Sunday, April 6, 2014

Small Space Organizing

I received an exciting postal item from the United States recently. Author Kathryn Bechen, after reading my blog, wrote and offered to send me a copy of her book ‘Small Space Organizing’ for review. Aside from the fact that I was thrilled that someone would consider me worthy of reviewing their book, the title sounded fabulous and totally something I would love to read.

A week after the email my copy arrived and I couldn’t wait to get into it. Kathryn’s style is that of an approachable and supportive friend, and the personal and pretty way in which her book is written reminds me a little of Alexandra Stoddard.

There are two ways to read this book. The first is to start at the beginning – Kathryn’s introduction immediately is warm and friendly and fun to read, it makes you want to carry on. The other way is to look up an area you need help with, for example the laundry or the master wardrobe.

I know I need to do something about my wardrobe but it seems overwhelming right now. Starting on the wardrobe chapter it is like Kathryn is there with me and helping me see where to start. I love that!

In fact, straight away I thought of an answer to a problem my husband was having with the belts he wore on a regular basis. We have a shared belt hanger that was rather full. And with us both using it, he would get frustrated at having to unearth a belt he wanted to use. Over the past months I noticed he was leaving his belts out on a chair to have easy access to. They looked messy but the other way wasn’t working.

It seems like such common sense now, but after reading some of the wardrobe chapter I thought about using hooks in the wardrobe for his belts. He has five belts so I bought two large-size 3M hooks from the supermarket and stuck them up inside his side of the wardrobe. They were an instant hit and the belts are always hanging there. It’s little things like this that make your life easier. My goal is to find all those spots in our house!

And of course I decluttered quite a few belts from both of us at the same time, so my belt hanger is looking rather swish too.

As you might have guessed, Small Space Organizing is very motivating. I can’t finish reading a chapter without getting up to go and put an idea into practice.

I decluttered more books and magazines, so that a tall and skinny cube shelving unit could be repurposed from my sewing room into our ensuite bathroom. It looks fabulous there and now I have towels, hand-towels, flannels and body products handy, rather than running downstairs. It looks so at home in its new spot that I can’t believe I didn’t do it before, but it was something in one of the chapters that made me start thinking about moving things around.

There are so many good, useable tips are in this book. It’s clear that either Kathryn has done A LOT of research or perhaps is passionate about this topic, or maybe both!

Thanks to this book I have finally gone through my sewing room and decided what crafts I really love. I’ve never thought of decluttering actual craft categories before, but whenever I went into my sewing room I felt overwhelmed at all the possibilities, and also guilt at not want to get stuck into any of them (when they used to be my greatest joy and comfort).

I chose to keep knitting and sewing, and decluttered all my embroidery goodies which my two young nieces are looking through. The eldest is seven, and is only a little younger than I am when I first started playing around with hand-sewing and embroidery.

My sewing room is now more streamlined and I actually want to go in there to potter which I am very happy about.

One thing I love about Small Space Organizing is that it has no pictures. Words always let me think about my house, my situation and my life. I can more easily visualize my solutions when there aren’t other (perfect) houses making me feel dissatisfied. And of course pictures date over time, whereas a book like this is timeless, because the ideas and principles are.

With any possible book purchase, I like to test-drive them first. If you think you would enjoy this book, you can either ‘have a look inside’ on Amazon, or order it from your library. If your library doesn’t have this title, request that they order it in.

Our library offers this service online, but if yours doesn’t, speak to a librarian next time you’re in. It’s a great way to preview a book and see if it would be helpful to you, and it introduces the book to other readers as well. One of our librarians told me they have a certain budget they have to spend on books each year and that they love it when people request titles be purchased.

So thank you to Kathryn Bechen for sending me your book, I know it will be well-used. In fact it is already looking a little 'ruffled' from frequent reference. I’m sure my chic readers will get plenty of inspiration and loads of ideas from it too.


  1. Great review! I keep adding hooks to my closet walls because they are so helpful. And the open shelving in your bathroom looks very nice.

  2. My closet really needs a total makeover...I will see if I can find this at the library.
    Spring is a great time to de clutter as we tend to do a deep clean after the winter so this book and your post is perfectly timed

  3. This is a great reference book to remember--especially if she is anything like Alexandra Stoddard. We are making some big changes around here and it is basically cutting my space in half (close to). Having tips like this is exactly what I need right now. Thanks for the review!! xo

  4. Dear Fiona,

    Thank you so much for your lovely review of my book. I hope it helps your blog readers and I am so proud of you for all of the action steps you have already taken on your behalf--because it's only when we take action that anything improves. I smiled at your mention that I must have a passion for my topic, or have done lots of research, or both. If you look on my My Home page on my blog at, you can see links and pix of my own numerous small space homes over the years since my husband and I have remodeled and decorated many small space properties. Together. 14 moves! That's my "real life research"--I live and practice what I write about. I also had a professional organizing and speaking business for many years, and I started an online decorating business years ago, plus I write for home and garden magazines. We currently live happily in 710 very organized square feet! :) Keep writing your lovely blog and keeping your home, and hubby, happy. Kudos to you for living well! Your own small space home is really nice Fiona. You should be proud of it! Blessings. Kathryn :)

  5. Fiona, This sounds like a book I would like to read, I'll check my library today to see if they have it.

    I had a similar belt situation until I noticed my husband had an extra, unused tie hanger - you know the type that is one "hanger" with lots of slots going down it . Voila! I repurposed it for the belts and it works fantastically because it holds about 8 belts, and since it is only one hanger, it lays flat - taking up very minimal space on the clothing rod in the closet.

  6. Is that a Bernardaud Votive? They are so beautiful.

  7. Yes it is, you have a good eye! This one is 'Versaille'. I agree, they are gorgeous.

  8. Fiona,
    I have the "Chateax of the Loire" and I enjoy mine so much.

  9. I love that one, and was torn when choosing. The reflection of the building on the water is just stunning.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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