How to Make the Most of a Tiny Apartment

Blogon August 30th, 20117 Comments

Bedroom, new angle

My first apartment in Manhattan was about 270 square feet, and preparing to move was a challenge. I was moving from a giant two-bedroom apartment — with an attic — in Orange County, N.Y., to a shoebox on East 78th Street, and I had more furniture and stuff than I knew what to do with. I pared a lot of it down, but I still needed to be tricky to fit all my belongings into such a small area. Here are a few tricks I used to stay organized in a tiny space.

Use a Shoe Organizer to Hold Small Items

Shoe rack/bathroom organizer

My bathroom didn’t have a cabinet or any storage, so I kept my toiletries in an over-the-door shoe organizer. This ended up being really handy to keep track of things and access them quickly.

You can also purchase opaque shoe organizers if you’d rather not display your personal toiletries and medications to the world.

Hang Your Jewelry on the Wall

Jewelry rack

Jewelry boxes take up valuable shelf space. I use a hanging jewelry organizer to keep track of my necklaces and earrings, which also adds a colorful, decorative element to my room. My mom bought mine for me when I was a kid, but you can find many versions online. If you’d rather not show off your jewelry, you can also get a rack that doubles as a mirror.

Don’t Cut Corners

Bathroom corner

There was an awkward little corner in the bathroom by the sink, and I discovered that a little shower shelf fit perfectly in there, which added to the storage in my bathroom and was a handy place to stow makeup and hair supplies. This would also work in the bedroom and the kitchen if you mounted corner shelves instead.

Think Beyond the Bureau

Shoe rack, storage

I couldn’t fit a dresser in my room — actually, I still don’t have one — so I used my shelves to hold folded jeans and stored my underwear and belts in pretty baskets and Rubbermaid bins. In this room, the hanging shoe rack is actually serving its intended function. I also put my bed on risers and stored some clothes in boxes underneath.

Keep Your Stuff Off the Floor

Living room, plus TVBathroom shelves

In a small apartment, floor space is valuable. Don’t waste it on shelving units when you can simply mount shelves on a wall above a table or sofa. It takes a lot of work, but if you can’t spare the space, it’s totally worth it. I hung bookshelves above my sofa (and color-coded the books). In the bathroom, there was only a 20-inch wall behind the toilet, but I managed to find a small shelf that worked perfectly in the space.

Use Vertical Space in Closets


Usually, the bottom of a closet is just wasted space below your clothes. In my 78th Street apartment, I hung a second rod in the closet, which I used to hold dress pants and skirts. In my current bedroom, I have a few Rubbermaid drawer units on the floor below my hanging clothes.

These are just a few of the methods I’ve used to fit a lot of stuff into a tiny space. How about you? What storage tricks do you use to make the most of your space?

7 Responses to “How to Make the Most of a Tiny Apartment”

  1. MB says:

    You are so organized! Awesome ideas!

  2. Lily Darais says:

    Can you come make my bookshelf look that pretty?

    • Elissa Englund says:

      Sure! It’s actually really fun to do. Just group your books by color and then put them on the shelf from darkest to lightest.

  3. Molly Gawura says:

    Elissa – you have come a really long way from our Freshman dormroom. I’m sorry, but I had to laugh at the heading “Keep your stuff off the floor.” Do you remember how we had to shovel a path from the door to my desk to the bed? Anyway, your apartment looks fabulous!

  4. HG says:

    Hang a picture of the Milky Way above your bed. Then people can walk in and say “Hey, you have lots of space over there.”

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