Elizabeth’s 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 08

  • size: 480 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
  • inhabitants: Elizabeth “Beef” Bridenstine 🙂
  • my info: vimeo editing reel

Elizabeth Bridenstine Plans

Describe your place:

This apartment has become my haven in the city. It’s on a quiet tree-lined street in Bushwick. This has been the first place I’ve lived in on my own and I felt I could finally make a space my own. I wanted the apartment to feel comfortable and inviting, and there are a lot of Southern touches throughout.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 01

What do you love about your space?:

I love that each room has it’s own feel, which makes this small apartment feel much larger. I love the parque floors. I love the view of the city from the roof. I love the light in the afternoon as the sun sets.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 04

How would you improve your space?:

I would like there to be more counter space and I think the living room set up could use work.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 07

What do you like best about small living?:

How little time it takes to straighten up.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 09

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

If you have separate rooms, make each room feel completely different from the next to expand the space.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 10

Anything else you would like to share?:

I’m heading to the Bay Area in March and will be a little bummed to say goodbye to Suydam Street. Luckily, a good friend with good energy is taking over and I couldn’t be happier.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 12

A note from Nicole:

An NC native, Elizabeth is one of my closest friends. I was so excited to visit Elizabeth in December and finally get to see her beloved apartment!

So much about living in NYC is about finding the right neighborhood. She moved to an interesting neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bushwick, to have her own place. While she has lived there, she has seen the neighborhood grow with new restaurants, bars, and an organic food store. She’s close to a subway stop, and can bike everywhere. Bushwick also has an impressive collection of street art. Plus, the view of Manhattan from her roof is absolutely amazing (thanks for the photo Elizabeth!).

For NYC standards, Elizabeth has a lot of natural light and a pretty big apartment, especially since it’s all to herself. She has made a perfect environment where she can both relax and get work done. She works from home for a neat startup, Scenios, and does freelance video editing, so her work space has everything she needs for production and editing, from her snazzy computer to a legit microphone. There’s an incredible amount of storage with built-in closets and cabinetry, and plenty of space to add more storage furniture if needed. Of course, it wouldn’t be Elizabeth’s place without a few album covers and posters of Michael Jackson and Prince scattered about. I can’t wait to see what her SF apartment will be like!

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 13

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 14

Lighting a Small Space

Lighting can make all the difference in how a space makes you feel. The Danes know this well. Difficult to translate directly into English, the Danish word “hyggelig” embodies a feeling and atmosphere in a space – coziness, warmth, low lights, candles, delight, in good company.

Rather than defaulting to overhead lights at night, I turn on a few lights depending on what I am doing, from preparing dinner to reading in bed. This is how I have lit my studio apartment:

Lighting a Small Space - Year Round White Christmas Lights

Year Round Christmas Lights: This long string of white Christmas lights is enough to light my entire studio apartment at night, stretching from the kitchen to my bed. It’s my favorite way of lighting a space. I especially love that in England they call these Fairy Lights when it’s not Christmas time.

Lighting a Small Space - Kitchen Task Lighting and Paper Lantern Pendant

Kitchen Task Lighting and Paper Lantern Pendant: The most useful lighting I have is a simple string of Christmas/garden lights in the kitchen that provides under-cabinet lighting. I hung a paper lantern above my dining table for the main source of light in the kitchen. Functional decoration!

Lighting a Small Space - Candles

Candles: You can never have enough, and you can always find some on sale! I love working on my blog and sipping a warm cup of tea alongside flickering candles.

Lighting a Small Space - Accent Lamps

Accent Lamps: A lamp is an obvious way to decorate and light your space. It took me a while before I found the perfect lamp for this corner.

Lighting a Small Space - Accent Lamps for Reading

Accent Lamps for Reading: I directed a bright yellow IKEA desk lamp to the back wall at my bed to provide an ambient light for reading. It also dramatically lights a special work of art made by my boyfriend.

One trip to IKEA provided for most of my special lights. They have a great selection of affordable lights that look great and are energy efficient. I use CFL or LED lights whenever possible, keeping my electricity bill low.

When lighting your small space, strive for a hyggelig atmosphere!

