Small Space Organizing: Book Review & Giveaway

by Ron & Lisa Beres on January 18, 2012 · 102 comments

Small Space Organizing-Book Review and Giveaway

In my college years and prior, I was a self-professed organizational addict.  Ask my then roommate who witnessed me folding my underwear and neatly rolling colorful sets of socks into perfectly placed shoe boxes that lined the confines of my dorm-room-sized, dresser drawers.  But, that was just the beginning.  Everything hanging in the diminutive space beyond the door – otherwise known as the closet – had to be perfectly pressed and coordinated by category; dresses, pants, shirts, shorts and skirts.  I even missed social plans if something was awry and required my Virgo, perfectionist attention to detail.

My college dorm was a small space and, as anyone who lives in or who has ever resided in one knows, organization is essential!  But, while my attention to detail may be deemed by some as a gift, to me it was a never-ending, overwhelming burden.  In hindsight, I realize that I did not have the appropriate tools to make this job more efficient; allowing me more freedom to focus on the things that were important.  After all, isn’t this the whole point of being organized in the first place?  I wish then there existed an ‘organization bible’ to assist me in the areas of which focus my attention on and guide me to create a small, beautiful; yet practical space.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein


Fast forward to 2012 and alas, there is (and it’s not from Albert Einstein – although he had the right idea)!  I’d like to introduce you to a new book called Small Space Organizing:  A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space.  Back in college, I would only have needed to read author Kathryn Bechen’s Chapter 3 One-Room Wonder:  How to Live Happily and Practically in Just One Room. Today, however, is a different story and (almost) all seventeen chapters apply covering everything from newlywed studios and basement apartments to loft and high-rise spaces; even tips for RV living!

I am lucky to say that I know Kathryn Bechen personally.  An award-winning journalist, she is a survivor of MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) and allergies. Combined with my passion for the healthy homes, our southern California paths eventually crossed.  When Kathryn asked me to review her book, I delightfully accepted.  Kathryn understands the importance of, not only creating a functional space, but a beautiful space merged with my number one priority: health.  According to Bechen, “A true home is really about the size of your heart, not about the size of your space.” After carefully reading her book, I can honestly attest that it is a must read; even if you don’t reside in a small space.  You will definitely take away a tip – or two or three – that will save you stress for years to come.  As a children’s book author, one of my favorite chapters is Chapter 12: And Baby Makes Three; in particular the section on Green Baby.  Which is why, after reviewing this section, I was humbled to share this testimonial along with others from outstanding women including: Laura Leist (past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers); Kitty Bartholomew (former HGTV host) and Marcia Ramsland (The Organizing Pro).

“If you want to maximize your baby’s small nursery space while simultaneously improving the health of your child, Kathryn’s book, Small Space Organizing, offers simple solutions. You’ll discover how to easily green your baby’s nursery and transform it into a nontoxic, organized, and serene space.”  -Lisa Beres, Founder of Green Nest and, national media spokesperson, and author of Just Green It!

Kathryn is as beautiful inside as she is out; as put together in physical appearance as I assume her 1,200 square foot high-rise San Diego apartment is; and as generous in heart and spirit as you would expect.  This is why Kathryn is offering this fantastic (and FREE) bookmark download to (secretly) remind you to stay organized at all times.

Kathryn and her publisher, Revell, are so generous that I ended up with two beautiful books.  I am certain each would concur that hoarding both of them for myself would not be in the best interest of organization.  Therefore, we are giving away one book to a lucky reader!  Small Space Organizing is chock-full of simple tips to maximize your space, mend your marriage and save your sanity.  As we have discussed in prior posts, you cannot create healthy home environment if it is not a serene and organized space in which to thrive; and not just survive.  As Kathryn reminds her clients, “It’s far more important to have a spirit of hospitality and friendship as the emphasis of your home, rather than neglecting to invite others to visit you because you lack large rooms or expensive furniture.”  There are several ways to enter win including sharing your favorite organizational tip with us.  See below for details.

How to Enter:
For every action below that you complete, you receive a specific number of entries.  Click each individual action to enter yourself. For actions you have done in the past (i.e. you already follow @RonandLisa on Twitter) just click directly on ‘I did this’. The eligibility of the winner will be verified by The Healthy Home Dream Team(TM).

There is no mandatory entry. Each action will earn different numbers of entries into the contest. You may tweet or share on your Facebook wall for an entry once per day. All other actions will only be counted once. You must be 18 or older with a US address to win. Contest ends 2/2/12 at 12:01am ET. Click here for complete terms and conditions. (ARV $12.99)

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Janis S January 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

I have a small home, 1,350 sq ft, so have to keep organized. I try to put things back when I am done using them to reduce clutter.


Ron & Lisa January 28, 2012 at 10:52 am

Thanks! This seems to be one of the most popular tips! Especially for our reader Molly, who is efficiently living with a family of 4 living in a 704 sq foot home!


