kerr’s piece about cleaning supplies in a tiny apartment and she mentioned a portable ironing blanket. I happily went down a rabbit hole of internet research which eventually got me to the small squares of felt that quilters use for ironing their quilt squares flat. Where the aforementioned portable blankets seem to be made with flame retardants and synthetic fibers, the quilter’s ironing pads were simple and small and made of nothing but wool felt. But they were also too small to feel practical for semi-regular use. So I emailed my internet-pal (and sponsor of this site), Angie of Byrd & Belle. We use her simple felt covers for all of our electronics and I wondered if perhaps she could supply a larger-than-average rectangle of felt for a small space ironing board solution.
Yes was the resounding cry and so here we are with a felt pad that lets me iron my fanciest blouse in four minutes flat and without needing to wrestle any kind of large squeaking board out of the closet (or back into it.) The point is: Sometimes you find exactly the solution you were hoping for. Angie made two small holes in the top corners of the mat and I hang the pad from nails in the back of the closet. The mat lies completely flat against an otherwise empty wall behind my dresses. Just what I didn’t know I needed. And just in case there’s anyone else with the particularly quirky need for a small space ironing pad, Angie’s made a few other large felt mats available on her site. (I have the mat cut from Oatmeal felt, but she’s also offering a gray option!)
Anyone whose been around here for awhile knows that I get particular joy from filling my home with thoughtfully made goods from small producers. But there are some household essentials that are somewhat more difficult to find handmade version of—irons, and vacuums, and stainless steel straws, to name a few. To that end, I’ve put together a small Amazon storefront with some of the simple household essentials that my family relies on and that I’m often asked about. If you’re looking for a simple solution, you might find an answer there. Reading My Tea Leaves may earn small commissions from purchases made, which go toward keeping this space running.