How to Make the Most Out of A Small Space

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“Yeah, our apartment is about 250 square feet,” I said.

“Honey, where are you living?” my friend squeaked.

I was living in Europe, and quickly got a crash course in how to make the most of a small space. It can be a challenge, but a few key principles can make all the difference. 

Keep It Clean

A cluttered space always seems smaller and is less functional. Getting rid of clutter isn’t always easy; make it a positive experience to donate useful items and discard broken or worn out things. 

With less stuff, plan regular times to just pick up and tidy up.  

I saw this when I babysat for a family with six small children living in a mobile home. It worked because everything was kept so clean. Throughout the day, the mom and kids constantly put things away in assigned places when they were finished with them. 

Use More Shelves

When floor space is limited, use the air space. 

Hang high shelves above a sofa, piano, buffet or other low piece of furniture to add more storage space. Neutral-toned boxes or baskets can let you store everything from sheet music to games there without it being visually messy.  

Maximize wall and floor space by putting shelves over your front loading washer and dryer. In our tiny French apartment, the shelving started a few inches over the washer so we could slide a drawer in the gap. 

Don’t let the top of your refrigerator or upright freezer go to waste either. Decide whether you need tall things there, like a soup pot, or whether you need shelves or bins to keep it tidy.

If you’re a book lover, floor to ceiling shelves are fantastic. Consider custom shelves for your paperbacks that are tailored to size for smaller, shorter books to maximize how many you have per shelf. 

Your shelves don’t need to be flat against the wall either. Use them as a room divider or alongside a sofa back. 

This principle of using the airspace works outside too. In France, we had a 8’x4’ balcony that doubled as our only space to dry cloth diapers. 

I was determined to have a bit of nature. Morning glories grew from a pot onto a trellis. I also grew a hanging upside down tomato plant that gave a few cherry tomatoes. 

Sneaky Storage

Get creative with what can double as storage. Find nightstands and end tables that have drawers or doors. Try a chest for a coffee table and use an ottoman that stores throw blankets.

When we had a toddler in our small apartment, we kept all his toys in a tall decorative basket in the living room. This helped with clean up and we still had a grownup living space.  

Think about what can go under your furniture. Slide thin tubs under the beds or even a baby’s crib. Amazon has simple bed frames that eliminate the need for box springs and allow you to store larger totes under beds.

Designers of tiny houses are masters at being sneaky. Use every inch under a staircase with built-in storage. See where you can place those end tables to maximize a nook or cranny. Use retractable drawers in the kitchen for your toaster or mixer. 

If you need a bedroom to be multi-purpose, try a Murphy bed that folds into the wall, giving you back the floor space. 

Small Space Design Tips

Even if you don’t have space, here’s some ideas to make your rooms feel spacious. 

Moving.com suggests letting in as much natural light as possible. Add some lamps or strings of light for a cozy glow. Think about where you could place mirrors to amplify the light.

Round tables for your dining room or living room allow you to move easily around them. 

Rotate seasonal clothing like coats and mud boots to the garage or basement when not in use. Clearing your living space gives you back more space.  

How do YOU make the most out of your small space? Are you an organizational ninja? Get ideas and ask questions from other moms in our community groups. 

 

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Jenna is a Kansas girl who married a Frenchman and lived her personal fairytale in Bordeaux, France for five years. In 2013, they moved back to raise their four children in Newton, where her husband is a firefighter. Jenna brought back a love of the French language, culture, cuisine and cheese. She never thought she would fall equally in love with Kansas and the Wichita area, where she feels so supported as a woman and mom. She is a WAHM, with a media startup.