The 10 Commandments of Keeping a Small Space Organized

published Apr 15, 2014
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Living in a compact (read: tiny) one bedroom with my fiancé and our two dogs sometimes resembles a giant game of Tetris. When it comes to cramming our lives, complete with hobbies, home cooking and my photography business, into 450 square feet organization is key. Here are a few of the ways that we manage.

1. Build upwards.

The thing that has made the single biggest difference in how we utilize our space (besides caving in and renting public storage) was to custom build a wall unit, doubling as my office and bookshelves, that extends all the way up to the ceiling.

2. Take advantage of any dead space.

We purchased sliding drawers to take advantage of the space under the bed, have storage boxes under the sofa and have baskets to utilize the space over cabinets.

3. Find storage offsite.

This might sound crazy but our compromise between our Public Storage unit (which is a ways away) and in the apartment is the trunk of our car. Items like suitcases that are frequently used, relatively inexpensive and bulky tend to reside there full time.

4. Prioritize.

Even with the mild weather in California I rotate my wardrobe so that off season items don’t take up precious storage space, and while I have a wish list of kitchen appliances I only purchase the ones I know that I will use almost daily. We also pared down the dishes in the cupboard to five of each item and put the rest of the set into storage.

5. Store things where you use them.

We keep the bottle opener and other bar tools inside the ice bucket on our bar cart, the roll of trash bags at the bottom of the wastebasket and since our kitchen is without a single drawer our utensils are stored in our kitchen table.

6. Be tidy.

I know it goes without saying but a little bit of clutter can look like a lot in a small space and a pile of laundry quickly becomes a mountain, doing a little, often, makes a huge difference.

7. Make it multifunctional.

Multipurpose items, like our dining table with built in storage and the desk we built into our wall unit help you get the most out of your space without leaving a huge footprint.

8. Buy pieces you don’t mind looking at.

This might sound like an excuse but I always spend just a little more to get household items that I don’t mind putting on display, this goes for everything from hand soap in pretty packaging to a stainless steel toaster, since I can see nearly everything all the time it’s worth a little extra up front to avoid staring at something I hate.

9. Buy the smallest possible version of things like appliances.

While I would love a barista style manual espresso machine, our little pod operated Nespresso makes so much more sense in terms of space. Buying smaller versions of appliances may seem limiting but so is giving up the counter space.

10. Maximize the space you do have with space saving products.

Products like huggable hangers and vacuum bags that are marketed to the clutter prone? They are your best friend. Investing in things that help you utilize the space you have really do add up.

Re-edited from a post originally published 4.15.14-NT