If you’re living in a microscopic city apartment, the tiny house trend can seem a little mystifying. (Like, who actually wants less closet space or a more cramped kitchen?) But according to Ryan Mitchell, founder of TheTinyLife.com, these super-small houses have everything that a much bigger one would—just in a far more compact amount of space.
What’s more, having a tiny home streamlines everything, and that’s exactly why Mitchell believes the craze has taken off. “More people are attracted to minimalism as our world is increasingly go-go-go,” he says. It’s the simplicity of it all that creates a surprisingly Zen vibe.
Realistically, however, actually creating and building a tiny home may not be in the cards for you. (It’s definitely not for me.) However, the key to tiny home living is organization—and anyone can use the trend’s small space decorating ideas, storage solutions, and smart finds to maximize every inch. If they work for Mitchell’s 150-square-foot home, they’ll certainly work for your studio apartment, right?
Scroll down for 8 ways to maximize your small space, inspired by the tiny home trend.
Purge and de-clutter as often as possible.
Before you start pouring your pantry staples into jars or rolling your leggings for maximize storage, Mitchell suggests not only eliminating everything you don’t need, but also asking yourself if you need to bring something into the home in the first place. (Looks like he and Marie Kondo have a lot in common.) “I’m always trying to simplify, to reduce, to remove,” Mitchell says. “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.”
This approach results in a much more aesthetically pleasing space, he points out. “I find that typically you’ll refine the design by removing an element that distracts. Usually, you’re left with a much better design that focuses on the critical things.” In other words, kick clutter, crap, and other unnecessary stuff to the curb.
Divvy up your space based on how much time you spend there
When allocating areas in your home for various purposes, maximize space for the areas you love. “I look at the things I do in my house, and ask myself ‘How long do I spend doing those things?’,” Mitchell says. “If I do something quite often for long amounts of time, I’m gonna dedicate more space and more items to that thing. But if it’s something I do once a month for a half hour, I’m gonna deprioritize that in the space—and maybe even try to eliminate it from my home.”
For example, since Mitchell cooks all his own meals, he’s devoted a larger portion of his space to his kitchen, similar to the one above. Likewise, if you work from home, you may want to consider turning a big corner of your studio apartment over to that purpose and settling for a smaller bedroom nook—it’ll make your work day a lot more comfortable and inspiring.
Curate your closet
Living in a tiny home inspired Mitchell to adopt a uniform—a move that both streamlined his space and his morning routine. “All my shirts are exactly the same color and they match my shorts and my jeans, so I never have to think about it,” he says. “In the morning I just reach in and grab a shirt, and I know that shirt’s gonna work.”
But what if you can’t fathom a life without cropped sweatshirts in every color of the season? Think of it more like designing a capsule wardrobe, with a mix of pieces that work myriad ways when paired together, Mitchell says.
Outsource whenever possible
“Outsourcing” is a term used often by tiny home owners, says Mitchell, but it has nothing to do with hiring an assistant to do your organizing for you. (Although that would be nice.) Rather, it’s just the idea of taking any activities that don’t need to happen in the house out of the house.
For example, I’ve been wanting to create a yoga nook in my apartment, but Mitchell advises against it. “Instead of having a yoga spot in your home, become a member of a local yoga studio,” he says. “This reduces the amount of stuff you need at home while also getting you outside and connecting you with others.” Bonus: If you’re single, it’ll also up your chances of finding a date offline.
Think vertically for storage
If you’re looking for more storage space, says Mitchell, think “up” instead of “out” and store your essentials vertically. “If you think of one square foot on the floor with just one object versus having shelves that extend your shelving options to, you know, 10 feel tall, you can maximize that one square foot that you give up,” says Mitchell. Translation: More room for air-purifying plants, high-vibe crystals, and millennial-pink speakers—who can argue with that?
Make everything accessible
Although it may be tempting to use *every* free inch of your space for storage, your day-to-day essentials should be within easy reach. “Watch for shelves that are too deep or [furniture] that’s too tall or too low, where you can’t access it really easily,” says Mitchell. “If something is [so] tall that you need a stepladder to get to it, or if a shelf is so deep that you have 10 layers of cans, the truth is you’re never gonna [use it] most times.” When in doubt, return to step one and rid yourself of all items that you don’t really need. Then congratulate yourself on finally becoming one of those less-is-more people.