couch and table with skinny legs in a small room

You don’t need to be on Tiny House Big Living to follow the current small house trend. Whether you are downsizing or live in an apartment, you need to utilize your square footage. We know your time is limited so we’ve compiled a list of the best ideas so you can use your time to recreate your inspirational pad and not get distracted surfing through Chip’s HGTV inspirations.

KonMari Your Small Space

In the words of Robert Tew, “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” This includes your accumulated “stuff.” Declutter as much as possible. 

Look, we all have that thing we don’t need. Maybe it’s your Game of Thrones cookie jar or an old t-shirt from your track star days…but do you need it? If it doesn’t have a purpose, you don’t use it or it no longer brings you joy, give it away or toss it. Conveniently, you can schedule a pickup with Vietnam Veterans and donate your un-love-ables.

Allow your mind to travel back to elementary lessons of needs versus wants.  Perhaps you love your floor lamps but you have a ceiling light. Maybe your side ottoman does nothing but collect a pile of thrown clothes. Do you need it? Remember, it is about making the most use of your small space, not acquiring the most junk.

If you can’t part with it and it’s crowding your already tight storage space, consider renting a storage unit for holiday or seasonal items/clothes. has populated the best storage units for 2019.

Organize a Small Space

Shelving that is white and organized by an entryway

Most of us still wish for a little elf to sneak into our house and tidy it up while we sleep. Organization is not an ingrained skill. It is built with practice and habit.

According to Hillary Rettig, author of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific, organized people only keep items that build their personal or professional lives. Translation: less stuff = less stuff to organize.

After decluttering, take a minute to attend to what is left. Here are some tips to organize your small space.

  • Shelving
    Wall shelving is a major trick for small spaces. When you don’t have floor space, you must switch your brain to think up and not out.
    • Kitchen
      Check above your sink. Do you have empty space? Add shelving here for dishes and free up cabinet space for pantry items. Aside from the walls, you can grab some narrow stacking shelves for countertops or under the sink to double your space.
    • Wall and Corner Shelving
      While wall shelving seems obvious, the less used areas tend to be corners. Corner shelving provides a chance to display some of your prized, unpartable items without taking up the little counter space you have.
  • Less is more and keep it simple
    If is over-complicated, you are not going to use it. Keep your system simple. Hang a hook by a door for your coat keys with a small wall shelf and bowl for wallets and phone. Repurpose hangable magazine pockets for storing wax paper, Reynolds Wrap and garbage bags under your kitchen sink.

    Don’t allow unwanted stuff to enter your house. Junk mail? Pitch it before it comes in. The unwanted present? Donate it before ever getting to your house. When you have little room, be picky with what enters it.
  • Storage bins and baskets
    Most people would rather someone peek under their sinks than look into their closets. Opening up a cramped closet to be met with towels falling and jeans suffocating you in a clothes avalanche is bound to make you feel crowded.

    Use storage bins and baskets to get the most out of this small space. Larger baskets hold bath towels and smaller for washcloths or first aid items.  Dedicate a basket for toilet paper and kleenex while another can be used for medicines and lotions.

    Strangely, just by organizing your closets, you will find you have more room for necessary items and will de-junk or consolidate in the process.

    While you are grabbing bins, don’t forget a few containers for your junk drawer. By organizing your batteries, scissors, pens, and change, you feel a breath of relief instead of frustration multiple times a day.
  • Create zones in your room
    We aren’t recreating the scotch tape line down your floor like you did when you were eight to keep your sister on her side. We are talking about functional rooms. Be creative with zones in your space.

Small rooms must be multi-purposeful. For example, your living room may become half living room/half dining room or half living room/half kid’s playroom. A spare bedroom could be a guest room, craft room and office all in one.

Utilizing screens, rugs, windows, furniture and even picture frames allows rooms to have multiple purposes while still functioning as necessary. By doubling this up with selective furniture choices, you can both create zones and multi-functional rooms.

So Fresh, So Clean

coffee cup and computer sit on a very clean, white desk

You’ve removed all your unnecessary clutter and organized it. Now what? In the words of Outkast, It is time to make it “so fresh and so clean, clean.”

It seems simplistic but in a small space, one or two things out of place visually appear to be a mess. If you find the same items are always being left out, find a way to solve the issue at the spot. Socks by the couch? Add a small trash bin to the area so it becomes easier to keep it clean.

The floor is a hotspot for clutter. Insist items are kept off the floor to prevent being overrun by stuff. Find ways to help hide items, even if it is just a stand to place bags in instead of dropped off at the entryway.

Designing your Small Space

With the basics of a small space out of the way, focusing on your design matters. Unless you like feeling a bit claustrophobic, it is worthwhile to check out our tips.

  • Color
    We cannot say it enough, color makes a difference. The lighter your walls, the larger and airier a space will feel. The darker your colors, the deeper a room will appear (think bathrooms accent walls). If you love fall colors in your living room, choose a lighter wall color and accent with your darker colors.

    Many paint sites allow you to upload a picture of your home and then test wall colors without actually purchasing any materials. This saves you time and wasted funds painting and hating the color once it is spread over a large surface area.

    Don’t forget a light room will still appear shut down if you close all the blinds. Allow natural light to come in as much as you can to pop open your space. Stick a large mirror in the room to let the light play off itself as it manipulates the room to seem bigger.
  • Functionality
    In a small space, you cannot just drop $300 at Target and call it a day. The items you splurge on must have hidden functionality, especially if they will be stored in clear sight.

    Think of a waffle iron versus a grill with removable plates. One does a single purpose while the other is not just the waffle iron but also a grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle and half grill/half griddle. Same with an electric can opener versus a can opener that also has a corkscrew, bottle opener, and gripper all in one.

    The functionality doesn’t stop at the kitchen. Ottomans turning into tables and chairs or ironing boards standing up to become full-length mirrors are prime examples of functional items. While the examples are endless, one thing is for certain, to make the most of a small space, functionality is king.
  • Furniture choices
    Your furniture can open your space or close it down. Skinny legged furniture brings your sofa off the ground, visually making your room seem larger. If you insist on a larger piece, aim for one or two as accents with most of your furniture being sleek.

    Anything airy furthers this concept, so focus on open bookcases, mesh, acrylic or glass shelving. Open exposure emphasizes clutter so time must be given to eliminating it to achieve a breezy feel.

    In revisiting the functionality aspect, furniture is clutch. Kitchen tables functioning as islands or drop leaf side tables, floor lamp bookshelves, hideaway desks and of course the cliche fold-up bed are all examples of how smart furniture choices allows your small space to serve purpose without overcrowding.
  • Forgotten spaces
    Think corners, insides of steps, between studs, gaps in the refrigerator, ceilings, and more. These tiny spots are hidden gems for things like bookshelves, spices, can racks, hanging pots/pans, nooks and more. Look for empty, unused areas and see what you can create. Of course, Pinterest has ideas for days on nooks and cranny designs.

Go for it

When it comes to small space living, allow creativity to be your guide. Assuming you keep proper support studs in place, no one says you cannot tear out a wall or change the layout to a room.

As long as you remember a few basic guidelines, your adventure in your new home can be enticing and inventive. Not only will you make the most out of living in a small space but likely will inspire a friend or two to do the same.

If you need assistance moving to your new home, head on over to The Home Team and let us help! Schedule your free estimate today.

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