You may know that we lived in a travel trailer for 2 years, but we’re not the only ones that have done that! There’s plenty of others who have dared to live small! If you want to have a fun little tour of another travel trailer dweller check out Thrifty Mom in Boise’s new home (tour 1 & tour 2).

The travel trailer that served as our home for 2 years.

I got a question about organizing tips for a small pantry, since organizing containers can be pricey. I feel very inadequate to answer this question because my cupboard isn’t very organized, but I’ll give it my best shot and readers please feel free to share any tips you have!

Use Containers From Around the House

If you don’t want to buy containers look around the house and see what you can find: glass pickle jars, shoe boxes, coffee cans, yogurt containers, oatmeal canisters, even cereal boxes can be cut to make nice organizers. The Peaceful Mom shares how she cleverly uses everyday items to organize a drawer.

Organize Logically

Try putting the most used items at the easiest to reach spot and less used items up higher or further back. Some people like to organize by putting all similar items together, like all baking supplies on the same shelf, so they can go right to that spot when baking. You could also try putting all your baking supplies in a cardboard box if you have room. Then when you want to bake, just grab the whole box.

Make Use of Space

When we moved into our travel trailer Cameron put velcro on the inside of our pantry door and glued velcro to a few spice tins. This saved space on the shelves and made it where the tins wouldn’t get lost in the deep abyss of the pantry. You could also do this with metal and a magnets instead of velcro.

Hang things on the door to save shelf space.

We also hung spice racks on the door.

You could also use those wire shelves you can buy to be able to use more up and down space.

I recently discovered that my loaf pans work great to put tupperware lids in, and since I only use my loaf pans for a short amount of time (I usually just bake with them, then store the bread in something else), it works nicely to keep my lids in them.

Using my bread tin for storing lids.

Get Creative with Space & Limit Your Bulk Buying

If you’re limited on pantry space you could always store things other places, like extra paper towels under a bed, or cans of veggies in a closet. We bought an open shelf to store some of our food on, since we have limited cupboard space.

If you still lack space you might just have to limit what you buy in bulk or stock up on. You might still be able to stock up on smaller things, like bottles of your favorite hot sauce, but maybe not big sacks of flour or beans.

This shelf is a lot fuller now, don't know what I'd do without it!

Glass Jars

Okay, so glass jars may not be the most frugal choice up front, but I love my glass jars (see above picture)! They keep bugs out, look prettier than a bags of things, and it’s easier to get flour out of a jar without spilling. If you don’t want to buy any you could always save big pickle jars.

Buy Used

If you really want to buy special containers and organizers, you could always see if you can find some used to save money. Try thrift stores, consignment stores, garage sales and online are good places to check.

Okay readers, what are your tips??? 

 

In 5 weeks we’ll be in Missouri starting our missionary training!!! I can’t believe it! That means we only have a few more weeks (depending on when and if the trailer sells) of living in our tiny home. As I think about moving out of our 8 by 32 space I have lots of thoughts going through my mind!

I will not miss:

  • My tiny oven that cooks really hot in the middle.
  • Not having much counter space.
  • Our kitchen table serving as desk, counter and table.
  • Gracia’s toys in the middle of the house.
  • How quick it gets messy.

I think I will miss:

  • How close we always feel, since our house is almost a one room home.
  • Our nice little yard and two big trees (although I know we’ll have plenty of trees in Missouri).
  • How quick it is to clean up.

Once we move to Missouri, we’ll be living in an apartment on campus, so even though it still won’t be a mansion, I’m sure it’ll feel like one as it will probably have 2 whole bedrooms! Come back in about 5 weeks and maybe I’ll have some pictures of our new home for you! :)

A reader named Molly had some questions for me about living in a travel trailer, so I thought I’d answer them here in a post!

Could you point me to where you found your travel trailer home?

We found our trailer at A-1 Mobile Homes. They sell regular sized single and double-wide trailers, but were also selling leftover FEMA trailers. Our FEMA trailer was made for Katrina victims to live in temporarily after the hurricane. But once they weren’t needed anymore places like A-1 bought them to re-sell.

