Over the next few weeks we'll be discussing some strategies for managing and decorating the home that are specifically geared toward small space and budget-conscious living.
Living in a small space does not have to be limiting or feel cramped. It simply takes a few key strategies to make the most of the available space. One goal that I've come to recognize that is central is to create a feel of permanence. An apartment or other similar type of residence has a temporary feel to it due to the frequency of moves that occur in and out of the units. So, aim to take ownership of the space by using materials that suggest it's yours and you're there to stay (at least for now). The following are a few tips & tricks I've learned along the way for making a small space more comfortable. Regardless of whether you are in a small house or a small apartment, there are suggestions applicable to any situation.
Create a More Permanent Feel
Select and Arrange Furniture Carefully
Also, choose to have fewer pieces. You want to create a sense of space, and furniture that lines the walls will give the room a more enclosed feel. Traditionally, a living room set up includes a sofa and loveseat flanked by end tables with a coffee table in the center. This arrangement has a lot of pieces and can create a very boxed in feel to a room. Instead, consider using club chairs in place of the love seat. The chairs provide equal seating but offers more visual space surrounding them.
Don't be afraid to use a piece of furniture for other purposes than what is customary. For instance, we were given a dresser set that has been used to store towels and linens when our unit at the time didn't have storage space for such. It's currently being used in a closet to house our large kitchen items like the roasting pan, serving pans, and other non-everyday use kitchen items. Bookshelves can also be used in a variety of ways beyond storing books. A short bookshelf can serve as a coffee/tea drink service area in your dining room. A full size bookself can be used to store pantry items in clear labeled jars in the dining room when there isn't enough cabinet space in the kitchen. The decorative presentation of each is what makes them work well outside their usual places.
Lastly, look for multifunctional pieces such as an ottoman with storage or a sleeper sofa.
Constantly Evaluate Your Possessions
Use Textiles To Brighten Up White-walled Rooms
Add a Little Life With Photos and Plants
Houseplants also add a sense of vitality to a space. Having plants has the added benefit of being natural air purifiers! If your home receives any sunlight, then a plant is a lovely addition. Furthermore, if you have a patio or balcony that receives sunlight, then consider a balcony garden. I have thoroughly enjoyed having all the greenery lining the railing of our balcony creating my own little oasis in an apartment complex. Having a little garden has a way of adding cheer to a day.
Use Vertical Space
Clear the Clutter
Beyond actual clutter, there is also visual clutter in a space. Too many items on a wall, furniture surface or countertop creates visual cutter. The eye ought to be able to seamlessly pass over the objects in a room. When there are too many or they are in disorder the eye tends to stumble across and perceive the space as cluttered or chaotic. If you have an entertainment unit, then the top should be clear. Select just a few of your favorite pieces to display on your nightstand, endtables or coffee table.
In the kitchen, have only the items that are very heavy or that you use on a daily basis sitting out. The bathroom is similar in keeping only the essentials on the countertop. In both spaces, the countertops are typically fairly small in apartments and keeping the items stored on them to a minimum allows you to better utilize the surfaces when working.
Focus on Functionality
Use hidden spaces for storage
Space under the couches and bed are wonderful storage areas for items that you might not need very often. Use flat storage containers to keep items together and sealed. A slim container with gift wrap, bows, and cards can be slid under a sofa. Out of season clothing can be stored in several long and flat containers and stored under the bed.
The top of the kitchen cabinets can be used to store large serving platters, home canned goods, empty jars and supplies used for canning, paper products (napkins, plates, cups etc), baking supplies (cutters, liners etc), or extra food items purchased in bulk. Be careful with overloading them, though, because cabinets can fall. If you store heavy items like home canned foods or foods purchased in bulk, then limit the quantity to one to maybe two rows. If you're storing other items like the ones mentioned, then select a decorative basket or box and affix a label to the outside. Items can get greasy or dusty up there, so choose containers that seal or at least sealed containers inside of decorative containers. Essentially, you want to use this area for storage without it looking like storage. Decorative jars or baskets allow the eye to smoothly move across the upper cabinet areas.
Other Posts in the Home Sweet Apartment Series:
Homemaking While Apartment Living: Part 1, Part 2
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