SLT 006: Going “Paperless” and Making the Most of a Small Living Space


Going Paperless & Making the Most of a Small Living Space

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Going Paperless: Guest Interview with Brooks Duncan from DocumentSnap

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We had a fantastic interview with Brooks.  There’s no doubt he’s way out front as a lead expert in the field of going paperless.  Here is a list of questions we asked Brooks (you definitely should listen to the podcast because he gave some great answers and advice!):

So, Brooks…who are you and how do you make people’s lives simpler?

Is it really possible to go paperless? What about…

    • Tax paperwork (Brooks sent IRS guidance, too.  Links below.)
    • Receipts
    • Contracts
    • Other docs that people have been “married to” forever?

How do you recommend people get started with going paperless?

What does the workflow look like, or are there lots of different workflows?

Your article “We Are Our Own Worst Enemy When Going Paperless” is fantastic! Can you describe some of the challenges people face when going paperless?

What equipment do you recommend and why?

    • Mac
    • PC
    • Scanners
    • Mobile device/apps
    • Etc…

Your Paperless Document Organization Guide and it’s an amazing value…do you have other courses?

How can people sign up for your newsletter?

What is the best way for people to reach you?

Twitter: @BrooksDuncan and @DocumentSnap

Dan and Vanessa Discuss Tips for Small Home Living

  • Planning Our “Dream Home”…five years of planning
  • Taking Action…designing, saving, paying it off and then…
  • Oooops! Rethinking Our “Dream Home”…reasons for our change of plans: affordable green living, time to travel and visit family, not wanting to be slaves to possessions

Intro to Cece Reinhardt + Brenda Daugherty from the blog “On the Green Road”

    • Downsized their lives
    • Totally eco-refurb’d an Airstream remodel and lived full-time in their RV
    • Now they’re transitioning to a 500 sf house and planning a complete eco-refurb of that, too!
    • They blog about health, travel, self-sufficiency and as they say, “anything else that blows our skirts up.”

Guest Post on On The Green Road from Katie White from the blog DIY Mother: “DIY Tricks to Make the Most of a Small Living Space” (Note: We added some tips, too! Our additions to this are Italicized)

The main theme was:

Reducing your footprint doesn’t have to be uncomfortable

She also pointed out some of the advantages of living in a Small home. They are :

  • Use less land and raw materials
  • Cost less to heat and cool
  • You’ll be less tempted to fill them with things you don’t need.  Ties right into the spin off of Parkinson’s Law we talked about back in Episode 004…“Storage requirements will increase to meet storage capacity”

Kitchen Keypoints:

  • Small kitchens can be noisy, crowded little pressure-cookers, breeding hot tempers and short fuses.
  • Paint your kitchen in light, cool shades to help everyone relax, and if possible, coordinate the entire kitchen in two or three colors to avoid a busy, disorganized vibe.
  • Another simple trick to increase the visual space in your kitchen is to try open shelving instead of cupboards.
  • We have raised Euro-style cabinets off the floor so you can see under them…it adds visual depth. Also, a mix of solid frosted glass cabinet doors help, too.
  • Tall upper cabinets really max out your vertical storage space.
  • Pull-out lower drawers, versus standard cabinets are a lifesaver.
  • Forego “uni-tasker” appliances and opt for multitasking appliances.

Living Room Lessons: The easiest way to open up your living room is to get things off the floor.

  • Instead of a clunky bookshelf, try wall-mounted shelves.
  • Small house plants and lighting can also be placed on the walls or ceiling (Hanging plants are especially good for small living rooms).
  • Just like in the kitchen and bedroom, light penetration is everything.
  • Remove sofa skirts, try a translucent coffee table, and hang a nice mirror or two to really expand the visual range.
  • If you need new furniture, steer clear of round, rolled arm and back pieces—they fill up a room like nothing else.
  • Again, use multitasking furniture that doubles as storage like coffee tables and ottomans.
  • Try wall-mounted televisions and hanging lamps instead of floor or table lamps that take up a lot of room.

Bedroom Basics: The simplest visual trick to open up your bedroom is to make your baseboards visible.

  • Stilted furniture, wall-mounted shelves and light fixtures, and a skirtless bed frame can all increase the visual range in your bedroom and make it feel larger.
  • Colors such as a single accent wall painted in a bold, darker color can “stretch” your bedroom visually, especially if it’s the smaller wall.
  • Paint the other three walls in light, airy colors that complement the accent wall. The room will feel more open, and it also adds a personal, expressive touch.
  • Again, use hanging lamps or wall mounted end table lamps to free up space. We also have a platform bed that makes the room look larger.

Bottom Line in the Bathroom: Plumbing makes bathroom renovation a tricky proposition, but you can swap out a bulky vanity for a pedestal sink without too much damage to the delicate habitat of your sink fixtures.