We also looked at another place selling them. They were $1000 cheaper, but were in terrible shape. A-1 was fixing them up and making repairs, so we decided to spend the extra $1000 on a nicer one. The particular place we bought them, still has a bunch out back, but I don’t know if they’re still fixing them up before selling or not.

How did you find a safe and comfortable park for it?

As far as trailer parks go, we have been really pleased with ours, and we’ve been here almost 2 years. It’s not an RV park, but a trailer park, that also has lots for RVs. We were drawn to this park because, it was close to where we bought our trailer and it’s close to where Cameron goes to school 4 days a week. It is the nicest trailer park in our town. There are lots of big trees (a nice feature out here in West Texas), a big pool and even a laundry mat and hair salon right here at the trailer park!

When we first moved here our lot rent was $235 a month (water, sewer and garbage included, we just pay electric). Later they changed it to $265 and we thought about seeing if we could find a cheaper place, but after driving around a couple of other trailer parks, we realized just how nice ours is and decided to stay. :)

Is Storage really a problem?

Our shed has helped immensely with storage! We have a washer and dry plus other things stored in it.  But in all honesty, we have more stuffed stored somewhere else rent-free right now.

As far as storage for the things we use daily, we haven’t had too much of a problem. Like I talk about in my other posts, it mostly boils down to not having too much stuff and making the most of the space you have. You can check out my other Small Space Living posts for more detail on that.

And of course this is for only 3 of us, and one of those is a 3 year old. 3 year old clothes don’t take up much space!

You can't really see it, but the tub is on the left.

Do you have a full bathtub?

When we were looking at travel trailers, a bathtub was one of the things I really wanted. Gracia was just turning two, so I didn’t really want to have to start her on showers yet. Not all of them had tubs, but we chose one that did. It’s not full-sized, but big enough for Gracia. It’s about 2.5 feet long and 1.5 feet wide. On a similar note, a lot of the showers/tubs were short, so Cameron made sure to stand in the tub before we bought it, to make sure it was tall enough for him.

Finally, how does the water/electricity/gas hookup work? Do you have to fill and empty tanks often?

Our trailer is different from most travel trailers, in that we have an actual toilet, just like the ones in real houses, because the FEMA trailers were made as temporary housing for people, and not really for traveling the world in. This has been perfect for us in that we have a regular commode and full-sized fridge. Because we have a regular toilet we don’t have to empty any tanks…in fact we don’t even have one. Cameron just hooked up a sturdy pipe for the waste to go out. You can get the supplies for that at an RV center or just Home Depot.

The electric was easy to hook-up, according to Cameron…he’s the one that did it.

We have 2 gas tanks on the front of our trailer that we use for our water heater, stove/oven and heating. We take our tanks to an RV center that sells RVs, parts and does repairs. In the summer we can make a tank last for a whole month, but in the coldest part of winter a tank only lasted a few days. Currently a tank of propane costs $30 to refill, so in the winter it wasn’t cheap! Even though we have a small amount of space to heat, the walls are thin and not insulated well.

Part of the reason this has worked for us, is that we live in a warmer climate. Even with living in West Texas though, we’ve had our pipes freeze in winter. Turning a sink on and letting  the water trickle all night really helped with that (and like I mentioned we don’t pay a water bill).

Tornadoes and Fires

Another question, a reader asked awhile ago was what we would do in case of a tornado. My husband has lots of relatives who live close, who I’m sure would let us stay with them for a while in an emergency…and if the house got demolished….well it’s just a trailer.

Last summer there were a lot of bad wild fires and one that was getting close to our trailer park. At first we thought about just moving the whole trailer (one nice thing about a trailer, in case of fire, you can move the whole house!), but we realized it would take to long, plus the roads were getting busy with people leaving. They had police standing by ready to evacuate if necessary, but it never got to that point thankfully. But we did start preparing by just grabbing a couple back packs of things. We also have a little fire-proof safe we were given when we got married. This is nice for keeping important papers and our millions of dollars in cash (just kidding…if only). So I guess the moral of the story is…it’s easier to move in case of emergency, but if it does burn down, it’s just stuff and of course it’s good to have insurance.

