Calling all dorm room dwellers, narrow-living New Yorkers, and studio sleepers, let’s make small living feel big again.
I’ve had my fair share of small living. I’ve lived in small dorm rooms and even smaller, a sorority house, trust me, I know. From these (arguably traumatic) experiences, I’ve learned how to make a little place organized and cozy enough to feel like home.
Closet space is front and center as number one because, for every fashionista out there, it is the hardest thing to try and compact and keep organized.
First things first, purge. That’s right, you heard me, it’s time to purge your closet. And if you’ve been thinking about it and waiting for a sign—this is it. Even though it’s time-consuming and somewhat painful to part with some clothing pieces, it’s necessary to do this at least once a year.
Secondly, ditch the ugly hanging shelf units. They’re tacky, rip, break easily, and take up more room than they create. Instead, get a shoe rack; they are expandable and collapsible shoe racks that are great for fitting into any closet. My favorite space-saver is the stackable hanger. Vertically stacking three or four hangers onto one, creates so much more space. Make sure to be conscious of how many things you’re putting on one stack, as it can get heavy and break the hanger.
Invest in other organizers such as baskets, collapsible hampers, and drawers that can fit inside your closet. Another way to make a ton of room in your closet is to bring part of it out! It’s very on-trend to have a clothing rack with all your seasonal staples in your room. Stack shoes, hats, accessories, and other trendy pieces on there for an added aesthetic to your room and added room to your closet.
Although I highly value my closet’s organization, the bathroom may be the most essential room for organization. If it’s organized, it tends to be clean, and no one likes a dirty bathroom.
Through my tiny living experiences, I’ve also found that bathrooms are the smallest part of the apartment, which is ironic because of how much makeup, self-care, and hygiene products we all have. To make this small space liveable, I highly recommend drawer organizers and baskets. Drawer organizers make it possible to utilize all of that drawer space while also finding what you need. Baskets are the key to under sink storage. Most of these baskets are stackable and can be labeled. Do make sure that the baskets you get are plastic or perspex and have holes for drainage. If they don’t have a way to drain the inevitable overflow of water that happens in bathrooms, they get pretty gross, and your products don’t fare so well either.
Livable Living Room
A compact living room can be a struggle, especially if you’re a social butterfly who loves having friends over and entertaining. But just because you live somewhere small, doesn’t mean you can’t live large.
Making optimal space out of what you have is why it’s so essential to use spacial illusion. What is spacial illusion, you ask? Watch any show on HGTV, and you’ll find out it’s about hanging curtains higher than the window’s edge to create a taller effect, painting the walls a particular color so that the room looks bigger, and using certain types of furniture to create more space.
As an example, there are floating shelves. They’ve gained a lot of popularity over the past few years because they’re minimalistic, making the room look less cluttered. If your apartment/dorm has a no-nail policy, there are great tools to cover the holes up or heavy-duty Command Strips you can use. Another example of this illusion would be a glass coffee table. Since it has no color, there are no definitive edges, making it look smaller than it is, and it keeps the area open. Also, look for tables where you can store things underneath or other furniture with storage compartments.
Just like the bathroom, the kitchen area needs to be clean to be functional. The kitchen can be tricky because there are so many spices, utensils, and cleaners that need to be stored, but usually without the storage space.
To counter the ill-thought-out design of your overpriced kitchen, bins, stackables, and drawer organizers are the way to go. I’ve noticed I always have more drawers than cabinets, and that’s why I love a good spice drawer organizer. This tool lays your spices out so you can see them quickly, as opposed to a Lazy Susan or loose storage. Dish stackers are great because they help you utilize the entire height of the cabinets without stacking glass on glass. Lastly, cleaning products belong under the sink, but even though they’re the “cleaning” products, they still have to be cleaned and organized. Hang an organizer on the cabinet door that can hold your dish soap and sponges, and clear drawers so you can grab supplies quickly and easily.
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