Organizing for Small Spaces – Our One-Room “Apartment”

posted by Andrea | 05/3/2011

Do you live in a small space? A one-bedroom apartment? Maybe a small condo — or even a loft?

If so, I can totally relate to your feelings of frustration trying to organize a very small space!

Over the past few months, we’ve been significantly renovating our dream house…which sounds SO romantic and fun, but let me tell you — it’s not as romantic and fun as you might think!

Don’t get me wrong, we are beyond excited to own our dream house and we can’t wait to see the finished results for our master bedroom, bathroom, extra bedroom, office,  living room, and den {those are the areas we’re currently renovating}.

However, all this demolition requires that Dave and I live in a very small portion of our house, a.k.a. we pretty much work, sleep, and relax all in ONE room of our five-bedroom house. Seriously, I’m not joking.

And to make matters worse, that room is purple!

Yup…bright, BRIGHT, purple!

And even though the room is super hideous, we’re still manging to make it work for us… for now!

Here’s the bedroom part of our room:

That is my dresser on the far side of the room and Dave has another dresser just to the right of the bed…out of the picture. I’m using slim tubs under the bed for picture frames, photo albums, extra bedding, etc. {Every space is used!}

Turn the corner and you’ll see our office area:

I keep magazines and newspaper in those 3 wicker magazine holders on the top shelf. I keep office supplies in the wooden crate and cards and other papers in the blue shoe boxes on the 2nd shelf. All our committee, school, and work binders are on the 3rd shelf, envelopes and misc. office supplies on the next shelf, and then our safe and some craft supplies on the bottom shelf.

Our filing cabinet is still downstairs in the mess, but we didn’t want to try and move it upstairs!

Next we have our living room/sitting area/desk:

Yeah, I know…pretty ugly, but it works!

We have our tiny TV in the corner, an old table for our work station {we both have laptops so we can move down to the kitchen table too}, our printer, scanner, a million cords, and my grandma’s old chair {that I hope to recover some day} for when we don’t feel like sitting on our bed!

 

So you might be thinking, “Where is all the rest of your stuff?”

Well, the truth is, we just don’t have a lot of stuff.

We don’t have a storage unit, we don’t have things stored at our parent’s house, our garage can easily fit both cars, our basement is clutter-free, and even our closets are not jammed full.

We have 2 shelving units with clear bins in our basement; yard tools and supplies in the garage; our couch, a few chairs, and extra beds in our second garage… and the rest is all here in our bright purple, one-room “apartment”!

Obviously, we plan to get more furniture and accessories once the renovations are complete, but for now, we’re satisfied living a simple, clutter free life in our one-room apartment.

Seriously, our house is going to seem huge when we’re finished!


So how did we organize our small space?

1. We purged:

We got rid of EVERYTHING we don’t need, use, want, or love. We sold so much before we moved, and gave a lot away too.

2. We utilized every space:

We found storage containers that fit under our bed, inside our closets, on our bookshelves, etc. We tried to use every space without over cluttering {we still have to live here}

3. We put function before beauty:

Obviously our room is not that attractive, but it works for now. It’s clean, it’s organized, and it’s functional. We can do what we need to do without feeling cramped or crowded. And while I know there are plenty of ways to create a beautiful AND organized space, our priorities were simply to create a space we could live in temporarily — and to be perfectly honest, I just don’t care right now!

 

If you life in a small space, I’d love to hear your best tips for keeping things organized. Or maybe your biggest challenges — and then let other readers weigh in on their organizing ideas!

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10 comments

  1. Raquel

    05/03/2011

    My husband and I live in a 700 sq foot 1 bedroom condo. We do have a storage space, but we have gotten rid of a lot of clutter and the storage holds our out of season items that we would not have any hope of storing in our unit. My favorite tip is to use your walls, but your walls seem to be diagonal. We have also worked really hard on making every item we have, a home. If I can’t work out a home for it, I do not buy it. There are quite a few items that I wish I could have, but our space issues just don’t allow it. I feel it is better to have a nice space where everything has a home, than have the things with no home.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow 700 sq feet is pretty small! and yes, I’m a big fan of using wall space too — but our “slanted roof” doesn’t allow for that.

    oh, and I couldn’t agree more that everything should have a home!

