Out of all the apartments Joseph and I have rented (well, only two!) and the homes we've had (again, we've bought and sold two), none have been as small as the home we live in now.
Our smallest apartment was 750 square feet and at the time, I couldn't imagine living in anything smaller!
But our adventurous streak overruled our desire for extra space, so we packed what we could into a 33.5′ Fifth Wheel and have spent over a year on the road. I can't see us stopping anytime soon either—we love this life!
So I know what it's like to live in a small house.
We have, however, had to make a LOT of adjustments when it comes to our minimal living space.
Organization for Small Spaces: The Obstacles!
Small spaces present many challenges (maybe you'll recognize a few in your own home!):
- Sometimes children need to share a room (and maybe they don't get along or have very different personalities)
- Your “home office” may also be known as the kitchen counter
- Limited “storage” space for sentimental items (here's how I tackle this)
- Hallways feel cramped, like you can't pass one another without touching
- Tiny living areas may have barely enough room for a couch and a chair (so you're always afraid your guests feel uncomfortable)
- There's no dedicated pantry space
Just to mention a few!
But challenges like these don't discourage me, and they shouldn't discourage you either.
Instead, let them inspire you to find functional and beautiful organization solutions that maximize your space in such a way that you're so comfortable, you don't even miss what a larger home could offer.
This is exactly what I did.
I pinpointed problem areas and brainstormed possible solutions.
Some were easy fixes (like buying an extra storage container) while others required more elbow grease (like adding pull-out drawers to our skinny pantry).
But by the time Joseph and I finished moving into our RV, we still had one empty cabinet. That's how effective the following ideas for organization for small spaces are!
Use them to create extra breathing room in any small-sized home (whatever small means to you) and you, too, will find space to spare.
Next up on your reading list: The 12 best cabinet organizing products from Amazon.
1. Pair down what you own
This sounds so simple, but decluttering is a MUST when it comes to organization for small spaces.
If you want to (or have to) live in a smaller space and you don't want items falling out of cabinets or multiplying on the countertops, you need to ruthlessly declutter each area of your home.
Donate or dispose of things you barely (if ever!) use anymore, while keeping in mind that minimalism is not just about having less, it's about regularly using and finding purpose in every item you own.
MAKE YOUR DECLUTTERING DREAMS COME TRUE
If you're not totally convinced you can do this yet, pack what you can away in a closet and count the number of times you remember what's in there. Whenever I do this, I'm always surprised by how much I forget, which means I probably don't need to hang onto those items in the first place.
Psst… if I can do this with my wedding dress, you can do it with anything!
2. Invest in double-duty furniture
Don't you just love it when one item does the work of two?!
When space is at a premium, look for items that function in multiple ways, so you can get the most mileage out of what you buy.
- Invest in a pull-out couch instead of a bed
- Upgrade your ottoman to one with storage
- Use a console table that has extra shelves where you can sneak in a few baskets and bins
Having a small table in the RV was a necessity, but I still wanted to have friends over for dinner when we met up in different states. This IKEA table hides an extra leaf inside so we can easily go from two seats to four in seconds!
The bottom line? Find items that take up the same amount of space (or less!), but offer multipurpose perks.
3. Look for Unexpected Storage Spaces
In a similar way, organization for small spaces can often be found when you look for ways you can add storage to what you have, whether it's going up, behind, or underneath.
- LOOK UP: Maximize vertical space with over-the-door storage, by attaching hanging organizers to the wall, or adding extra bins on top of the fridge or cabinets. Scroll back to the photo above and you'll see two tan canvas bins near the ceiling. We knocked out an annoying shelf to create extra storage space!
- LOOK BEHIND: Turn your kitchen cabinets into storage space by adding hooks to the backside for kitchen beaters, spoons, pan lids, etc. You can even buy shelving units that fasten to the inside of doors to create even more space.
- LOOK UNDER: Add horizontal totes under the bed, slide your drying rack under the couch (that's what we do!), or attach a power strip underneath your desk so its not hanging out on the floor.
One of my favorite ways we added more space in the RV was to turn the space under the bed into a functional storage area.
Joseph added some shelves to help keep the totes off the floor (our bed is on a slide-out motor that we pull in when we drive) which allowed me to pack away some seasonal decorations, books, and Joseph's favorite, board games!
4. Contain Everything
Pinterest has proven that baskets and bins make things feel so much more put together and less cluttered, even behind cabinet doors! This is one of the biggest secrets to organization for small spaces.
From canvas, to plastic, to wicker—big, medium, or small—baskets solve all your organizing problems with a fairly small investment at the dollar or craft store.
Look for areas where there are a lot of little items you could group together:
- Books on a coffee table
- Cleaning supplies
- Small snacks in the pantry
This helps keep flat surfaces clear and clutter-free—just throw the item in a bin. We once didn't have a place for shoes and just buying a container for them makes a huge difference!
5. Keep it Up!
Trust me, the only way to keep a small home from feeling cramped again is to maintain it going forward. These secrets to organization for small spaces will only help you if you're committed!
- Be very choosy as to what comes into your home. I like to abide by the one-in, one-out rule. Whenever you bring something in, you must take something out!
- Do a 10-minute tidy every day. Make this a habit. Pick up pillows off the floor, fold blankets, clear off the countertops—set the timer and see how much you can get done in 10 minutes!
- Declutter often. Decluttering is never a one-and-done thing. Think of it as a journey. Always keep tabs on what you use and don't use when you're combing through your closet or a drawer. Keep a donation box or bag on hand so you can slip the time in there quickly and drop it off the next time you run errands!
As you consider the challenges of small space living, don't forget all the perks of what it's like to live in a small house, too!
- You have less to clean and maintain
- Your home feels cozier and more intimate
- You'll spend less each month (on your mortgage & utilities)
- You save money buying only what you really need (because you don't have as many places to put it)
- You save time because you don't have to declutter as much or as often
- …just to name a few!
So don't buy bigger just because it feels like that's what you're supposed to do when you make more money or grow your family. Learn to enjoy your small space!
You'll have more disposable income to spend on the things that matter and more time to spend with the people you love because you're not managing all the possessions you've accumulated.
Best of all, you might never have to downsize. 😉
Let's chat in the commentsT
What do you love most about your small home? Do you have an organizing tips to share?
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