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Ready to conquer clutter - but for realsies this time?​

GET THE SYSTEM I USED TO DECLUTTER
75% OF MY STUFF (FOR FREE!)

Grab your copy of my 20+ page Ultimate Decluttering Guide
for a simple, step-by-step process to help you get
from stressy & messy to clean & serene.

Ready to conquer clutter - but for realsies
this time?

GET THE SYSTEM I USED TO DECLUTTER 75% OF MY STUFF (FOR FREE!)

Grab your copy of my 20+ page Ultimate Decluttering Guide
for a simple, step-by-step
process to help you get from
stressy & messy to clean & serene.

by Sara Brigz
Have you been thinking about downsizing or living in a small space, but not sure how you’ll make it work? Or maybe you’re in desperate need of tiny apartment storage that’s functional AF?
 

Well my friend, you’ve landed in the right place! These storage solutions and design ideas are a total game changer. They’ll help you conserve precious floor space, keep clutter at bay, and feel more at home – even in a tiny apartment.

 
We ended up living in a tiny studio apartment for a whoooole bunch of reasons. For one thing, I’m fascinated by the tiny house movement. I also love a good interior design challenge, and have you seen the real estate prices in Toronto?! Seriously – it’s nutso.
 
Since we moved in about two years ago, we’ve been slowly doing renovations to make it more functional. And, let’s be honest, just more aesthetically pleasing. Because whoever lived here before had just the worst taste in interior design!
 
Also I know I said “we’ve” been doing renovations. But really, I just think up the designs and then my partner does like 98% of the grunt work. #bestpartnerever
 

Our little 300 square foot home (about 28 square metres, for those of you outside of North America) might not be perfect. But thanks to these storage solutions it’s become super livable! And I hope the takeaways below will be a useful jumping off point for your own space.

1. CONSERVE FLOOR SPACE WITH A SLIDING BARN DOOR

 

Our tiny little kitchen didn’t have a door when we moved in. And with two of us living here – often on different sleep schedules – we wanted to have a way to block the light from the kitchen when one of us (*cough* me) gets up way earlier than the other to make coffee. That said, we didn’t want a normal swinging door that cuts into our usable space.

Enter our barn door! We scored it secondhand from the Habitat Restore (it was $40!). Then we painted it blue, and used a kit to turn it into a sliding barn door. It can actually serve as both a kitchen door and a bathroom door… except we currently still have a bathroom door too, because we haven’t gotten around to removing it yet. #whoopsieee

The takeaway: Barn doors and pocket sliding doors are a great choice for tiny apartments. After all, they use less floor space to open than a regular door.

 

2. TRADE IN YOUR TRADITIONAL BED FOR A MURPHY BED

 

I’m someone who’s seen A LOT of tiny apartment design videos. So it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve dreamed of having a Murphy bed for a whiiiiiile.

When we first moved into this place, we had a double bed taking up a whole corner of our living room/bedroom space. Now with this Queen-sized Murphy bed, we’re able to use nearly all of that space during the day! Basically, we flip the bed up in the morning, and then the space can be used for potty-mouthed meditations or spontaneous 90s dance parties or whatever.

I tend to get the same few questions about our bed, so here are some things you may be wondering:

  • “Is it heavy?” Nope – it has springs that are calibrated to its weight, so it feels like lifting about 5 pounds.
  • “Will it fall down during the day?” Nerp, the same springs that help us lift it up also keep it in place!
  • “Could it close up while someone is sleeping on it?” Unless you’re able to bicep curl the weight of a full-grown human, I highly doubt it would be able to close while someone is sleeping in it.
  • “Is it going to kill you like those Murphy beds do in SIMS 4?” I mean, so far so good? 😉

The takeaway: Traditional beds use up a proportionately large portion of a tiny apartment. (I’ve calculated it at around 33 square feet, which is about 1/5 of our living room/bedroom area!) So studios can end up feeling like bedrooms all the time. When floor space is tight, Murphy beds are a design element that can open up the whole room. Plus, they look super cool. 😉

 

3. DESIGNATE ONE WALL OF THE APARTMENT FOR STORAGE

 

The Murphy bed is part of a larger set of built-ins which we designed so that we’d have room for our things. Because the apartment only has two tiny closets and an awkward layout for arranging furniture, storage was definitely at a premium! (Even though, as you probably know, we decluttered 75% of our stuff, so there isn’t thaaaat much to store haha.)

Personally, I’d much rather have more storage than I need with lots of space around my stuff, than have everything jammed and crammed into a space and be tough to access. These drawers, shelves, and cabinets make the most of the vertical space (8.5 feet) we’re fortunate enough to have here, so that everything has a spot.

