Sunday, August 17, 2008

Small Space Book Chair by Annika Schmidt

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As you are all aware, I love multi-function furniture. Although this piece is just for sitting, it can be used in several different ways making it multi-functional in my book.

I stumbled across this chair one night while looking at some other pieces by Annika Schmidt. I am entirely enamored with it — the colors, the textures, the whole presentation. I also enjoy lounging about on the floor with a pillow, and this chair looks like just my sort of seat.

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The chair is made of various fabrics/materials including batting, felt and I think bent plywood. I love the idea of just flipping trough it to find the perfect height for you. Flat or against a wall, the possibilities are endless.

Small Space Utility: Swiss Army Key Hack


I love Instructables! I have written before about the wide array of fascinating hacks, projects and how-tos.

I particularly enjoy this hack because I have too many keys — way too many. I also like pocket tools, so it’s a match made in heaven… or at least my pocket.

The basic gist of this hack is to take your Leatherman Micra, or cheap knock-off, and swap some of the tools for your keys. This idea just plain kicks butt. It’s the best of everything — less key bulk and more refined tool selection. Smaller is better and you carry only what you need!

There is some cutting and drilling involved, but the end result is quite cool and very functional.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Small Space Mobile Phone Charger Solution: Driinn

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First off, let me say that yes I’ve been away for a bit this summer, but I promise there will be loads of new and exciting Small Space Living stuff soon.

Now, how many of you charge you mobile phones in silly places. I charge mine on the floor — really the floor. My wife is charging her phone in the pantry as I write this. There really should be a simple, no-nonsense solution to this problem. Well here it is — the Driinn. At under six bucks, it may be the cheapest and most reasonable idea so far. I have covered charging stations in the past that come with heavy price tags, but this little piece of plastic wraps this problem up nicely.

The Driinn simply hangs between the wall socket and the charging adapter with a space to wrap the cord and a sloped shelf to support the phone. There is real science in this little gadget — the simplest answer is often the correct answer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Small Space Milk: Not Just For Squares


I remember a few years back reading about how the Japanese grow watermelons inside acrylic cubes in order to produce square watermelons. These square watermelons then fit nicely into fridge compartments. This new square case-less milk container reminds me of that.

Apparently Sam’s Club is stocking these new milk containers that more efficiently use space both in your fridge and in the truck on the way to the store. It is really an innovative idea. It seems to me that the milk crate really should be extinct by now — they are a tremendous waste of plastic. I don’t know how they have survived the endless poaching by college students in search of cheep bookshelves, but they have.

The new container design will translate to a savings of 10 to 20 cents vs. the old school jug. The savings are a result of being able to fit 384 more gallons into a standard truckload. With gasoline prices soaring, the cost of transporting goods has a significant impact on a products bottom-line price.

I love innovation the saves space, money and the environment — cheers Sam’s Club.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Small Space OS for Less: Ubuntu


So I’ve been off Windows for several years now — I have a Mac. I am not going to spend time telling you to pitch your PC and buy a Mac, although I do love mine. It just works; there are seldom issues of any sort with my Powerbook. I do have one issue with Apple — cost.

The prices of Apple computers are somewhat over the top. At the time I am writing this, the cheapest laptop you can get from Apple is a grand. If you actually want a laptop with a video card, the lowest price point is two thousand bucks. These prices are double to comparable Windows machines.

Vista is just bad and Macs are too expensive, but there is a dark horse in this race, Linux. Linux has been quietly improving over the last several years and now looks more like a viable contender for some serious desk to market share.

In the last several weeks I have noticed at least two magazines at local bookstores enticing computer users to switch to Linux. Specifically to Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon.” Ubuntu is a highly polished, not just for hackers, flavor of Linux. It is by far one of the easiest installs out there. It’s free and there is a wealth of free and ever-improving apps out there.

One of the coolest features is the ability to install it alongside other operating systems without damaging the other. It’s a great way to safely test the free software movement water.

Small Space Satellite Dish: Squish


I don’t watch much TV; in fact I have not had cable for my entire adult life. I guess I’m sometimes left out of the “did you see X on Y show last night?” conversations but I somehow manage to soldier on.

One think that I really despise about the boob tube are those darn satellite dishes. In a historic neighborhood like mine I can think of nothing more ridiculous than “The Dish” hanging allover historic buildings. I have long thought there has to be some stealth version of these things.

Well its here The Squish is a slick alternative to the standard ugly dish. It’s a slick little satellite dish disguised with a custom sticker to blend in with your structure. It is one of those things that has me saying once again, could no one really think of this sooner? It is a great way lessening the visual impact of urban dish gardens everywhere.

Via Crib Candy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Small Space Pillow With a Pocket


So my wife found this, and I quite like it. As you know we have covered all sorts of items that have additional storage capabilities — here is another.

The PJ Pocket Pillow — say that three times fast — by Fawn & Forest is a great little pillow. The pillow comes printed with one of several very minimal designs: elephants, squirrels or lemons. It has a real Asian look to it and in fact it is based on Japanese anemone boxs that are traditionally used to house family heirlooms. The pillow actually has a secret — it has a pocket. It’s a great place to stash pjs, a small blanket, remotes or anything you would like to conceal.

