Saturday, March 8, 2014

15 Tricks to Making the Most of Small Spaces

When I was in college I "had the privilege" of sharing a tiny apartment with five other girls.  Can anyone say Sardines?!  There were two of us in each bedroom with barely enough room between the beds to walk!  To top it all off, we ALL shared ONE...that's right...ONE bathroom!  Luckily I shared my room with a good friend, because it was a bit too close for comfort as it was!  Over my single years I lived with over 30 different people...yep I've got lots of people-experience! :)  Needless to say after several years of living with roommates in confined spaces, I learned to make the most of the space I was given.  So, for those of you who feel like your whole world can practically fit in one tiny room, this post is for you!

1. Decorative Storage

Who says organization has to be only in Rubbermaid bins and ugly boxes? (Don't get me wrong, I love my Rubbermaid, but not in my living room!)  
There are a plethora (don't you love that word?) of decorative storage options, so think out of the box (or perhaps inside the box in this case)!  Grandma's antiques, gift boxes, travel souvenirs, the possibilities are endless!

2. Baskets & Bins
Baskets, baskets, and more baskets!
My friends and family have always mocked (or actually still mock) me for my love of baskets, but can I just tell you, it is a love that pays in full!  My baskets have provided order, organization, and easy moving (everything is already packed!)  My old roommate visited my house last year and commented on how she finally understood why I had so many baskets...(finally someone gets me! :); every one has a purpose, and not only does it make everything look nicer, but everything is easier to find and put away!

3. Bed Risers
Bed risers are lifesavers in small rooms!
Make use of space under the bed!  Besides, if you use it for storage, it is much less likely to become the abyss of lost toys!  In college we ALWAYS put our beds on cinder blocks for this option since we were dirt poor.  However, when I graduated, I was introduced to these puppies at Bed Bath and Beyond...they look much nicer, won't gouge a hole in the side of your leg when you scrape them like the cinder blocks (speaking from experience), and are much lighter to carry up several flights of stairs! :)

Once you free up that space, you can use it for more than you can imagine!  We store all of our luggage, bins of toys, bed rails, all kinds of things under our beds.

4. Look Behind Your Doors
Use the space behind your doors! 
Put hooks up anywhere and everywhere you can!  The greatest thing is that they don't even have to be permanent!  Walk down the isles of Ross, Marshalls, Target, or even the dollar store sometimes and you will find tons of over-the-door hooks or temporary hooks that you can use for pretty cheap.  They free up a ton of shelf space!  Or, just nail a board in your garage, put nails in it, and Boom!  Easy storage space!

Don't forget your cupboard doors either!  I hook my bibs there so they can dry and I don't have to see them out!  I've also put hooks on the backs of cupboards for measuring cups & spoons, etc.  Just keep in mind those kinds of things do make noise when you open the door if you store them there! :)  So you may not want to do that if yours are metal!

5. Look Down
Don't leave empty space under your
hanging clothes.  Use it!

Utilize the space under your hanging clothing in your closet.  Shoe racks, boxes, storage drawers, yep I've got it all under mine!  The shoe rack in this picture on the right was actually the "cubbies" I had made for my classroom when I taught school.   When I quit teaching to stay home with my kids, I had no idea where to put it in my house, until I decided to use it as a shoe rack.  I love it!

I do the same in my kids' rooms, where you can see I used a paper organizer from my classroom for the baby's shoes!  Look around your house, you probably already have more organizers than you think!

Use hanging shelves if you don't have much drawer or floor space and need more places for shoes, sweaters, diapers, gloves, scarves, or smaller items.

6. Fold Clothes Vertically & Fold Towels in Thirds 
I must give credit where credit is due for this next one.  One of my favorite blogs of all time: Harvard Homemaker‎   had this great suggestion to store your clothes vertically in drawers.  It changed my life!  I can't even begin to tell you how much extra space I discovered in the drawers and clothing storage boxes of my house!

Additionally, folding your towels in thirds instead of halves gives you a lot more space in your cupboards, besides the fact that it looks much nicer.  We always did that in my house growing up so I didn't realize until I moved away from home that everyone didn't do it that way.  Well, they should! :)  My mom was/is and amazing organizer so I should have known it wasn't standard procedure I guess!

7. Use Drawer Organizers
Use drawer organizers to divide the space into smaller segments.  It keeps things in their place, and makes it look so much better.  I found mine (on the left) at Ikea, Marshalls, and Ross.  The one on the right is actually a desk organizer that I had lying around with no use for it, until one day I thought of what a great bathroom drawer organizer it would be and voila!  No more rolling chapstick! :)

Use small boxes (gift boxes, makeup boxes, etc. to subdivide drawers as well.  It makes such a difference!

Change the directions of your organizers or put them in the middle of a drawer to subdivide the drawer even more.  I did this with our kitchen utensils organizer and it gave me two separate sections in the drawer so things weren't rolling around as much.  Play with them!  

