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Professional interior designer and sleep expert Jennifer Adams is back to answer your questions and provide some helpful advice! Today, Jennifer responds to a reader’s question about how to go about how to create storage space in a small apartment:
When the Kitchen Is the Closet
Thanks so much for writing to me; I must confess that your question made me laugh out loud! Not because working with limited storage space is funny, but because it reminded me of another story. I actually have a friend who DID use her kitchen as a closet when she was living in New York. She used to joke that she just ordered out for meals, because she needed the storage space! It’s a great idea … if you don’t ever need to cook anything. 😉
Making Room for Two
Of course, one key difference between my friend’s story and your story is that she lived alone, while there will in fact be two people sharing your small apartment space. Honestly, as you start your new lives together, there will need to be a lot of room for give and take on both sides. Considering the prospect of two people living in an apartment that has very limited storage space to begin with, you’ll both really need to assess and prioritize your belongings.
Look at It with Fresh Eyes
I often recommend whenever a couple is moving in together to a space which one of them currently occupies, it’s a good idea to pretend they’re moving into a brand-new space together. By looking at your “new” space with collectively fresh eyes, it helps avoid the whole potentially problematic “my place” vs “your place” mindset. This will help you to start off on a better mutual foot and enable you to make storage decisions with less individual “baggage” tied to them. Obviously, there would be some advantages to being able to move into a different apartment that you both choose together, but in some situations that simply might not be an option for you.
Declutter, and then Declutter Some More
So, back to the challenge of maximizing your available storage space. Let me start by offering you an essential strategy that I suggest to all of my clients – declutter! And when I say “declutter,” I’m really speaking to both of you. Regardless of how much “stuff” either of you has to start with, it’s important for each of you to go through your possessions, both individually and collectively, to decide what you really can’t live without.
Take Advantage of Offsite Storage
Once you’ve sorted your items and gotten rid of some things, you’re likely to find that you still have a lot of “stuff.” Now, set aside the items with which you’re not ready to part, but to which you really don’t need regular access. Look for an offsite storage site where you can keep your out-of-season clothing, sports equipment, sentimental possessions, and other items you don’t need on a daily basis.
Organize the Storage Space You Do Have
Now that you’ve decluttered and sorted, you should be down to a much more manageable amount of “stuff” that needs storing inside your apartment. Try creating some storage space that’s both functional and decorative. For example, buy a handsome lighted bookcase, or you can even make one out of interesting metal or wood boxes. Place it wherever it will fit in your apartment … even if it’s the kitchen. Have your fiancé choose her favorite seasonal shoes and handbags to display as a collection, and then simply store the rest out of sight (or offsite).
Congratulations on your engagement! I wish you both nothing but the best, and I hope you’ll find these storage tips and tricks to be helpful as you begin your new life as a family together. Let me know how it goes! And once you’ve got your storage situation figured out, I invite you to check out my Home Journal blog page for more home décor tips, as well as for some strategies on how to improve your sleep environment.