The takeaway: Designating an entire wall for storage can help cut down on the furniture in a tiny apartment, and means that there will be enough room for all the things you use regularly.

4. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH BEDSIDE TABLES

 

These are one of my favourite design features of the built-ins. I cooked up this idea when I realized how bummed out I would be without having a place to put a book or a cup of tea while lying in bed. Basically, it looks like a regular drawer when it’s closed, but then it opens up like a little table! I’ve also seen some great floating side tables that attach directly to the wall, which can save valuable floor space in a small home.

The takeaway: Conserving floor space in a tiny apartment is crucial, it makes sense to think outside the box with interior design elements like side tables – especially when for many of us, they’re only used as a place to charge our phones, amirite?

 

5. INCREASE CLOSET STORAGE BY ADDING A SECOND HANGING ROD

 

We’re super lucky to have have a tall closet, but the space wasn’t being used effectively when we first got the place. So we decided to divide the closet in half, with one side for taller hanging things on the right (dresses, coats, and even our bags and yoga mats!) and the other on the left with double closet hanging rods.

One major strategy we’ve learned from cohabitating in such a tiny space is that it’s beneficial to have some clearly defined storage spaces for each person – that way, I can store my stuff the way I like it, and my partner can store his stuff the way he likes it, and no one has to silently resent the other for not arranging their clothes by colour of the rainbow (*cough* it me).

The takeaway: Nothing creates more space like decluttering a closet, but adding a second rod in the closet (tension rods work great!) can both double the usable storage space and help divide the storage more evenly if there are multiple people living in a tiny apartment. And the peace of mind from having your own storage space? PRICELESS.

 

6. CHOOSE A DESK THAT SERVES DOUBLE-DUTY

 

It took us foreverrrr to figure out a desk design that folds down when we need it, but also acts as storage! But oh man, it makes me so happy to have a place to hide our laptops and chargers so they’re not always in view. (One of my least favourite things is random cables that are always just… there.) Now we’re able to flip down the desk whenever we need it, and the rest of the time, you wouldn’t even know we had a desk!

I’ve seen some nifty little foldaway desks that drop down straight from the wall, and roll-top desks are also great at hiding clutter! Or another option for tiny living is to choose a dining table that can easily double as a desk.

The takeaway: Desks can be kinda cumbersome, especially in a tiny space. Even though the perfect desk for your space might not look exactly like ours, it’s possible to find or DIY a desk that serves multiple purposes.

 

7. FIND STORAGE IN CREATIVE PLACES

 

This is the only feature on this list that we didn’t install ourselves, but I couldn’t not include it. This little milk door is a remnant of when this old building was constructed, and it’s been turned into a little cupboard! (But it’s sealed up on the hallway side now, of course.) We use it to store our tote bags, so they’re easy to grab as we head out the door.

When you’re working with a tiny apartment, sometimes storage solutions can come from the unlikeliest places. The gap between your sofa and the wall? Add a little storage console! Got space above your toilet? Add some shelves! Toekicks in the kitchen? Install shallow drawers for your baking trays!

The takeaway: Look around your home as though it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Notice any spaces that aren’t being used, and start brainstorming! Sometimes all it takes is a little creative thinking to find storage in a tiny space.

clothes are hanging on a rack as a clever storage solution for tiny living

FINAL THOUGHTS

We definitely have more design ideas in mind to make our tiny apartment more functional – in the kitchen especially – but I think we’re off to a pretty great start. Honestly, it’s come a long way since we first moved here! By tweaking a few little things (and, let’s be real, a couple of pretty major things) both of us have been able to live pretty darn comfortably in this little studio.

If you’re looking to downsize or make your small space more functional, consider things like:

  • installing a barn door or pocket door, rather than traditional doors on hinges
  • choosing a Murphy bed to save space during the day
  • adding a wall of built-in storage, to eliminate the need for furniture like dressers and desks
  • coming up with a creative side table that doesn’t take up floor space
  • using a tension rod to add a second hanging space in the closet
  • a fold-down or roll-top desk that serves double duty
  • adding storage to otherwise unused spaces

Living comfortably in a tiny apartment can sometimes take a lot of creative storage solutions and design elements. I hope that the ideas above will help you figure out ways to make your tiny living more functional and fun!

Oh, and if you’ve got big decluttering goals for your tiny apartment, I’m ya girl! Be sure to grab your free copy of my Ultimate Decluttering Guide here:

Hey! I'm Sara.

I help big-hearted people master their mindset and kiss clutter goodbye.😘

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