Tag Archives: organizing

Assembling a Tiny Dressing Vanity in a Small House

Finally settling into the land dwelling, new to us this past spring, because we were sailing all summer. I’ll talk about summer later, when I need the warm-thought therapy, but for now, it’s nice to get to personalize the wee house on the back road only 10 minutes from the winter dock where Mimi Rose is tied up.

I’ve always wanted one of those dressing vanities in my room with a little matching stool in front of it. A place to keep the few feminine things I have, a space just for a few treasures and pieces of jewelry. My new tiny room kind of precludes having anything like that or even a little reading chair of some sort.

Here’s a low-profile, zero-footprint version I improvised from found objects. A slightly fancy mirror ($5, thrift store a couple years ago) and what I think is a set of bathroom shelves for hand towels and lavatory sundries ($12 at an awesome junk barn here in town) combine to make a wall-mounted duo that serves the purpose of a table and stool without taking up all the room.

The new little dressing "table" I assembled from a couple of found things.

What I’m stowing here isn’t all dressing-related. Some of it is inspiring family treasure, or little bits and bobs that make me think, but these shelves are also clearly a good match for neatly storing some jewelry.

The new little dressing "table" I assembled from a couple of found things.

Necklaces stored without tangles.

The new little dressing "table" I assembled from a couple of found things.

Even spots for post earrings!

I’m keeping some stuff in little glass trays, too. The lips of the shelves protect the big stuff from getting bumped while walking by, and then the random pins, glass marbles, and ephemera are contained in a couple of these. Clutter with a semblance of control.

The new little dressing "table" I assembled from a couple of found things.

I also dig repurposing jars as earring holders. Inside: sea treasure. Along the rim, a few of my earrings are neatly displayed and ready to grab.

The new little dressing "table" I assembled from a couple of found things.

As I use it, I’ll probably switch out or give away some of the extra clutter and replace it with other things that have a more pressing need to be out and ready to grab. For now though, it’s definitely a nice addition to the room. Now to use these newly-acquired sewing skills to make a curtain for the closet.


Repurposing: You Probably Already Have that Thing You Need

I regard pretty much everything as objects with more than one purpose, and I’m unlikely to buy something that does a particular job. Rather, I opt for things that can fill in for many jobs around house and boat. Here are a few examples of things I’ve been using or re-using that might help reshape the way you think about the stuff you’ve got or about the packaging you choose when you’re provisioning. This isn’t just for boats, by the way. Land folk will like this, too.

Net-like Produce Bags as Beachcombing Treasure Keepers

Onions, potatoes, and citrus from the supermarket come in a variety of bags, and lately I’ve been opting for the plastic netting ones so I can take them to the beach for shelling or reuse them at the farmer’s market for more produce. The bags collapse right down so you can even keep one in your backpack for spontaneous shell collecting, and when you’re done collecting and want to rinse your finds, you can dunk the whole thing in the water to get rid of sand.

Come to think of it, they’d make a good colander for produce, too. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m thinking that next time I process and clean some greens, I might wash them in one of these bags then whip it around up on deck, using the centrifugal force as a salad spinner.

It’s important to make sure you don’t LEAVE these bags on the beach. Ever. Animals can get caught in them. When you do dispose them eventually, consider shredding them up so birds don’t find them at the landfill and have trouble with their beaks.

Parmesan Cheese Containers as Handy Tupperware

I have a slight weakness for salty, dry, shelf-stable cheese of late. I’m also finding that the shape and top of these shaky containers is useful for a slew of things. Here are a couple of examples: Its long shape is perfect for storing wrapped butter as you use it, cutting from one end and leaving the rest wrapped, you just keep it wrapped end side down. Similarly, I eat veggie sausage that comes wrapped like Jimmy Dean Sausage (called Gimme Lean) and store it the same way.

I also keep popcorn toppings in it. We love to use a mix of nutritional yeast flakes, salt, italian herbs, and a dash of garlic powder on popcorn. We premix that flavor combo in a shaky cheese container and voila! Ready to go. If it’s a nice looking container and you want to give an edible birthday present, you could put together an herb blend/popcorn topping for a friend and give it to them in this, with a homemade label.

Shells or Rocks as Soap Savers

No need to go out and buy a one-job dish to take care of your soap. Just use a handful of rocks or pretty shells in a regular little bowl to help circulate air around your bar. Where’d I get that pretty little bar of soap? From this lady here.

shells in the soapdish

Packing Tape as Lint Collectors

I mail a lot of stuff and generally find that clear mailing tape has a lot of uses in general. Great for hair and lint pickup, you just make a mitt around your fingers on one hand, spiraling the tape as a single layer loosely. By making it loose and holding it to your hand with your thumb, you can flip it around to use the other side. We just had a guest over with a very hairy dog and this trick made cleaning up very easy.

Shopping Bags and Packaging as Dog-do Bags

I don’t buy those neatly rolled things anymore. Even though I’m trying to eliminate plastic from my life entirely, stupid shopping bags seem to find their way into my realm. This goes for most packaging too, like packaging and wrapping from paper towels, bread, rice, chips, beans, potatoes, crackers… you name it. Even if it’s not shaped like a traditional bag, odds are it’ll work just fine for this job. Think about it, you just need a mitt big enough for the job and enough wrapping to get it to the nearest trash bag.

On that note, digging a 6″ hole when you are in the wilderness is acceptable, too, and we keep a camping spade in the dinghy for trips like that. Ditch the plastic bags that are just for that job. You’ll save money and plastic.

Paper Towel Rolls as Bag Storage

Now that you’re saving all your packaging to pick up dog waste, you can pack bags into paper towel rolls and put those neatly away somewhere. No massive, crazy stuffing or piles, just columns of bags ready to use.

Got some tips for me? Let me have ’em!