The pillow’s Asian looks won me over right away and adds the functionality of helping you to keep your small space tidy.It’s a great find!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Small Space Summer Sport: Bocce


Sports are great! They are good for exercise, some get you outside and they usually involve friends. If you live in a small space the down side is the stuff — the sports “equipment” that in a space to use ratio is seldom worth having. I know we all say we are going to ride our bike every day, but more often than not it ends up in the storage unit.

The trick is finding sports gear that can be used often and takes up little space. Bocce, for example, is a great sport that requires very little equipment to play. You do need a bocce set. A Bocce set usually includes eight large balls of two or sometimes more colors and a small ball called the pallino.

Bocce can be played almost everywhere. Any grassy area will do, but other surfaces including dirt and beaches will also work. If you live in a city, there is a good chance that your local park will have bocce courts, especially if your city has a “little Italy”. Bocce can be played with two, four or eight people. You may have noticed that most sets come with balls of two different colors. The balls usually have varying designs, so they can be assigned to multiple players. The rules are easy — you can read them here. There are also a multitude of bocce sets available, a reasonable quality set can be purchased for $69.00 to $120.00 dollars.

A bocce set is a great thing to have. It takes up very little room — about the size of a bowling ball bag, and can make for some relaxing summer time friendly competition.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Small Space Birdhouse: The Roost


I like birds. I mean to say I like most birds. I’m not down with Alfred Hitchcock’s birds or my annoying neighbor that feeds every pigeon in the city, but for the most part birds are fine in my book.

When I was a child, my grandfather had a Purple Martin birdhouse. Each year when the birdhouse went back up, I thought the birds that returned were the same birds. I actually thought their name, as in family, name was the Martins.

Well, in the cit where I live now, there is no room for a Martin birdhouse and I doubt the martins would like my neighborhood. I think they were more country birds. There are a great many birds in the city and a small birdhouse is an easy way to help provide a safe nesting area.

The Roost by Hepper is a perfect city birdhouse. Its sleek aluminum design makes it stand out from ordinary birdhouses. The roost is durable, non heat-conductive and stylish. There are several vibrant colors and anodized aluminum is extremely durable. These small birdhouses are well thought out with vents and drains to make your tenants comfortable.

Birdhouses are a nice addition to any outdoor area and you could make friends with a bird family for life.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Small Space Radio: CC Radio Shortwave


I have been all over the fact that I listen to the radio all day. There is so much going on out there with radio right now — with satellite radio and HD digital radio. So what about good old fashion radio, shortwave?

I’m not sure that most people are even aware of shortwave radio, but it’s all over the world. It is possible to hear radio shows from all over the world. I am aware of Internet options for the BBC and the like, but shortwave has something romantically nostalgic about it.

A great starter radio for listening is the CC Radio-SW. If you are unfamiliar with C. Crane,, lets just say they are the source for radios and repair. They also make some high quality products, like the CC Radio-SW.

The CC Radio-SW is a super shortwave for starting your listening around the world experience. Loaded with all the bells and whistles, it makes for a very functional radio for around $150.

Shortwave radios are great fun; you will be surprised at the assortment of shows out there on the airwaves. It’s also a great way to listen to foreign languages if you are trying to pick one up.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Small Space Apartment: Optibo


In May I had two posts about Sandy Lam’s Spaceless balcony furniture. It is a system of furniture that collapses into the space beneath it so that you can use the space for a variety of purposes. I was thinking that it reminded me of something I had seen before. When I did some digging, I found it.

Although not exactly the same Optibo is a similar concept. Optibo is the product of Swedish ingenuity I think it’s a bit like a Swiss Army Knife apartment. Although Optibo has been around for several years, I thought it would be relevant here.

Optibo was a research project on future housing and multifunction furniture. The furniture in the apartment lowers into the floor via hydraulic stage equipment. Yes its hydraulics for your couch, well not exactly. The project basically created a dwelling in a 25 square meter apartment. By concealing furniture in the floor it created a space that could transform itself thereby utilizing the space very efficiently.

As far as I can tell, they are not selling the concept yet, but it is a very noteworthy small space.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Small Space Hydration: Lifesaver Bottle.


At one time I was quite into hiking. I would take off for weekends and just walk away from everything. But years and other factors have taken away my adventure edge.

I was always striving for lightweight gear to minimize what I needed to be haul. Hydration, as always, was a heavy or risky component to any long hike. The Holy Grail of hydration has forever been a self-contained filter container combination.

Well the Grail has been found. The Lifesaver Bottle by Lifesaver Systems is a remarkable piece of technology. This little wonder takes suspect water in one end and provides clean tasteless drinking water out the other end.

The Lifesaver removes all bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other microbiological waterborne pathogens. And it does it all without chemicals. To make the Lifesaver totally foolproof, it will also shut off the filtering cartridge when it can no longer function to prevent possible contamination.

Not inexpensive at near $400, but for hiking or as a disaster kit option it’s a great deal.

