Whether it’s your first time out on your own, you’re forced to downsize, or you just need a change of pace, moving into a smaller apartment presents its own unique set of challenges. Undoubtedly, the most difficult part is, well, getting everything to fit into place. The three best ways to achieve this is to think vertically, make your furniture do double duty, and downsize what you bring with you. All these tips and tricks can be used to turn a tiny apartment into a more than livable home (if it works in my 275 square feet, it can work for your place too).
Think vertically. Remember, when you start in a small apartment, you can only move up to bigger and better residences… but while you’re dreaming of moving up, look up; up your walls. Chances are, wherever you are living, you have at least seven and a half to eight feet of wall separating your floor and ceiling. When you shop around for furniture, try to find pieces that build upward, not outward. Instead of purchasing a long, low-slung dresser that takes up a ton of floor space, opt for a tall skinny armoire you can put in a corner and hang clothing in. Do you have a bike you ride through town? A bicycle can take up an enormous amount of floor space, but taking the same bike and mounting it on your wall (Target, Walmart, and outdoor stores all carry something that will do the trick) does two things. It gets your bike off the floor and out of the way, and turns it from an eye-sore to an eye-catching display. Finally, ask yourself, “what can I put on the walls?” Mounting your television on the wall will open up space in the living area, a magnetic strip in the kitchen gets knives off your counter and out of your way, and book shelves hung on the wall take up less space than a huge bookcase.
Make your furniture do double duty as both seating (or bedding) and storage. The best example of this concept is the venerable futon. No longer the official furniture of bachelors and dorm rooms, a modern futon can be both a stylish couch by day, and a comfy bed by night, and many have storage space built in for pillows and blankets. Now, if you are lucky enough to be able to fit both a bed and a couch into your apartment, you can still make use of this advice. Look at your furniture; your bed, your couch, living room chairs, they are all sitting off the ground, right? That’s not wasted space, that’s storage space. Small plastic and fabric storage bins that will easily fit under your furniture are easy to find at most department stores. Another viable option would be to shop for “saddle-bags” that fit over the arms of your chairs and couches that can hold remotes and magazines. And finally, don’t forget to refer to rule one: use the top of your tall furniture for storage, put items on top of your cabinets, and don’t be afraid to use shelves for storage bins.
Downsize what you bring with you. Take a critical look at what you need and what you just want. For example, if you have a full-sized computer, consider selling it and using the money to purchase a laptop or tablet. And now that you don’t have a massive computer, you can downsize to a smaller desk or corner piece. Use the same thinking for all the areas in your new apartment; loose the massive TV for a smaller wall mountable flat-screen and now you don’t need a TV stand (or you can use a smaller one to hold all your electronic goodies), ditch the huge furniture for small, streamlined pieces, and consider whittling down your closet to pieces that work in multiple settings to maximize the space available.
This is just a short list of ways to make your small space more livable, the best tip you can get is simply this: be creative with your space. Stack your items, use multipurpose furniture, be ruthless with what you bring, think outside the box.