Alena Belleque January 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

My favorite organizational tip for living in small spaces is to store small like objects in decorative boxes, alternating them with books and pretty decorative items on your bookshelves. Bookshelves are one of the least space consuming and most useful pieces of furniture there is, and you can easily store a million things on them, without sacrificing any visual interest in your space. I have used them for everything from craft and office supplies to socks and underwear!


Ron & Lisa January 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Thanks Alena! Yes, shelves & boxes are great for storing things while keeping the space visually neat and organized. Do you have a favorite spot to purchase your decorative boxes?


Mercedes January 29, 2012 at 5:13 am

Pare down, pare down, pare down. If you don’t absolutely love it, if it doesn’t make you happy, then it goes to donations. There just isn’t room for anything that you don’t care about.


Ron & Lisa January 29, 2012 at 10:21 am

Very true Mercedes! This makes me think about one of my favorite quotes:

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ – William Morris


Jamie January 29, 2012 at 6:18 am

Every time your kids have a birthday AND at Christmas purge their closets and toys. Donate to Goodwill or another charity of your choice. Teach your kids that when they receive new things, they need to pass on things to others.


Ron & Lisa January 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

Thanks Jamie – such a good reminder for parents. Have you heard of ECHOage?

It is such a great concept for children’s birthday parties . It teaches children the value of giving and receiving while celebrating. Works like this: Guests RSVP and can elect to contribute online to the child’s dream gift and charity of the child’s choosing. One-half of the contribution goes to the dream gift, one-half to their charity. The birthday girl or boy gets the cash to buy the gift they really want, while learning compassion and empathy for others at the same time. Click here to read a prior blog post we did on this.


michelle blakie January 29, 2012 at 8:32 am

i love love love reading your blogs and following all your tips. i have a big family and organization can get tough especially with 3 of my kids being boys but i use your help all the time and it makes my days go tidy quick and smooth thank you sooooo much


Ron & Lisa Beres January 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thank you so much Michelle :) We appreciate your comments & feedback! It makes our day to know that we are making a positive difference in your life and the lives of others.
Ron is from a family of three boys. Your hard work will pay off as those boys adore their mom (and, as they get older, you’ll never need a guard dog) – LOL!


Trung Nguyen January 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

My tip is simply that always organize everything whenever you have a chance, every day. Don’t make them become clutters.


Ron & Lisa January 30, 2012 at 10:06 am

Consistency definitely seems to be the most important tip in keeping clutter at bay! Thanks Trung.


erma H January 31, 2012 at 1:20 am

My fav tip is to use shevles when you can.


♡♥♬ Louis ♬♥♡ January 31, 2012 at 5:29 am

I use flat storage bins for odd stuff and store it under the bed


Ron & Lisa February 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks Louis! Good tip…just make sure to leave enough room for good air flow to get under your mattress so that moisture doesn’t build up (which dust mites thrive on).


Kambrea January 31, 2012 at 8:19 am

I too love using boxes and shelves. Keep only what you need and will use!


Kathryn Bechen January 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Dear small space friends,

As the author of the new book, Small Space Organizing, as Lisa mentioned/reviewed here, I enjoyed reading all of your comments. I hope you enjoy my new book and find it helpful.

Blessings, Kathryn Bechen


Ann February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

I love the simple and time tested if you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, chuck it! Now if I can only get my children to apply that concept to their toys . . .


Ron & Lisa February 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

Yes, I use this rule as well. Donate unused clothes, toys, etc to an organization who can use it. One mans trash is another man’s treasure! Or, try trading goods on!


Jessi February 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

I use toilet paper rolls to keep cords from tangling up.


Ron & Lisa February 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

Very clever Jessi :)


Betty Curran February 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm

My tip may seem strange but I’ve found that getting someone outside the household to look at the area helps. My wonderful daughter-in-law came over and looked at everything with a very critical eye and we were able to consolidate, eliminate and donate.


Ron & Lisa February 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

This is true Betty! Sometimes we get so use to our surroundings, we no longer see, visually, when things have piled up or gotten out of control.


mia mcgregor February 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

My favorite organizing tip is keeping stuff OFF the floor and on the shelf. Not a very spectacular tip, but I struggle with this.


heather c February 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I heard an organizing trick on how to figure out if you wear clothing throughout the year: turn your clothes hangers the opposite way. When you wear the item, turn the hanger back the regular way. At the end of the year, donate any clothing hanging on the hangers that haven’t been turned around.


Ron & Lisa February 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Ohhh, I love this one Heather! First time I have heard this tip, but what a great concept. I will be implementing this myself shortly :)

Just a few minutes of this sweepstakes remain. Good luck everyone and thanks so much for sharing all of your fabulous organizing tips. They have been wonderful!!


Donna K February 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Tip- throw away any mail you don’t need as soon as you get it.


Ron & Lisa February 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Join me in congratulating Kimberly K. of NH for winning a copy of Small Space Organizing!

Thanks for sharing all of your great tips everyone…here is to happy organizing & clutter-clearing in 2012~


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