Do you sometimes feel that living in a small place is an extra job in itself? Having to continually manage the stuff you wouldn’t even notice in a big house, trying to cook or wash in a cramped space – it feels like a punishment. You get stressed, and what was supposed to be a blissful Parisian retreat ends up feeling like being trapped in your childhood dollhouse.
Having experienced a chaotic French household, I’m now passionate about getting organized so that life becomes “joy every day”
Here are four steps to help optimize your personal space to open up all kinds of possibilities in your home:
1. Less is more for a loftier environment
- Make sure you know where the recycling bins are to avoid keeping your empty champagne bottles for too long. If you live in an apartment, ask your gardien/gardienne where they are.
- While you’re at it, ask them where the local à vélos is. That’s where you can put your children’s or your bicycles.
- Speaking of which, why not save space by selling your bike, and use the Vélib city-bike rental system?
- If you have a cave, use it! It’s precious real estate. First, go and have a look down there. Is it too damp to store anything but wine bottles? Is the door see-through or the lock unreliable? Free standing shelving and transparent boxes make for a proper basement storage space and not a dark hole where your things seem lost forever.
- Don’t have enough room for a big bookcase? Be honest with yourself and only keep the books you’ll read. Check to see if your children’s books are still age-appropriate. Sell the rest on momox.fr, along with your unwanted CDs and DVDs. You can also subscribe for free to any French public library, or go visit the American Library in Paris instead of buying more books.
- Don’t have a garden here, but still moved all your gardening tools? Looking to clear out some of your furniture? Sell them on leboncoin.fr, the French equivalent to Craigslist.
- Kitchens aren’t that big here, so ask yourself if you’re really going to use everything you put in it. Maybe you came from a warmer climate and enjoyed making home-made ice cream every week. It probably won’t happen here, so give away or sell your ice cream maker – go and taste the best glaces et sorbets in Paris at Bertillon, and couple it with a romantic walk along the Seine. There are lots of local food shops and going to the marché once in a while is a must, but you don’t need to stack your cupboards. Simplify and buy in smaller quantities and you won’t miss not having a pantry!
3. Use vertical surfaces!
- If you don’t have much room for lighting or a TV stand, mount them on the wall.
- Install hooks or racks on the back of your doors for hanging towels, scarves, or shoes.
- Hang up your mirrors, they’ll also make your space look bigger. But don’t overdo it, there is only one Galerie des Glaces, and it’s in Versailles!
- If your children have to share a room, think of buying bunk beds. Loft beds are a great idea for teenagers and open up precious real estate below.
- In a very small bathroom, you could hang a shower caddy to hold everything from shampoo to razors. For your children’s bath toys, stick a mesh bag to the tiles.
4. Find furniture with a dual purpose!
- For more storage and seating, I use a storage bench in my entrance, where we put shoe shine material and laces, and in-season accessories like hats or gloves. We can sit there to put our shoes on, and use it for extra seating when we have guests.
- Find a double-duty coffee table to store your candles, magazines and remote controls.
- Under your bed lies plenty of potential storage space. Use under bed storage bins with wheels for easy access to store out-of-season clothes, for example.
Being more organized makes life easier, n’est ce pas? And think of all the things you can do with that extra free time!