Now, I’m no tiny house expert. But, those who really struggle with the tiny home dilemma often aren’t trying to live an ultra-minimalist lifestyle. Sometimes, that’s just where they’re at. And, I think it’s 100% possible to work with what you’ve got. Whenever I doubt that, I think of books I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen of New York apartments where families thrive in their tiny (albeit expensive) spaces. Many of them hire professionals who swoop in to help them maximize their space with extra storage and creative solutions. While that may not be an option for you, there are some easy ways to squeeze more utility into your tiny (or even not so tiny) home.
(This post contains affiliate links, all opinions are my own!)
Purge Your Stuff
There is literally no sense in reading the rest of this article before you consider purging (getting rid of the excess of) your things. I know it is hard, but by getting rid of things, you can make your life so much easier! If you have a really small space, read up on minimalism. My husband and I literally had our lives changed by the book The More of Less a few years back. It inspired us to drastically purge our extra possessions. While it can be difficult, the extra space is SO NICE, especially when you’re trying to make do with the space you have!
Scale Down Furniture
Did you know that you can buy a couch that physically fits your space, but that is actually too big for your space? Furniture comes in different sizes (duh), but it also comes in different scales. For example, a big, bulky leather sofa might not be as good of a couch option as a mid century modern spindly sofa. Have no fear if it’s not comfy, since some throw pillows can easily fix that. When you buy furniture that is the proper scale for your space, you will have more room. And, my friend. It’s totally worth it!!!
Besides physical space, there is something to be said for visual space. While this is a topic that may be suited for another day, I will simply say that furniture that is lighter in color (or even transparent) will provide more light and visual space in your home. Furniture that is similar in color to the flooring or walls can give the appearance of a larger space. So, this may all be something to consider if you are truly feeling cramped where you’re at currently!
Go Up the Walls
This is the one time when it might actually be good to drive you up the wall! (haha) When your square footage is limited, take advantage of your vertical space. If you look around with taller bookshelves or wall-mounted storage options in mind, you may be able to find some amazing solutions that will work for you.
One of my favorite options is the classic IKEA photo ledge bookshelves. I love these for so many reasons, but they really can make the most of even the tiniest walls. Big and tiny kids can benefit from these shelves and the littles can even help clean up on their own (score!).
You can also consider other wall-mounted shelves. This is a favorite of mine in my teensy bathroom where my wall-mounted shelves above my toilet hold towels and toilet paper! It’s a game-changer, I am telling you!
How about a magazine rack? Could that help you fit in a little place for mail or other to-dos? Or, go figure, what about just magazines or other reading material? Boom!
Find Underutilized Spaces
“Somewhere out there, there’s a…” space waiting to be discovered! Imagine you’re a gutsy explorer going where no man or woman has ever ventured before… in your own home! And, when you get there, you can find a storage solution for it. Try looking under the bed, behind doors, on teensy walls, under furniture, in the closets, in your cabinets, in your garage, you name it.
Maximizing a closet space may look like adding some shelves (either built-ins or ones that closely fit). Even a few extra inches of space can make a HUGE difference! It may also mean that you invest in stacking bins that will allow you to use every square inch of space in your closet. If you’re storing board games or linens, try fabric hanging shelves (I like using the pockets on the sides for card games!).
If you have a narrow wall, consider a narrow shelf (IKEA Billy’s are my favorite!). While it might take a little figuring to get one that fits just right, that effort will be well-worth it to have a more functional space that meets your needs!
If you have a couch that sits on legs, try storing a folding table or leaves for your current table beneath it. Or, maybe an under-the-bed storage bin will slide under there with your wrapping supplies inside. Get creative!
Improving your cabinets may look like buying some sterilite drawers for bathroom or office supplies, or adding some plate stacking shelves so that you can maximize the vertical space within your cabinets. I’m telling you, there’s a solution for that!
