5 Choices When You’re Short on Space

posted by Andrea | 04/22/2013

short on space

This post was inspired by a post I wrote last year – 5 Choices When You’re Short on TIME.

I thought I would turn the tables a bit and share my thoughts about 5 choices you have when you’re short on SPACE — especially since it’s the time of year when we’re all trying to clean up and declutter our homes and lives (or maybe I’m the only one!)

If you’re feeling a little cramped and crowded in your space, here are some options to consider.

1. Increase the amount of space you have.

This IS an option… but it’s not always easy (or cheap) to do. Yes, you can buy/build a larger home or purchase storage units, but you’re not really addressing the problem.

Plus, in my experience, the more space we have, the most stuff we fill our spaces with. Can anyone relate?

This option would definitely be a last-resort for me personally, and it should be viewed as a temporary option (like if you’re in the process of moving or downsizing and just need extra space for a short time).


2. Get organized.

You might be amazed with how much MORE you can fit into the same space if you simply take a few minutes to organize your stuff.


For example, instead of just shoving your t-shirts into a drawer, try folding them like I fold mine — I can almost guarantee you’ll fit more shirts into your drawer. Plus, they will be so much easier to access (and less wrinkly!)

The same thing goes for your pantry, your closet, your medicine cabinet, your basement, and your garage. By taking the time to organize your space, you’ll not only have the opportunity to purge anything you don’t need or want, you’ll also always know what you have on hand, and you’ll be able to store more in the same space.


3. Maximize your storage.

If you’re already quite organized but still short on space, try thinking of ways to maximize your storage.

  • Can you add another shelf to your pantry to store shorter items?
  • Can you put an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of your closet door, your kid’s door, or even your bathroom?
  • Can you fit a storage bin under your bed (for off-season clothing or gift wrap)?
  • Can you utilize the back wall of an extra-deep closet for storing craft supplies?
  • Can you install extra shelving in your garage or basement to house off-season items?

When we renovated our master bedroom 2 years ago, we knew we wouldn’t have room for a walk-in closet. However, we also knew that with some careful planning, we could fully maximize our closet space to accommodate all our clothing and accessories. I’m still amazed at how much we were able to fit in a medium-size closet!


4. Use double-duty furniture.

Dave and I are not necessarily short on storage space in our house — but even still, I always try to incorporate double-duty furniture in all our rooms.

For example:

Other ideas:

  • Use bookcases with doors on the bottom so you can conceal unsightly items behind closed doors.
  • Use beds that sit up off the ground a ways so you can fit under-bed storage bins below.
  • Use storage trunks instead of benches (or even side tables) to store extra pillows, books, decorations, etc.

Whenever I’m purchasing furniture, I always try to consider how much storage space it will offer — and if there is a better option or not.


5. Purge.

Unless you’re willing to purchase more space (see #1 above), there will come a point when you simply can NOT fit anything else into your space (no matter how good you are at organizing, maximizing, etc.)

At this point, you either become a hoarder, or you start purging!

Yes, it will take a bit of work on your part… and no, it’s not always fun. But purging will give you the best overall results (especially if you vow not to replace everything you just got rid of :)

Start small, do 15 minutes at a time — or set a goal to remove 10 items from your home each day. It won’t happen overnight, but you WILL begin to notice a difference, and you’ll be able to reclaim your space again!

If you’re feeling short on space (and slightly overwhelmed), try one of these ideas and just get started.

Won’t it feel great to reclaim your spaces again — and enjoy a little extra breathing room! 

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Filed under: HomeOrganizingStorage



  1. Jodi



    I love reading your site, this is no secret :) but on Monday’s when I’m not always on top of my week or haven’t taken the time to schedule out what needs to be tackled, I love coming here and being inspired to just start a project (often one you’ve outlined). I know you used to do more in home consulting for people and I think you’re still doing that via your site. Which I’m forever grateful for. <3


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jodi,
    Glad to inspire you!
    I sometimes miss going into people’s homes and helping them with fun before/after transformations… so I appreciate your comment, and hope that I am inspiring and helping others to make those before/after transformations on their own.


  2. Amanda


    I’ll keep this simple…… DITTO to what Jodi said :)
    That’s exactly what I do! And reading this, always motivates me to do what I need to do.


  3. Laurel


    Perfect timing for this post as I am facing 2 college kids (and all of their STUFF!) returning home in a couple of weeks. My kids don’t see the value of decluttering or purging yet (they will, I’m sure) and when they move back home, I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they just dump here. They are will ing to pack it all into crates, storage totes etc, but it takes up so much space. Any suggestions? :) one of the kids is actually graduating and was blessed with landing a fantastic job in Seattle. So, since we are in Michigan, she will most likely leave lots and lots of her stuff here when she goes. I am getting anxious just thinking about the STUFF!!!