8. Subdivide Cupboards 
With Plastic Drawers

I had a bunch of these plastic drawers all around my classroom when I taught school and used them for the kids to turn in assignments, substitute instructions, etc.  They are so handy.  However, when I quit teaching, I had so many drawers that I didn't know what to do with them.  I'd invested too much money to want to give them away, so I started looking around my house.  Lo and behold I found places and uses for them everywhere!  These hold my makeup & hair accessories but I use them for my daughters hair bows, all those pamphlets for our electronics and house gadgets that we want to keep but don't know where to store, baby food jars so they aren't rolling around the pantry, craft supplies, you name it!  They are awesome! 

9. Shoe Organizers 
are not just for shoes!
Another of the Harvard Homemaker ideas that made me ecstatic was to use over-the-door shoe organizers to store just about anything!  I bought one for my pantry this week and freed up an entire shelf!  Not to mention it's so much easier to find everything now that it's in plain sight and not tucked in a drawer or behind forty other things!  Love it!  I may have to go on a shopping spree and buy a whole bunch more of them for all over my house!

10. The Magic of the Can Dispenser
I will post more on this one later (we have the plans to make them), but get or make FIFO (first in first out) can dispensers for your pantry!  No more fighting with falling cans that don't stack or wondering which are about to expire.  They are amazing!  My husband made mine...and yes, he is the greatest ever!  I just want to kiss him every time I look at my pantry! :)  
11. Buy or Make Furniture 
That Organizes & Stores!
We don't have cable at my house, but we do have a Roku and Netflix, which are just as good or better in my opinion!  Anyways, once upon a time we had an HGTV station on our Roku (miss those days by the way!) where I saw a piece of furniture I just had to have!  It was a TV stand that had baskets for storage built in (again my love of baskets shines through :)).  We only had a baby at the time, but I was planning ahead thinking that it would be a great way to store toys without having to see them in my living room.  Lo and behold, my handy husband came through again and designed this TV stand around my favorite baskets from Target!  It has been so wonderful when other kids come over too, because now they all know where to find and put away toys in our living room!  
Another huge recommendation I have is to invest in storage ottomans and benches.  We store a ton of stuffed animals and dolls in ours, but it doesn't look like Raggedy Ann and Andy took over our living room!
12. Use Racks in Kitchen Cupboards
I have had some of the smallest kitchen's on the face of the planet, especially in my single years when I got to share these minuscule spaces with several other girls.  One of the greatest inventions for small kitchen spaces is the kitchen rack!  Not sure if that's the technical name...but we'll call it that for fun.  Look at how it doubles the storage space in my cupboards!  Not to mention now I can see everything that's there instead of having to dig behind a bunch of things to get what I want! 

You can also use the racks to hold things into place, such as Tupperware lids!  Don't waste a whole drawer for those babies!  Besides, it makes it hard to find the one you're looking for that way.  Stack them vertically and use a rack to hold them there.  I praise the day I started doing this! 
Spice racks are handy too and can be used to store anything small in your cupboards, not just spices.  Be creative!

13. Turn Wall Space into Storage Space with Pegboards
My husband, heaven bless him, puts up with my constant reorganization in spite of his lack of desire for it.  However, when he wants to be organized (such as with his tools) he has the potential and the ability to do so!  He put up a pegboard in our garage and has fit a ton of his tools on it.  Not only does it make them easy access, but he always puts them away since it's so easy to do!  I have also seen pegboards used in craft rooms, toy rooms, etc.  You can buy different hooks or containers to put on them and store just about anything this way.  Someday when I have an office that isn't part of my living room, I may venture to put one there!

14. Double Hang Clothes on Hangers or Install Lower Rods
When you have a small closet, you have to make the most of it.  If you can install a lower rod that is ideal, but if you're in a rental that's not always an option.  So, you can double hang clothes on a single hanger instead! 

15. Use Belt Racks for Multiple Things
I don't know about you, but we have very little drawer space in our bedrooms.  So, I use the space behind our closet doors for a lot of things (as you have seen).  Belt racks are great not only for belts but for ties, headbands, scarves, etc.!

I hope this has been helpful!  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and other ideas you may have for making the most of small would others so PLEASE feel free to comment! :)

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  1. Loving your blog already, but for some reason some of the photos are not showing up? Is it me? My computer? or are other's having this same issue.
    BTW~I'd love for you to come organize my home. Do you hire out? Do you travel? So much to learn from one of my Laurels :-)

    1. Thanks Lori! So glad you are enjoying! Hopefully I'll get my new posts up by the first of next month! I haven't heard any others having problems with pictures, but let me know if it happens again and I will look into it. I know sometimes it's different when it's on a mobile device as well, but I do want to keep up on that so let me know!

      Oh, and you have just mentioned my dream job--organizing houses! You fly me up and I am SO THERE for ya! :) Sure miss ya!

  2. I am seriously going to use some plastic drawers for all my hair stuff that sits all over my bathroom!

    1. Plastic drawers are some of my best friends! :) ESPECIALLY for my MANY hair products! Speaking of, I will be doing a hair post soon so stay tuned! :) Glad it's been helpful for ya! :)