It’s official: the tiny home movement is sweeping the nation. Whether you can’t get enough of Tiny House Hunters on HGTV or you are simply intrigued by the idea of Marie Kondo-ing your life, it’s clear that the country has an obsession with all things miniature. But if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into tiny home living (or you simply can’t get out of your apartment lease for another year), there are still plenty of lessons to be learned from those who have committed to living small.
Here are a few things you can glean from tiny home living — especially if you live in a similarly small apartment.
Have a Space for Everything
The first rule of tiny houses is to have a space for absolutely everything. Because these micro-spaces are so, well, small, it requires a pretty impressive amount of organization in order to be able to walk around and enjoy them without worrying about too much clutter. The same rule applies for small apartments, which don’t often have an abundant amount of storage space available. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your storage solutions and maximize every square inch you have by doing things like adding hooks on the back of every door (for jackets, robes, and backpacks) and building an over-the-toilet storage shelf (for toilet paper, beauty products, and hair dryers).
Clear the Clutter
Another commandment of tiny living is to clear out every bit of clutter in your life. While it may be seemingly impossible right now to think about parting with your elementary school notebooks and old CDs from middle school, you’ll eventually have to ask yourself: would I miss these if they were gone? In order to maximize the little amount of space you have, it’s essential to get rid of unnecessary objects.
Make an inventory of all of your things, and decide whether or not you have to keep them — or whether they’re better off getting donated, being given away to friends, or even just thrown away. After eliminating a large chunk of your personal items, you’d be amazed at how much more functional and open your small space will be.
And if you absolutely can’t part with things that just don’t fit in your apartment, consider alternatives like renting out a storage unit or letting a sibling, friend, or parent “hold onto them” for you until the day comes when you have a place that’s actually big enough for it.
Try to Create as Much Light As Possible
There’s a reason people on House Hunters are always talking about natural light. The more of it you have in a room, the bigger and more welcoming it appears. One thing that kills a small space is a lack of light, which can give it a cave-like appearance.
Of course, there’s nothing you can do about the positioning or number of windows in your apartment, so you may need to get creative with the lighting opportunities that are available to you. For starters, make sure that none of your furniture is blocking a window that could be letting in more sunlight. Mirrored surfaces can also do a lot to brighten up an otherwise dark, brooding space.
Make the Most of Multipurpose Furniture
You’ve heard of multifunctional spaces before, but are you incorporating enough multipurpose furniture into your small space? Always remember: anything that can be doubled up in a small space, should be.
Some of the most common multipurpose furniture pieces are those items that double as storage spaces. These should be your bread and butter in a small living area. For example, you should be using your ottoman to store blankets, board games, and books in the living room. You can also use a bench at the end of your bed to store extra linens, towels, and winter coats to keep them out of sight and out of mind.
Another lesson we can learn from tiny home dwellers is that of going vertical in our storage solutions. Instead of packing everything tightly into a cupboard or a closet, why not figure out an elegant way to display things where they’re out of the way (either hung up on the wall or suspended from the ceiling)? The kitchen is one of the best places for this strategy, as you can easily store cooking supplies on a pot rack, display your mugs up on a pegboard, and keep your wine glasses on a shelf.
No matter what you’re storing, you’ll find that using every square inch available to you is truly the key to small-space success.