How to Make the Most of Your Small Space

Our apartment is pretty tiny. It’s 500 square feet and is essentially two rooms and a bathroom. Any real estate agent would describe it as “charming” and “cozy”. It is those things. But it’s also effing small. Since my partner and I moved in together (yes, I’m still using the word partner), we’ve gone from 1200 square feet, to 850 square feet, and now 500 square feet. We’ve cut our space in half!

Here is how we are making 500 square feet work for us now.

How to Make the Most of Your Small Space - Small Apartment Ideas to make organizing and living in a small apartment easy and beautiful |

Ditch the Unnecessary

Before we moved in to our current space, we got rid of HALF of our stuff. Here is how we did it.

The best thing is, 6 months later I can barely tell you what we got rid of. I don’t miss it! I really don’t! I’d strongly encourage anyone downsizing to get rid of half your stuff. You can do it.

My best advice? If you wouldn’t notice that something was gone if your spouse threw it out while you were out of the house, you should get rid of it.

Hide Your Junk in Plain Sight

As much as you can try to get rid of much of your junk, there will still be random things you just want (or need) to keep. What about that pack of 50 colorful markers? What about your tool box or your random craft supplies? Or the absurd number of power cords that you aren’t sure what they go to but don’t want to throw them away?

We keep our small apartment organized by hiding our junk in plain sight. We do this using baskets above our kitchen cabinets and on our bookshelves.

Extra Storage in Small Apartment

Our baskets are these and these from Ikea. Here is an option from Target that looks pretty nice.

Utilize Multi-Purpose Furniture

Our coffee table has a hidden storage area for blankets and the 12 remotes that we don’t use (seriously, how do we have so many remotes?). Our radiator has a cover that doubles as a TV stand. Our dresser acts as our TV stand in our bedroom. Our kitchen island has replaced a dining room table and a desk.

I promise it’s not always fun sitting on a bar stool to blog, but there is literally zero space for a desk or dining room table in our home. Most of our furniture serves multiple purposes and for our small space, that is efficient and necessary.

Shelving is Your Friend

We have an absurd amount of bookshelves to wall space in our apartment. If there is a big empty wall, there’s a bookshelf on it. Yes, we have a lot of books. But we also use this space to display photos, houseplants, and store belongings.

Another helpful addition for storage space in a small apartment is to install floating shelves above doorways. This is a great option for storing TP and extra towels in the bathroom.

And the best shelving? Our closet has tons of additional shelving added. I can’t take credit, it was this way when we moved in. It looks like it would be easy to install and is probably similar to this Closetmaid Shelf Track Kit from Target.

Here’s what my closet looks like:

Closet Organization System
I could pretend like my closet is always this clean but hahahahaha NOPE.

Conserve Counter Space

Keeping all countertops clean helps keep the apartment from feeling like it’s over-crowded. All appliances (except for the coffee pot), are put away unless they need to be used. We don’t have a microwave. If we need to use the toaster, we just pull it out and put it back when we’re done. Even though we are definitely messy people, cleaning off the countertops really helps keep the space feeling open.

Remember Why You Love Your Small Space

Sure, our apartment is half the size of most places in the suburbs. But we also are mere blocks from fabulous coffee shops, fun bars, beautiful parks, and amazing restaurants. We’re paying for our location, not for our space. So if you’re feeling cramped in your small space, get out of it. Explore your city and remember why you embraced your small space to begin with.

Have you ever downsized? What suggestions do you have for making the most of a small space?

p.s. In case you missed it over on Blog Brighter – here is How to Make the Most of Your 404 Page

  • These are great tips! I just moved into my new place a little over a week ago, and it’s probably about the same size as yours (I can’t remember the sq. footage to save my life, but it’s two rooms and a bathroom as well.) I actually love it! I don’t have a TV (which is fine, because aside from the fact that there is literally nowhere to PUT a TV, I rarely watch the actual TV and don’t want to pay for cable if I’m rarely going to use it). I don’t have a couch (just two chairs). And to be honest, it’s the perfect size for me. I do want to find more easy storage though!