Abuela’s 540 sqft Attached Apartment

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 04
  • size: 540 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom attached apartment
  • location: Tampa, FL
  • inhabitants: Mercedes Alvarez (AKA Abuela)

Mercedes Alvarez Plans

Describe your place:

This is my grandmother’s home. She is 92 years wise, and lives in a one-bedroom, attached apartment in Tampa. My aunt, and her family of four, live in the main residence. The 2-car garage that once connected them was converted into a hair salon for my uncle’s business. It’s a really interesting and progressive living situation: both multi-generational and mixed-use.

There is an independent entrance for my grandmother’s apartment, and a second entrance that connects to the main house by a hallway. These doors are usually kept open during the day, to freely move from one space to the other. I love her apartment . She was able to make it her own, and it feels so appropriate. My grandmother brought her original furniture into the space. Although it can make the apartment feel crowded, she has space for all of her grandchildren and extended family to visit. It’s a common sight to see her dining table full of relatives.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 05

What do you love about your space?:

Abuela: I love that I am independent, but close to my family. I am able to keep my apartment as I like it. Although I might not have as much independence as I had before, with the added help I am able to rest or enjoy my time much more.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 03

My apartment has all the necessities – washer, pantry, kitchen, dining area that’s not big but can seat many. It’s more than perfect. Since it’s small, everything is within hand’s reach and accessible. My apartment is cozy.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 08

How would you improve your space?:

Abuela: I have a walk-in-closet, washer, kitchen… I am satisfied with the way it is. I would do absolutely nothing to improve my space. I wouldn’t change anything. It has what I need. I don’t need anything more.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 11

What do you like best about small living?:

Abuela: I use to have more space than was being used. Here I have less space, but I don’t lack anything. I didn’t use the space as efficiently before, so I have had to make this space efficient. I have adapted and made the space that I have, work for me. Now I clean less, and work less.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 13

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Abuela: It’s a lot better! I have had no problems. As long as you have everything you actually need, size doesn’t matter. This is a comfortable way of living. It is great for elderly to be close to their family, but maintain as much independence as they want.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 14

A note from Nicole:

An attached apartment is a type of accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or a secondary residence on a single property. It can be used as additional living space, or rented out for extra income. They are commonly called “granny flats” or “in-law suites.” It is becoming more common for families of multiple generations (including grandparents and adult children) to live in the same house, or on the same property. This cuts down on costs, helping everyone involved.

The benefits of having a grandparent live in a secondary apartment, either attached/detached,  is starting to catch on locally. Read on:

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 01

Adam and Auditi’s 1450 sqft Family Home

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 02

  • size: 1,450 sqft
  • type: 2-bedroom (one day 3-bedroom) home
  • location: 827 E Hargett St. Raleigh, NC
  • inhabitants: Adam Chasen and Auditi Hussain
  • pets: 2 dogs, 6 tropical fish, a conch, a handfull of snails, a starfish, and hermit crabs
  • twitter: chaseadam, 827ehargett, goober9
  • architect: in situ studio
  • construction team: Axiom Green Build and Dopko Cabinetry

Chasen Residence

Describe your place:

Auditi: Small but spacious, with more light than you can image.

Adam: Our house is located in East Raleigh. When I started looking for a house, I said I had to live within a 1 mile radius of the state capitol. I fell in love with the 827 location and got to know the neighbors. No other locations I looked at had a comparable proximity to downtown.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 06

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 04

What do you love about your space?:

Auditi: The master bathroom shower, all the sunlight, and the downstairs heart-pine floors.

Adam: Open, compact, reused materials, natural light, pushing limits of space and materials, simple space with complex process.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 07

How would you improve your space?:

Auditi: I’d love to include a proper mud room, i.e a space where we can dump our jackets and muddy shoes before we enter the house.

Adam: We need to work on finish furnishings (couches, chairs, etc.), and organization.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 08

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 09

What do you like best about small living?:

Auditi: It keeps Adam and I from accumulating unnecessary stuff. Everything in the house is exactly and only what we need. We don’t believe in uni-taskers (besides the fire extinguisher and our currently used toothbrushes), so everything in the house must have a dual purpose.

Adam: Awareness of “stuff” (and limiting it). Small living doesn’t mean you can’t entertain. There is a lower cost of living (build price, tax, energy). Less to think about (decorating, etc.).

