A Nook of One's Own

7 Clever Ways to Squeeze More Storage Out of Your Small Apartment

Start by maximizing what you already have.

February 26, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

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I’ve been hopping between apartments for upwards of six years now, and one thing that’s consistent, no matter where I’ve lived, is that there’s never quite enough storage space for all of my “stuff.” A lot of the places I’ve lived in offer additional storage units for an additional cost, but instead of increasing my rent payments for extra space, I’ve learned to get crafty about storing things like Christmas decorations, the cat carrier, extra paper towels, and of course, my beloved unitasker kitchen appliances. (No one will keep me and my waffle maker apart.)

Even if you’ve KonMari’d your belongings, you still might have some extra items that you struggle to find homes for. If you’re new to small-space living or just struggling to efficiently store all of your belongings, here are some of my top storage hacks for apartments—most of which require no alterations that would jeopardize your security deposit.

1. Embrace Multifunctional Furniture

My No. 1 tip for anyone searching for extra storage space is to keep an eye out for multipurpose furniture. I’m talking about things like storage ottomans and benches with built-in cubbies. These are items you’ll probably have in the apartment anyway, and now, they’re a convenient space to store your extra pillows, pet supplies, or other miscellany.

For several years, I had a budget-friendly IKEA couch that not only doubled as a sleeper sofa, but had a huge hidden storage area. It housed all my Christmas decorations, as well as a number of board games, and no one was the wiser.

2. Update Spare Closets Appropriately

We’ll get to clothing storage in a minute, but another key to making the most of a small space is to optimize every inch of spare closets. Most apartments have some sort of coat closet, and they generally have one high shelf—and nothing else.

I’ve found that best option here is outfit it with an inexpensive shelving unit, as this will allow you to store three times more stuff than if you were to just stack boxes on the floor. Don’t worry if your shelves block the bar where you’re supposed to hang coats—instead, just hang some over-the-door hooks on the back of the door.

3. Get All the Cabinet Organizers

Most kitchen cabinets come with sufficient shelving, but there’s probably more you can do to optimize the area under the sink or in the bathroom. Dual-tier organizers will be your best friend, as they essentially double your storage space, letting you stash cleaning supplies and personal products more efficiently. In particular, I’m a big fan of organizers with slide-out baskets, as these take advantage of the full depth of cabinets while still allowing you easy access to items in the back.

4. Stash Things Under the Bed

This isn’t revolutionary by any means, but the empty space under your bed is prime real estate for storage bins. You don’t need a special storage bed to make use of this forgotten space—just find some slim plastic bins that you can slide under there. Personally, I keep my out-of-season clothes and shoes in bins under my bed, but it’s also a good spot for spare linens, holiday decor, or even sports gear.

5. Get an Organizer for Your Closet

Clothing closets can be tricky in apartments, but no matter how big a space you’re blessed with, there’s a way to make it work most efficiently. If you have a small closet that’s not nearly big enough to house your clothing, you might want to invest in a freestanding wardrobe to supplement the space.

Alternatively, if you have a wider, two-door closet, I’d recommend hanging things on one side, and putting in some type of organizer in the other. I tend to gravitate toward cubby organizers, which can be used with or without baskets to house folded clothes, socks, undergarments, shoes, purses, and more. Plus, you can even put folded sheets and other random items on top of it.

6. Look Above Kitchen Cabinets

Most kitchens have a big ol’ gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling, and this is a great spot to store items you don’t use frequently. You can put small appliances or cookbooks up there, or you can even buy a few nice baskets to slide into the space. That way, you can stash random items while keeping the area looking good. Just remember, though—you’re probably going to have to get a chair to get them down.

7. Take Cues from Small-Living Experts

Your apartment may not be as tiny as a tiny home, but you can still borrow some of the ingenious storage solutions employed in these adorable abodes. For example, you can put up magnetic strips in your kitchen where you can stick knives and other utensils, freeing up valuable drawer space. We also love the idea of using hanging planters to keep plants from taking up too much counter real estate.

If you want to optimize your cupboard space, we also have a host of great storage solutions focused on this area of the home (how smart is the little slide-out pantry that goes beside the fridge?). If you have wayward cans you need to corral, be sure to read all of the unique canned good storage ideas that could help streamline all of your food storage.

Have any clever small-space storage solutions? Share them with us below!

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.