  • Make up for the loss of your drawers with an extra set of wall shelves, or a deeper medicine cabinet.
  • To increase the light-penetration in your bathroom, swap out your shower curtain for a clear glass door (or a frosted privacy screen) to create wall-to-wall visibility. We agree with the the light penetration, but we’re advocates of no shower doors or curtains.  The water is so hard here and creates lime deposits on glass…but if your water is ok, then glass works great!
  • Textured wallpaper in a light color can also create illusory depth that makes a bathroom feel bigger; and finally,
  • To avoid a sense of clutter, limit your bathroom décor to “singles”—one piece of art, one rug, one towel per person, etc. 

Storage Suggestions: The key to using your storage space efficiently is to think in three dimensions

  • Get rid of the junk drawer, use a shoe organizer
    • Put a link to vanessa video on about shoe organizers.
    • Use on your pantry door for odds and ends. It’ll keep your drawers and counters clear while leaving scissors, batteries, and pens accessible. We use an over the door shoe organizer in our hallway closet.  Vanessa even did a video on it!
  • Consider a tankless gas water heater
    • Much more energy efficient, saving you money and energy.
    • Makes room for storages space for tools, home repair supplies—anything that you’d otherwise store in a shed or garage.
  • Keys to storage:
    • Only store things you really need.
    • Look for ways to exploit unused areas and vertical space.
      • We’ve found dozens of square feet of space by building cubbies in wall cavities. Consider this if you’re handy. Link to cubby post.
      • Use containers to max out small areas. Link to container post.

Thanks again to Cece + Brenda of On the Green Road for their inspiration…and to Katie White for her guest post at there, as well. Katie is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother @ where she blogs with 4 other gals about DIY projects around the home.  I checked it out and it’s a great resource!  Each post is laid out in steps to follow…”easy…breezy, lemon squeezy,” as our little girl Jordan would say!

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa: discussed a section from Enough, by Will Davis. Basically…we have waaaaay more than enough!  Need to appreciate what we have.

Dan:  Discussed his “Facebook Fast” and the new Google+ Communities

Listener Feedback:

  • Gilbert: He loves the show and gave us great feedback! He even gave us an idea for a future podcast.  Thanks!
  • Augusto: He’s all about the idea of simplifying and having “enough.” He also sent us some free tips (link listed below) that are worth checking out.

Closing Thoughts:

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Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

Links we mentioned in the show:

Brooks Duncan from DocumentSnap

IRS Bulletins from Brooks; Guidelines for Businesses and Guidelines for Individuals

Cece Reinhardt + Brenda Daugherty from On The Green Road

Katie White from DIY Mother Blog (BTW…love your tag line, “Not afraid to use power tools in a dress”)

Free Tips From Augusto Pinaud

Organizing  book by Peter Walsh “It’s All Too Much”

Get Simplifized! Links:

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10 thoughts on “SLT 006: Going “Paperless” and Making the Most of a Small Living Space

  1. Daniel and Vanessa,

    Another great episode, I have already started to go paperless, well everywhere except the bathrooms… And this episode is a big help.

    The wallet receipts are always a big problem for me too.

    I thought you might enjoy this video:

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Turns out that we are planning to build and move into a 1200 square-foot house, too! (Was going to this yr, looks like summer of 2014 now.) Truly, 2150 square feet, two and a half bathrooms and three living spaces is TOO MUCH for for three people.

    Reasons? Same as you cited – better for ecosystems, less heating/A/C needs, less maintenance, lower cost, etc.

    Have fun finding a new location. 🙂

    • Hi Emily! Isn’t it funny that as the “average” home size in the US continues to grow that folks like us want smaller and more efficient? It’s just a hunch, but I’d be willing to bet that if some statistician did a study they’d find an inverse correlation between house size and happiness. Of course everyone has their own take on things and those with larger families need more space, but for most people I think “more” certainly leads to “more burden” as well.

      Speaking of location, I think we’ll be talking about that in a future episode…our criteria, our search, tools to help us, etc.

  3. Hi Daniel and Vanessa, I just started a new job that allows us to work while wearing headphones. I started by listening to music and then I came across the podcast app on my Iphone. I know about Podcast but I have never been interested but now that the situation allows it I decided why not?. I started to look for the topics that I am interested in (home organization, cleaning, etc) my husband laughs because even thought we are not super organized I have become obsessed with that topic from a few years back… Anyways I found your podcast and I downloaded almost all of them and let me tell you.. my first day listening to them at work I loved it. first I found that I was more concentrated with podcast than with music.. and I loved the things you guys talk about. We will be moving to a smaller space I am definitely going to apply all the good advice that I’ve heard here from you guys and your guest speakers… I feel very motivated… I have already told my husband so either we listen to them together or he can do it at his own time.. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and sharing your new life style…love, Marlig.

    • Well, thanks so much, Marlig! So glad you enjoy the show. Honestly, we have a lot of fun recording the episodes, too. It’s great that you’re able to listen to them at work. Like you, I listen to podcasts while I’m working and it doesn’t distract me at all. A long (very long) time ago I used to listen to audio books from the library, but when podcasts came out I was HOOKED!

      So, best of luck with your upcoming move. Moving is always an “adventure” but just like most major transitions in life, moving gives us time to focus on what we have, what we truly love and appreciate, and what is just taking room in our lives.

      So glad you found us…keep listening! New episodes usually come out on Thursdays. Take care!

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