Apartment living is the best – you’ve made it! You’re not living with your parents! It’s also the worst, because you’re paying for housing and depending on where you live, it’s amazing how little space you get for how much you spend! Sometimes I visit people in the suburbs, ones with big houses for reasonable prices and I go, “Your bathroom is the size of my entire apartment!” and it’s not really that much of an exaggeration. While your home may not ever feel palatial, there are tons of ways to make your space feel less cramped and more like somewhere you have room to make your own.
1. Get a storage ottoman.
Is it seating? Is it a footrest? Is it storage? Is it something you can leave by your door and dump all of your mail on? Is it everything? Yes, yes and yes! If you can’t tell, storage ottomans might be my favorite. They also come in a pretty much infinite range of colors, styles, and price points, so it’s quite likely you can work one into your decor and your budget.
2. Consider a collapsible table.
Do you like eating your meals not off of your lap, but aren’t willing to sacrifice the space for a table? I have been waiting for this guy from Crate and Barrel to go on sale for forever, but Ikea also makes a nice option with storage drawers!
3. Use your oven for storage.
I’m kind of kidding. Then again, if you’re really one of those people who never, ever cooks, why not use that space for something useful? Just make sure people know you do this so that a well-meaning friend or relative doesn’t come over and try to preheat your oven to make cookies, and accidentally set fire to your sweaters.
4. Keep more under your bed than dust bunnies.
Let’s be honest – if you’re a single person with a double bed or larger, sometimes you just want to use the bed as storage – there’s a whole half bed that is a great place to leave your clean laundry! Of course, there are also more grown up ways to use your bed to stay organized, like using the space under it to actually store things in an organized manner. Whether you get a bedframe with built in storage, buy a few bins to stick under the bed you already have, or just find a few items that fit under your bed and put them there instead of in your closet, that’s progress. Bonus: if you’re keeping stuff under your bed, you don’t have to check there for ax murderers before you go to sleep.
5. Try a Murphy bed.
Let’s assume the bed’s not going to pop up and get you stuck in your wall even though it happens all the time on TV. I feel like people are doing some pretty fancy things with Murphy beds these days, so if you’re in a really small space, this is a great way to feel like your apartment isn’t completely consumed by your bed.
6. Utilize your vertical space.
Your square footage is limited, and you have to be able to have your furniture and a place to walk around. Your walls and ceiling, on the other hand, may go unused, but they don’t need to! In the bedroom, you could add shelves or hooks to store purses, jewelry, pictures, whatever. You can add shelves in your kitchen, or if it’s an option and you know someone who’s handy, do one of those hanging pot rack things. I am currently in search of a nice wine rack to put on the wall so I can save counter space for other things.
7. Store pretty stuff out in the open.
Do you guys remember “houses”? Where people had “broom closets” and “coat closets” and “linen closets”? With apartments these days, half the time it feels like you’re lucky if you have any closets. Whatever closet and cabinet space you might have, you’re going to want to use carefully, so if you don’t have to put it in a closet, don’t. If you have a bunch of pretty perfume bottles, leave them out on your counter and save your medicine cabinet for embarrassing things like foot fungus cream. In the kitchen, consider getting decorative jars so you can leave things like flour or pasta out on your counter. Are your coffee mugs adorable? Store them on a visible shelf and save your cabinets for your mismatched glassware.
8. Get fancy with bookshelves.
When I was looking for a place, you have no idea how many people tried to pass off a studio as a one bedroom by sticking a couple of bookcases in the middle of the floor. This is totally annoying when you’re looking at real estate, but pretty brilliant if you’re living in a studio and want to feel like there’s some separation in your space.
9. Loft your bed.
This can feel very college, but let’s be honest, I had a lofted bed for two years in college and I loved it. Also, after seeing Charlie’s apartment on Girls, I definitely feel like there are ways to do a lofted bed that can also be stylish. Then you’ve got all kinds of space under your bed for putting a desk, a sitting area, your dream closet, a meditation nook – whatever you want to do.
10. Have less stuff.
Not interested in spending money on storage solutions and furniture hacks? Try getting rid of some things. The best way to make a tiny space feel even more cramped is to jam a bunch of stuff into it. My first apartment felt insanely small because I thought I could fit a dining table and chairs, a full size couch, two side chairs, two dressers, and a bed into about 350 square feet. If you’re attached to your stuff but just don’t have the space, see if you have a friend who wants to borrow your cool side table til you move on to a bigger and better place. Are you (like me) wasting half a closet with boxes that you have not opened since college and yet can’t make yourself get rid of? Go through that stuff and pitch it, or con someone you know with a basement (your parents) into storing it for you. Are you using valuable hanger space for formal dresses from college that you’re totally going to wear again? You’re actually not, so get one of your friends to host a formal dinner party so you can wear it out one last time, then clean that stuff out of your closet and make room for things you’re actually going to use at some point in the next year.