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The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Space in a Small Apartment

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From saving money to leading a more minimalist lifestyle, living in a smaller apartment has plenty of perks. But for many people, one of the most challenging aspects is figuring out how to fit everything they own into such a small area. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the space you do have. Here’s how to maximize space in a small apartment.

In This Article:
  1. Get Rid of Things You Don’t Use
  2. General Tips for Organizing Small Spaces
  3. How to Organize a Small Living Room
  4. How to Organize a Small Bedroom
  5. How to Organize a Small Kitchen
  6. How to Organize a Small Bathroom
  7. Other Small Space Storage Tips

1. Get Rid of Things You Don’t Use

First things first: if you’re living in a tiny place, it’s important to get rid of as much clutter as possible to help each room feel bigger and more livable. If you’re not sure what to part with, consider going through your apartment room by room and putting each item into one of three piles (keep, donate or sell). 

How to Determine What to Keep or Give Away

As you’re going through the belongings, think through whether you use them regularly enough to justify keeping them. For example, if you have lots of fancy kitchen gadgets that you like in theory but never actually use in practice, it may be worthwhile to pare the gadgets down to just the essentials. The same holds true for clothes, especially winter coats and other chunkier pieces of clothing that take up precious closet space. 

From getting rid of that Peloton bike that you bought as a pandemic purchase but rarely used to digitizing some of your favorite recipes instead of keeping a dozen cookbooks, spend some time thinking about whether holding onto certain things is truly benefitting you. Oftentimes, purchasing things is a highly emotional endeavor — but it’s good to think about whether keeping them is helping you in the long run. 

What to Do With Items You Want to Give Away

After you’ve finished divvying up the goods, you can give things in the donate pile to friends and family members or take them to a thrift store. You can then try to sell some of the nicer items at a garage sale or on Facebook Marketplace.

Tip: You can use some of the profits to buy additional storage options such as an ottoman or bench that will help you keep the items you do want safely tucked out of sight. Getting rid of stuff that you rarely use or have outgrown will free up some much-needed space in your apartment and make it easier to ensure that everything you do have has a home. It can also help free up some mental space as well since you won’t have to constantly be looking at or dealing with piles of unneeded things.

2. General Tips for Organizing Small Spaces

In order to live comfortably in a small space, you need to have a place for everything (and be diligent about making sure that everything is in its place). The reality, however, is that you may still be short on space even after you’ve Marie Kondo’d the place (this is especially true if you live with a partner or roommate). With space at a premium, it may not be enough to just get rid of old things…you also need to think creatively about where to put everything that you want to keep. 

Get Creative With Storage

One simple way to increase your storage space is to invest in double-duty furniture, which might include futons and chairs that have compartments inside to stow items in or hutches that serve as both statement pieces and storage stations. You can also turn to vertical storage solutions such as shelves and bookshelves to increase the possibilities. If needed, you can hang shelves just a few inches from the ceiling so that you can fit even more things into any given room. To help everything feel aligned from a design perspective, you can even purchase color-coordinated shelves. 

Choose Colors Wisely

Another way to maximize space is to repaint the walls in colors that make each room feel larger, such as crisp white, pearl gray or pastel yellow. Repainting the walls in a color that makes the room feel bigger is a valuable way to make it look like you’re adding space, even though the square footage isn’t actually changing. You can also hang wall mirrors in various rooms to add the illusion of more space. This is especially helpful in rooms that don’t have many windows.

 

divider in a small living room

 

Create “Zones” in a Studio Apartment

Having a studio apartment can be a solid choice from a financial perspective, but it can also be harder to make your living areas feel distinct. To create separation between various parts of the studio, you can start by putting separate (but complementary) rugs in the spaces dedicated to the bedroom, living room and dining room. This is a cost-effective and simple way to help the studio feel distinct without needing to put up room dividers. 

Painting various parts of the studio in different colors is another way to visually define certain areas. You might also want to invest in a long bookshelf, which can be used to separate the bed from the living room or kitchen.

Tip: You’ll be able to store lots of things on the shelves as well, which is important when closet space is at a premium. If you’d still prefer additional separation, you can put up curtains, barriers or room dividers to further define sections of the studio. If you work from home but don’t have enough room for a separate workstation, consider working from your dining room table or buying a lap desk so you can sit on your couch during the day. By distinguishing various parts of your studio, you can help each section feel much more inviting and livable. 

3. How to Organize a Small Living Room

Living rooms often serve as the entertaining hub of the home, which means it’s important to curate the room carefully so it can accommodate low-key hangouts with friends and family members. 

Use Bookshelves and Shelving Liberally

One of the best ways to add some additional storage to a small living room is by buying a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf so that you can store the majority of your books, photos, and knick-knacks there. You can hang floating shelves or cube shelves if you need even more room to display certain items. 

