Making the Most of Small Spaces

If you’ve ever rented before, you know that you often have to give up a few of the things you really want in a rental apartment or home. One of the things renters have to give up is space. And it can be incredibly frustrating to feel like you don’t have enough space to really enjoy the place you live.

There are some easy ways to better store your stuff and give you more space. If you understand how you really use the space you have, you can make better decisions about how to organize a room. Easy things like placing your furniture well and buying things that are the right scale will also help immensely. If you’re smart about how you use your small space, you can make it feel bigger than it actually is.


The kitchen is often the heart of a home or apartment, so it’s important to make it as efficient and as user-friendly as possible.

  • First, make sure you can easily move between three key areas: the stove, refrigerator, and sink
  • If you like open shelving, put some shelves on the wall and store similarly colored dishes or glasses on them
  • Hang pots, pans, and utensils from racks to free up valuable drawer and cabinet space
  • Install wire shelves for cabinets and closets, which can double your storage space
  • Think about storing food staples and spices in decorative containers—disguising convenient storage as décor is a win-win
  • If you have the room for it, consider purchasing a moving island so you can have extra storage and counter space wherever you need it
  • And most important, keep only the kitchen appliances and gadgets that you need and frequently use. If you have infrequently used items that are still useful, like big platters for entertaining, consider storing them in another room where space isn’t so tight


Small bathrooms are extremely challenging. After all, there are certain number of things that you have to store in them—toothpaste and toothbrushes, grooming items, and towels, just to name a few.

  • Install a shelving unit made to fit over your toilet. A medicine cabinet mounted above your toilet is another solution for added storage
  • Install wire shelving in any cabinets you have to double their storage capacity
  • Add a wall-mounted pump like this one, which stores products like conditioner and shampoo without all the bottles
  • Don’t forget the space around the door! An above-the-door shelf can add a lot of storage without getting in the way. And if you’re allowed to paint in your rental, magnetic paint on the back of the bathroom door can hold things like cotton balls and hair ties in small magnetic containers


The bedroom of a small space can often be a catch-all for things you couldn’t fit elsewhere. Fight against that with these tips.

  • Establish a focal point in the room, which will usually be either the bed or the window. Choose one to emphasize; otherwise, the two will compete for attention in a small room. If you choose the head of the bed, jazz it up with colorful pillows. Consider using a headboard with built-in storage—either with open shelves or cubbies
  • Think about a bed with a tall headboard or a four-poster bed, which will draw the eye upward and make the room seem taller
  • Install curtains mounted close to the ceiling that go all the way down to the floor (even if the window doesn’t). This will also make the room seem taller
  • Use furniture that can pull double duty. A bed with built-in drawers can double as a dresser. A lidded ottoman can provide both seating and storage. An armoire hides the TV and gives you extra storage for clothing or linens. Nightstands with dropdown leaves can serve as desks. Wall-mounted lights above the bed free up space on the nightstand, as do floating shelves right above a nightstand. A floating shelf can even replace a nightstand if you need more floor space

General Tips

  • People instinctively shove all their furniture against the walls in an attempt to make a small room feel bigger. But that’s not always the best thing to do. Floating your sofa or putting your bed at an angle will give your furniture some breathing room and give your room the illusion of having space to spare.
  • And don’t think that you must have only small furniture. A large couch may fit your space better than several small chairs and a loveseat and will certainly look less cluttered.
  • Give decorative items structure by organizing them by color or height. This will make them look intentional rather than like clutter.
  • Sheer or light drapes make a room look more spacious by letting in more light.
  • Mirrors are another good trick because they reflect light into the room. If you are able to paint, use lighter colors, which also reflect more light.

Photo by tec_estromberg

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