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 10

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Auditi: No uni-taskers allowed, besides a fire extinguisher, and ok, perhaps a toilet bowl cleaner. Everything should have dual-function.

Adam: Have less “stuff.” Be aware of your guest’s expectations of space. Be prepared to educate family and friends on “why.”

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 14

Anything else you would like to share?:

Auditi: Nicole rocks!

Adam: Thank you to Nicole for being involved in the process! Also, we bought all our kitchen appliances from Craigslist or through auctions. We have a solar hot water. The upstairs floor is a finished plywood subfloor.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 05

A note from Nicole:

I admire the idea of making a home that you can grow into with your future family. It may not be “small” if you are strictly looking at square footage, but considering the lifecycle of the house and the future growth of your family, it is appropriate and responsible. This is what Adam and Auditi had in mind when they approached the architects about designing an affordable, modern home in East Raleigh. The Chasen Residence was one of the first projects I saw develop from concept through construction at in situ studio.

The house is compact, yet spacious. On the ground floor, the entrances, kitchen, 1/2 bath, closets, and stair are aligned to one side of the house, opening up the rest of the space for living and dining, from the front porch to the screen porch. A double-story living space at the front of the house fills the spaces with light from all sides, including the ceiling. A lofted office space looks down to the living space and out to the street. This loft can actually be converted into a third bedroom when the family grows, while the future closet space makes a perfect desk nook in the meantime. The master bedroom is humble in size and closet space, yet has wonderful views outside, including the Raleigh skyline.

Adam and Auditi bring a special character to their home: their bikes hang from the screen porch ceiling, the flexible living space accommodates small and large dinner parties enjoying their baking/cooking talents, and an extensive, large salt water fish tank separates the den from the rest of the living space. They have collaborated in making a custom home to suit their lifestyle. Thinking further about “aging-in-place,” they hope to build an accessory dwelling unit, or garage apartment, to rent and/or expand their living.

We were able to get creative with low-cost, special details. I especially love the reclaimed doors on tracks to hide closets and a bathroom. Read more about the house and see more pictures through in situ studio: the Chasen Residence.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 11

Espresso Cups: a storage and display solution for easy access

I love espresso, or as my Cuban family calls it, cafecito. I thank Abuela for showing me the ways of this social ritual!

When I added an espresso set to my collection of dishes, I had to find a way to store it in my small kitchen. The espresso cups weren’t as stackable as their saucer counterparts. Cabinet space was limited, and counter space was practically nonexistent. So I took the next obvious option… I hung them.

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 01

The cups hang from individual hooks along the underside of my cabinets. Now they are easily accessible when I get that espresso urge, and it adds a nice texture to the kitchen – “functional decorating.”

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 02

I used 3M Command cord organizers as hooks. They are cheap, and found in stores like Walmart, Target, or any office supply store. The adhesive is forgiving and easy to remove, a great temporary solution for a rental apartment. Also, since these hooks latch closed, they hold the espresso cups safely in place if I accidentally bump into them while washing dishes.

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 03

So if you have an espresso set and need to reclaim some counter or cabinet storage in a small space, or just want to try some functional decorating, you should give this a try!

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 04

We The Tiny House People (documentary)

Kirsten Dirksen of faircompanies creates videos as a means of exploring her interests in gardening, DIY, sustainable lifestyles, and small living. She stumbled upon the world of Tiny Houses, which opened the doors to a world of people choosing to live small.

In her documentary, We The Tiny House People, Kirsten introduces us to the small spaces of “People searching for simplicity, self-sufficiency, minimalism and happiness.” These spaces range from Tiny Homes on trailers in Sonoma Country, California, to a cave dwelling in the Pays de la Loire region of France (my favorite!); and from simple spaces made of reused materials, to kinetic spaces with custom furniture. What’s best, you learn what it’s like to live in each of these spaces as the residents share stories of the creation of their home, and how their lives have adapted to the spaces.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcVrVA4bSQ&feature=560&h=315]

This weekend, in the midst of running errands and enjoying the company of your family/friends, I encourage you to take a break and curl up on a couch to watch this documentary.

