Rental Life > View Article
Tips for a Small Apartment
photo of a measuring tape
Let's face it, living in an apartment or rental house usually means you're going to have a fairly small bedroom and be lacking adequate closet space. There's a trend for rentals to be built with bigger and bigger living rooms at the expense of bedroom size and closet space. If you're lucky, your place might have a walk-in closet, but likely there's only one. And if you've got roommates, sharing it will be impossible and only one of you will get to enjoy it. So what do you do with all your stuff? We've got a few ideas...

Rethink your wardrobe
It's time to be brutal. If you have clothes that you haven't worn in over a year, it's time to get rid of them. That t-shirt from your trip to Florida when you were 14 isn't a souvenir worth hanging onto if it's been unworn and hanging in your closet for years. If it's really important to you, hang it on the wall as a decoration so you can actually appreciate it and free up some closet space. Now go through the remainder of your clothes and get rid of anything that's showing signs of wear. You don't need to hang onto socks with holes in them or t-shirts with a small stain that you think nobody notices (they do). The next step is to get rid of anything that doesn't go with at least two other items. That pair of pants that only goes with one shirt needs to go.

About to buy some new clothes? Think carefully. Are you buying something at the end of the season? If so, it's just going to take up more space and you will only be able to wear it for a month or less. Sure you can get clothes cheaper at the end of the season, but you need to ask yourself if compromising the space is worth the savings. Set a rule that if you buy something new, you need to get rid of two other items. Have five pairs of jeans and are about to buy another? If you do, make sure you ditch two of your old pairs.

Don't just throw away the clothes you're wearing. Donate or even sell them. You can make good money by selling in demand fashions to a vintage clothing or thrift store. With the rest of the wearable clothes you're getting rid of, donate it to Goodwill, your local shelter, or any other worthy organization. Not only will you be making space for yourself, you'll be helping out someone in need (+ 5 karma points for you).

Use your walls
Unless your place has extremely low ceilings (see Being John Malkovich), you have more wall square footage than floor square footage. Put those walls to work. If you can make it work, decorate with your hats and ties. They'll add color, and you will save space in your closet and drawers.

Most apartments don't have ceiling lights, so it's up to you to get lamps. Every renter seems to have the same standard issue Torchiere floor lamp, but there is another way. Check out wall mounted lamps (or sconces) at your local retailer or online at Amazon, EBay, or another of other sites.

Get some shelves that you can mount to your walls and easily take with you when you move out. Store your books and folders on the shelves. Place a self near your bed and you can get away with not needing that nightstand.

Move your work area
Lots of renters end up putting a desk in their bedroom. That desk takes up valuable space in already cramped quarters. Move it out and into your more spacious living room. Work out a plan with any roommates so people can enjoy the living space, yet other can be working at the desk. Add a divider to help keep living room activities from distracting people at the desk. Moving your work area to a corner of your living room might also give you an excuse to go out and buy those cool noise cancelling headphones you've been thinking about. If you can make it work out, the space saved in your bedroom can be tremendous. Plus, not having your workspace in your bedroom will likely help you keep your mind off projects that are due and let you sleep better.

Piles of Stuff
Take your stuff and put it all into a big pile. Now take the stuff that you mostly use on a daily basis and put it into its own smaller pile. These are things that you should keep in areas that are easily accessible. Now take things that you use once a month or more often from the big pile and put them in their own pile. These are things that should be stored in the closet or whatever other storage choices you have. What remains in the original pile are things that you should strongly consider getting rid of. Sell it, donate, recycle it, or if it's total junk just throw it in the garbage.

Before you start putting things into a giant pile make sure that you have enough time to go through the whole process. Start on a weekend morning, not on a Wednesday night right after getting home. You should plan on this process taking a few hours. If you have a ton of stuff, or not much time available, do one room at a time. Consider inviting a friend over to help. A friend can help keep you honest about what you'really do and do not use. Just make sure that friend isn't a packrat himself. Reward yourself when you're done. Treat yourself to dinner out, a movie or anything that doesn't involve buying more stuff. If a friend helped, treat him/her too.

Storage Options
Now that you have paired down your wardrobe, cleaned out your closets and gotten rid of the stuff you don't use, you need a place to put the stuff you occasionally use, without cluttering things back up again. The space under your bed is the perfect place for out of season clothes. Get a rubberized under bed storage box from places like Target, Wal-Mart, Storables or the Container Store. This will keep your clothes from getting dusty, mildewy or worse, and make the best of oft unused space.

Have suitcases? Though necessary if you travel at all, suitcases take up a lot of space. Put them to use when you're not on the go and store stuff within them.

Still have stuff with no place to put it? You may need to get an extra shelving unit, or even a free standing wardrobe. Ikea and other retailers have several options for customizing a storage piece to fit your needs.

Moving In
Living There
Moving Out
click here to close this message