If you’ve ever searched for a rental in a major city, you are probably familiar with the concept of small apartment living. Minuscule closets and barely-there counter space are norms in this era of micro “shoe box” apartments and tiny houses on wheels. I’d never debated the necessity of a microwave or a full sized refrigerator until I moved into my first New York City apartment (which was a 225 square foot studio that I shared with my partner). Many people these days are actually choosing to downsize in hopes of unlocking increased mobility and freedom to spend their disposable income on experiences rather than stuff. Luckily, it’s not that hard to be clever about storage and use the room you have efficiently and in aesthetically pleasing ways.
Investing in dual-purpose furniture is arguably one of the easiest approaches to maximizing space in a small apartment. You might not think a bed frame is an important piece for your home, but raising the bed off of the ground creates a significant amount of storage space which can be used for suitcases or under bed storage containers. You can also find bed frames equipped with built in drawers, which tend to look refined in addition to being useful. Similarly, while headboards aren’t always necessary, some contain built in cubbies or shelves that are perfect for those items that you like to have within arms’ reach once you are under the covers for the night. The same thinking goes for couches, sectionals, ottomans, and even coffee tables and kitchen islands — many brands offer versions of these with extra storage space built into them.
Minimizing your use of floor space is another key part of decluttering. Instead of investing in standalone storage pieces, look to your walls for assistance. Shelves are simple to put up, as are wall hangers for items like bicycles, musical instruments, pots and pans, and plants. If you’re facing more extreme constraints, consider putting in a murphy bed or table that folds out from the wall. So much space for activities!
There are many underutilized spaces in our homes that require a bit of creativity to take full advantage of. On the back of your bedroom door, you can hang an organizer or a full length mirror so that you don’t have to have a standalone version. If you have a small bathroom, consider grabbing an over the toilet storage cabinet. Instead of covering the top of your dresser or nightstand with knickknacks (AKA things you just don’t know what else to do with), occupy that vertical space with an extra set of drawers or bins for small items. Your windowsills can also act as bookshelves so that you don’t have to add an enormous piece of furniture to your apartment. And don’t forget the foot of your bed — here you can add a plush piece of seating that doubles as a storage unit.
Baskets are also your best friends. Depending on your aesthetic, they can look minimalist or eclectic, monochrome or multicolored, rustic or modern, But regardless they bring a homey, hygge-y feeling to any space. They come in a full range of sizes and shapes and can be found at affordable prices at almost any home or craft store, so you should have no problem finding the right ones for your apartment’s nooks and crannies.
Closets present an interesting challenge — while they are inherently meant for storage, they’re often not the most efficient spaces. We suggest taking a good, long look at your closet before you begin filling it with your stuff. Is it broken up into sections? Are shelves already built in? If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings, you may be able to section out your closet by adding shelves or drawers so that you can fit more than just a few sets of hangers on a single rod. Use the floors of your closets wisely by incorporating stackable bins.
To be completely honest, the most effective way to reduce your storage-related stress is to simply shed your superfluous belongings and transition to a more minimalist lifestyle, like this guy. For every purchase you decide to make, can you think of one thing you’re ready to let go of? More and more studies and articles have come out signalling that getting rid of material items can allow us to make room in our minds for increased contentment. This approach is not always the most realistic, though, get your creative juices flowing and organize away.
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