Organizing Small Living Spaces

How to Stay Sane in Small Living Spaces – Part 3

Organizing Small Living Spaces
Photo by Alison Headley

How to Stay Sane in Small Living Spaces – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the small living spaces article series. Today, I wanted to talk about some more valuable tips for staying sane in a small living space. If you missed the previous articles, go to Part 1 and Part 2.

Hard-to-Reach Places

The purpose of this article series and this whole site is to help you simplify your life. By purging the stuff you don't actually need, want, or ever use, you're freeing up space that you can put to better use. Some of that space might be in hard-to-reach places like the top shelf of a closet, pantry, or an overhead cabinet.

Since we're so limited on kitchen cabinets in our cabin rental, I had to make use of the top shelves even though I need to stand on a chair to reach them.

In small living spaces, you have to make use of every inch of cupboard or storage space. Think about the items you use occasionally or weekly. Those items for us are wine glasses and food items like pasta and rice. Items that get used more frequently go on the four overhead shelves I can actually reach.

When it comes to hard-to-reach places under kitchen counters, again store the items you use only occasionally, but make sure they are still accessible. If you have to remove everything from the cupboard in order to get to the stuff in the back, you're making it a lot harder on yourself than you need to. If the cupboard is too cramped, it might be time to revisit my article on purging or review my other tips on organizing.

The Oven Drawer

Another tip is to consider other uses for the oven drawer. I used to keep pots and pans in the oven drawers in our other homes, but I could never stand not being able to fit everything in them and the loud noise of clanging pots. So, with our new place, I started putting all of my pots and pans in the cupboard under the counter and my mixing bowls and miscellaneous baking dishes in the oven drawer. It's a much better set up than squeezing a bunch of pots and pans into a shallow drawer.

Built-In Storage

Another big, valuable tip is to bring in storage space with furniture (i.e., armoires, cedar chests, chest-style coffee tables, and entertainment centers). I love the idea of storing blankets in the coffee table. And if you find one that has a drawer instead of a lid, even better. When you're living in a small space, furniture that has built-in storage is your friend. If you're going to fill up a living room with a coffee table or an entertainment center, you might as well get one that serves an extra purpose.

But what if you're on a budget? Do you have a piece of furniture that could be put to better use? If not, garage sales or Craigslist (even dumpster diving, if allowed in your area) is a potential source for finding furniture with built-in space. My husband and I have always used my cedar chest as a coffee table and it works fine for us.

Once you get the furniture in, refer back to the last two articles before you start filling the space.

Stay tuned for more pointers in the last article in this series!

Jody Calkins
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