Holly’s 495 sqft Airbnb Baltimore Studio

  • size: 495 sqft
  • type: studio apartment
  • location: Mount Vernon, Baltimore, MD
  • inhabitants: Holly Jackson
  • pets: none, somday I’ll have many though…
  • Airbnb rental site: Adorable Studio-Loft

Describe your place:

I have a small studio located in Baltimore’s cultural district, Mount Vernon. I love it here. I’m in short walking distance from all the best bars and restaurants, multiple theatres, an art museum, an opera house, and my campus.

What do you love about your space?:

I love that everything I own has a very specific spot. When working with a small apartment, you have to learn to hide things. For example, my printer sits on the floor behind my couch. No one ever sees it though, since the back of my house faces a window. If you ask me where anything is, I can tell you instantly. For all the things I have, I also have so much simplicity in my space. I love the white walls. I love all the kitschiness against the white. I decided not to paint the space because I was really inspired by a lot of minimalist blogs.

I also love that nothing I own is new. I thrifted my desk, and my rug, as well as all my kitchen supplies including microwave, pots, and pans. My television, couch, chair, and kitchenette set were all FREE from friends. Almost all of the art on my walls is either my own, or by my friends. I took the photo above my mantle, and the photos of Iceland above my chair. I originally saw a beautiful black and white photo of roses on Etsy that was very expensive. My budget didn’t allow for it so instead I got a disposable camera and took a similar photo. I scanned it and had it printed at Kinko’s for a little over $3. The photos in the kitchen were taken by my best friend, Kelli, in Finland. The drawing was by my ex, Steven Riddle. I hear now his paintings are selling for quite a bit. The screen print of Mount Rainier was a thrift store present from a friend.

But mostly, I love my mantle, and the arched doorway at the entrance of my apartment and into the kitchenette.

How would you improve your space?:

I would first turn the parking lot that my room faces into a topiary garden. I would make all the windows more efficient so that it wasn’t always so hot or cold inside. I would add a closet door and a hook to hang my bicycle on.

What do you like best about small living?:

Everything! I have no interest in big living. Sustainability is a large part of my world view. I love reading about the tiny apartments in Sweden and Japan. I find it so tacky when someone buys a huge home, and fails to fill it up. All I can think about it their high utility bill and how bored they must feel inside. Not only is my apartment small, but I work hard to buy within my means. I don’t need a rice cooker because I already have a steamer, I don’t need a toaster because I have an oven.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Small dwelling only looks intentional when you keep it tidy. Find a place for everything. I admire my other friends with small spaces, but when their rooms are cluttered, it feels like they aren’t embracing their apartment, but instead, they’re just stuck with a flat they can’t accommodate. If you are unable to declutter your apartment, then you should really consider letting go of some things. It’s liberating.

More about me:

I am a 24 year old student almost finished with my Masters in Conflict Management. I get cabin fever wherever I am, and I’m constantly finding ways to escape. I just got back from a week in Tulum, Mexico with my boyfriend, and in March I’ll be spending two weeks in Turkey. I’ve studied abroad in London, and worked as an au pair in France. I’ve been all over the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe including the west, the east, and Scandinavia. From living in a wealthy family’s historic rowhome in France, to staying in a traditional riad in Morocco, I try to pick up inspiration and tchotchkes – whatever will fit in my carry-on.

A note from Nicole:

When my boyfriend and I were headed to Baltimore for a visit, we immediately checked Airbnb for a place to stay. Airbnb lets inhabitants/owners rent out anywhere from a spare room to an entire house. What’s great for the visitor, you stay in an affordable place with local character. They also have unique listings, like an airstream or a container home. Even better, there is a collection of The Littlest Listings, hopefully my checklist! Renting places through Airbnb is my favorite way of traveling, and it leads to some amazing experiences!

If you’re lucky, you’ll have an amazing host, like Holly (see her Airbnb listing here)! Her small place was beautiful, and in a wonderful neighborhood of Baltimore. Holly’s fun and simple way of decorating enhanced the inherent features of the place – tall ceilings (12′-7″!), large bay window, clear plan, and original fireplace. The expansive closet was quite impressive for such a small place, and undoubtedly helped keep her studio feel open and uncluttered. I loved the unique furniture pieces – colorful couch and antique desk.

