I am a minimalist, and I love it.
This all started when I was newly married, Husband and I moved into in a 600 sq foot 1 bed apartment. We actually still live in the same place 5 years and 1 baby later. We had both been living in student housing for about 5 years each. Husband had started a couple of small business ventures that also had quite a few boxes of supplies.
Needless to say we had acquired a lot of belongings already. I did my best as a new housewife, but in spite of my best efforts I was not satisfied with how things were stored. I never felt like the house was tidy! Finally I came across several wonderful books that inspired me to de-clutter our entire place (starting with getting rid of all the duplicates we had).
It took a couple of years of experimenting and adjusting some lifestyle habits. Now I’ve got a MUCH better handle on all our “things”.
During this journey I learned my most valuable “life hack” for living in a small space: when you need more space, look up! In other words assess the way you are using your vertical space.
#1: Stack things VERTICALLY, like books on a book shelf, not horizontally.
Laptops or tablets take up much less space VERTICALLY on a shelf than horizontally on a table when not in use. I’ve been storing mine this way for years and never had negative effects with my computer because of it.
Board games do better when stacked on their end rather than a pile.
Clothes will be more organized and less wrinkled if stacked vertically rather than piled on top of each other. As an added bouus you can see everything in the drawer at the same time!
To do this you will probably have to fold your clothes differently, but is worth the effort for me. (And yes, I actually do store my clothes like this, not just for the picture.)
Here is the reason things do better on end. When belongings are in a pile gravity constantly pushes on them. If they are on end there is less pressure per item and therefore they stay in good condition longer.
These are just a few examples; there are many more things that can be stored on end rather than flat!
#2 Make better use of vertical space above closet shelves.
Most people put things on their closet shelf. Then when they need to store something else, they put it on top of what is already there. This leads to problems. If those items are not stacked well, something inevitably will fall off the shelf and break, or get scattered.
And when you need to retrieve something out of the pile, it usually has to be unburied first. This is a pain and takes more time. REMEMBER RULE #1, if you stack things on end there will be LESS WEAR, and you can usually FIT MORE in the vertical space.
If you do want to put boxes one on top of the other make sure things are in sturdy boxes, tubs, or bins that can easily handle whatever weight is in it. AVOID PILING LOOSE ITEMS on high closet shelves like clothing or papers, because if the stack falls off a high shelf it will probably make a huge mess. Put them in a container instead.
Notice in the picture, on the left side things are piled up all the way to the top.
On the right side of the picture the boxes are taking up a lot of horizontal space. The loose items on top make it impossible to reasonably store anything else on top of them leaving a lot of unused space above them.
On the other hand, having empty space around your belongings should makes things feel less crowded, so if you don’t have to cram it to the brim it should feel less chaotic.
#3 It is ok to put things in a room they wouldn’t traditionally go in.
My 14 month old is getting taller, but still doesn’t understand the danger of heavy or sharp objects. She is pulling more and more things onto the floor each day as she grows. I needed to find more up-high space to put the books. I was afraid if I simply put them on higher bookshelves she might pull them onto her head.
Then I remembered that my kitchen cabinets have space above them that isn’t really being used.
I’ve never thought of storing the books in the kitchen before, but right now it is safer to have them there than on a book shelf. So that is where they are. The book shelf will become storage space for things that are safe for her to get into such as toys in bins, baby books, etc. Maybe I should store dishes on the bookshelf; she gets into them every day no matter where they are!
#4 If needed, add more shelves somewhere.
Over-the-toilet shelving units are sold just about everywhere in many styles and are great quick fix options.
You may also be able to “build” some very inexpensively in other parts of the house, even if it is small like the ones shown below.
You can buy these brackets for only a couple dollars at a home improvement store and any board can be used as a shelf. Look around your house, you may already have half of the supplies! Another idea is to add a shelf over a door, in a closet, or on a small wall or corner that is not usable for much else. Some stores even have shelves that are designed to fit in a corners.
THINGS tend to spread out everywhere, ESPECIALLY on the floor and if you have a child around this happens at an astonishing rate. Who knows exactly why? Perhaps it is just simply gravity.
At my house the floor is always covered with things when the baby is awake, but space above my head is free!
If you need more space try reclaiming some of that high space. Have you tried using vertical space to your advantage? What ideas do you have?