Between micro-apartments, tiny homes, and even #vanlife, the real estate industry is taking the saying “less is more” to previously unknown levels. And while we can all get behind the idea of streamlining your life and shedding possessions that no longer meet your needs, you only need to watch (maybe) half an episode of Tiny House Hunters to realize that collectively, our desire to live in a smaller space is being eclipsed by all our possessions. (“I just wish there was more storage space!”)
The good news is that as we’ve become increasingly obsessed with small living spaces, we’ve also discovered (or recovered) strategies to maximize what you’ve got. Whether you already live in a small space, you’re downsizing, or you just want to be more efficient with the space you have, these tips will help you achieve your miniature-lifestyle dreams.
Look high and low
As humans, we’re socialized to see what’s in front of us — and little else. Ask any hide-and-seek champion and you’ll learn that there’s a whole world of possibilities both above our line of sight and below it, where we rarely glance.
So take a walk through your living space and pay special attention to the space above your head toward the ceiling and the space below your knees toward the floor. If you’ve got high ceilings especially, you might find a ton of new opportunities for shelving or other storage options — but close to the ground can be just as lucrative.
Make sure you’re focusing on “unusual” spots, too — like under the stairs, for example. We’re not suggesting you turn that space beneath the stairs into a bedroom (a la Harry Potter), but it’s certainly possible that when you bypassed the stairs, you also neglected the perfect space to store out-of-season clothing items.
You’ll also want to consider your furniture while you’re examining your place from floor to ceiling. If space is at a premium, then you’ll want to find dining room seating (for example) that tucks completely under the table when you’re finished. Start making a list of furniture, decorative items, and other things that you may want to replace with more efficient options.
One great way to make your space look larger-than-real-life is to arrange all of your seating lower to the ground. Instead of a couch in the living room, you might consider a futon that folds into a bed — or maybe even just some big, comfortable cushions that can be stacked in a corner when you’re not lounging or entertaining guests.
Transparency is key
One of the essential problems with living in a small space is that a “traditional” home is very much divided up by function. You sleep in the bedroom, cook in the kitchen, work in the office, and relax in the living area — all of which are divided up by walls.
Smaller living quarters often try to replicate a traditional home, but if you’re living in a tiny space, then you might not want walls dividing everything up … and even if you do, maybe a permanent wall of brick and mortar is the wrong move.