Other things these questions made me think of:

  • You can feel movement really easily in our house. Especially if trying to take a nap, while another person is walking around. :)
  • The smaller of a person you are, the easier it is to live in a trailer. For example, the top bunk had a sign saying no one over 250 lbs. should sleep up there, the shower height I mentioned before, etc…
  • It’s a little hard for little kids and older people to get in and out of our house. It’s pretty high off the ground with just some fold-out stairs. We’re used to it and it doesn’t bother us, but if it bothers you, you could always get some sturdy wooden steps or a little porch.

I hope I made sense and answered throughly enough. If anyone has other questions for me, I’d love to answer them! Just leave your question in the comments or email me at purposelyfrugal(at)hotmail(dot)com.

 

Even though our kitchen and oven are a lot smaller than what we had before, I still cook just about as much. I may not bake quite as much as my oven is a lot trickier to work with. And we didn’t have a big turkey last Thanksgiving because one wouldn’t fit in our oven, so we had a turkey roast, but that was all we needed for 3 of us anyways.

I typed up some things that have helped me in cooking in cramped quarters. I hope they’re useful to any other tiny kitchen cooks out there.

Making our turkey roast Thanksgiving '10

  • I notice I wash the dishes a lot more frequently, because if I don’t, I just don’t have any space for cooking.
  • I keep all my appliances up on a shelf, rather than on the counter.
  • My kitchen table is often used as counter space.
  • When I’m not cooking on the stove top, it becomes extra counter space too.
  • Since I only have 3 small kitchen drawers I keep some of my cooking utensils in a holder behind the stove.
  • The top of our fridge holds jars of flour, rice, beans, etc… It’s a nice spot that’s out of the way, but I can still get to it easily.
  • I buy in bulk and stock up on sale items only when it’s practical. Since I don’t have all the space in the world, there are somethings that are just too big. I like stocking up on smaller things though, like Tabasco sauce, spices, honey and certain canned goods.

At work in my little kitchen

  • Usually the dish or pot the food was made in is what I use to serve it in.
  •  I don’t have knick-knacks or vases sitting on my table or counter.
  • When we have more than just us 3 eating we have to eat outside or just let everyone sit wherever they find a spot.
  • To make things fit in the freezer better I freeze them flat in ziplocs. Then stand them upright like books. (I got this idea from Miserly Moms).
  • I try to only have appliances and utensils that I really use. Otherwise they just take up space. For example, only 2 of my cookie sheets fit in the oven, so the other ones I put in storage.
  • I don’t cook fancy 5 course meals very often. Usually just a main dish and one or two sides or sometimes it’s just a one pot meal.
  • Keeping things organized helps…which is something I’m forever working on. :)

Basically keeping things as simple as possible is best. But I’ve always liked things simple anyways (I guess cuz I’m simple-minded!). Lol

Any of you out there working in tiny kitchens? What do you find helps?

This post is shared at Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

We have a 3 year old daughter, named Gracia. When we moved into our travel trailer a year ago, she was just turning 2. So we’ve survived over a year of living in small quarters with a little kid. I think it’s much easier since she’s still small. She physically takes up less space, and so do her small clothes. She doesn’t want her privacy or anything like that. Since she’s still young she always goes to bed before us or when we do, never stays up later like a teenager might. But there’s still some challenges, so here’s some things I’ve learned make it a little easier living in our little home with our little girl:

  • Keep the toy clutter down. All of Gracia’s toys fit either in her bed (stuffed animals), or on the top-bunk converted into a shelf (most of them are in an old diaper box up there). Toys can take up a lot of space, and space is something we just don’t have. I don’t at all feel like she’s deprived having fewer toys. I know that she has way more toys that a lot of kids. Also she isn’t limited to playing only with toys. She loves going outside and swinging, or drawing in the dirt with a stick. Sometimes I get out some dry beans and let her scoop them into muffin tins and bowls. Or sometimes I just get out some cooking utensils and let her “cook” away to her imaginations limit. And obviously we steer clear of big toys, unless they’re kept outside like her bike.
  • Keep the toys kept up. Since we don’t have a play room, or even a real bed room for Gracia, if she plays with her toys, it’s right in the middle of the house where we’re always walking. So I keep the toys put up above her bed unless she’s playing with them. I got tired of always having a pile of toys right where we always walk, even when she wasn’t playing with them.
  • Go outside! One of the reasons a travel trailer looked more desirable to us than a small apartment, was we’d be able to have a yard and a lot of apartments don’t have that. Having a place outside really makes our house not seem as small. And Gracia loves to go out there and swing on her swing!
  • Keep outgrown clothes somewhere else. I’m always going through her clothes and taking things she’s outgrown to a storage bin in our shed. If she’s not going to be wearing them, they just take up space in her clothes box. And I keep out of season clothes out there too.
  • Have multi-use clothes. To keep the amount of clothes down I prefer “multi-use” clothes. Like a pair of jean shorts, that will go with everything. Or a cute summer dress that’s informal enough for grocery shopping, but nice enough for something a little fancier too. This keeps the amount of clothes we need for her down to a minimum, and we try to do it for our own clothes too, not just hers.
  • Make what you do have exciting. “Gracia’s house” (that’s what we call her bed) is small, and it’s the closest thing she has to her own room. So we tried to make up for the smallness by making it fun and exciting. We got dollar store wall stickers to say “Gracia’s House”. She keeps her stuffed animals and babies in there and I let her stick stickers up wherever she wants in her “house.”
  • Hang pictures in her “house”. Gracia like any little kid likes to color and paint pictures, and as much as I love to proudly display them on the fridge, it can get to be too much. So I  like to hang the pictures in her “house”. This way the pictures are still displayed, and they serve as decoration in there instead of on the fridge where they just fall down all the time.
  • Try to keep her used to sleeping with noise. Since our house seems a little like a one-room house, there’s many times when Gracia goes to bed and we’re still up, or she takes her nap and we’re doing things around the house. So it’s important that she’s okay without perfect silence. She does seems to have trouble falling asleep with lights on, the TV going or us making too much noise, but usually once she’s asleep she’s a pretty sound sleeper.
  • Make use of other places. We make use of the library, this saves us not only money in not buying as many books, but also space. I get Gracia lots of different books from the library, but we don’t have to keep them long term and store them. And when we go to the library Gracia loves playing with the blocks there and doing the puzzles. We also go to parks sometimes which gives her lots of room to run and play.
  • Always be willing to change if you find a better way. We’re kinda learning as we go here. For example, we used to keep all Gracia’s toys in her bed, but decided that was too much, so now it’s just stuffed animals in there. We had to learn that through trial and error.

In my Tour My Little Home post I pointed out some small space living tips, but here’s some more:

Don’t keep things you don’t use. The more stuff you have the more room it takes up and the easier it is to look cluttered. So regularly go through your belongings and sell, giveaway or toss things that you don’t use.

Don’t keep things out you don’t use very often. For example, if you have a small closet only keep that seasons clothes in it and keep the out of season clothes somewhere else, like in a tub under the bed, in the garage, attic or any out of the way place. This goes for kitchens with small counter space too. Unless you use an appliance everyday, it’s probably better to keep it in a cupboard.

Use items that serve multiple purposes. If you’re in a small space every item you own takes up precious space, so if that item can do more than one thing making it so you don’t need as many items that’s a plus! For example, I put my kettle away, because I can heat water in one of my pots just as well, and I need to have my pots out for cooking anyways. Another example is things that serve a useful purpose and are decoration, like hanging up a pretty tray. It keeps it out of the cupboard giving you more space there and you can still use it as a tray.

Use lots of wall space!We hang, coats and scarves (in winter), my purse, helmets, backpack, and even our laundry hamper on the wall.