Even More Small Space Grillin’: Baja BBQ Firepack


So by now my love of all things grilled has been well established. I just enjoying grilling — at the cottage it is a integral part of my summer.

I have also covered the fact that I prefer the flavor of charcoal vs. gas grilling. I am aware of the arguments over the environmental impact of charcoal vs. gas, but I am still a charcoal man.

Having said that, if there is a way to lessen the environmental impact of using charcoal, I’m game. That’s where Lazzari comes in with their Baja bbq Firepack. A great deal of VOCs are released by the lighter fluid commonly used to start charcoal grills. The Baja bbq Firepack eliminates the use of lighter fluid. The pack is a 100% recycled biodegradable paper pack that holds 2 pounds of natural lump charcoal. The package is formed with an integrated chimney that stokes up perfect hot coals without the use of additional chemicals.

You simply light the bottom of the pack, slap it in your grill, and let the package burn away starting the coals.

I’m all about grilling, and simple greener grilling is definitely the way to go.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Small Space Stamps: Charles + Ray Eames


I just wanted to remind everyone to start getting in line now — think of the iPhone release in New York. What are you lining up for, some new object of lust from Apple? No, stamps!

Charles + Ray Eames stamps to be more precise; they are coming soon. The official Post Office release date is June 16, 2008. They are some truly lust worthy stamps and just thinking about them makes me want to write letters to everyone I know.

Then again, I’m not sure I actually want to mail these stamps. Maybe I will stick them around my house on my ordinary furniture and let it dream of greatness.

Small Space Floating Furniture: Cantilever Style


While doing some of my regular trolling of sites, this weekend I stumbled on an image of the cantilevered desk (pictured above).

It is a really fine piece of furniture. I love how the use of built in furniture allows for what is really quite a large piece of furniture without feeling large. The floating volume of the piece allows the room to appear more open and less cluttered.

Built in furniture is not inexpensive and good cabinetmakers are quite rare. However, the added home value of built in furniture can make it well worth the investment. Just remember to keep built-ins classic and clean so what ever it is, it will never look dated. This piece is a great example.

Eastvold Custom Woodworks created the desk. Check out their site for more of beautiful designs.

Via Mid-Century Modernist

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Small Space Living Classic Reborn: The Pretzel Chair


With my deep and abiding love of all things mid-century modern, I’m not sure I could let the weekend go without mentioning The Pretzel Chair.

The Pretzel Chair is one of George Nelson’s classic designs. It is a lovely gracefully bent wood chair. The chairs were produced from 1952 to the 1980’s. To commemorate what would be the 100th birthday of Nelson, Vitra is producing a limited edition of 1,000 chairs.

Such a handsome chair certainly deserved a resurrection, even if for only a brief time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Small Space Rehab: Philly Style


One of my favorite things about architecture these days is the abundance of creative rehabs that pop up in urban areas. I love the reuse of old structures. It’s a sort-of architectural recycling.

I stumbled on this great rehab of a garage in Philadelphia. Three master of architecture students from the University of Pennsylvania executed the rehab in lieu of more traditional internships.

The space is quite amazing with its striking Cor-Ten steel fa├žade. There are many amenities packed in this old garage. Some of the highlights are bamboo floors, on-demand electric-heated water, exposed brick, and a 600 square foot green rooftop. The entire project is simply amazing.

You can see more pictures here at the flicker set. And if you have 400K you can buy it here!

Via 100khouse.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Small Space Flashlight: Super Bogo Solar


Small Space Living is dedicated to living greener and helping others. We have a strong green streak and deep belief that individuals are defined by how they give back.

With this in mind, I cannot imagine a better flashlight in the world than the Bogo. The Bogo series of flashlights are truly innovative products. They are well-built, very durable, solar-rechargeable flashlights. The Bogo flashlights use LEDs so it is possible to get six or more hours per night from the on-board batteries.

If that were the end of the story they would be some fine flashlights. As the name implies these Bogo lights are “buy one give one.” Yes that’s not a typo its give one, not get one. When you purchase one of these very reasonably priced lights, one is given to someone in need that could not normally afford one.

Flashlights my not seem like life or death necessity, but I assure you they can make life easier. The whole idea of renewable flashlights, stopping the flow of batteries to landfills and helping others, makes the Bogo just about perfect in our book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Small Space Prefab: Bungalow in a Box


We are big fans of prefab here at Small Space Living. And after having spent my first weekend of the summer at the cottage, I am thinking of get-a-ways.

Bungalow in a Box builds small ready to assemble Bungalow kits. While not exactly a entirely pre-built structure like many of the prefab projects we have covered, it has a lot of promise.

You assemble the Bungalow in a Box in place on your foundation in one or two days. Now I’m thinking that perhaps Norm Abram would be able to have one up by lunch, but it may take a lesser carpenter slightly longer. The kit does seem to be set up so anyone with moderate skill could build one.

