When you live in a large house or apartment, you typically have access to a garage, attic, basement, or designated storage space where you can stash things like seasonal items, childhood mementos, and luggage — i.e. all the things you want to hold on to but don’t have the space for in your home.
If you live in a studio or “efficiency” apartment, however, you know that it’s a daily challenge keeping everything organized, accessible, and attractive. Instead of relying on crates, drawers, and shelves to hold everything or investing in costly off-site storage space, try implenting one of these clever solutions:
Nooks & Crannies
No matter how small your place is, there is always unused space you can utilize for storage. Sliding drawers are perfect under beds, and the space under the sofa is perfect for decorative boxes. The spaces above kitchen cabinets are good for displaying the bulky items you don’t use that often, like serving trays and punch bowls. Got a bathroom vanity? Try stowing those cleaning products you rarely use behind and around the hidden pipes under the sink. Remove the rod from one side of a large closet and slide a chest of drawers in it to store all your loose articles of seasonal clothing.
Hanging clothes not only keeps them looking fresh for longer, it also saves you a ton of space. You can organize them by season, color, style, or whatever works best for you. The color system works particularly well for children and has the added benefit of teaching them how to match clothing for outfits. Be sure to use strong hangers appropriate for pants, dresses, tops, and shirts, and toss out all the flimsy wire hangers. Invest in hanging shoe and handbag organizers to free up your closet floor for storing luggage and totes.
Smart & Small
When it comes to appliances, bigger is not always better. A whole slew of kitchen appliances now come in smaller versions than they did before. Smaller microwaves have just as much power as big ones, and under-the-counter models are real space savers. Unless you’re an avid baker, get rid of that stand mixer that takes up so much counter space and use a compact hand mixer for all mixing jobs. Store things like waffle irons, blenders, electric skillets, and toaster ovens in high cabinets to free up as much counter space as you can. To free up floor and wall space, consider getting rid of your desktop computer and using a laptop instead. Even refrigerators and dishwashers come in smaller sizes these days, and most of them have capacities comparable to those of their full-sized counterparts.
Buy Pretty Things
No matter how organized you are, it’s impossible to put everything into drawers and behind closed doors. Items on display can enhance the organized look you’re striving for, but if they’re old, damaged, or in any way unsightly, you’ll probably be uncomfortable leaving them on counters or shelves for everyone to see. Little things like soap dishes, candy and cookie jars, and mail organizers are just handier when they’re out in the open. If you keep aesthetics in mind when you purchase them, you’ll always be comfortable with their display.
Up, Up, & Away
Look around your home, and you’ll notice a ton of wasted wall space. Aside from hanging pictures, paintings, spice racks, and flatscreen TVs, walls can also be used to organize your entire home. You can find floor to ceiling shelving units at most home furnishing stores, or you can build your own for extra savings. Some store-bought models even come with built-in desk space.
One of the simplest ways to present your living space as ultra-organized is to keep it tidy. A kitchen free of dishes in the sink looks well-kept and structured for efficiency. A basket of crumpled clothes from the dryer can destroy the appearance of a bedroom or ruin a perfectly dusted and vacuumed living room. Setting aside just 15 minutes a day to keep clutter at a minimum will give you great peace of mind.
Hide & Keep
This trick is so simple and logical, you’ve probably used it before. Much like you store scoopers inside sugar and flour canisters instead of on the counter, you can also do the same with other items that complement each other. Store trash can liners at the bottom of your trash can, stash plastic storage containers and jars with the lids on, and conceal bills and letters under the decorative accessories on the kitchen table.
Gems & Jewels
Bulky jewelry boxes take up a lot of space on dressers and chests of drawers in the bedroom. To use this space more efficiently, hang a flat jewelry organizer on the wall for necklaces and charm bracelets. Store bangles and rings on space-saving pillars and cones. This not only makes the room look organized, but it also prevents your jewelry from becoming tangled together or developing knots.
Against the Wall
Mount cubbies and big baskets on your walls for some visually-pleasing storage. A wicker receptacle on the bathroom wall can hold towels and washcloths and free up a lot of closet space. Apply the same concept in the kitchen to hold dish towels, cleaning agents, and fresh sponges and wipes. Cubbies can also be used to display keepsakes, books, candles, and framed photos.
Wall hooks are a forgotten storage tool that used to be quite common. They are available in all sorts of different sizes and materials, and they’re perfect for hanging hats, caps, purses, tote bags, backpacks, and scarves. There are also hooks designed to display small framed photos without the help of unsightly nails. Declutter your bathroom with hooks to hold body brushes, washcloths, and shower mitts, and use them to keep pot scrubbers and dishcloths off the kitchen counter.
Organization not only keeps your place looking better, it also helps you focus. Studies have shown that people are far more productive in uncluttered environments, so it’s really a win-win situation.