    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Laurel, wow — sounds like your house is going to be full!
    I’d suggest reading this post about clutter control for empty nesters… that might give you a few ideas. However, since your daughter is moving to Seattle, you might need to come up with a more “permanent” solution otherwise I have a feeling your home will end up being the dumping ground for many years until she moves back (or buys a home of her own).

    I’d definitely encourage your daughter to PURGE, PURGE, PURGE before she leaves. If she won’t need something for several months/years while she’s gone, then there’s a good chance she won’t need it when she gets back either. Maybe you could give her an allotted amount of storage space in your home, and anything that doesn’t fit in that space is her responsibly to either purge, take with her, or find alternat storage solution. Just an idea!
    Hope this helps — and make sure you take the time to enjoy this last summer with all your kids at home!


  4. Kathy Aho in Minnesota


    I have long been a believer in purging 1 item in 5 in each category all around the house. Soon you have 20% more space in every room –and you did not have to build an addition! If I have 5 of something, surely ONE can go? A whisk here, a vase there, a blanket from the closet, etc.
    Great article, thanks for sharing!


  5. Melissa


    I’m a big fan of #5. :) It’s not easy, but you’re always so encouraging! Over the weekend we hauled away an entire car load of items we decided to purge (we’ve been identifying stuff every day for the past three weeks and it’s been piling up in our guest bedroom) and dropped it all off at Goodwill. After that trip, we loaded up the trunk with 4 large (and heavy!) boxes of books to sell to a second hand bookstore. What they didn’t take, we donated out. It feels good to have all that that stuff we weren’t using out of the house! I also have a pile of kitchen items we decided we didn’t need that I’m taking to work (two bags at a time as that’s all I can carry) to stock our community break room as it’s mostly empty. We still have a ways to go on purging our home, but we made a pretty good dent. My buffet storage doesn’t look as though it’s going to burst out at you when you open it’s doors now! I also decided that the hard to get at storage cabinet above the fridge should stay empty as anything that’s put in there clearly isn’t being used.


  6. Georgia Gal


    Great tips Andrea! I use so many of these. We live in a three bedroom ranch house, with very little storage, except a large laundry room. My husband installed three, 8-foot long shelves, that go across the back wall of our laundry room. They are nice and big shelves that give us plenty of storage room.

    I use the long and shallow plastic bins under most of our beds. I store clothing, gifts, and even documents in them.

    I also keep a dresser in my living room that is decorated with books, a plant, & candles. In the drawers I store stationary, children’s educational items, etc.

    Hope you have a wonderful day~


    Andrea Reply:

    Your laundry shelves sound great! Our laundry room is probably the next project on our list — although we have to do a bunch of yard work first :)


  7. Stephanie


    Love the t-shirt drawer! Mine will look like that by the end of the day. Thanks for the inspiration! I love your new site. :-)


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stephanie! Enjoy your newly-organized t-shirt drawer (and probably a whole bunch of extra space!)


  8. Nancy Nino


    Love the t-shirt drawer as well! That’s the one thing I share with all my organizing clients. When storing using the traditional fold and stack method, the poor t-shirt on the bottom is lost forever! This type of storage opens up your wardrobe!


  9. organize 365


    Awesome! I was just sharing your tshirt organizing idea today!



  10. Lauren @ Rustic Honey


    Nice tips! I need to do some purging and spring cleaning! Everything should have a purpose in a small space. We have a small home so this is very important when thinking about furniture. I’m a big fan of double duty furniture!


  11. Suzanne


    I soooo need this post today. It will be so helpful for me. I especially like taking just 15 minutes a day. I can do that!


  12. Maria


    Moving is a great motivator to get rid of more stuff. When I think of the work of packing, hauling, unpacking and finding a place for all this stuff, boy, do I get ruthless. Things are being flung OUT of this house!


  13. Stel


    Couldn’t I just fly you out to South Africa? Now that would be grand, wouldn’t it.

    Take one 80 yr old house with no wardrobes/cupboards, 1 wife and mother who’s also a hoarder and you get a husband tearing his hair out. So I’m on a tiny mission to declutter. Started (again) with summer clothing to be purged/stored, then on to magazine (again) (not going to e-version…).

    “At least you try”, my sister always says!


    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well, only if you fly Dave and Nora out too :)

    and your sister IS right, at least you try. You’re always making progress even if it doesn’t feel like it!


  14. Kalyn Brooke


    Love the t-shirt idea! I have so many and they are all in pretty good condition, so I don’t want to make them into cleaning rags just yet. This is the perfect solution. Thanks!


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