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How organize an apartment when you’re running out of room.

By Julie Stobbe / August 31, 2023 /

Reading time – 10 minutes

Living in a small apartment has many challenges.  The biggest is the lack of space. Many people wind up in homes that simply aren’t large enough to house all their possessions.

Fortunately, it turns out that there are numerous strategies you can use to increase the amount of space you have available. In this post, you’ll find all sorts of ways to expand the space available to you, even if you live in a studio (or something even smaller)

Studio apartment with a galley kitchen, small table with 4 stools and a couch that becomes a bed.

Use Outdoor Space

If your apartment has any outdoor space, such as a balcony or shared shed, then use it. The more outdoor equipment you can keep outside, the less it will clutter up your home. You can purchase water tight chests to protect your items from damage and keep them safe.

You’ll notice that outdoor items and tools are often the bulkiest possessions you own. While you can stuff plenty of clothes into a drawer, rigid toolboxes, and bicycles are hard to keep out of the way. 

Use Multi-Functional Furniture

Another tip is to use multifunctional furniture. Doubling up saves space and reduces the need for duplication. Many pieces of furniture can be used to store your stuff,  coffee tables that lift up with storage below, use a cabinet instead of a table or bench a footstool where the top lifts off to provide storage.  If you have a two-bedroom apartment, get a sofa bed. You can use it as seating until guests come over, at which point you can transform it into a bed. 

and orange box with a lid

Add More Vertical Storage

You could also try adding more vertical storage to your apartment to increase the space you have available. Adding more vertical storage space is pretty easy. We recommend concentrating it in one room, like the bedroom, allowing you to declutter other parts of your space. When possible have the bookcases, cupboards or shelves the same colour as the wall.  When they blend into the wall the room looks larger since you don’t notice the furniture.  If they are a contrasting colour to your walls you notice the large pieces of furniture and the room looks smaller.   Focus on providing additional vertical storage in less noticeable places like above doors or adding an extra shelf in a closet.  There are many over the door organizing gadgets that provide storage on the back of doors. 

Leverage Out-Of-Home Storage Wisely

Even with the best efforts in the world, you sometimes still run out of space in an apartment, especially if you own sizable possessions, like a grand piano.  The most cost effective expense might be renting a storage unit.  Having a small apartment with a lower rent and a self self storage unit may meet your budget better than paying more for a larger apartment. Units provide space for your belongings, enabling you to free up room in your house to easily access the things you use regularly.  Decide what is important to keep and store and donate the rest.  You want to rent the smallest unit possible. Organize it so you can easily access your stuff.

A storage unit with shelves for boxes

Organize Your Small Kitchen

 Invest your time in organizing your small kitchen. These kitchens can be challenging to manage and significantly easier to take care of and use when you adopt the proper techniques. 

For example:

  • Use shelf risers and hooks to increase storage options
  • Consider placing magnetic racks on the walls or under the cabinets
  • Remove any unnecessary appliances from the countertops and store them in the cupboards
  • Use foldable and stackable kitchenware

Many cookware brands now offer two-piece sets that meet 99% of your cooking needs.  Reducing your cookware can free up space for other items you might want to use more often. If you have some appliances you use seasonally, barbecue, crockpot, dehydrator, deep fryer put them in less accessible places and make room for the items you use most in that season.  As seasons change rearrange the storage of your small appliances. 

If you have space put in a small island to have more counter space and storage space.  Buy one that you can sit around and use instead of a table.  If it has wheels even better, so you can move it around as needed.

Add Curtain Dividers

You might also consider adding curtain dividers to your space to make it more flexible. Having the ability to create new rooms is a great way to compensate for a lack of space and make your apartment more flexible. There are styles you can mount on the ceiling and roll down so that when you are not using it you don’t see it. You can mount a rod and hang the curtain as needed. The curtain may double as a bedspread so you don’t need to find a place to store it. 

For instance, you invite guests over but don’t have a spare bedroom for them. Adding curtain dividers to the living area is an excellent way to provide them with the privacy they want. 

Studio apartment with a bedroom separated by a curtain, a table against the back of the couch and a wall of kitchen cabinets

Be More Minimalist

You can also try living a more minimalist lifestyle if the above options don’t appeal to you. Reducing the number of possessions you own can be an excellent way to free up space and enjoy your living conditions more. 

Being minimalist doesn’t necessarily mean you need to adopt a Spartan approach or buy cheap items for the home. Instead, it means investing in quality belongings you will use regularly, and reducing anything that doesn’t fit into your routine or priorities. 

As you’re deciding what you can live without you may want to store it somewhere else. As you start to enjoy having less to take care of, organize and clean you can start to donate items.  Living well in the space you have is the best way to enjoy your life. 

Here are some of the ways you can get more space in your apartment with ease.

Share in the comments your favourite way to make more storage space. 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, virtually using Zoom. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of teaching to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. She guides and supports you to be accountable for your time, to complete projects and reach your goals. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at

Click here to learn more about her online course Create an Organized Home.

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