Bungalow in a Box kits are the full finished exterior of the structure allowing you the ability to customize the interior. The kits are perfect for studios, backyard offices and weekend get-a-ways. The best part is the price tag — starting at $13,700 for the 12x16 foot model they should be accessible to most.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Small Space Bathroom: Vertebrae


Of all the space-saving bathroom designs I have seen this one, the Vertebrae, is the clear winner. It is an ingenious stacking design that incorporates all of the necessities of a bathroom in to one tiny 4 square meter footprint.

The Vertebrae is a stack of swiveling units. Each unit contains a piece of the bathroom. The upper most sections are showerheads, followed by storage areas, a sink and finally a toilet on the bottom. There are even compartments on the sides of the toilet for toilet paper and a toilet brush.

The unit is entirely self-contained with a drain on the floor and you have yourself a compact bathroom. Each unit is made of aluminum and completely customizable.

The two major drawbacks are the appearance, which is perfectly suited for an episode of Star Trek, but may be a bit ultra modern for less a cosmic decor. The other drawback is the price. At $20,000 it may well be beyond the reach of some consumers, however $20,000 is perfectly reasonable in some markets.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Small Space Etsy Find: More-Light South Third Street


Light is important in small spaces. Keeping your space well lit can help it seem more airy and spacious.

Why not keep your small space illuminated with style? While browsing Etsy’s furniture category I stumbled on the seller Resurface. Resurface makes lamps, some pretty stylish lamps actually. One of my favorites is the More-Light / South3rd model. It’s a simple one-bulb hanging lamp with a printed canvas shade. The shade, which is 16x9 inches, is a print of a photograph of graffiti from South Third Street in Brooklyn.

Small Space Pop Up Furniture: Sandy Lam’s Spaceless Update

On May 8, 2008 I had posted about Sandy Lam’s Spaceless balcony furniture.

Sandy added a comment directing readers to her new site with more detailed info about Spacless. I just wanted to take a moment to say check it out. There is a great deal more information and videos, like the one above.

It’s a great idea and worth a second look. Thanks Sandy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Small Space Multi-Function Furniture: The Windwheel


We have been over the importance of getting the most out of furniture in your small space by selecting multi-function pieces. If you are able to use any furniture do double-duty, it helps in small space living.

This new concept by Choi Seonghwa, the Windwheel stool, is a good example of making the most of the space that the furniture occupies. First and foremost, the Windwheel is a table with 4 padded stools. The stools fit under the table when not in use to reduce the footprint of the Windwheel. The stools also have built in shelving so in addition to having a reduced footprint they include extra storage.

It’s a great concept. I hope to see someone picks it up and produces it soon.

Via designzen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Small Space Fashion: Indiana Jones Style


Ok so I need to be straight right up front, this post has very little to do with living in small spaces. It does have something to do with living.

In 1981, I was ten. That’s the year “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released. This year on the 22nd of May, the fourth Indiana Jones movie “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” will be released.

This whole Indian Jones rehash as me thinking about a common theme of mine, “what is a classic?” Classics are practical and stylish. Classics endure they not only function, they do it with style.

I have for a long time visited Indy Gear, a site dedicated to the gear used by Indiana Jones. There are several pieces of the quintessential Indiana Jones look that can still be purchased and will never go out of style.

One such piece is the Wested Leather “Indy Jacket”. These jackets are still handmade to order and much cheaper than one would expect, starting at 165 British Pounds.

You would be hard pressed to find a better jacket to save the world form the Nazis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Small Space Fitness: Kinetix


I received my Kinetix starter kit today. Kinetix is a simple integrated system that combines nutrition, exercise, and a supportive community to help get you in great shape.

My starter kit was free and offered to me through my employer. The kit is a basic overview of the system with a journal to track your progress and workouts. It all looks pretty good and I’m hopeful that I can use it to get back into great shape.

The workouts are not hard, but there is either lifting or cardio six days a week. The sessions are all short — 30 minuets each. I am more concerned about trying to balance my meals than the workouts.

I’ll post additional updates as I get into the system.

Small Space Fitness: Sports Furniture


The problem with working out at home is two-fold — space and ugly equipment. I guess in some bachelor-pad environments you can live with workout gear, but in most small homes you don’t want that stuff out in the open.

I have actually done a post on equipment for small spaces, but it usually needs to be easily storable to make my cut. I have endeavored to find stylish workout gear like a bench that could be a bench for sitting then a bench for exercise, but it’s hard to find.

Well Postfossil has a new line called Sports Furniture that looks promising. The collection consists of a pull-up-bar, mat, bench, skipping rope and a cup. The bench is a stylish wood bench with storage for other equipment and sturdy enough to workout on. The pull-up bar looks like a piece of sculpture — I mean it’s not hard to look at and more attractive than those doorway mounted pull-up bars.

All in all it’s a good start, I’d love to see more of this type of stylish workout equipment.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small Space Fruit Bowl: Inout


I have been eating lots of fruit lately — summer always reminds me how much I’ve let myself go over the winter. I have been trying to get in better shape later, but that’s another post.

I stumbled on the Inout fruit bowl last week. It is one of those functional things that manages to be visually appealing while performing an actual function. The Inout is a fruit bowl — it’s not really a bowl it’s more of an object. The shape is very organic with a pronounced bowl area on one side and a perforated convex area on the other. The perforated area is perfect for repining bananas.

