When you call New York City home, personal space is a very (and, I mean, very) limited resource. Even if you pay big money for extra square footage, you’ll more than likely still find yourself flipping a coin to decide whether you should keep your desk or dresser. So getting creative with what goes where, and Googling all the storage ideas for small spaces is as necessary as, say, buying renters’ insurance.
Clean My Space blogger Melissa Maker knows that making your small space work in a big way starts with the right mindset. “Think unconventionally about the space that you have. When you look at a room through an economizing lens, that’s when you start to get creative,” she says. If you view the project before you as a total drag, that’s exactly how it will feel. Instead, Maker recommends seeing your limited room as an opportunity to really, really consider which belongings add to your life. And which are just, well, clutter.
Whether your teeny-tiny abode is located in the Big Apple or elsewhere, home organization experts share 10 must-know ways to make your small space work in big ways. So grab a notepad and start jotting down ideas for making the very most of every last inch of your shoebox apartment/tiny home/pool house.
1. Set your focus on multifunctional decor
“I love multi-functional furniture pieces and accessories that help keep your home neat and organized, such as an ottoman bench with storage, an antique chest, or a coffee table with drawers for storing books, magazines, throw blankets, or the TV remote,” interior designer Diana Hadchity Chedrawy previously told Well+Good.
2. Make use of the space behind every door
Remember the over-the-door shoe organizer of your college days? Maker says that you haven’t outgrown it quite yet. Even though it might not be the stuff of Pottery Bran catalogues, its utility is pretty unmatched. It works for shoes, or any other shoe-sized items that you just can’t cram anywhere else (beauty products, chargers, crafting supplies—you name it.
Buy: Whitmor Over the Door Shoe Rack, $27
3. Learn the proper way to fold everything… including your socks
Believe it or not, the way you origami your clothing can save you inches and inches… which eventually add up to feet (feet!) of extra space in your wardrobe. Head here to see how Jacki Hollywood Brown of the organizational site Unclutterer recommends folding up your workout clothes, jeans, sweater, T-shirts, and socks for drawers that look straight off your Pinterest feed.
Shop: ZSPENG Plastic Hanging Closet Organizer, $32
4. Buy a few shelf-extenders
Sometimes, all your appliances (the air fryer! the Instant Pot! The Egg Cooker!) just won’t fit in the 3-foot space your landlord called a “kitchen.” That’s where shelf-extender come in, according to Maker. Personally, I’ve also used these babies to make more room in my closet to store my athletic clothes, and I fully endorse them.
5. Create a “drop zone” for your frazzled entrance through the front door
Instead of placing your keys just, well, anywhere, Hadchity Chedrawy told Well+Good you should create a specific “drop zone” right near your front door that serves as catch-all for things you might otherwise lose. (Read: Your keys, phone charger, wallet, and Airpords.)
6. Make decluttering a habit—not a New Year’s resolution
Ryan Mitchell, founder of TheTinyLife.com, once told Well+Good that purging and decluttering your space shouldn’t be a once-in-a-blue-moon ordeal. Instead, you should make a point of getting rid of something the second you can’t find a space for it. “If you find there’s something that doesn’t have a home, it probably means that it’s not important to you or is not useful to you,” says the blogger. Make it an official house rule.
7. Use each and every corner to your advantage
“You can buy triangular-shaped storage,” recommends Maker. “That way, if you have an awkward corner in your room, you can actually make it really pretty.” To get the look, the organization expert recommends doing plenty of antiquing and seeking out pieces made of glass (which will make your space look even bigger).
8. Dedicate the maximum amount of space to the parts of your life you love the most
See: Carrie Bradshaw keeping her shoes in the oven. If you’re not a big cook, but you (like Sex and the City‘s leading lady) love a good fashion moment, allow your wardrobe to spill out into the rest of your space. “If I do something quite often for long amounts of time, I’m gonna dedicate more space and more items to that thing,” Mitchell told Well+Good. “But if it’s something I do once a month for a half hour, I’m gonna de-prioritize that in the space—and maybe even try to eliminate it from my home.” Same goes if you’re a book nerd, or someone who collects witty mugs and likes to show them off.
9. Think vertically
In NYC, people with the good fortune to find themselves living in an apartment with high ceiling will humble brag about it to anyone willing to listen. Not because they like the airy, palatial feel of the place, but because it opens up a wealth of storage opportunities.
10. Add tiers to cabinets that don’t already have them
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