Book Review
Title: "Same Place, More Space: 50 Projects to Maximize Every Room in the House"
Author: Karl Champley, Karen Kelly
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2011; 256 pages; $24.95

"But it’s my mess — I know exactly where everything is in that." How many times have you heard a friend or loved one (you can include yourself in that!) make this claim. Even those of us who say this know the real truth: that a cluttered home, desk or closet evidences — and creates — a cluttered mind and a chaotic lifestyle.

Usually, we make this claim in frustration at the bad cleaning or organizing job someone else has done with our stuff, or is threatening to do.

Done properly, order is divine — it is soothing and allows us to live life to the fullest. At the same time, the current trend is toward downsizing our homes, trying to live more frugally by moving into the smaller urban homes that promise shorter commutes, and into smaller suburban homes that cost less to operate and maintain over time.

Even homebuilders have taken note, building smaller homes to fill the demand they have noticed since the recession.

I’ve long believed that we expand to fit the space we’re given, and that plus the trend toward smaller living spaces means many of us are bursting at the seams. So it’s very timely that HGTV and DIY network host, contractor and master carpenter Karl Champley has just released his order-optimizing, space-creating new book, "Same Place, More Space."

This book is a priceless resource for those looking to create order in their homes, and in their lives, on a budget, but with no sacrifices when it comes to style. Even Champley’s approach is uber-orderly; rather than just jumping into amazing projects and cool pictures, he asks readers to work through the process of maximizing their homes’ spaces in precisely the manner he does with his real-life remodeling clients.

Step 1 (and Part 1 of the book) involves literally cleaning house, getting rid of all nonessential and non-life-improving belongings, and Champley guides readers through both the emotional and logistical processes and challenges involved in letting go of things.

He then presents a process he calls "doing a 360," providing readers with a worksheet for creating a master inventory of all the spaces in their home and challenging them to map all the things they want to live, so to speak, in each of the available rooms and spaces. This space evaluation empowers readers to be smart and strategic about the projects they pick.

In Part 2, Champley provides highly detailed, step-by-step instructions, diagrams and illustrations of almost 30 different do-it-yourself projects for getting the most storage space and use out of spaces you already have, divided by rooms.

Projects presented range from kitchen pantry reorganization to creating a linen closet with adjustable shelves in the bathroom, to an intensive segment on closet customization, to building a closet or even a mini-office in the slanted space under the stairs.

Part 3 of "Same Place, More Space" covers larger projects like cutting an access to the attic or converting a backyard shed into a cozy guest house, that most homeowners will want and need to call a contractor to complete.

"Same Place" offers inspiration and instruction on a massive variety of projects in the much-needed realm of optimizing our living space.

It seems like a no-brainer buy for apartment dwellers who plan to live in their spaces for a long time, as well as for those who own condos and townhomes; but even those with fairly spacious homes could benefit from the injection of order and organization that "Same Place, More Space" aims to provide.

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