Fitting Your Big Life into a Tiny Space

I’ve gone from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment half the size and now to a 12×12 room in less than 9 months. Each time I downsized, I rid myself of more and more of my possessions, and still have too much “stuff.” I am becoming adept at finding spaces for things in the oddest places. My goal is to be able to fit everything I have into a studio apartment. Using some savvy space-saving techniques, I may just succeed.

Cutting My Possessions in Half
When I left my house, I sold or gave away so much stuff, I thought I had it down to a small truck. Unfortunately, even though I ended up leaving a lot of stuff behind, I still needed a 22-foot truck to move it all to my new apartment, which was half the size of my house. Even with the walk-in closets, I still had boxes stacked up in my bedroom. I joked that I slept in a storeroom with a bed in it, but that wasn’t really too much of an exaggeration.

Decluttering Gone Wild
Moving from my apartment to this room, I found that I had to get rid of even more stuff. I sold most of my furniture and a lot of other things I wasn’t really using, and ended up moving in a 16 ft. truck this time. I wouldn’t have needed that large a truck if it weren’t for the plants that filled the back few feet. Now, I still have boxes stacked everywhere, and am making real plans for getting the necessities out of the boxes and into my bedroom.

Downsizing and Repurposing Furniture
Since I’m single, I’ve gone from a full to a twin bed to gain more room in the bedroom. Some of my furniture has been repurposed as bedroom storage, such as my corner cabinet from the living room. It’s perfect for stashing all my toiletries in the top and towels and sheets in the bottom. On top, I stack small boxes.

I re-packed some gardening supplies into boxes to put into the garage and use the plastic 3-drawer chests they were in to store office supplies and computer accessories. These chests fit well underneath a large, 6-ft long folding table I have, which functions as a desk. Small stacking drawers and trays help me maximize desk space.

Going Up?
Shelves and bookcases take items up. I use every single inch of space between the top of the bookcases and the ceiling to store yet more small boxes or other small items.

I have put decorative plant hooks into the ceiling and strung chain between them to hang bags full of things I don’t use every day, but need to be available for when I do. A shelf placed high up on the wall holds boxes of seasonal things that I only use once a year.

Maximizing Closet Space
Remember those hangers with holes in them that held five items vertically? I still have those, and it helps a lot in the small amount of closet space I have for clothing. A hanging shoe-holder takes up only 6 inches of closet space and holds a dozen pair of shoes. Of course, boxes fill all the space I don’t need for clothes.

Stash Things Underneath
If there is a piece of furniture with space underneath, I fill it up. Since I like to stockpile things that are on sale, this is a great space for those items. I can stash a month’s worth of canned and boxed groceries underneath my bed. Raising your bed off the floor a few inches can add yards of storage space underneath. Grocery stores will give you the flat cardboard trays that a lot of sodas and canned goods come packed in, which are excellent for organizing things to go under furniture. You can also score plant trays at the big box garden centers that work just as well.

Don’t Forget the Doors and Windows
Doors provide a lot of space for hanging storage. All sorts of hanging storage racks are available to hang over or be installed on unused door space. Also, doors are great for mounting bulletin boards.

If you have a window you don’t ever open, consider hanging some holders from the window frame. This is also a great way to block the sun if you have a west-facing window or insulating a north-facing window for winter. Be careful to only store things that are not damaged by sunlight, or put a reflective covering on the window behind your holders.

Skinny Spaces
There are now skinny storage items available everywhere for those unused spaces where nothing else fits. Many of these are stackable to maximize the amount you can store. I have a tiny 10-inch wide spot between two pieces of furniture, and I’m looking for the perfect item to fit in that space. Rolling linens and clothing is a good way to get them to fit into skinny containers.

So many possibilities and options exist for storage that you’d be surprised how much you can get into a small room. We stockpilers have a saying — “No space left unused.” It’s served me well lately.

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