Making the Best of Small Spaces
Updated: Feb 10
Smaller spaces bring about unique challenges for everyone. No matter if it's a tiny closet, or a "shoebox" sized apartment, applying some simple organizing tips can make even the smallest space feel big!
I am somewhat of an expert on small spaces. My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment. Before 2022, our spare room was just that, a spare room/catch-all for everything that did not have a place. In a midst of the pandemic, while both of us were working from home (pre-Control the Chaos days) this "catch-all" spare room needed to be turned into a shared home office.
As we went about making the space functional for us both, we realized that we had accumulated a lot of stuff over the years that were never used or no longer fit our style. Thus the decluttering phase commenced.
After a few days (and a couple of disagreements) we had accomplished the unthinkable. The room that was once a dumping ground for items was transformed into a home office/spare room for guests.
How did we do you ask? Take a look at these three simple steps we used that can help transform any tiny space into a functional and practical part of your home!
Step One: Value v. Clutter
When decluttering a space in your home, take a step back and survey all of the items you have accumulated over time.
It is likely that amidst this pile of items sitting in the middle of the room, there are things you value and things that are just taking up space.
A key part of living in a small, yet organized space, is identifying those items you truly value versus items that are just, in a nutshell, clutter. Value can mean different things to different people. It could be based on how useful the item is, the style or aesthetic the item projects, or the memory that is attached to it. None of these justifications are bad or wrong, what's important is that you determine what value means to you and identify the items that meet that criterion.
Decluttering a space is usually the most time-consuming part of any organizing activity. Not only because of the volume of items, but also the sentimental and emotional impact of the decisions being made. When it comes to small spaces, the decluttering phase is vital in creating functional and practical use of the space in question.
Step Two: Creating homes for items
Every item, no matter if it is on a shelf, in a drawer or a room, should have a designated spot or home.
Not only will this help keep a given area tidy and organized, but also gives it a spot to live when it is not in use, instead of just piling up on the floor or tossed in the back of a closet.
When looking to organize a small space, having a home for every item is vital. Sometimes, depending on the space, you may need to be creative with storage solutions. For example, in my apartment, we have a small kitchen with zero pantry space and also a small closet off the front foyer that was just full of junk. So what did we do? We converted it into a small pantry! This way we had a designated spot for our canned goods, while also using the small closet as a functional space instead of a "catch-all" for everything that didn't have a home.
Don't be afraid to get creative with small spaces. The goal is to make them functional long-term, and simple to maintain day to day.
Step Three: Implementing daily routines
Now that you've decluttered your items, identified those you wish to keep/value, and have found homes for them, it's time to implement some maintenance strategies.
These strategies should be simple and fit in perfectly with your already existing day-to-day routines. The more accommodating they are to your daily tasks/activities the more likely you are to keep the routine going long-term.
When you are organizing a small space, try to keep in mind the items that are fitting there, how frequently you would be using them, and how accessing them in this space will fit into your daily schedule. If you set the space up to be functional, then it will be that much easier to maintain!
I am a big fan of daily "to-do" lists, and if adding a task of "tidy up the pantry" will help keep you accountable for the space, then do it until it becomes second nature. Also, get into the habit of putting items back as soon as you are done using them. Now that everything has a home, that should be a simple task that will take no time at all.
Also, now that items have a designated space, it is easier to remember where things are, and if you need to replace/replenish items. This will allow you to shop mindfully and not accumulate more clutter and items before they are needed.
Organizing is a lifestyle, not a project. Being able to create simple routines that can be maintained long-term will prevent cluttered spaces and old habits from returning.
Now that I've outlined some key strategies for working with small spaces, I encourage you to try this in your own home. No matter the size of your home, these helpful tips will help set you up for success.
🤞🏻 Remember, organizing is a process. Learning new routines and strategies takes time, however, the more you repeat those processes the more likely it is that you will see long-lasting results!
When you’re ready to work on organizing your home, just remember that it is possible to control the chaos - and when you need help, we’re here for you.
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About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.