Making the Most of a Small Space
Updated: Mar 24, 2019
I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom home with my husband, our one-year-old son, and two large dogs. It began with just the two of us and we kept adding animals and humans to the mix and then, as you can imagine, space was filling up quick, so I had to come up with solutions to remedy this issue. Here are some tips and tricks I picked up along the way:
1.) Functional Wall Space is Key
The most under-utilized space in the home is usually the wall space. You have all this space on the walls that can work to your benefit, and yet, some people rarely take advantage of that. I aim to provide some insight on how this space can work for you and your home while still maintaining your home's aesthetic appeal.
Mount the T.V. and the DVDs
Making your wall space more functional is a big part of freeing up space. We used to have a large t.v. stand to hold a 60" t.v. (like we needed something this big in the first place), and our dvds were stored in the shelves at the bottom of the stand. The problem is that this whole t.v. setup took up a lot of room. By mounting the t.v. and purchasing wall-mounted dvd storage racks from IKEA, we were able to free up a lot of floor space and still implement an organized solution for the entertainment area.
Say Goodbye to the Bookcase
Bookcases are another bulky piece of furniture that can make a big difference in your space. Consider donating the bookcase and purchasing floating bookshelves. I bought some inexpensive white metal shelves from Amazon that I put over my night stand and my husband's nightstand to create symmetry on both sides of the bed and give us each our own individual book storage. Books also make me happy, so I enjoy having an organized, convenient place to grab a book to read before bed and make them part of the aesthetic of the room.
Expand Your Linen Closet
Some homes, like my own, suffer from undersized linen closets. The first thing to do is get rid of those items in your linen closet that just don't make sense to keep. You don't need three or four sets of guest bedding, so assess your needs and reduce from there. If you are still in need of some storage space for linens, another good option is to use large floating shelves along with wicker storage bins to store extra blankets or sheets that don't seem to fit in your current linen closet. You can choose a wall in the master bedroom or perhaps a bathroom if space allows for something like this. Blankets and sheets tend to be light enough not to put too much stress on floating shelves and are easy to take down and put back up onto higher shelves.
Convert the Entryway Coat Closet
Some homes have an underutilized entryway coat closet, but people don't want to convert it to something else, because they like having the option for guests to hang their coats up. By finding wall space to mount coat-hanging hooks, you still have that option for guests, but you have now freed up that closet so you can use it more wisely. One option, if it is also close to the kitchen, is to convert it into a pantry or kitchenware storage if you lack the kitchen space. Whatever the need, make sure its function fits the space it is in as well. If you end up storing things far away from where they are used most, this tends to unravel in the long run.
2.) Clear Your Counter Space
If you have a small kitchen, that means counter space is precious, so don't take it up with unnecessary items.
Mail, Keys, Phone, Sunglasses
These four items come into the house every day and they rarely have a home, so they end up everywhere, counters, coffee table, dining table, kitchen island or any other surface. I highly recommend getting one of those wall-mounted mail stations that have at least one slot for mail, enough hooks to hold everyone's keys and sunglasses and a ledge large enough to hold everyone's phones. You can find some inexpensive ones on Amazon or Walmart and Target that contain all of these things. That way, when you get home, those items always have a home and don't take up counter space. It also encourages you not to be so attached to your phone at all times which couldn't hurt nowadays.
There are so many space solutions for spices now that they should never take up unnecessary counter space. For my own home, I chose to mount wire spice racks to the side of the kitchen cabinet for easy access and so that I didn't use up cabinet or drawer space. You can also purchase drawer organizers specifically for spices, cabinet organizers that use different levels (like stadium seating) to put spices on so you can see them all in the cabinet, rolling floor spice racks that are two-three feet tall and thin that can fit in the space between the fridge and the counter. Truly, there are tons of great options for spices, so don't let them take up your precious space any longer.
Spatulas and knife blocks
Some people have very nice sets of knives or spatulas and like to keep them on the counters to show them off or make them part of the kitchen aesthetic, which is understandable, but if you desire that kitchen counter space, chuck the block and get a drawer organizer for those knives and for the spatulas as well.
Paper Towel Holders
Mount them. That's all I have to say about that.
Small Kitchen Appliances
Maybe you have a small kitchen appliance that takes up counter space, but you just don't use it very often. For example, maybe you're on a low-carb kick and that toaster just doesn't really get used, but you won't get rid of it, because when you do have bread, you like to do it right. Consider creating space to store it in a kitchen cabinet rather than letting it take up counter space and just pull it out when the craving hits. This applies to any other small appliance. I used to have a very large toaster oven that took up a lot of counter space, but I realized that now that I am cooking for a family, I never use it, so it wasn't worth the space to keep it for those rare occasions.
3.) Functional Furniture is the Way to Go
Convertible Coffee Table
When my son was born, I realized that we wouldn't be using our dining room table for a while. We were eating on the couch in shifts and only used the table for company, but it was taking up so much room. We decided to store the dining room set and create a play space for our son instead, because I just can't stand unused space. Instead, we purchased a coffee table that converts into a large dining room table. There are several types on Overstock, Wayfair, Amazon if you think this kind of function would be useful in your home. You can keep some foldable chairs in the laundry room or garage for when you have game nights and need more seating.
Expandable Kitchen Island
Another useful piece of furniture is an expandable kitchen island which offers storage and extra seating for when company comes over. It usually has a drop leaf that you can down when you want more breathing room. Having the option to put it up means that you can put stools under it for when you want to accommodate more guests or just have more counter space for food prep.
Bed with Storage Drawers
Under the bed storage is a huge space saver in a small home. Instead of using a large dresser that will take up space in a small room, aim for a smaller dresser and a bed with storage. If you already have a bed without storage drawers, get some open-top storage bins that you can use as under bed storage instead of purchasing a whole new bed. The point is to make good use of that space that does nothing but make us occasionally feel like the Boogeyman is waiting patiently under there for us to fall asleep. Sleep more peacefully knowing that the only thing under your bed is neatly folded yoga pants and winter sweaters.
Ottomans & Benches
Ottomans and benches are pieces of furniture that people usually add to their homes to bring a little character and charm into the space. Add ones with more functionality by finding those that have storage. They are great for storing toys (without looking like a toy box), blankets for guests, games for family game night, and anything else your heart desires.
Other Little Tips
Over the door hanging organizers - these organizers have slots that are typically great for shoes, cleaning products, bathroom accessories, closet accessories, and anything that will free up some space for you and still be functional.
Command hooks - Use these hooks! They are amazingly simple to use, affordable, and won't damage walls when you remove them. I use them in my closet for belts and scarves and in my laundry room to hold dog leashes and harnesses, but the number of uses is endless. They are also great for renters who don't want to patch up holes when they move out.
Always have a donation box in the closet - Once you get organized, the world will constantly be tempting you to fall into old habits with new gifts and huge blowout sales and new babies and whatever else life throws you. By keeping a donation bin at the bottom of your closet, you make sure that you donate whenever you get something new so that the clutter does not take back over.
Store things where they are used most - This may seem like common sense, but sometimes we end up storing things in other places because of space issues. Avoid doing this and store things where it makes the most logical sense to get the best flow and function out of your home.