If you eat fruit, you may as well display it stylishly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Small Space Summer Living: Ductless Air Conditioning


As summer approaches and hot days return, I find myself thinking about those dog days of summer. I generally like summer, the sun, the trees, but not so much the heat and humidity. In some regions and for certain segments of the population, air conditioning is a necessity.

Just how you get high-quality and efficient AC in a small space is sometime a real feat. There are several options for real whole-house or whole-space AC. The main examples of permanent AC all involve ductwork. Ductwork equals less living space. In my small modest 1860’s row house, closets are fairly slim and the thought of giving up even a small portion of them for return-air ducts is out of the question.

For the last several years we have used in-window AC units — the house is only around 650 – 700 square feet on each floor so the do cool it fairly well. But there is the laundry list of problems associated with the units. Here, in the Historical District, where I live they are prohibited in all but the secluded rear windows of our homes. They are also ugly. Oh yea, and they drip-drip-drip water.

When recently visiting the Home Show, I found several ductless AC options. I like the Fujitsu Halcyon system over the other competitive models.

Fujitsu makes a wide array of systems from 9,000 BTU to 36,000 BTU. They have wall or ceiling mount options and a slue of features. These systems have a smaller unit that is located close to the inside wall unit and connected with very small copper tubes. Some of the options include: quiet mode, a wireless remote, a high quality plasma air filter, and timers.

The outdoor component of the Fujitsu system can also be used to control multiple indoor wall units for true zoning. With this process, it is much less expensive and more efficient to cool only the space you use.

They are also available in heat-pump models so in some mild climates they may be all the heating you need. In the northeast, where I live, they could help lower gas bills, but could not handle the dead of winter.

If you need to cool a small space and don’t want to give up a window, these systems may be the perfect solution.

Small Space Living: Update, Google Love #2

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I have posted in the past about my Google search position rank. I have to say that I am not a web designer nor do I have any great understanding of HTML. I am aware of the fact that Google uses algorithms to determine page rank, but my knowing of said algorithms does in no way make me an expert.

As a recap, I should say that I usually go to Google once per week and type “small space living” and look at where I am. So I have been here posting away and over the last month I have watched my search rank go form first page to second page and back to first. Today I wake up searched “small space living” and Bam! I am number one.

Well more correctly, I was number one. A few hours later, HGTV, apparently suffering greatly just behind the tyrannical force of my little blog, somehow managed to get back ahead of me. But I am pleased to see that without paying for any sort of listing or Google insertion I have been able to not only compete with, but also beat out much larger companies that use the term “small space living”.

So thanks to all of you who read and subscribe. Also super big thanks to any of you how have linked or mentioned Small Space Living on your blog. Thanks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Small Space Pen: Fisher Space Pen


I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to hold on to an ink pen for 10 years. I always seem to be misplacing lesser pens, but I have somehow been able to keep tabs on my Fisher Space Pen for a decade.

I bought my Fisher Space Pen, the “Chrome Bullet with Stylus”, to use with a PDA I use to own. The PDA is long gone, but the pen is still kicking. Space Pens are great little writing instruments — they are solid, heavy and stylish. They are called Space Pens because they were designed with a gas pressurized ink cartridge that allows them to write at odd angles, upside-down and yes, in space. NASA has been taking the Space Pen into space since 1968.

Well I’ve never used it in space, but I’ve had it in my pocket through three jobs, countless weekends, vacation trips and its still kicking.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coffee Roasting For A Cause

Photo Credit Laura Petrilla

So for several weeks I have been, in addition to my full-time job, spending time at La Prima Espresso. La Prima is a local coffee roaster, retailer and wholesaler. They have a very authentic Italian Espresso bar that has been in business nearly 20 years. In addition to serving some pretty tasty espresso, they are some truly great people.

I have been endeavoring to learn to roast coffee. Roasting is one of those things that you could learn to do in several months, but not learn all there is to know in 20 years. I have no intention of being a master roaster, but I hope to become a competent one. It is my intention to get to a point where the folks at La Prima feel I can roast well enough to produce a consistent quality product.

When I am approved and comfortable, it is my intention to volunteer two days a week to roast coffee for Building New Hope, a non-profit organization that serves communities in Central America. They primarily work in El Salvador and Nicaragua by selling Fair Trade organic coffee. Please check out their web site; it’s a fantastic organization. You can buy their coffee here.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I actually roasted my first batch of Building New Hope Coffee today and hope to be able to do more to help them out very soon.

Small Space AV Cabinet: Big Twin Cub


Almost exactly one year ago I bought an old turntable at a church sale. I know it was a year ago because we volunteer there every year and it’s coming around again next week. The turntable was a sweet old-school Bang & Olufsen — it’s in nice shape and in its original box! So in this year, I have not used it or even removed it from the box.

My problem is I have no place to put it. That’s where Curt Menissner and the Big Twin Cub come in. This slick little AV cabinet stores your old and new AV gear without looking like one of the many cheesy entertainment centers out there.

