Want the secret to mastering small spaces?
Maximize. That. Space--no matter how small it may seem.
Whether you’ve chosen to downsize or you’re feeling slightly overwhelmed by your current situation, we’re here to help.
It’s crucial to find peace and balance in the spaces we live in--living room, bedroom, office...even that awkwardly skinny hallway closet (a.k.a. the linen/coat/random-pile-of-things-you-haven’t-seen-in-a-year closet). Keeping things clean and compartmentalized is a huge contributor to mental health.
We may be well into summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for some spring cleaning! Here are four best practices for making the most of small and awkward spaces, plus how to organize some of the most common living areas.
Declutter: You are Now a Minimalist
🎶 The first cut is the deepest. 🎵
Decluttering is the first step in your small space sprucing spree--and it can be a particularly excruciating one if you’re someone who holds onto things, “just in case”. Start by laying it all out of the table--literally. Take a look at what’s in front of you and separate out only what you truly need and/or love (psst...here are some tips for how to decide what’s essential), and toss or donate what you don’t.
Before you even get to sorting, focus on thinking like a minimalist--carving out a space that is simple and efficient, consisting of only the necessities*. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to organize.
*Contrary to popular belief, “only keep the necessities” doesn’t mean “throw out every tchotchke your grandmother has ever given you.” It simply means keeping only the things you need for your daily life and/or deepest joy.
Regroup: Let’s Play Categories
Once you’ve tossed what doesn’t serve you anymore, it’s time to categorize.
Each space will differ, but let’s use a closet as an example. Group shoes, purses, and belts together into an “accessories” category, and seasonal items, personal favorites, and work attire into their own groups. Keep related items stored together so you always know where to find them. Seasonal items can be stashed somewhere out of sight until their season approaches while oft-worn shoes, for example, should be easy to grab-and-go.
The same is true for all your other spaces. Organize post-it notes, notebooks, computer paper, and other paper products into a single centralized “Paper” section. That way, if you’re ever looking for something relating to paper, you know immediately where to go. (Suggestion: stash logical related items nearby, like highlighters, scissors, and markers.)
As you’re categorizing, keep this question in mind: how can I simplify my everyday life?
Build: Think Small and Vertical
If square footage is in short supply, you won’t be able to maximize horizontal space, so build up!
Think: vertical shelving, door organizers, wall-mounted...holders of...things; anything to keep your belongings off the floor and other surfaces.
You can apply the same concept in a nesting-doll fashion with existing cabinets and closets -- insert bars and stand-alone wire racks or shelves to maximize your available vertical space. The “under the sink” part of the bathroom cabinets is almost always a mess, for this exact reason -- no built in storage! Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own with affordable stackable shelves and drawers.
Repeat: Establish a Routine
Once you’ve done the work to create a space you’re proud to be in, don’t let it go! Establish a routine, once a month or week, to check on each space. Is it feeling cluttered again? Is everything here necessary to me?
Asking these questions more often will help to keep your space from becoming a place you’re not entirely happy with. It takes work, but the resulting peace of mind is 100% worth it.
If you’re working with a smaller bedroom space:
- Keep your nightstand decluttered, and opt for something with drawers. Drawers provide out-of-sight storage space, keeping random things--which may be necessary, but visually unappealing--from finding their way into view.
Under-the-bed is your best friend (if properly utilized). Collapsible drawers or fabric bins are perfect for storing seasonal clothes and shoes. Time for jackets? Rotate them into your closet and slide your beachwear into the bins.
- Baskets are great for decorating and organizing. A good wicker, fabric, or rope basket will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your room, and no one has to know that you’ve stored an armload of miscellaneous craft supplies underneath the throw blanket that’s nestled in at the top.
Your closet can be tricky, but with the right methods you can make it the most organized space in your house.
- Start with slim hangers. We rarely think about how much space hangers occupy, but the more you accumulate, the less space and mobility you’ll have on the rod.
- Speaking of hanging items, you can create more space by adding a hanging garment rod to your existing rod (since most closets come with only one). This move essentially doubles your amount of hanging space.
Use hanging shoe and clothing organizers to capitalize on vertical space. These should house your most essential items, since they’ll be easier to see and grab. (See under bed storage for those things used less frequently!)
- If your closet features shelves, maximize the space by perching storage bins or cubes on them to hold books, seasonal items, linens, and anything else you don’t need to access every day.
The more organized you are in your office space, the more productive you’ll be. Even if “the office” is the corner of your bedroom, here are a few ideas:
Going vertical. (Sensing a trend?) Wall-mounted shelves and whiteboards, hanging file folders, and mason jars attached to pegboards are all great ways to organize your supplies for easy use. (Pro tip: pegboards can also make for great DIY tool storage.)
- Opt for a corner desk. This will help to make the entire room feel less crowded.
- Instead of making room for a plant friend on your desk (because what workspace is complete without one?) choose a hanging planter or basket instead.
- Desks with clean, open lines are certainly visually appealing, but they don’t do much by way of storage solutions. If you can’t bear to settle for something clunky and full of drawers, consider at least adding an under-desk storage shelf.
If you love to cook, having an organized kitchen (no matter the size) is crucial. We recommend:
- Like the office space, put up a pegboard and hang your pots and pans to open up cabinet space for additional food storage (if you’re not working with a pantry), as well as bowls, plates, and other kitchen accessories.
🎶Theeeere she goes; there she goes again...🎵 Have we mentioned vertical organization? Wall-mounted shelves or storage cubes open up space in your cabinets, and make the perfect home for spices, dishes, cookbooks, cups, and more.
Use flatware separators and dividers to keep drawers and cabinets clutter-free.
- Free-standing wire racks come in handy here as well, to maximize the amount of space in each cabinet.
The space may be small, but the opportunities are endless. Looking to DIY some stellar storage solutions but need tools? We (and your neighbors) have your back.