The top bunk we use as storage.

Store under and in anything possible. We store stuff under our bed and under and behind our couch. And we turned the top bunk on our daughters bed into storage.

Make use of outdoor space. If your place is too small to have many people over try grilling outside. You can use outside sheds to store extra things and for your washer and dryer.

Use optical illusions to make your house seem bigger. Mirrors, light colored walls and keeping the blinds open so you can see outside all seem to make small spaces feel a little bigger.

And if you feel sorry for yourself about living in tight quarters, remember all the benefits!


I’ve been meaning to talk more about living in tight quarters, so I thought today I’d share some reasons why I actually like it. Not that I always like it, there are times I wish I had a bigger oven, a little more counter space or more room for Gracia to spill her toys out, without it being in our way. But there definitely are things I really like about living in a tiny place:

Our current home.

  1. Less to clean! It takes probably 10-15 minutes to sweep, mop and vacuum my whole house.
  2. It helps you keep clutter under control. When you don’t have a lot of space to put stuff, you definitly think twice before buying something and I’m always looking for stuff to get rid of.
  3. Cheaper! First of all it’s usually cheaper to buy or rent a smaller place and on top of that you have smaller utility bills. The highest our electricity bill has ever been was $107, and that was last August when we were running our airconditioner a lot. When we’re not running the a.c. it’s around $35 (we heat with propane, so that doesn’t affect our electric bill).
  4. This one sounds weird, but I really do like it: I always know where Gracia is. Where we used to live (in an airplane hangar…yeah I know, we’ve lived in strange places) it was bigger than our trailer, but still not big. I really liked how as long as I kept the bathroom and bedroom doors closed I always knew where she was. I never had to buy those gates to keep her out of hallways or anything. Now that she’s older it doesn’t matter quite as much, but it’s still nice always being able to see her…so she gets in less trouble. =)
  5. It spurs creativity. We’ve had to do a lot of thinking about where to put stuff and the best way to make the most of our space. Thankfully my husband is a good troubleshooter and handyman! =)
  6. It encourages us to go outside more.One of the reasons living in a travel trailer looked more desirable to us than an apartment is that

    Gracia outside on the swing she got for her birthday.

    we have a yard, and most small apartments only have a tiny balcony. Because of this, Gracia can play outside, we can grill out, I can hang clothes on the line, and we can have a cat (hubby’s allergic, so we have to keep her outside most of the time). And we were lucky enough to get a lot with two big trees! =)

If you haven’t checked out our place yet, click here for the grand tour!

FYI: The house in the background of the picture with Gracia swinging is not our house, it’s our neighbors. I really need to get a picture up of the outside of our place.

Okay, so here’s a tour of our 8 by 32 travel trailer we’re living in. We’re living here while my hubby goes to Airframe and Power Plant school. It’s one of the trailers that was made for Katrina victims and was being sold at a great price. We compared the cost of paying for the trailer plus paying lot rent at a trailer park and discovered that it would about equal the same amount as renting a very small apartment for 2 years. But with an apartment you can’t sell it when your done, so that’s why we’re living here!

So I’m going to give you a photo tour of my house and point out small space living tips and frugal tips along the way.

Master Bedroom

  • The biggest change we made here was to move the bed to one side. It was in the center, and one of the long wall cupboards and one of the nightstands was on the other side. It gave us tiny little walkways on each side and we decided it was wasted space. So now we have a bigger walkway on one side.
  • There is storage under the bed, but you have to pick up the mattress and it’s rather hard to do, so we only keep things under there that we don’t use everyday, like suitcases.
  • As you can see we have a curtain thing instead of a door. We usually just keep it open, it makes the house feel bigger.

Our "Office"

  • We got a little TV dinner table for our computer. We just sit on the bed when using the computer.

Living Room

  • The coach pulls out into a bed. And we have lots of things stored under and behind it. Pretty much anywhere we can put stuff we do!
  • You can also see in this picture that we use a lot of wall space. We have shelves and hooks for hanging coats, hats, the laundry hamper, and our moped helmets.

