So you’ve brokered a sweetheart of an apartment deal. You’re about to wake up mornings facing the rising sun in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France. Or perhaps you’ll be sitting pretty in the Big Apple’s Lincoln Center area, on a top floor overlooking Central Park. There’s no mistaking the amenities; the locale; the prestige; the view or the truly wonderful neighbors. Or perhaps you’re moving to a funky and artsy block you’ve always had your eye on. There’s a bridge overlooking the river where you can sit on a bench and eat lunch, and run your dog when your workday ends. The only drawback? Your new abode vies with the world’s smallest apartment on record. When you pass your mate or roomie in the 2’ x 3’ corridor, you literally brush up against each other. And that’s the largest room in the dwelling.
Not to worry! If you can both get on the same page about following a few easy steps in your day-to-day living setup, you’ll not only avoid tripping over yourselves, but you’ll honestly soon forget that there are apartment dwellers who squander space…yes, who are downright frivolous with their 600+ square feet loft-sized duplex. Who needs that much room, right? (OK, so a larger home might be more to your liking—or might suit your pocketbook—a little later on in life.)
Now let’s get you situated in your new, clutter-free zone. Why clutter-free? As the dweller of a teeny apartment, you will have to do away with extraneous matter and hone in on the following helpful areas:
- Take care of tasks and cleaning errands INSTANTLY. Large or small…it doesn’t matter. If your DH or DW wants to have a midnight snack, you will do well to lay down the law and explain that all evidence of said snack is to be cleared away. Crumbs are to be wiped up and dishes washed, dried and put away. Note: It’s best you not cut corners; no washing now and drying later; no soaking hard-to-clean pots. All these little projects must be taken care of right there and then. If even one such mini-mealtime is not cleaned up, the next time the sink needs to be used, you’ll be facing a sinkful of dishes and utensils which you can’t utilize next go ‘round—and we seriously doubt you have an unlimited supply of either! Additionally, there’s simply no other spot where you may pile stuff until “later”. Another reason is that when you adhere to the “everything in its place and a place for everything” motto, you’ll know where your tools are at all times. Your apartment is too small to be walking around in circles looking for things!
- Use “pseudo-cubbyholes” in the apartment to store items. Learn to carve out small storage spaces out of the unlikeliest–yet most convenient–of places. Example, when you take off your shoes, don’t leave them where they fall. There’s no room in small apartments for anything that gives that lived-in feeling. You literally WILL trip over shoes you let drop. Instead, you must use your imagination and look around for a place NEAR where you usually drop your shoes to the floor. Do you have a broom and dustbin-on-a-stick in a corner of the room? Is there just enough room in that dustbin to place your sneakers? If so, you’ll be able to turn something that’s already taking up room into a recycled storage compartment.
- You do not need knick-knacks that collect dust. That is, you don’t need them on display. Consider placing all those collectibles and mementos in an attractive pine-colored box (or a real pine box, if you can afford it) and either drape a colorful throw over it or set one of those large clear plexiglass photo frames atop the box. (Make sure the box is hardy…or insert one smaller box inside a bigger one to add bulk.) Wrap your items in tissue and newspaper and put them away for a season. In the future, when you move from your apartment and have an entire wall unit on which to place your knick-knacks you’ll appreciate them anew.
- Lean on stools which can be either moved aside or perched on to give you some sitting time for longer tasks. Idea: if you lack counter space, use one stool as a work area. Place a block-style cutting board on it. Just don’t forget to remove the cutting board and slide the stool out of the way when you’re done.
And there you have it! Instant spaciousness! It’s all a matter of knowing how.
What’s that? You say you are feeling the slightest bit despondent that your apartment seems so, well, so dainty in size? Don’t be. It’s true that good things come in small packages. And it really is psychically healthier if you have less “stuff” around. It helps you zero in on what’s important in life. Now, before you go unpack, go online and take a look at photos of REALLY small spaces. They might help you put things in perspective. Compared to these places, your apartment isn’t that tiny, is it? Even if it is, following the above steps will keep you and your roomie from tripping over yourselves in your small but lovely quarters! (It also applies to you only, if you’re renting or buying solo.)