One of my employees, Cheryl, acquired a small vacation home a few years ago, and she was delighted to share some of her ideas with me about “stretching” the square footage to accommodate more than just her and her husband. Friends and relatives who have shared the small house remain guests who are welcome and willing to come back, so something must be working right!
Hooks, Lines, and Sinks
In a small vacation home, you can never have too many hooks of any kind: removable, reusable or permanent. Multiple people sharing multiple bathrooms and bedrooms means they love having a place to hang and separate their personal items from everyone else’s, including bath towels, swimsuits, jackets or bath “scrubbing poofs.”
Line up a portable, collapsible clothesline outside on the patio and let the sun dry pool towels, outdoor placemats and tablecloths. Have towels with a variety of colors and patterns so that everyone can have their “own” that they keep and reuse. You do not want to spend your precious vacation time washing unidentifiable towels like you were running a five-star resort. Having a stackable washer and dryer in a closet or a kitchen corner is also an extremely easy yet “big” way to gain usable square footage in a small home.Picture via costco.com
If you are remodeling or looking to buy a small vacation home, remember that the kitchen and bathroom sinks can never be too big or too deep. Large groups that cook big meals have lots of pots, pans and serving bowls to wash by hand. The larger kitchen sink also works as a place to clean up tools after a messy home improvement project, which is a given with owning a vacation home. Owners and guests can usually deal with a small bathroom, but that doesn’t mean they can do their daily brushing and flossing in a bowl the size of an airplane sink. Installing a compact sink is a good idea, but installing an unusable one is not. This is one area where ”elbow room” truly counts.
There are No Monsters Under the Bed
The space under the bed is prime storage space. You can use it to store extra pillows and blankets in a clear plastic, dust-proof bag. You can also store patio cushions, small ironing boards, extra cleaning or paper goods, clothes and anything else you can think of as long as it is stored in a lidded container that is easily retrievable. The only reason not to use the space under the bed for extra storage is if you have a twin bed with a spare trundle residing there. Trundle beds are a lifesaver when extra guests need a place to sleep. Pull out and “pop up” the spring-loaded trundle for a second twin bed, or push the two together to make a king. The space under each bed then becomes free for your guests to store their empty luggage or bags of collected souvenirs.Picture via containerstore.com
Clever Storage That Goes up the Wall, Not Out
A good way to “stretch” the square footage of any house is to take advantage of the verticality of a wall and the air space directly in front of it. Think tall, not wide, for pieces of furniture that store clothes, audio/video components or kitchen pantry items. Another easy and inexpensive way to move things up is by leaning a wooden ladder or a ladder shelf against the wall. They can be used as towel racks, for toiletry storage in a tiny bathroom, or as nightstands in tight places.
A wooden ladder is also lightweight but very strong and can easily be moved from room to room or home to home. If you want to disguise your endless bottles of shampoo or rolls of toilet paper, simply drop them into some colorful containers or baskets to place on the shelves. When you’ve got a large crowd sharing a small bathroom you can even assign a shelf to each guest for their personal grooming items. Let the kids find other things to fight over besides trying to share an unfamiliar bathroom.©Eliminate Chaos
No Space Left Unturned
Storing things in unusual places or using pieces that can do double duty is a must for happy living in a small vacation home. Think in and out of the box for storage ideas and include boxes and containers of all shapes and sizes in the process. Label things for you and your visitors – you may not always be around to show them where things might be hiding. Be surprised at what you can live without or make do with in a home away from home. I know Cheryl wants to be at her vacation home more and more for many of those same reasons, including the ease of maintenance. Less really can be more.
Laura Leist, CPO
Organizing with Laura