Since our stay in Baltimore was brief, Holly’s recommendations truly made our stay memorable. She gave us the best recommendations including places to eat and drink (Milk & HoneyBrewer’s ArtGolden WestClub Charles, and Sofi’s Crepes), areas and sites to explore (the original Washington Monument, the Inner Harbor, and Hampden), and shops to get lost in (TROHV and Double Dutch).

Thanks Holly!

Marie’s 525 sqft Home in the Mountains

  • size: 525 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Spruce Pine, NC
  • inhabitants: Marie Fornaro
  • pets: 2 cats – Miru and Veeshy

Describe your place:

I live in a tiny little house nestled on the side of a mountain in the sleepy town of Spruce Pine, NC. My house includes a small kitchen, living room, bedroom, and miniscule bathroom. But it’s just the right size for me. I also have a pretty spacious backyard, where i can string up a hammock or grow delicious strawberries.

What do you love about your space?:

I love that my landlord chose to paint my living room with a bold orange stripe and a stenciled wall that looks like wallpaper. The house was built in the 1960s (I think), and there are some charming vintage touches that I just love, like the light fixtures and kitchen floor. But my favorite feature by far is the front door- the richly carved dark wood feels so romantic. I also love that I can walk downtown to go to the grocery store, coffee shop, or meet friends for pizza.

How would you improve your space?:

I wish there was a laundry room. I have no washer/dryer. And I would absolutely add a working chimney with a wood-burning stove. There is nothing better than a cozy fire in the winter.

What do you like best about small living?:

It only takes me an afternoon at the most to clean every inch of my house!

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Less space = less stuff, which is such a good thing! It is imperative that every item have a home. Fill your home with meaningful objects and artwork that put a smile on your face. Life is too short, and your house is too small, for one more piece of junk from Target.

A note from Nicole:

Marie is my best friend. I absolutely love her home – it’s cozy and perfectly personal. She does a wonderful job decorating this small space with bright colors, unique furniture items, and special works of art. Marie is the Executive Assistant at Penland School of Crafts in the NC mountains, and is a talented artist herself. She has a growing collection of pottery, prints, and glassware made by her friends at Penland, and also uses her own artwork to adorn the walls. Marie’s home has an impressively efficient plan that both combines and defines living spaces. We were able to fit 6 friends in this home for a weekend trip – impressive for such a small space and fun! I especially like the entry sequence from her driveway to her door with thoughtful landscape and hardscape on the way up. The view of Spruce Pine and the mountains beyond is stunning.

The Many Chapters of Small Living

Conversations about small living quarters have “made it big” in the headlines the last few months. It’s been both exciting and overwhelming – exciting that new people are exposed to this idea and overwhelming to try to keep up with everything that’s going on!

My interest lies in the many “chapters” of small living. As my posts begin to get more specific to each of these chapters, I thought it’d be helpful to precede with an overview:

Accessory Dwelling Units

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, is an independent, secondary residence to a single-family house – either attached or detached. There are many names for ADUs: granny flats, backyard apartments, in-law suites, carriage houses, backyard cottages, garage apartments, etc. Pictured above is one of my favorite ADUs in Raleigh. As an Architecture school project, I designed a backyard apartment, which exposed me to the alley networks of Raleigh’s historic neighborhoods and their many converted carriage structures. This is when my interest in small spaces began.

ADUs provide flexibility in living arrangements and a source of income for the owner, an affordable housing option near the city center for the renter, and more diversity and density for the neighborhood and greater community. In Raleigh, construction of new ADUs is prohibited, but this subject is currently under review in the new Unified Development Ordinance. Plenty more on this subject in posts to come.

Laneway Houses

Similar to ADU’s, Laneway Houses, or Alley Dwellings, are small residences in the back yards of single-family houses, but they are on their own lot. This usually involves an exhaustive zoning and permitting process of subdividing an existing lot, to create two independent lots, with the smaller lot usually accessible from an alley. A dwelling with its own address can then be constructed new, or existing infrastructure can be rehabilitated.

Pictured above is a proposal by in situ studio (where I work) and David Hill AIA for the HOME Competition. Our design of small, affordable dwellings builds on the idea of Laneway Houses. We leveraged the current zoning changes in Raleigh which will reduce the minimum size of a lot, and created a new zoning district, RA-50, made of the trimmed off excess land at the back of the lots. This would create an alleyway neighborhood in the centers of residential blocks. Learn more here.

