Storage Solutions in a Small Apartment

After years of dreaming about moving to the big city, Allyson Taylor finally made her dream a reality. However, her move into a small studio apartment quickly turned into a nightmare. While she never considered her former suburban apartment particularly special, it was downright spacious compared to her new living arrangement. She was discouraged by the limited space she could afford, and had no idea how she was going to fit her belongings inside.

Like Allyson, are you struggling with a lack of storage space? Here are ways to create storage solutions.

When searching for storage solutions, all you have to do is look up, down, inside and behind for unused storage space. Here are places to start:

Look up:
  • Attach shelves to the ceiling to keep seasonal items out of the way but readily retrievable when the need arises.
  • Store items in labeled, decorative containers so they aren't eyesores in living spaces.
  • Use hardcover books as interesting wall shelves when attached with "L" brackets.
  • Use adhesive hooks on walls to store and display jewelry pieces.
  • Hang a pot rack for extra storage in the kitchen.
  • Hang a wrought iron bottle-rack for wine.
  • Hang a three-tier wire basket for extra storage in the bathroom.

Look down:
  • Use a storage ottoman instead of a coffee table. Store extra blankets and bedding inside.
  • Top a 30-gallon trash can with a round board and drape with a tablecloth for a side table with hidden storage.
  • Stack assorted suitcases next to the bed in place of a nightstand. Fill with out-of-season clothing.
  • Use shallow boxes or plastic bins for under-bed storage.
  • Use bed-risers to increase under-bed storage.
  • Use a captain's bed with drawers in children's rooms for extra storage.
  • Use baskets under a crib to store extra diapers and toys.

Look inside:
  • Use wire racks to organize dishes and bowls inside cabinets.
  • Use a two-tier lazy Susan inside a cabinet for easy access to spices.
  • Use baskets inside cabinets for the ease of roll-out shelves without the expense.
  • Store folded sheets inside the coordinating pillow case so everything stays neat on the linen shelf.
  • Hang an over-the-door rack in your laundry room to keep the ironing board and iron out of sight when not in use.
  • Hang a cabinet over the toilet for storing extra toilet paper and guest towels.
  • Use shelf dividers inside closets to keep folded sweaters and t-shirts neatly stacked and organized.

Look behind:
  • Attach a wire rack to the back of a cabinet door to store plastic wrap and foil.
  • Attach a wire rack to the back of a cabinet door to store lids of pots and pans.
  • Hide utility shelving behind a decorative screen for extra storage in the living room.
  • Drape fabric over utility shelving for a makeshift armoire in the bedroom.
  • Hang a vinyl-pocket shoe rack on the back of the coat closet door for flashlight, batteries, extension cords, tape, etc.
  • Use over-door hooks to organize belts, ties, handbags, or other hanging items in easy view.
  • Hang hooks behind bathroom doors for a bath robe and extra towels.

Re-purpose:
  • Attach casters to an old dresser drawer for easy rolling under-bed storage.
  • Use a muffin tin to organize paper clips, rubber bands, and other office supplies in a desk drawer.
  • Use a muffin tin to organize cotton swabs, cotton balls, and other beauty aids in a bathroom drawer.
  • Use a hardware organizer with mini plastic drawers to keep jewelry neat and dust free.
  • Use a vertical file rack to organize baking sheets inside a kitchen cabinet
  • Use a utility knife to hollow the center pages of a hard-cover book for hidden storage for valuables.
  • Re-use the zippered, heavy plastic bags from new bedding to store out of season clothing or bedding.

Allyson found that a small apartment was a small sacrifice considering she was living the life she had always dreamed of. She did learn that keeping a small apartment organized and clutter-free was easy if she followed these three rules: make sure that whatever she buys will be used for more than one purpose, store items conveniently located to where she will use them, and keep a recycling bin near the door so that she can dispose of unwanted junk mail before it has the chance to clutter her small space.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. Follow her on Twitter @thedesigndiva.