In addition to looking good, you can feel good about the Big Twin Cub as well. It’s constructed of sustainable materials including bamboo plywood, paper-based fiberboard and post-industrial recycled denim fill.

There is also a matching bench, the Little Twin Cub. Check them out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Small Space Bookshelf: Tetrad


Yes we own too many books. I don’t know what that means because you can never have too many books. But we do have a large number of books relative to the small space we live in. We are always looking for creative ways to store and display our books.

The Tetrad is a great example of functional fun. This Tetris-inspired bookshelf is a 10-block set of Tetris shapes that can be arranged in any configuration you desire. The pieces can be attached to each other and/or the wall. The shelves are constructed of birch plywood with multi-colored metal backings.

And just in case you’re wondering, the bottom row does not disappear if you fill the line.

Small Space Wallet: Jimi


I hate wallets, but not the idea of the wallet. Organization is good and having everything handy is always a plus. It’s the everything part that scares me. That’s where Jimi comes in.

I have had a Jimi for about 4 years now. Jimi is a small-sized recycled plastic wallet. The small part is the main point here. There is room for your ID, a credit or two, and a few folded bills. I think of the Jimi as a sort of gastric-bypass surgery for the wallet. It forces you to only put in exactly what you have too.

I use to suffer from bulging wallet syndrome. I would stuff all manner of trash I’d never need into my wallet. When my wallet got to thick and I could no longer sit comfortably on it, I’d sort all the stuff I’d been carrying around and wonder “what was I thinking.” The Jimi is a great design — there is even a removable portion, like a money clip just big enough for two cards and some cash.

If you find you store too much in your wallet, give Jimi a try.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Small Space Child’s Chair


Children sometimes dwell in small spaces. I don’t have any children yet, but someday when I do, I think I’d like them to have beautiful furniture. I’m not really excited about much of the bright ugly plastic kids’ furniture out there.

I can’t help but thinking that surrounding children with style must rub off on them, right? And conversely, surrounding children with cheap plastic junk — well you do the math.

The Felt Chair from Bookhou is a great piece of stylish furniture for children. It’s a wonderful steam-bent ash wood child’s chair. The chair has a removable industrial felt cover. The chairs are also quit reasonably priced at $220 CAD.

If you’re going to have kids, they may as well be stylish right?

More Small Space Grillin’: The Laptop Grill


So by now you should all know I have a serious interest in outdoor grilling. I am always on the look out for the perfect grill and grilling accessories. I have always preferred charcoal grills to gas and don’t have lots of room for a grill.

Direct Design’s Notebook Portable Grill is a real contender for a small space grill. The Notebook Grill is a light, 8 pound, small grill perfect for anyone with space concerns. The grill has a somewhat large 192 square inch cooking surface. The cooking grill is stainless steel. The rest of the grill is black weather resistant stainless steel.

Just under the steel grilling grate there are cut out handles. The best feature of this stylish grill is the ability to take the grill by the handles, after it’s cool of course, and fold it flat for storage.

The laptop Grill is a stylish grill that folds flat for easy low-volume storage making it a perfect small space grill.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Small Space Picnic Addition: Fridgefork


With Memorial Day just around the corner the official start of picnic season is not far off. I was looking over some items for outdoor grilling, general outdoor partys and summer gathering ideals for Small Space Living.

I give you the Fridgefork. The Fridgefork really is another one of those ideas I cannot believe I didn’t think of. The Fridgefork is a little stretchy silicone loop that fits around most jars and holds a condiment fork. The fork is then used to retrieve the contents of that jar, i.e. pickles, olives, peppers and the like. This handy little device keeps the utensil, the Fridgefork, from contaminating other foods. It also keeps it tidy and off the table or other questionable surfaces.

It’s a great idea and if you can just keep your cousin Billy from dropping it or chasing his sister with it, the fork will always be clean.

Small Space Seating: Cube 6


The ability to comfortably accommodate guests in a small space can be a challenge. Even seating those impromptu guests can be an exercise in creativity. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some reasonable seating options for multiple guests that are less homely than folding chairs and store in a smaller space?

Well Naho Matsuno may have the perfect solution in the Cube 6. The Cube 6 is a small birch plywood cube that pulls apart to reveal 6 small stools. They are small and I doubt they will win any awards for comfort, but as a small space seating solution they just may. The Cube 6 looks like it would require a learning curve to get it all back together — its reminiscent of puzzle cubes I’ve seen.

If seating is an issue in your small space, the Cube 6 may be just the ticket for you.

Small Space Spoon: Yogurt Spoon


I like yogurt. I eat it every day — sometimes several times. It’s just a good healthy convenient snack.

When I saw Nojae Park’s Yogurt Spoon I thought “wow, why has no one thought of this before?” If you have ever eaten yogurt out of those neat little single serving plastic cups, you will get this. The Yogurt Spoon is a spoon designed for eating yogurt. The trick is that the tip is a right-angled point. It’s rounded so it’s not too sharp, but it is pointed enough to get the yogurt that normally falls out side the radius of a normal spoon.