Toronto is one of the leading cities of Laneway Houses, focusing on developing their inner residential blocks.  The Laneway House designed by Toronto architecture firm Shim-Sutcliffe is truly inspiring. I am equally intrigued by the alley structures that became homes at out necessity and accessibility, like Browns Court in Washington DC.

Tiny Houses

There is a growing number of people that have completely embraced small living, to an extremely small scale. Most commonly these are literally “tiny houses,” with gable roof and porch, scaled down in size to fit on a trailer for easy transportation. Pictured above is La Casita, the cherished home of Andrea and Cedric of Charleston Tiny House. Thanks to Andrea for the pictures. Keep an eye out for a post about La Casita coming soon.

Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has led the Tiny House movement by selling plans and organizing workshops that empower people to build their own Tiny House while joining a community of supporters.

Micro-units

Some US cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago, are revisiting the minimum size for apartments as a way of increasing housing options for singles and couples. The proposal of micro-unit apartment buildings in San Francisco as small as 220 sqft has stirred up both support and protest. Pictured above is a rendering of SmartSpace, championed by Patrick Kennedy. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg launched adAPT NYC, a call for designs of micro-unit apartment buildings.

The Not So Big House

Sarah Susanka, architect and author, has been writing since 1998 about the “Not So Big House” – a residence that favors quality over quantity by reducing square footage. She was at the forefront of this modern perspective of small living, which has spawned a movement where Americans are reconsidering the size of their homes. I have come across Sarah’s collection of books more recently, and am really enjoying reading them while relating to my own experience of living in a small apartment. I’m currently reading The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Live and The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters, pictured above on my not-so-big sofa with a not-so-big pillow.

Simple Living

An edited lifestyle comes hand-in-hand with living in a small space. When you don’t have much space to store unused items, you begin to cut down on physical (and mental) clutter, and become more conscious of what you actually need to live. I realized a greater appreciation for a simpler life grew naturally out of living in my small space (pictured above). This is what interests me most about architecture – how a space can inspire your life.

Simple Living: The Oil Cleansing Method

Another theme I am exploring with this blog is “simple living” to make room in life for what’s important. It’s amazing how a space can influence the way you live. My small studio apartment has made me more aware of what I add into my life, what I keep, and what I throw away – and I love it! I focus more on eating healthy, reducing my waste, and minimizing the stuff I collect. This has helped me appreciate what I have and how I spend my time. I like to think of it as “living intentionally.”

In this theme of simple living, I am introducing The Oil Cleansing Method. If you look at the ingredients in a bottle of face soap, you might expect that half of them are difficult to pronounce and long enough to fill a Scrabble board for an immediate win. Seven months ago I started using the oil cleansing method, and I’m still impressed. Here’s how it goes:

1. Mix

The ingredients are simple: castor oil and olive oil (yes, real olive oil!). Mix them together equal parts. For oily skin use more castor oil, and for dry skin use more olive oil. I tweak the balance of oils depending on the seasons – hot/humid months vs. cold/dry months. What’s great is I don’t have to use a moisturizer. I keep the oil mixture in a small plastic pump (that I got at the dollar store), easy for daily use and travel.

2. Rub

With your face dry, rub the mixture into your skin. I use two pumps, so about a quarter-sized amount. It’s like a mini face massage. This is also an effective makeup remover.

3. Steam

Soak a small face towel in hot water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Place it over your face, and hold in place until the towel returns to room temperature. I love this part!

4. Wipe

To finish your face-cleansing regime, just wipe away the oil from your face with the towel. If needed, you can rinse the towel and wipe again.

5. Enjoy

You’re done! No need to dry. Seriously, I always feel like my skin is rejuvenated and has a natural glow.

Recap on why I love this: simple common ingredients, healthy and cheap, acts as moisturizer and makeup removal, easily modified per skin type, and it feels so good!

It’s not only for ladies! I’ve been trying to convince my boyfriend to give it a try. One day I will succeed…

You can learn more about the benefits and fine tune your method through this blogpost by Simple Mom. This is the guide I followed when I was first introduced to the Oil Cleansing Method. Thanks to our wonderful client, inspiring author, green-living guru, and hilariously honest bloggerAmy Worley, for introducing me to this!

Enjoy!