It may have taken some time, but you finally landed an apartment -- congrats! You're excited to have a space to call your own. Things may not look so bright, however, when you start moving in and realize you have way too much stuff and not enough space. Don't let your small space issues get you down. We've rounded up five practical solutions you can use to make the most of a small living space -- even on a budget.
1. Be creative with storage.
Good storage is key to making a smaller space look and feel larger. Start with the area under your furniture. Find plastic storage boxes in various sizes, and use them under your sofa, under your bed, and beneath chairs and dressers. They make good storage for everything from clothes and books to photographs and shoes you don't wear every day. Zippered bags and rolling drawers can also help you keep a smaller space free of clutter and well organized.
2. Get vertical.
Take advantage of vertical space to keep your belongings off your floors, tables and countertops. Use stacking wall shelves and attractive storage containers to keep your possessions out of the way. Book shelves, including the collapsible type, help keep your storage vertical as well. Of course, you can also take advantage of vertical space inside closets and cabinets by purchasing organizers designed for these spaces or by installing shelves. Hooks or coat racks come in handy for hanging brooms, mops, dust pans and lightweight stick vacuums up. As another alternative, cloth organizers that hang from built-in closet bars help with organization without requiring installation.
3. Trim your possessions.
Most people have a long list of possessions they don't need, but plan to use someday down the road. If you have a small living space, holding on to such things only adds to clutter and reduces the space you have to store the items you're actually likely to use. If you haven't used an appliance for a year, get rid of it. If you're holding onto books you won't read again, they should go too. Clothing is among the possessions many people hold onto for far too long. If you go through an entire season without wearing an item of clothing, or you're only willing to wear it on laundry days, it's time to toss it. Be ruthless in paring your belongings down, giving the items you no longer need to charity or selling them at a garage sale or online auction site (Move Loot is a Team Lovely favorite).
4. Choose furniture wisely.
Though you may like three-sectional sofas big enough to seat all of your best friends, tables with ample seating, and cushy, reclining chairs, you don't have room for them in a small space. They only make your space look smaller. Instead, opt for a loveseat over a large sofa, and choose a drop-leaf table that expands to seat additional people when you entertain. If you choose folding chairs that you can store in a closet, you'll open up even more space in your rental. Consider buying a loft-style bed that allows you to sleep on top, and store a desk, seating and other items beneath it, doubling the area you have for your belongings. As an alternative, put your regular bed on risers to make more space for storage beneath it. In a pinch, use cinder blocks as an inexpensive way to raise the bed. For very tight spaces, a futon, Murphy bed or small sofa bed allows your sleeping space to play double duty as a living area.
5. Use mirrors, glass and light.
Hang mirrors on the walls or even place them in the corners of your rooms to give the illusion of more space. Glass tables and shelves that allow natural light in through windows also do the trick. Most rentals don't allow you to change the paint or wallpaper, but if you do have that option, light colors are always a plus.
Landing an apartment and surviving a big move (especially if it's your first!) can be stressful, but we've got you covered. Turn to Lovely for help finding your apartment and tips and advice for making it feel like home.
Note: A version of this post first appeared on the Lovely Blog