Purchase Furniture With Built-in Shelving

After you’ve added bookshelves and shelving throughout your living room, it’s time to consider how best to utilize your seating area. You might want to purchase couches or benches that come with extra storage inside, and you can also buy some wicker baskets or futons to put extra blankets in. If your apartment has an outdoor patio, you might want to buy some weatherproof alfresco furniture with built-in storage to create even more storage opportunities. 

If you still need more room, you can buy a cupboard or vanity and put excess possessions there, where they will stay safely out of sight from your guests. You might also want to replace your end tables with two-tiered end tables and coffee tables, which offer additional storage space. And don’t forget about the space under your couch, either: you may be able to store some small items there. 

 

small bedroom with headboard shelving and compact storage

 

4. How to Organize a Small Bedroom

Having a tidy bedroom can make it easier to get a great night of sleep. Here’s how to organize your bedroom for maximum storage potential:

Look for Double-Duty Furniture

Consider swapping out your headboard for one that comes with storage compartments. This allows you to keep your bedside items within arm’s reach instead of needing to put them on a nightstand. If you have room at the foot of your bed, you can also get a bench or ottoman so there’s a place for extra linens, blankets and pillows.

Add Vertical Storage

Buy over-the-door organizers for your bedroom and closet doors so you can store shoes and jewelry in individual sections. It might be helpful to whittle your clothes down to a capsule collection so you have more room for the ones you actually wear on a regular basis. (Consider storing the clothes you do keep in hanging organizers or cascading hangers so there’s enough room for all of them.)

5. How to Organize a Small Kitchen

If your kitchen is short on space, you might need to get creative when it comes to making more room. 

Hang Hooks Throughout the Kitchen

If you need small kitchen organization ideas, you can start by hanging several hooks on the walls and so you can store aprons, potholders and other kitchen things in plain sight.

Tip: Put your prettiest kitchen items on display, and hide the older ones in your limited cabinet space for future use.) Make sure your backsplash is both pretty and functional by hanging hooks there for pots, pans, and other things you need to have on standby when cooking. There’s no need to stop at just pots and pans, though: You can also hang floating shelves so you can show off plates, glasses, and other tableware. 

 

Get Creative With Your Definition of Cabinet Space

Running low on cupboard space? You can keep many of the smaller appliances (think mixers, coffee pots and panini presses) on the counter. If you don’t have enough room in your cupboards for some of your pantry goods, consider keeping flour, sugar and other essentials in glass containers or Mason jars on the counter as well. You can also add extra storage to your cupboards by hanging more hooks and shelves in the cabinets (or even putting kitchen gear that you rarely use on top of the cabinets for safekeeping). You can even put command strips or hooks underneath your cabinets and store spices and mugs there. 

Don’t forget about the window sill, either: it’s the perfect spot to keep herbs, plants and cookbooks. If you still need more cupboard space, consider buying a portable utility cart. You can then easily wheel the cart into and out of the kitchen as needed for convenient access when you’re cooking. (It’s a great place to store extra tableware and cooking supplies, and you can also use the top as extra counter space.) If you don’t have room for a dining room table, consider buying a folding table that you can easily set up and take down after cooking.

6. How to Organize a Small Bathroom

Though your bathroom is probably one of the smallest rooms in your apartment, it’s also one of the most essential. From taking showers to doing your nightly skincare routine to getting ready for work each morning, you probably spend lots of time in the bathroom each day, which means you need to make sure it’s as functional as possible. Looking for shower storage ideas? Put up a tension rod in your shower and hang a shower caddy there so you can keep shampoo, razors, and other must-haves within arm’s reach. 

Create Extra Cabinet Space

If you don’t have enough cupboard space in your bathroom for linens and towels, purchase a free-standing hutch or wardrobe. You can keep the hutch/wardrobe in a corner of the bathroom or right outside in the hallway, depending on how much space you have. This way, you can keep extra paper goods, towels, shampoo and other things on standby.

Buy Countertop and Wall Organizers

Consider buying some countertop organizers so you can keep your hair and skincare products organized. Naturally, space is paramount when it’s limited, so get creative with where you can hang basket caddies or put up organizers. While you can always put shelves above the toilet or next to the towel rods, you can even buy adhesive organizers to put on the mirror or inside the cabinets if you’re really running low on options. You can also hang some hooks on the door so there’s room to display jewelry, hair bands, scarves and other accessories.

7. Other Small Space Storage Tips

While carefully organizing each room in your apartment is a great way to maximize your space, there are several small space hacks you can employ as well. Here are some other top techniques to follow when you’re organizing a small space: 

  1. Rent a storage unit so you can keep additional items there .
  2. Wait at least 24 hours before making a new purchase to ensure that it’s something you really need and have space for, rather than just something you want to buy on a whim.
  3. Follow a one in, one out rule: If you bring a new item home, make sure to sell or donate an old one to free up storage space for it.
  4. If you have a patio, consider buying a hutch or utility cart so you can store extra supplies like toilet paper and canned goods there.
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