My little family recently moved across the country. In the process we downsized from a four bedroom, over 2000 sq foot home with a nice back and front yard and large garage to a two bedroom, under 1300 sq foot apartment with a small balcony. It’s been a challenge to downsize. Everything we own has to be questioned. Does it have a place? Is it a need? Will it fit? In the process of downsizing I’ve tried some things that have helped me utilize the stuff I own in the space I have. So, today I want to share FIVE tips for maximizing use and enjoyment of a small space with you today. Let’s get to it.
1. MULTIPURPOSE: can this item or room serve more than one purpose?
This was especially helpful when thinking through what furniture to bring. Instead of just a side table I wanted each side tables to have another use. For example, our couch side table is actually a storage ottoman. Our bedside tables are a bookshelf on my husband’s side and a desk on my side. I saw a storage basket with a wood table top at Target that would make a great side table and storage for extra blankets. Multipurpose to the max. You get the idea.
So, what furniture can serve multiple purposes? Any creative ways to rethink your furniture uses?
This works not just with furniture but also with your space. Can this room have multiple purposes? For example, our dining area is also a play area. Our bedroom is also an office. The key is to keep it organized and clutter free so the two purposes don’t overwhelm the room.
2. VERTICAL: how can I store my stuff vertically instead of horizontally?
Vertical storage (think up the walls instead of across the floor) is a great way to maximize storage in a small space. For example, door hooks (dollar tree!) are a great way to create extra storage. You can use door hooks to hang towels or pool floaties or shopping bags or whatever your need may be, freeing up floor and shelf space. We also used some command strip hooks to create places to hang our backpacks and essentials we need when heading out the door (baby carrier, nursing cover, etc.). Again, using wall space instead of floor space.
Rethink what you have. How can it create some vertical storage for you? For example, I did not have any cube storage shelving. Instead, I had a tall bookcase and some storage cubes. I combined the two. 1Cubes can help organize everything from toys, to clothes, to craft supplies and takes up very little space when stored up in a tall bookcase. I even used an over the toilet organizer in my small laundry room to make a space for cleaning supplies and bulk toilet paper and paper towels instead of buying a shelving system. Again, creating storage up the wall more than across the floor.
The following picture is our laundry room that we can close the door to lol. But by using an over the toilet bathroom storage unit I created the perfect shelving system for cleaning supplies, bulk supplies, and hangers/laundry needs. And you can also see the pool toys hanging on the back of the door.
With little ones vertical storage can be a little more challenging but think creatively and question everything. Can this be safely stored vertically?
3. MINIMALISM: is this really necessary?
Clutter can make a small space feel even smaller and, if you’re like me, take the enjoyment out of the space. Clutter isn’t something we all try to accumulate. Its just the accumulation of things we can’t “live without”. During this move, I found that all the things I couldn’t live without I mostly could live without. It was tough but good. I’m not a person who wants to do minimalism to the max (ie: almost no decor anywhere). I want to feel free to decorate my space. But I did try to limit it and really give myself push-back on whether each item would really add to the decor or just be more clutter. In a small space it can feel cluttered so quickly. So choosing your favorite pieces and being picky is important.
The room I want to focus on under this section is the bathroom. It is definitely the most minimalistic place in the whole apartment. But it makes it so easy to keep clean and decluttered which leaves more time for other things I actually enjoy. Happy momma.
Minimalism applies not only to trinkets and decor, but also to furniture. Bulky pieces aren’t great for small spaces. You know this. So when shopping what you have or what new pieces you want to invest in, look for simple, clean lines. It can really make your living space feel so much more open when you have clean lined furniture and a few select pieces of decor.
What is in your space as decoration that is really just collecting dust and giving you one more thing to clean? What furniture or color scheme just makes the whole room feel dark and cramped? Consider getting rid of it all together or sell it and buy something else that works better.
4. ROUND and/or COMPACTIBLE: does this come in a round shape and/or can it be easily compacted when not in use?
The only furniture we really needed to buy was a bed and a dining table. When choosing the dining table I had to keep a few things in mind. I knew I wanted our dining room to double as a play room and, therefore, I knew I wanted a round table. A bonus was that it also has leaves that can fold down. As we all know, a round table (dining, side, or coffee) takes up less space and can visually make the room feel more spacious. Add leaves that fold down and it’s a total small space win. I love that we can fold the leaves down and push the table aside as a two-seater or pull it out and put the leaves up for guests or family dinners when our kids will actually stay sitting. Bonus is it doesn’t feel cramped either way.
What rooms could use a roomier feel? Any way to add circular furniture to replace blockier options? Only using a furniture piece occasionally? Is there a way to buy a compactible version?
5. ORGANIZE: how can I create a space for everything I want to keep?
Lastly, as I mentioned before, a small space can start to feel so cluttered if you aren’t careful. A few out of place items and chaos is creeping into your environment. Especially if you have small children.
Create spaces that are practical and livable. What I mean by this is let your kids have play areas, just make them easy to clean up. Keep cozy blankets and TV-trays accessible, just find a place to easily store them so they aren’t visually cluttering the space. Let your husband have a pile of papers that he just doesn’t want to deal with immediately, but put them in a basket. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but organization is the key to thriving in a small space.
To save space by organizing, here are just some of my ideas I am currently using. I store the kids foldable chairs, yoga mat, internet router and modem, and TV trays behind the couch. Behind the couch is often just wasted space. Redeem it by using it for storage. I have bins in a tall bookcase that hold toys, craft supplies, and clothes and turns the dining room into a play room that is easy to clean up. My husband has a basket to throw all those random papers into that he plans to deal with later. When it starts to overflow he knows it’s time to just purge. We have a basket for tv controllers. We store tons of blankets in a basket by the tv making them accessible, I don’t have to fold, and it looks pretty stored away by the fireplace. Our kids’ stuff like socks, shoes, diapers, wipes, even their pjs (don’t judge…I just want them fast when bedtime comes and I don’t care if they’re wrinkled lol) etc. all have their own bin in the kids’ closet (thank you Dollar Tree!). I can just toss said random items into their individual bin and they are “cleaned up” out of sight. I could go on and on but you get the idea.
How can you create a space for each item that gives it a home and keeps your small space from feeling cluttered? What items tend to clutter and pile up the most? Start with those!
I hope these tips helped! Let me know what other tips you may have in the comments below. And, if you haven’t already, then pease subscribe to get updates on all my latest money-saving tips and DIY ideas.
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