Small Space Survival Strategies
While living in a smaller space can be a great way to simplify your life and reduce overhead costs, the process of reducing and cramming our worldly possessions into drastically reduced square footage allotments can be frustrating to say the least. Following are twelve suggestions to help you succeed with small space living.
- Under shelf storage space use. You can really get some extra storage mileage here by hanging things underneath every available shelf with extra space on the bottom side. In the kitchen, this means more room for coffee mugs, cooking utensils and the odd gravy boat. In the bathroom, it can mean moving hair dryers and curling irons out of storage space better used for bulk tissue and shampoo purchases.
- Closet organizers. Lots of products are out there on the market now. Pick some that work for your space and budget. You’ll be amazed how much more you can cram into a small closet with a few extra organizational tools.
- Ceiling racks, they’re not just for kitchens. The most dramatic difference I’ve ever found with ceiling storage (in addition to the extra pots and pans storage in the kitchen) is in the garage or workshop type rooms. Cruise your local home improvement box store. You’ll find all sorts of support racks to hold holiday decorations, bicycles, lawn tools and more.
- Grouping categories of smaller items together in larger containers. This can mean large freezer bags, giant jars or clear plastic storage bins with snap on lids. How much easier is it if all the extra chord adapters for example are in one clear bag in a drawer rather than all tumbling about mixed in with other things? This also works for such items as flavored baking extracts, nail polish bottles, twist ties and bread tabs, etc. One thing we’ve been using for the first time this year is those galvanized steel rectangular bins that look like the old fashioned pull out locker drawers. You can find them in the organizational aisle at your home improvement store. They take a licking and keep on ticking. We have a couple on industrial shelving unit in the front room for things like mending and clear freezer bags full of electronic adapters and gadgets. Following the container principle can help you feel organized instead of cluttered.
- Wall storage. You can use anything from peg board and hooks to specialized hanging racks from the home and garden store. DIY shelving is another great idea to use up wall space to its maximum. One thing I saw years ago in a design magazine that I’m hoping to incorporate in the new place when it goes up was storage shelves that were actually built in using the space between the wall studs. It had been finished off to look quite nice and some of them were even lighted. The only trick was of course that you could not use exterior walls that need to be insulated or sections of the walls that hold pipes / wires. But this was a great way to store narrow / shallow items without losing any floor space whatsoever. Some things they showed stored? CD’s, wine glasses, bar glasses, smaller statues / figurines and other works of art, narrow books, etc. The best thing I liked about these (in addition to the no floor space used part, that is) was that they had glass doors with the touch latches on them. So no dusting and a large flat surface that was easy to clean with a spray bottle of solution and a soft cloth. I think wall storage is extra efficient because it incorporates the “go vertical” strategy, which leaves you way more room to actually move around and “live”.
- Pare down. This includes everything. Clothing, decorative items, books (you caught me, I’m a total literature hussy), linens, and anything that is normally bulky. This will free up room for actual living and storage of necessary items for your particular lifestyle.
- The space between your counter top and the bottom of your cupboards. Towel bars and s-hooks are a great way to hang necessary kitchen items within easy reach. I’m sure there are items in many different stores, but I’ve always found Ikea to have a good selection of these types of solution world wide.
- Follow the like in like out principle. If a new item comes into the house, like a sweater or souvenir coffee mug, make sure something similar goes out either to the recycling center, Goodwill, to a friend or if necessary to the dump. This will keep you from re-establishing clutter after you have put forth the effort to downsize. (I’ll have to keep you posted on how well I actually do with that one myself. So far, not bad.)
- Under the bed. This storage real estate is underused much of the time. I know some people feel it helps them sleep better if the space under the bed is empty. Personally, I sleep better when I know I have more control over my financial situation and am living within my means. But if you feel strongly about this, then there are plenty of other suggestions here for you to try.
- Corner organizational tools. I’ve seen way more of these on the market lately, or at least it seems that way. Corner organizers for dish cupboards, showers, kids’ rooms . . . I’ve been amazed as I’ve been trying to find ways to function in what feels like less than a matchbox most days. Corners are often not used to their maximum efficiency (this included me) and any affordable organizing tools can be worth their weight in gold for the small space dweller.
- Research the small space furniture market. There are tons of items out there that are multifunctional when it comes to storage. Ottomans, chairs, coffee tables with lift off tops and storage compartments, end tables and day beds with rolling storage baskets underneath are all items I’ve seen while researching ways to get more bang for each square foot. For years, I never realized the round display tables for photographs and crystal that my grandmother had around her house were actually garbage cans with wooden circles on top and floor length fabric draped over the top. It was where she kept out of season clothing, extra wheat and more. Who knew?
- Open up . . . your floor plan that is. Extra rooms can really result in a great deal of unused space. While this is of concern to most people anyway, it’s of particular note when dealing with low square footage homes.
That’s it. One dozen ways to survive in a small space without completely losing your mind. Hey, once you’re organized you might even find you enjoy it. And for sure you’ll be saving yourself some serious bread. Pretty wise, wouldn’t you say?