Stop complaining about your cramped dwelling and embrace your inner tininess: the McMansion era is over, and more people are beginning to see the beauty (and efficiency) of smaller spaces. Which means that your snack-size apartment now makes you part of a movement! Well, as soon as you get all your clothes off the floor. Crawl out from the clutter. With just a little work, smallness can set you free.
Whether you live in Buckingham Palace (tacky!) or a shipping container in the middle of a cornfield, your home will be a better place to live when you take the time to optimize the space you have (watch the season 2 premiere of Tiny House Nation on Monday, December 22 for proof!). In the meantime, these three solutions will get you started on the path to lean, mean organizational bliss — if you're already on that path, share your own tips for tiny living in the comments.
1. Your trash is not treasure. If you haven't used a particular item in a while and it's growing roots in the corner of your closet, get rid of it. If it's broken, damaged, and unfixable, get rid of it. No, you don't need his-and-hers corkscrews, especially since you're single. You get the picture. Look on the bright side: living in a small space forces you to edit your belongings, which will give you a major advantage if you ever need to move out in the middle of the night and go on the run.
If you're one of those people have trouble parting with trash, institute a house Principle of Mass Conservation: for every new item that comes into your place, something must go out to make room for it. (This tactic will also mean you think harder about buying that party dress that looks like a clown costume.) Collect everything you no longer want in a box and bring it to your local donation center. It's a good feeling to let things go, and you'll be giving your stuff a second chance at being useful.
2. Organization is key. Even if you've chucked everything you no longer want and need, you're still going to feel cluttered if all your belongings are sitting in piles around your home. One place for storage that people often overlook is under the bed. But rather than just shoving stuff underneath, buy some clear containers with lids and place similar items into each crate. Use the containers to hold your winter clothes in the summer and vice versa. This way you can keep bulky items like coats and scarves together while relieving your closet from being overstuffed with off-season garb. Under-the-bed space is also perfect for storing photo albums, magazines, sporting equipment, tools, and any other items you don't use on a regular basis.
3. Be your own interior decorator. Instead of spending thousands on a professional, use your own creativity to design your own space and turn its bugs into features. For a start, try hanging a mirror on a wall to give a room that once felt cramped and claustrophobic a feeling of openness — both by making it look bigger and by magnifying the natural light. Modular furniture is also a good way to go. Modular shelving, for instance, allows you to include as many or as few pieces as you want, so if your book collection goes through a growth spurt, you can easily accommodate it. And if you're on a budget and don't want to fork over money for new furnishings, an inexpensive way to spruce up your house is a fresh coat of paint. It's amazing how a new wall color can change the complete look and feel of a space.
If you live in a tiny space, what are some storage solutions or design elements you've implemented that allow you to do more with less? Alternatively, what are some improvement projects you hope to undertake in the future? Head to the comments to share your small-space experiences, and for more inspiration, tune in to season 2 of Tiny House Nation on FYI Network, premiering Monday, December 22 at 9 ET/10 PT.
Jennifer Nalewicki is a travel writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing has been featured in Interior Design, Wine Enthusiast, Hemispheres, Esquire.com, and more.