    [Reply]

  2. Cassie

    05/03/2011

    Those are great ideas. Very creative for a small space. :)

    [Reply]

  3. Nydia@zerohousepaymentforever

    05/05/2011

    We are a family of 6. My 4 children are ages 7 and under, we live in a tiny just around 1000 square foot ranch style house.

    Some things we have done to make it work are….

    1. I love little hooks they are on the insides of doors, in the closets. I have 3 girls they are perfect for hanging little purses, accessories. etc. It helps keep things off our limited floor space for sure.

    2. We special ordered a (HUGE to us) 12×24 foot storage building, insulated and finished the inside, complete with electricity and cutesy fans. We call it our playhouse, and this keeps the toy clutter out of the house, but still allows my kids to have plenty of stuff…..we get entirely too many gifts from loving family and friends.

    3. Clothes storage for my children was a hard one. The closets are small, so I bought 8 section canvas hanging clothes organizers. Perfect if you keep clothes limited in quantity.

    4. We have no coat closets, so a few months ago my husband built us the perfect cubby. It looks exactly like what you would see in a daycare center. But it holds all the childrens shoes, all outer wear, and bookbags, and activity stuff for dance, soccer etc.

    Those are a few that work for us.

    My biggest problem right now is giving my oldest daugher who is 7, a space of her own. We have a loft bed that we are going to paint. But I wish I could find like a canopy or a tent, that will fit the bed for her to have some privacy, and something I could put on the walls around it for her to keep her most special things in….this one is a hard one. Any Ideas?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, sounds like you are making good use of your limited space.

    And for your oldest daughter — could you put a simple curtain around her bed that she can open and close when she wants more privacy? That might be a little easier then a canopy or tent, and probably pretty inexpensive if you find cheap fabric…or even a shower curtain. You could hang it from the ceiling.

    I think it would be great to get some type of shelving unit for your children’s special things — maybe they could each get one shelf. You should look on Craigslist — they have lots of cheap bookcases.

    [Reply]

  4. dawn

    05/05/2011

    I like the room. Well organized,not cluttered,not ugly at all.I think the shades of purple on the walls are beautiful (brights & pastels are the colors I love).Actually,it’s inspiring to me to clear up my tiny space.As for cord clutter,mine is much worse!There is a wicker basket with computer,printer & tv cords,plus power strip and modum.The router is hidden behind furniture.I put everything in the basket to try to neaten it up until I think of a better way.(But it’s still an eyesore.)Honestly,I’d love to live in your room!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well thanks Dawn!
    I’m glad you like my room. It’s actually a huge room with tons of light — I just really don’t like purple! I’m more of a white, cream, off-white, light grey person myself!!

    At least with both agree that the cord clutter is ugly! I know I could do a better job of “controlling” it, but we’ll hopefully be moving down to our real master bedroom sometime soon so I frankly just haven’t taken the time…and I probably won’t!

    [Reply]

  5. Peggy Ann

    05/06/2011

    I guess color choice is really subjective. When I saw the first photo, I thought “How pretty!” When I was single my bedroom was that color. Every morning it was like waking up inside an Easter egg and I loved it. We do not live in a tiny space (about 2000 sq. ft.), however every inch is filled with clutter and I am reaching the breaking point. Thank you for that very important piece of advice…purge. Your posts are always informative and I am encouraged by them. Thank you!!!

    [Reply]

  6. Boyfriend moves away | gj's corner

    09/19/2011

    [...] him pack up all his stuff and followed him to Kentucky. Like a good girlfriend, I helped him in organizing his apartment. I even set up all his utilities for him. I found Satellite deals in KY that will [...]

  7. Caren Wyatt

    09/22/2012

    Question about storage for you.

    We are currently in an apartment after downsizing from a 3 bedroom house. (cross country move from WI to WA! We have a large storage unit available to us for $35/month. We can store stuff in our two very large walk in closets, or have a less cluttered apartment but have stuff in storage. It would love to not need storage at all, so I am working on it. But there are things like golf clubs and a cozy coupe that are going to be tough to store in the apartment.

    [Reply]

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