Organizing a Small Space on an Even Smaller Budget!

posted by Andrea | 02/27/2012

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Organizing ANY space can be a challenge — but if you live in a particularly small space {condo, apartment, dorm room, etc.} it can be EVEN trickier. If your small space is feeling cramped, crowded, and cluttered, here are 5 tips that should help!

1. Realize that you need to purge!

If you live in a very small space, the first step in your organizing journey must be purging. As much as my clients would love for me to wave my magic wand and simply create more space… that’s not possible! And as much as you keep trying and trying to cram ALL your stuff into your tiny space, that’s not possible either… the laws of physics just don’t allow it!

So stop wasting money on all those organizing gadgets that claim to “give you more space”, get to the heart of the issue {the fact that you have too much stuff}, and start purging.

Refusing to purge is probably one of the biggest mistakes I see in organizing small spaces. However, if you think about it, purging is not only a totally FREE way to get more organized, it also provides the opportunity to generate a bit of cash flow by selling some of your cast-offs!

2. Use double-duty furniture.

I love furniture! I love looking at furniture, buying furniture, painting furniture, and rearranging furniture. It’s just a little hobby I have. Since I get almost all our furniture from Craigslist or thrift stores, I’ve been able to experiment with many different styles and types of furniture — and I often find myself drawn to furniture that can double as decorative storage.

For example, our ottoman opens up to store blankets, pillows, games, and more. The green cabinet at the top of the photo stores all our winter gear. The white cabinet in the bottom left corner  has our TV on top and has DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes in the drawers {yes, we still have a few VHS tapes!} We also utilize vertical space with bookshelves in almost every room — including our kitchen!

No matter how small your space is, you’ll need to have some furniture, so why not invest in furniture that doubles as storage to conceal your clutter!

3. Get creative with your storage solutions.

I’ve always been an advocate of creative, inexpensive, and unique storage solutions in my own home and as I work with my clients. I use shoe boxes, laundry baskets, muffin tins, etc. that I already have lying around my house as totally FREE ways to corral my clutter.

I’ve learned the hard way that I can save a lot of money by simply searching for creative storage ideas around my own home before I head out to the store and waste a bunch of money on products I might not even need or want later on.

4. DeClutter on a daily basis.

Clutter enters our homes and lives on a daily basis — no matter how hard we try to keep it out! Fast food containers, junk mail, magazines, newspapers, extra bags from the grocery store, mall purchases, kid’s toys, gifts, etc. — and it all turns into clutter if you don’t take care of it.

So get into the habit of decluttering on a daily basis! Take 15 minutes before you go to bed, after dinner, when you wake up, or while the kids are napping and quickly walk through your space with a trash can and a donation bag and fill them as full as you can.

Daily maintenance is completely FREE and it will save you from a huge organizing project later on.

5. Use storage units as a last resort.

I know so many people {especially in small homes/apartments} who rent multiple storage units to store all their extra stuff… often because they refuse to purge. I’m completely OK with using storage units temporarily — like if you are in the middle of a move and just need to store your things for a couple of months. But storage units can be really expensive, and in my opinion, they are basically just a “band-aid” to cover up your clutter problems.

Storage units offer a quick fix, but they don’t solve the problem… so go back to #1 and start purging :)

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Organizing your small spaces should not be expensive. And with a little creativity, you might be able to reclaim your space and make a little extra spending money in the process!

What are your tips for organizing small spaces?


I have partnered with Apartment Guide to serve as an Official Apartment Guide Organizing Blogger! As an official blogger, I will be sharing articles filled with tips for living on a budget.

Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. have partnered with bloggers like me as Official Apartment Guide Bloggers. As part of this program, I have received compensation. They have not told me what to purchase or what to say about the products used, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
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8 comments

  1. L.

    02/27/2012

    This is not about this post, but how should/can u save magazine articles w/o saving the whole magazine? i.e. binder’s, folder’s, etc.

    [Reply]

    sheena Reply:

    I always save mine in binders and I use sheet protectors so I don’t have to worry about them falling out and you can usually get them pretty cheap at Wal-Mart or dollar general. I also label binders as the magazine type (if I pull from that kind a lot) or as a specific subject. dividers come in handy too if ya wanna get fancy-smancy lol

    [Reply]

  2. Melody

    02/27/2012

    This isn’t about the topic of this post, but I did notice your couch in the picture. Is that a white slip-cover? We can’t afford new couches right now but I’d really like to make ours look new and fresh without spending a lot of money. Any advice?
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! The couch and slip cover are from IKEA… We love that it is washable and very inexpensive!

    [Reply]

  3. sheena

    03/06/2012

    I really like the muffin pan idea my mom uses ice cube trays though and that seems to work also I love dollar tree cause you can buy stuff like cheep muffin pans and ice trays for just a buck (unless you can find them cheaper at a thrift store :D )

    [Reply]

  4. Ready or not, it's time for spring cleaning | Smart Living Blog

    03/07/2012

    [...] Not ready to invest in a bunch of professionally designed organizers? Be sure to see point #3 in this post by Andrea Dekker, who says you can probably make do with items you already have lying around the house — like repurposing a muffin tin to hold your earrings. (Simple Organized Living) [...]

  5. MiniMoo

    12/30/2012

    As a bulimic, you had me thinking I was doing something right already when it said to purge. That is a hard part for me (except for the dieting kind) because I live in such a small house and my roommate won’t let go of anything–my stuff or his! Is it stealing if I throw away his old used-up lighters and shoe boxes when he’s not here. I’m having to donate my old stuff when he’s not here. My garbage is already thrown away.

    [Reply]

  6. Personal Mini Storage

    11/01/2013

    With some apartment rents soaring, especially here in Orlando, FL, some people actually save some money by storing their extra stuff inside a storage unit instead of paying for an extra bedroom. Most storage facilities are month-to-month and offer a variety of unit sizes too.

    [Reply]

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