These 7 Things Made My New Apartment Feel So Much Bigger

updated Jun 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

I recently moved from a studio apartment to a one-bedroom in New York City. I thought that the new space would be spacious and rife with shelving and cabinets and everything I needed for a happy life. I was very wrong. While I did have more space, my new apartment was lacking built-in storage. In particular, I needed creative ideas for my tiny kitchen. The cabinets were weirdly small and there was only one drawer. (Remind me to check things like that next time I move). I needed clever storage solutions or the spacious, airy apartment I dreamed about would quickly turn into a cluttered reality. Luckily, I found random solutions that helped me store and organize everything. Who knew that wooden crates and folding tables would be so handy?

(Image credit: Home Depot)

On the long list of charming “quirks” that came with the apartment was a long, narrow broom closet where some kind of pantry definitely should have been. I needed a place to put dry goods but I couldn’t figure out how to utilize the cabinet on its own. So I scoured the kitchen storage section… and found nothing. But then I moved to the bathroom storage section and discovered the perfect, stable shelving unit for my pasta and granola bars. Important lesson learned: When looking for storage solutions, branch out.

(Image credit: The Home Depot)

In my tiny kitchen, the microwave was sitting on the counter, taking up valuable space. I noticed there was about a foot of vertical space going unused—and I wanted it. The solution turned out to be a simple wooden crate, which propped up the appliance while leaving room for me to store my lunch containers underneath. I’m thinking I’ll paint it (please direct your color suggestions in the comments below!)

(Image credit: Bed Bath and Beyond)

Clear Storage Containers (various sizes), $8-$20

I’m lucky to have some good closet space in my new apartment. It worried me, however, that if I didn’t start right off with a system, it would quickly become cluttered and disorganized. That’s where these bins came in: Their different sizes allowed me to categorize and organize toiletries and cleaning items, and because they’re clear I always know what’s inside. The space magically became more manageable. I had a leftover container, so I put it in my kitchen to store folded dish towels!

(Image credit: Samantha Zabell)

My fridge is next to the stove, and my mom made the (brilliant) suggestion to mount a small magnetic spice rack on the side of the fridge and store the handful of spices I use almost every day. This sleek option provided the perfect spot for my favorites (Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning, of course) and decluttered the makeshift pantry, making room for a few extra miscellaneous kitchen items next to my lesser-used spices.

(Image credit: Samantha Zabell)

This dining-table-turned-desk might be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever purchased. Not only does each flap fold into its center, there are also six spacious drawers for me to store my art supplies! Currently, it’s lucky enough to have its own corner of the apartment where one flap can be permanently out. In the past, I’ve used it near the door as a console table and have even dragged it to the center of the room (on furniture pads, don’t worry) to provide extra space for potluck dishes.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Having a kitchen full of metal cabinetry is proving to be pretty helpful. Going with the theme of conserving counter space, this simple paper towel rack sticks to the bottom of the cabinet above the sink via a magnet, keeping towels in reach and out of the way.

(Image credit: Samantha Zabell)

Although I’m lucky enough to have a dishwasher, there are many times I wash things by hand, and I needed a place to dry them. This folding dish rack holds a surprising number of dishes, utensils, and other random kitchen items, and then conveniently hides away behind the sink. Plus, I love that it rests on a rimmed plastic mat, making it easy to clean and dump any water in the sink.

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