Kitchen

  • Here’s where the cooking happens! And speaking of cooking, I will not miss my tiny oven when we move!
  • I was going to take the dishes and drainer out of the sink for the picture, but figured this was a much more realistic picture of what it usually looks like. I wash my dishes in the right side of the sink and let them drip dry in the drainer which is set in the left side of the sink. I’d rather that than put the drainer on the only counter space I have.
  • If you have a small kitchen, be very selective of what you always keep on the counter. I only keep my utensil holder (nice if you don’t have a lot of drawer space) and pepper grinder out. They’re behind the stove out of the way.
  • Also, do you see my white/cork board? I love that thing and would recommend it to anyone who is forgetful!
  • We use the top of the fridge to keep my glass jars of flour, rice, beans, etc… It’s a nice out of the way space, and I think it gives a kind of country look.
  • We have a small trash can under the sink. The nice thing about a small one is that I never buy trash can liners, I just use grocery bags which fit in perfectly!

  • The shelf to the right Cameron put up. As you can see we have a few books and some flowers up there, but truthfully its pretty much just our catch-all shelf.
  • The biggest change we made here was taking the benches around the table out. They were big and bulky and had really ugly cushions, so we took them out and bought 3 folding chairs. We always have 2 chairs out and one folded up. We just get it out at meal time, then put it back afterwards, or else I start tripping over it.
  • The cupboard across from the fridge was for clothes, but we were able to fit our clothes in the other closet (on other side of fridge) so my hubby took the rod out and we used the rod to hang up the curtain over Gracia’s bed. Then he put shelves in the closet for me to use as a pantry (see next photo).

My Pantry

  • The basic rule here is, the more I use something the closer to the front and center it goes, and the less I use it the farther back and up or down it goes.
  • With this pantry I am able to buy in bulk, but I have to be selective. For example buying several hot sauce bottles, doesn’t take up much space, but buying a giant sack of rice does, so I don’t buy giant sacks of rice.
  • Notice the spice rack on the door, there’s another one on the other door too. Cameron put the tins on the door with Velcro. Isn’t that clever? I’ve seen similar things with a metal sheet and magnets attached to spice bottles.

Gracia's "House"

  • Gracia sleeps on the bottom bunk. (As you’ll see in another picture, we made the top bunk into storage space)
  • I bought the pink letter stickers from the dollar store and the purple curtain from Ross for a really good price.

Gracia in Her Bed

  • We used to keep all her books, toys and stuffed animals in her bed, since she only uses about half of the bed when she sleeps, but it got to be too much, so now it’s just her stuffed animals and babies in there. We’re always changing things if we get a better idea.
Top Bunk
  • This is the top bunk, directly over the opening to Gracia’s bed. The wood paneling you see on the left is leftover from the benches we took out of the kitchen. Cameron used it to separate this storage from the one in the bathroom (see last picture).
  • So here I keep games, toys, etc… I get the toy box down for Gracia when she wants to play.
Bathroom
  • Do you notice the little table on the counter? That’s actually a plant stand my Grandpa made for me. Cameron had the idea of putting it there to give us more shelf space in the bathroom.

Bathroom Storage

  • Okay, so this is the top of the bunk, now storage.  Cameron cut away that hole in the wall so we could easily get to it. He’s gonna put some framing around it. He also made that shelf, which adds a lot of space. (I love being married to a handy man!)
  • I keep toiletries, TP, paper towels, cleaning supplies, make-up, hair stuff, and the first aid kit up here.
  • Notice the basket to the left? I keep hand towels and wash cloths in it, and got if for 99 cents at Goodwill!

That is the end of my tour, maybe another time I’ll show you our yard and storage shed. You might have noticed that I didn’t have a lot of decorations up. I do have some pictures, just haven’t gotten around to hanging them yet. My first priority is what’s practical. And having lots of knick-knacks just isn’t practical here.

If you have any questions or ideas for small space living or frugal living email me at puposelyfrugal@hotmail.com

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