With a normal spoon it is a fairly small volume of yogurt wasted. But when I think of all the cups I recycle, that little extra yogurt adds up to a big waste. I need this spoon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Small Space Pop Up Furniture: Sandy Lam’s Spaceless


Small Space living presents many challenges — not the least of which is, well, space. There just never seems to be enough. Even outdoors, my “back yard” is hardly the size of a small car.

Sandy Lam has developed some pretty intuitive solutions for increasing the useable space on balconies. Spaceslees is a system of furniture that pops up from the decking of outdoor balconies. It does not actually pop, you do need to lift it, but the pieces fold into the decking beneath their up-right position.

Currently, there are two pieces in the Spaceless collection — a table and a bench. The pieces fold flat when not in use allowing the space to be used for other purposes. When there is a need for additional furniture, you simply lift them out of their in-deck storage.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Small Space Prefab Italian Style: The Joshua Tree


The Italians have always been the cutting edge of design and architecture. So it stands to reason that their entries into the prefab market would be stylish and beautiful.

The Joshua Tree by Hanger Prefab Group definitely delivers a healthy dose of Italian Style. The Joshua Tree is a stunning steel panel covered prefab vacation home. The grey exterior is a stark contrast to the warm wood of the interior. The interior is constructed of pale wood reminiscent of a beach cottage.

The design is simple yet elegant and unique enough to set itself apart from other prefabs in its size category. Billed as a “mountain refuge” at the Milan Furniture Fair, the Joshua Tree would be a welcome addition to the prefab market stateside. The Joshua Tree is being marked by Holiday Homes Design.

I’m encouraged to see the international market producing spectacular prefabs. I will have more information on the Joshua Tree as soon as more English information becomes available. Via Dwell.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Small Space Desk Organization: I/O Desk Organizer


The importance of organization in small space living cannot be overstated. One way to keep a space feeling larger is to keep it well organized.

The i/o Desk Organizer is a perfect way to keep you desk straight with simple elegance and beauty. The i/o Desk Organizer consists of modular walnut and ceramic elements and a walnut and felt base. The different elements can be organized by “plugging” them into the base for personal customization.

The natural materials are warm and inviting. In this day of plastic everything, it’s a delightful alternative to the standard big box office store offerings.

Noon Solar Logan Bag


In this world of gadgets you need a stylish way to carry your goodies. So why not add some additional function to your satchel?

The Noon Solar Logan is a handsome leather and hemp bag with a sunny side. The back of this shoulder bag contains a flexible solar cell that can be used to charge your stuff. The bag is quite attractive and available in black or rich brown. The ability to charge your gadgets on the go is a great plus in a very stylish package.

As long as we continue to rely on an ever-growing array of electronic gadgets, we may as well carry and charge them in style.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Small Space Integration, TubeStick


In small space living, every inch counts. It is important to prioritize the usefulness of objects and try to focus on items capable of multi-tasking. We have focused on multi-function furniture and other double-duty products. How about your personal computer?

I don’t watch much television — in fact I have never in my adult life had cable. I do sometimes enjoy watching some television, like Antiques Road Show and occasionally the news. I’ve been thinking about a new flat-screen television, but I would also have to bite the bullet and get cable.

So why not use your computer as your television? The TubeStick by Equinux is a clever little device about the size of a USB memory stick that lets you do just that. The TubeStick sticks in the side of your computer and with it’s two built in tuners it lets you watch free analog and that newfangled free digital TV as well. It also has a port that can accept an antenna for greater reception or cable.

The TubeStick has many features that make my Sony TV green with envy. You can record shows with the Tubestick, access an electronic program guide and remotely manage or watch programs with your iPod touch or iPhone. You can also zoom in on the picture and BuddySurf, a feature that shows chat rooms related to the show you are watching.

The though of having you new iMac also server as a fully functional HD TV is a proposition bound to free up space in small homes everywhere.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Small Space Grillin’


I love to grill. I have mentioned before that I grill constantly at our cottage in the summer. I do not have a grill at home mostly because of the space limitations on my very small patio area.

Magma Products has some amazing small space grill solutions. These grills are designed as marine products for grilling on boats. If you have ever spent time on a yacht or a ship that involves extended stays, you know that space is extremely limited. As a result of the limited space, efficiency is of vital importance.

The Catalina Grill by Magma Products is a small, versatile grill with a large 315 square inch grilling area. The grill is very well designed and made entirely of mirror-polished stainless steel. It has several intuitive features like a flare-up reducing inner safety shell that funnels grease into a front accessible tray. For an all-stainless grill, the price at $440 is quite reasonable

The best features of these grills are the variety of mounting options. They can be mounted directly to the railing on a boat or on a small balcony.

It is now possible to have that big grill cooking in very small space with these grills by Magma Products.

Small Space Wardrobe


Functional furniture can make a tremendous difference in small space living. If you have to give up space to any piece of furniture it needs to perform its intended function flawlessly. The Wardrobe by N.J. Dean is one such piece.

