Big Ideas for Small Spaces

For anyone who’s ever lived in New York City, you know that space comes at a premium, and unless you’re sitting on a mountain of extra cash, you’ve probably made some sacrifices when it comes to square footage.

Living in a confined space can be challenging, and can require a little bit of creativity. Instead of downsizing your closet or moving your beloved record collection into storage, think outside (or, quite literally, inside) the box when it comes to organizing your possessions, while still adding your own distinctive touch.

1)     Think up, not out.

Since it’s not practical, or in most cases even possible, for larger items, such as furniture, to be placed anywhere but the floor, fill your vacant wall space with smaller items. Shelving is your best friend when it comes to organizing a small space. Shelving units and tall dressers can make a dramatic difference when organizing items such as books, utensils, dishes, toiletries, linens, and more. On the shorter side? Invest in a stepladder or stool to access hard-to-reach items.
Pro tip: Put items you use daily on more accessible shelves than items you rarely use. That nice piece of china you only use during the holidays? To the top shelf it goes!

If you really want to get ambitious with your interior layout (and if your building’s code allows), consider lofting your bed. It might make you feel a bit nostalgic for that college lifestyle, but it’ll also provide extra room for when you have guests over. Hanging lights from the ceiling or mounting them on the wall can also free up valuable floor space.

2)     Put it on display
No space for kitchen cabinets or a pantry? No problem! Just because an item is stored out in the open doesn’t mean it can’t look nice. Investing in functional solutions, like metal rods to hang cooking utensils, or wire baskets to hold dry goods, not only meet organizational needs, but also provide a fresh and modern look to your space. Whether leaving items out in the open, or behind closed doors, a good rule of thumb is to make sure everything has a designated ‘home.’ This will help your space from looking cluttered and unintentional.

Photo by Ikea

Photo by Ikea

When it comes to your closet, there’s no shortage of organizational solutions, so take advantage of all the wall hooks, clothing racks, garment boxes, and under-the-bed storage items that are available.

3)     Identity crisis
If you’re concerned about space, find pieces of furniture that serve a dual purpose. Purchase couches or futons that can be turned into a comfortable sleeping solution, or invest in a desk that doubles as a dining room table.

Photo by Ikea

Photo by Ikea

4)     Creatively inexpensive
Sure, there are tons of stores that sell expensive shelving and containers, but staying organized doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There is a plethora of blogs that are dedicated to coming up with creative, DIY solutions to common organizational problems. For example, repurposed Ball jars can be used as drinking glasses, vases, pots for small plants, or canisters for just about anything from candy to cotton balls. Or use old pieces of wood and some nails to create some rustic-chic hooks. Not into DIY? Stores such as Ikea or HomeGoods offer organizational solutions for prices that won’t break the bank.

5)     Waste nothing
This might sound like common sense, but be sure to use every inch of storage space you have available. If you have a tall cabinet, adding shelves or dividers can help you utilize the entire space instead of just the bottom (or top) half. Adding hooks to shelves or behind cabinet doors can also provide extra storage for towels, sponges, rubber gloves, etc.


These simple tricks and tips makes it easy to transform a small space into a personalized space that works for you and your family. Need assistance finding that perfect apartment in the New York Tri-State area? Dwellworks Property Advisors can help!

Owen M. McCafferty II