  • Great tips! I am all about downsizing and not keeping things I don’t need. Moving from the US to Europe to the tiny European size closets and apartment space really required me to downsize and get creative with my space. And your right, all that stuff I got rid of, I don’t miss any of it!

  • I’ve definitely been on a mission to ditch the unnecessary–especially since we’ll be welcoming another tiny human into our little apartment in a few weeks! It’s been really refreshing to be able to clear out stuff that I have no idea for the life of me why we were hanging on to.

    When I feel like I wish we had more space (someday! Just not in the budget right now), I remind myself that a smaller space means less to clean. 🙂

  • really awesome tips nadine! I need this so bad right now.

  • These are great tips! My boyfriend and I currently share a two bedroom apartment (along with our pup, Paxton). We have recently been discussing moving into the Fairmont area, where apartments are definitely smaller. I’ve been having trouble imagining how we could ever fit all of our stuff! We have tons of books like you. The other problem I can’t seem to solve in the down-sizing front is that we absolutely need a desk space that is solely used as desk space (My boyfriend’s in a very demanding PhD program). The good thing is that I am not a pack rat at all! I hate clutter! With your advice, I can now imagine how we would downsize.

    What was on your ‘Must-Have’ list when looking for a smaller apartment?

  • The most expensive apartment I lived in was a 400sq ft. Studio with my (ex)boyfriend and our dog. I learned a lot of these same tips along the way. A small space in a great location doesn’t have to be unbearable! (:

  • Lauren Harrelson

    Girl you are blowing my mind with your 500 sf. I mean, Archie alone takes up a good portion of this right? 🙂 Good tips though! I need to get some cuter baskets…

  • Great tips, Nadine! Pinning this post for sure.

  • I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I live in a <650 sq. ft. apartment near DC, but our first home together was a 4 bed/4 bath ridiculous Midwestern suburban home. We had to get rid of basically everything we owned, but I'm SO happy we did. Living in walking distance to the metro and coffee shops and farmers markets makes for such a lovely life! Our coffee table stores blankets, and we bought a bed with drawers underneath, but I love the "hide your junk in plain sight" suggestion. We really need to invest in some shelves and baskets!

    Great post!

  • Yes yes yes I so liked this post I often feel like I have no space

  • When I lived in San Luis, my apartment was TINY. I’m not sure of the square footage but I’ve never lived anywhere so small. I loved it though. It was so easy to clean! And I have hoarding tendencies, so not having a place to store junk really helped me. But now I don’t live there, and I’m trying to convince Keith to let me turn his bachelor pad into a nice place for a lady to live, but he’s like, “But I like my football helmets and skull and Packers cheeseheads on the mantle! And I like my rock collection hanging above the pool table in the dining room!” I’ve seriously considered slowly getting rid of some of his things, because I don’t think he’d notice, but I would never actually do that. Well, probably not, anyway. I love the idea of hiding things in plain sight though. And shelves above the bathroom doors? I’ve never seen that but I want to do that RIGHT NOW.

  • Jae

    This couldn’t have come at a better time, Nadine. I’ve only been here in the US for almost two weeks, but my husband and I have decided to move out from his relatives’ house sooner than we had planned. We’re currently looking for an apartment that’s good enough for the two of us.

    Thank you for the tips! 🙂

  • Great tips!

    I’m ALWAYS decluttering. I’m pretty sure my mom thinks I’ve become an insane clean freak because when she calls I’m always decluttering something, a closet, our cupboards, the fridge.

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  • Yay for small space dwellers! We live in 700 sq feet and love the power of behind the door storage – so many hooks!

  • I live in a 300 square foot studio so I know EXACTLY what you mean!

  • This was really helpful! My boyfriend are about to move from a 1000+ townhouse to a teeny studio apartment in Costa Rica. I’ve been wondering how we’d make it work, so these tips are going to definitely come in handy!! Thank you!

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