The Wardrobe is an efficient elegant piece designed with limited space in mind. The Wardrobe is 23.6 x 26.8 x 68.5 inches. It is not a large piece. It is designed in such a way so that when closed it looks like one solid piece — a standard stylish wardrobe. Its design is modern with a definite Art Deco flare. The Wardrobe is actually two separate pieces — the “door” section and the “back” stationary section. The door section has a telescoping rail to hang clothing, three compartments and a large bin at the bottom. The back section has adjustable shelves that allow you to take advantage of the space beneath short hanging items.

The Wardrobe is an excellent example of very space-efficient design. It’s a great wardrobe that has enough space to contain a sizeable amount of clothing in a stylish package.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Small Space Cooking: Brevill Ikon Panini Press


I love to cook. However I hate my kitchen. It’s just too small; we hope to rectify this problem soon by remodeling. In the interim, it is difficult adding new appliances that we do not have room to store.

I received my Brevill Ikon Panini Press for Christmas two years ago and I still love it. The Ikon is perfect for small kitchens its quite small at 15.5 x 12 x 6.5 inches. It is just the right size for cooking for two or one. It is heavy and well made. The outside is stainless steel and the cooking surface is cast aluminum with non-stick Teflon. The cooking is controlled with a variable temperature knob. There is a special “high sear” mode that crisps bread perfectly. Clean up is made easy by a removable drip tray, but the cooking plates are some times tricky to get clean as they are not removable.

The Ikon is perfect for grilling vegetables, chicken, fish and so much more. I can say I make an amazing Portobello on focaccia panini. The Ikon comes with a great recipe book and if you shoot over to the Williams Sonoma site or store you can get a great recipe for Peanut Butter Panini with Bananas and Honey.

If you have been thinking about getting a panini press, you can’t go wrong with the Ikon.

Small Space Laundry: LG Combo Washer Dryers


We all have dirty laundry. It’s how you get it clean that matters. I remember the days of going to a Laundromat. I remember them… I do not miss them. We have a washer and dryer that we have owned for ten years. I really have no complaints about the Kenmore units that I own. They are, however, ten years old and therefore not the most efficient options. They also live in the basement. It is my hope that we can purchase one combo unit and move it up from the basement.

LG makes several full sized washer dryer combo units. The LG units range from $1,300 to $1,900. With the space advantages aside, the LG units also have many other desirable features. These front-loading machines are generally well built and include high-end features like a stainless steel drum, a direct drive motor, steam wash and a ventless condensing drying system.

The machines also have a proprietary system called SenseClean that monitors fabric care as well as water and energy efficiency. The machines are also low decibel quite operating.

All the features and sensors make for highly energy water and space efficient machines. In fact, LG machines exceed Energy Star classifications by 39%.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Small Space Accommodations: The Pod Hotel


Traveling can be expensive. Paying a premium for spacious hotel rooms never made much sense to me. Most of the time when I’ve traveled it was to see some location other than the inside of a hotel room.

The Pod Hotel is changing the way we think about hotels in America. The Pod Hotel has been quite successful in Europe and now it’s catching on in the US. The first American Pod Hotel is located in Manhattan. It is not uncommon for a average New York hotel room to top $300 a night. The Pod Hotel has rooms as low as $89 with average prices around $180.

What’s the big deal with The Pod? The big deal is well small. If you stay in The Pod Hotel you will be staying in a room that is significantly smaller than major hotel chain’s rooms. The rooms are small, clean and well appointed. There are iPod docks and flat screen televisions. The smallest and least expensive rooms have shared bathrooms.

If you are traveling to New York this summer, check it out. If The Pod Hotel continues to be successful, there may be one coming to a city near you very soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Small Space Solar Solutions: Brunton Portable Solar Power


One of the origins of my small space living interest is backpacking. If you have ever gone backpacking you quickly realize the need to minimize everything. Everything you carry adds weight, weight that you have to carry.

With the prevalence of gadgets in our everyday lives, they have inedibility found their way into many hikers packs. It’s not unusual to see iPods, GPS, radios, cell phones and more in the backcountry. All that gadgetry requires quite a bit of juice — which brings us to power.

Brunton has been producing a line of solar backcountry products for some time now. The product line has been getting more and more refined. As these products become more refined, they also become more capable. Several products recently featured on bb Gadgets include the Brunton Solo 15 and the Brunton Solaris 52.

The Solaris 52 is the largest most powerful portable folding solar panel. The Solaris 52 is capable of charging most gadgets, including laptops. It is also capable of powering many devices like small televisions or an air compressor — quite an amazing feat for such a small device.

The Solo 15 is basically a portable battery. It can be charged from any of the Brunton solar panels or it can be charged from an AC power source. Once it is charged, the Solo 15 can be used to power and or charge other devices. It is not really a great choice for standard backpacking — at four pounds it is light for a high capacity battery, but I would not want to lug it.

These pieces together extend the long term off grid possibility for all sorts of off grid activities. They would be perfect for a small space off grid cabin. So whether you are trekking or just preparing for a post-apocalyptic world where just you and your iPod live Brunton has what you need to keep the juice flowing.