Some Very Useful Things One Woman Learnt From Living In A Shoebox

Organisational hacks from a pro

At some point we’ve all made cramped living conditions work (by degrees and sometimes at the expense of emotional wellbeing). But none of us have made living in a shoebox work quite as well as 45-year-old Felice Cohen who lived for five years in a ridiculously tiny space – about the same size as a saloon car. Seriously.

She became an internet sensation after a video of her giving a tour (there was no walking involved) of her meticulously organised microstudio in 2010 went viral.

Her intention had been to remain in the teeny tiny space (It’s just 7ft wide and 12ft high) for just 12 months – because its location, on the Upper West Side of New York City was brilliant and its shoe box proportions made it affordable (she paid $700 per month in an area that averages a monthly apartment rent of $3,600).

Felice ended up staying much longer than she anticipated (we repeat: five whole years), she was happy, and during this time she managed to save enough money to buy a 500-square-foot home in the same part of town for $300,000.

Who’s feeling smug now? Felice is.

We could all learn a little something from Felice about playing the long game, and about how to declutter and live a more streamlined life.

Felice’s mini apartment was modest – featuring a private bathroom but no kitchen (Felice had a small fridge tucked next her desk and cooked meals using a toaster and hotpot) and it was only thanks to her supersonic organisation skills that she was able to make it work for so long.

Sure, the first night she slept in the apartment she had a panic attack (because sleeping with your nose practically pressed to the ceiling and being unable to sit up in bed can make you feel trapped) but after that one hiccup she embraced compact living and is ready to share the tale.

Felice has now published an ebook90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or more) – detailing all the hacks and rigorous organisational methods she employed when she lived in a car-sized space.

The Mail got Felice’s top tips for living it up when your living space isn’t big enough to swing a cat in. Notebooks at the ready.

1. Go vertical whenever possible (basically, stack storage high).

2. Double bar at least one closet (a two-tier hanging space is way more efficient).

3. Store a complete set of bed sheets inside one of its own pillowcases.

4. Always leave your keys in the same place – whether at home or work.

5. Books are meant to be read, not collect dust. Donate used books.

6. Eliminate empty hangers. They add clutter and invite refill.

7. Go room to room and roll a pair of dice. The number you get is how many items to discard.

8. Love speed dating? Try speed tossing. Set the timer for 20 minutes and work on the clutter until bell rings. It reduces pressure to get it all done at once.

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