I’ve lived in various small apartments for more than seven years now. Sometimes, the amount of STUFF just threatens to completely overwhelm me. It’s not so much of a mess (most days), but keeping the belongings of a family of four in a two bedroom apartment will sometimes (often?) make me want to run away and leave everything behind.. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
At the moment, we are living in a tiny apartment, somewhat of a transition apartment until we are in a position to find something better. A lot of our stuff are in storage, so we are dealing with the least possible amount of belongings. Even so, I have never lived more by the words, “Everything in its place and a place for everything.”
Over all the years of dealing with living in small apartments, I have amassed quite a few tips for quick cleanups, easy storage, and a general idea of how to make it feel like you’re not tripping over everything. (Incidentally, I’ve also compiled quite a few tips for moving!)
How to keep small apartments organized:
1. Less is more
The absolute most important thing I’ve learned over the past few years is how to anti-hoard. (Yes, I made that up just now.) I never was a hoarder in the true sense of the word, however, with children, there is always So. Much. Stuff. floating around.
Even at the bare minimum, there’s a lot to keep in check. But let’s talk about the bare minimum. I find it incredibly liberating to get rid of stuff. There is so much stuff lying around, whether it be a big house or a small apartment, that no one needs!
Start throwing stuff out! I used to do this every day, then every week. Now I do it about once a month. Walk around your home and throw out three things. Just three. It could be some old junk mail. A ripped pair of pants that are already too small and will be too difficult, or not worth your time to fix. Anything, really. You will feel so much lighter, I guarantee it!
Train yourself to throw things out right away, instead of letting them pile up. In my small apartments, there just isn’t any room for a junk drawer. (The horror!) But forcing myself to put things in their proper place, or the garbage bin, keeps my drawers and areas prone to piles (the bedroom chair, anyone?) free and clear.
If you are the type that wants to donate things, be it clothing or toys, don’t let it pile up too high. Once you have a full bag, put it in the car. Either drop it off, or call an organization for a pick up right away.
2. Store it vertically
Vertical storage is one of G-d’s gifts to the world. When there’s no more room, look up! Vertical storage is the best way to store things that would otherwise take up too much space.
- An over-the-door shoe organizer over the back of the door is great for so many things! Yarmulkas, headbands, small toys, craft supplies… even books! Hang one up near the washing machine with cleaning supplies, like Windex, Lysol wipes and rags. You can even put one in the pantry to add space for spices or snacks!
- A 6-shelf hanging closet organizer is another great example of vertical storage! Once I’ve used up all my drawer space in my dresser, I turn to the closet. I keep things like shells and scarves in my hanging shelf space. It’s the perfect size, and it takes up no floor space in my bedroom. Alternatively, a utility cart is great in the corner of a closet or if near the washer/dryer to keep detergents, dryer sheets and stain removers.
- Wall mounting metal file holders for important, and current paperwork is a great way to clear up some space on a counter or desk. This is the perfect place to keep school notices, carpool schedules and a calendar in a handy spot without taking up precious space.
- When my dryer broke right before the Nine Days, I was left with a big pile of clothes taking their time to dry all over the place. There were two drying racks in the middle of my living room. Clothes over every chair by the table. You get the picture. A small apartment suddenly became a lot more cramped. Dry your laundry without taking up any floor space by investing in an over-the-door laundry rack.
3. Wire Mesh Magazine Holders
These magazine holders are everything you need and more! They will help you so much in a small apartment. I use them in my kitchen in lieu of a fruit/vegetable basket. I store potatoes and onions on my counter, but using upright magazine holders keeps more of my counter free to utilize. I also use them to store cling wrap, freezer bags, aluminum foil and parchment paper.
Stick one under the sink in the bathroom for things like hairbrushes and detangling spray or mouthwash and extra toothpaste.
4. Toy Storage
Toys can get particularly overwhelming. I have a few rules that keeps the mess at bay. Only one toy per child is allowed out at a time. They must clean up the toy and put it away before taking out a new one. This rule works about 80% of the time, which is good enough for me! I do a quick organization of toys once a week, because nothing irks me more than dollhouse pieces in the Lego box!
A dedicated area for toys is a great place to start. I don’t have the space for this storage unit just yet, because my apartment has very convenient built in shelves under the stairs. However, I cannot wait to buy it! It’s compact, upright, and I love that the bins have all different sizes to fit a variety of toys. The ideal unit for toys should take up very little floor space – the more room to play, the better!
5. Under the Beds
A bed takes up so much space. Obviously, we need them around, but what about all the space under the bed? If you’re in the market for buying new beds, consider those with drawers underneath. Drawers are great for storing linens, towels, and clothing that doesn’t get much use.
Organizers designed for the space under the bed are great for shoes, out-of-season clothes, a toy rotation, or gift wrapping supplies. Things that are not used very often, but definitely need a place to hang out.
If you keep luggage under your beds, make sure those suitcases are filled! Anything that needs a place, but doesn’t need to be accessed too often can be stored in a suitcase.
6. Command Hooks
Command hooks are awesome. I have some in my kitchen for things like cutting boards or “the bag of bags” (y’know, the shopping bag filled with other shopping bags!) Put some on the inside of your closet door for belts, chunky necklaces and scarves. They also make specialty ones, for brooms and other cool stuff.
Do you live in a small space? How do you keep it organized? Let us know in the comments below!