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!

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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!

Cork Accessory Organizer

In addition to studying small spaces near and far, I am taking on a variety of projects here in my own studio apartment to help organize, decorate, and better live in a small space. Consider my studio a testing ground.

First assignment: organize my necklaces! They were always in a tangled mess, so on my way to work in the morning, I’d have to forfeit a fight of pulling one from the bunch. The solution: a cork strip where I could hang each necklace separately.

It works great! Not only are my necklaces kept free of tangles, but now I can easily see all my options and make a proper selection. I had more than I remembered, so it also became an editing project, setting some aside to give away.

It gets even better. I wasn’t expecting to be able to organize all my accessories: necklaces, bracelets, watches, earrings (hanging and studs), and rings! Hanging the earrings was my favorite – studs were like pushpins and hanging earrings hover over the surface.

This was a fun project that really made a difference! All you need is 1/4″ cork glued to a backing (I used chipboard), and a bunch of little wire nails. You can get creative with where you install the cork organizer. I fit mine between the trim of my closet and bathroom doors – perfectly next to my clothes and mirror for easy decision-making. Another great thing about this project is you won’t have to patch a bunch of holes in your wall – #rentalapartment!

If you make your own, please share pictures and enjoy!

CNN Small Space Questionnaire

Small spaces have hit mainstream news with San Francisco’s legal push for smaller living units, and NYC mayor Bloomberg’s call for micro-unit apartment designs. Although the hype is focusing on the “excessively small” (as I consider it), the conversation has introduced many to a new perspective of living.

After CNN’s recent coverage on the subject, they had an open call for small space dwellers to submit pictures and share their experiences. If you are interested, you can still submit by the end of the week. As a follow-up to my submission, they sent a list of questions. So I thought I’d share my responses here. Enjoy!

CNN Small Space Questionnaire:

1. Why did you decide to live in a small space? How long have you been there, and were you living in a small space prior to moving here?

I came to this apartment already passionate about small spaces. In architecture school, I designed a small backyard apartment. That project really invigorated my interest in small, intentional, well-proportioned, and efficient spaces. My studio apartment epitomizes these characteristics. It has huge, operable windows that bathe the space with light all day long, making the space feel bigger. And it’s located in one of downtown Raleigh’s most walkable neighborhoods with everything from grocery stores to yoga studios to my office less than a mile away. I’ve lived here for a little over a year, and I can’t help but tell everyone about my lovely studio apartment. It’s amazing how much of a positive impact it has had on my life.

2. What was your initial reaction to moving into such a small space? Are you able to entertain– If so, how do your guests react?

Although my 300-sqft studio is small, it was the first place I lived on my own, without a roommate, after graduating college. I was thrilled to move in, and really make it my own. I kept some old furniture, and acquired new pieces to fit the space perfectly.

One of the wonderful things about living in a small space, is it encourages you to get out and meet people in public spaces. And with tons of restaurants and bars within walking distance, I do just that! But I do occasionally have people over for a drink to start the night. People are really excited to see my apartment. It’s rather unique and urban for Raleigh. Since I love it so much, I constantly post pictures on social media outlets and have a website, so people love to hear about my studio. Now if they see an article about a small space, I’m the first person that comes to mind. It’s great!

3. What about living in small space do you appreciate the most?

Everything is intentional, and everything has its place. The built-in at the entry has hooks for coats and bags, a double-sided bookshelf, and an integrated pantry. Just outside the bathroom is a collection of shelves and cabinets and a closet, perfect to store shoes, clothes, accessories, and linens.

Living in a small space has really influenced my lifestyle. I am more selective when purchasing anything for my apartment, because it can easily become over cluttered. I am more conscious about my waste, recycling as much as possible, and I even started vermicomposting my food waste. And I walk more often! My small studio influences me daily.

4. Do you ever find yourself frustrated with living in small space? If so, provide some examples.

The only amenity that would improve my apartment would be a dedicated outside space like a balcony or roof terrace, to be able to relax outside or grow more of a variety of plants. But fortunately, I can walk 5 minutes to my favorite park in Raleigh, and commonly picnic there. So that park has become my backyard. And my window sill has become home to a collection of potted plants helping liven up my space.

5. How do you make the most of your small space? Any tips/tricks for fellow iReporters who either live in or want to live in a small space?

Living comfortably in a small space is all about editing out what you don’t need. I have minimal pieces of furniture, and bountiful built-ins for storage. Keeping a small space open and clutter-free really helps expand the space.

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

I have never been so excited about a place where I’ve lived. Living in this studio apartment has truly had a profound impact on my way of living and interest in space. As an architect, this studio has also influenced how I design for others. I can’t wait to design my own small space!

My 306 sqft Studio Apartment

Facts:

  • size: 306 sqft
  • type: studio apartment
  • city: Raleigh
  • inhabitant(s): just me!
  • my info: website | twitter

Describe your place:

My studio apartment is one of 5 apartments located above a dentist office, on the edge of Cameron Park historic neighborhood. It’s in one of the most walkable parts of the city. I live within a mile of so many amenities: a commercial center with 2 grocery stores, a couple yoga studios, a great park, a few of bars and restaurants, and even my job.

Although it’s small (306 sqft), my studio feels really spacious and open, thanks to big windows, built-in storage, and minimal furnishings. It has hardwood floors, mini-appliances, and a basement with laundry facilities and plenty of extra storage space.

What do you love about your space?:

Every part of my apartment feels intentionally designed and appropriately scaled.

The large operable windows really make the space. There are three windows in the main space and one in the bathroom – more than enough light to keep my studio naturally lit during the day. The west sun glowing through my translucent curtains makes me smile when I return home in the afternoon, especially when there’s a breeze and Broughton High School’s bells are ringing.

Also, the amount of built-in storage is incredible. The hook/shelf/pantry combo at the entry, and the nook just outside the bathroom accommodates everything: books, keys, food, cleaning supplies, clothes, shoes, linens, and more.

How would you improve your space?:

The only amenity that would improve my apartment would be a dedicated outside space like a balcony or roof terrace, to be able to relax outside or tend to a garden. But fortunately, I can walk 5 minutes to my favorite park in Raleigh, and commonly picnic there. So that park has become my backyard. And my windowsill has become home to a collection of potted plants helping liven up my space.

What do you like best about small living?:

This way of living has really influenced my lifestyle. I am more selective when shopping for anything from clothes to furniture, only purchasing what I need and what will last a long time. I am more conscious about my waste, recycling as much as possible, and I even started vermicomposting my food waste. And I walk more often!

Loving where you live really makes a profound impact on your life. My small studio influences me daily.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

You can make a small space feel spacious. Decorating can become overwhelming quickly, so keep furniture selections as petite and simple as possible. Having a few, key, and appropriately scaled items is the way to go. If your space is scaled down, so should your furnishings and decorations.

Living comfortably in a small space is all about editing out what you don’t need – both in your physical environment and your general lifestyle.

Anything else you would like to share?:

I have never been so excited about a place where I’ve lived. Living in this studio apartment has truly influenced my way of living and perception of space. As an architect, I can’t wait to design my own small space!