Few of us have the amount of living space we’d really like to have, if cost (utilities, furnishings, rent, etc.) were no object. And those of us in apartments – especially one-bedroom and studio apartments – have to work a little harder to arrange and store all our belongings comfortably. With a little organization, some quick thinking and creative use of space, though, you can pack a whole lot into any apartment – here’s how!
Use spaces and storage in unconventional ways
A friend of mine uses a large wall-mounted wine rack in her bedroom to store some of her vast shoe collection. That’s probably not an extreme most of us need to go to, but there are plenty of “assigned” spaces that can be used to put “other” things.
- Take your under-sink cupboard, for example. If you tightly cap any detergents or other kitchen cleaning supplies and put them off to one side, it’s a great place to put baking sheets, cling wrap and aluminum foil, cutting boards, large pans and soda.
- Use the space over your cupboards to store seldom-used items like your blender and wok, vases, crock pot, and Dutch oven – items you don’t use on a regular basis. Always make sure to clean them before using to remove dust, and be careful on that step-stool when you reach for them!
Use empty space
Two of the most underutilized spaces in apartments are under the bed and under the sofa. Use these to store flat items you don’t need to access on a regular basis, like spare blankets, boots, and seasonal decor like wreaths and wall hangings. Sealed in a large Ziploc™ type bag (they store up to 22-gallons) they’ll stay clean and dust-free.
For more unique storage and organizing ideas, check out these past posts: “Discover Your Apartment’s ‘Hidden’ Storage Space” and “12 of Our Favorite Organizing Tips.”
Arrange your furniture wisely
While decorators will tell you not to put all your furniture up against the walls, in smaller spaces that actually gives you more room to move around and creates a nice flow when you have company. You’ll want to create conversation spaces, though, so not all furniture should be relegated to the wall; a chair at a right angle to the sofa works well in most apartments.
- Consider putting your dining table against the wall rather than smack in the middle of the space designed for the table. This works best if no more than 3 people at one time will be seated at the same time
- If you don’t need a coffee table, don’t get one. These take up lots of space and, aside from a place to rest your feet, aren’t terribly useful. Opt for an ottoman that opens for storage. These are ultra-functional because they also serve as extra seating when needed
Choose right-sized furniture
Avoid oversized chairs and deep sofas; they aren’t always more comfortable than smaller versions and take up a lot more room. The same goes for your bed – tall headboards and footboards, while they don’t take up any more floor space, will make your room feel smaller.
Pare down to the essentials
Too many decorative “extras,” like tall potted plants, big vases, too many throw rugs, and accent tables, tend to suffocate a room, even if they don’t reduce floor space.
Use décor to store
Here are some common items that can also be used for storage:
- Ottoman. Most ottomans today come with a hinged top and do double-duty as a storage spot.
- Entertainment center. Often these have shelves or drawers beyond what’s needed for audiovisual equipment. Use those spots – and the top of the unit – for knick-knacks, books and framed pictures.
- Baskets. Out of the way of foot traffic (like under an end table or hall table), baskets can hold a variety of items, depending on their size.
Here’s a clever tip we heard from a resident who moved from a cold to a warm climate and had little use for her winter coats: double up the clothes on your hangers. Hang coats or heavier items over lighter ones; leave the top item open so you can easily see what’s underneath. This works best with wood or metal (not wire) hangers and can expand your closet capacity significantly.
While these tips will be especially helpful to those in studios and one-bedroom apartments, they’re practical for everyone – even homeowners. Take a look around your apartment; is there space you’re not using that could be put to good use?
We’d love to hear any tips you use to optimize your space. Why not share with us?