And, lastly, try out some drawer organizers. I just added some (from the Dollar Tree!) to one of my sad bathroom drawers and was amazed at the impact it had on the capacity of my drawers. I was even able to remove some things from my counters which I consider a major win!!! Conversely, you might benefit from eliminating drawer organizers if you have an especially tiny drawer. For example, I find that my “spatula” drawer is best suited to just have it all in their without drawer organizers. Decide what works for you and run with it!
Store in Furniture
Did you know there are literally fold-out couches that serve as guest beds that also have a secret compartment for guest bedding? Talk about genius! Of course, there are bookshelves, chests, and bins, why not try an ottoman to hold blankets, a bench to hold pillows, or a step stool to store diaper-changing supplies? (I’ve got a storage bench and ottoman from Target that I love!) If you can dream it, you can also probably find it!
While this may seem obvious, investing in some baskets and boxes can help you make better use of your space. For example, I noticed that by buying sturdy baskets for my pantry, I was able to fit more onto a foot of shelf than I had been able to before. In my linen closet, I noticed that by buying some well-fitting baskets, I better-utilized the vertical space between each shelf.
If you have some empty space where you could stack boxes (like in the bottom of a closet), try my favorite and ultra-affordable Banker’s boxes for storing just about anything (think kid’s clothing, fabric, gifts, books, picture frames, memorabilia, holiday storage, etc!). I buy my cute gray-and-white patterned ones at Walmart for about $10 for three. They just might change your life. No joke.
The real beauty of buying boxes that are all the same size is that they stack, and they are better at using every square inch of your space. While I do have my fair share of garbage bags and diaper boxes full of extra kids’ clothing, they simply don’t use the space as well as my trusty, uniform boxes.
Go Over the Door
When you can’t go under it or through it, you’ve got to go over your door! Have you tried the most wonderful over-the-door shoe storage for over the door? I have loved using this for miscellaneous home items such as batteries, cords, or even craft supplies. (I know, mind blown, right?)
Or, how about hanging a clothes hanger or ironing board on your door? Or, oooh, over-the-door towel hooks! (<-We have those… and these! ->) OR over-the-cabinet-door caddies! I’m telling you! SO MANY OPTIONS!
This may take some saving and figuring, but if you have a yard, consider what you may be able to store in a shed. Or, how can you make better use of your carport, garage, or yard?
Last summer, we (my dad…) went nuts installing hanging safe racks (purchase on sale at Costco!) on the ceiling in our garage and I couldn’t believe the difference it made! We also hung bikes and coat and helment hooks on the walls so we no longer trip over them. Not only did we have more storage capacity, but we could actually easily walk around our parked cars! (Hallelujah!)
Go Down Under
Sorry, no reference to Australia here (although, that sounds lovely!). If you’re strapped for storage space, why not try your crawl space? There are people online who have done remarkable things with their crawlspaces, but suffice it to say that even with our limited crawl space, we were able to store a significant amount of our stuff! It has been a real blessing for us.
You can quote me on this. “Never underestimate the power of a strongly anchored or command hook.” How about behind your front door? Hooks for backpacks and coats! That tiny wall by your entry? Tiny hooks for keys! Or in your closet? Hooks for purses, belts, necklaces, or whatever else you want to use them for! In the shower? Hooks for your loofas (love those!) for crying out loud! Hooks for all!
Have you tried utility racks? They work great for hanging brooms, rakes, shovels, and more. They work great in utility rooms, laundry rooms, pantries, sheds, and garages! I got a couple of really long heavy-duty ones with adjustable hooks from Walmart and they are simply life-changing.
So, in case I haven’t made myself clear, it’s time to stop focusing on how small your home is, and start uncovering its potential. You’ll be surprised how far a little ingenuity can go!
And, if you, like me, are cost-conscious, consider this little thought that I sometimes remind myself of when I am trying to work with my own space: “It’s cheaper than a new house!” While buying uniform boxes or all the hooks might cost a bit of money, think of how much cheaper it is than moving. I’m glad to know how many options there are for helping us utilize our space today!
What other clever storage solutions do you have? Comment below!
As always, happy organizing!