Since I left home for college in 2006, I have been living in a dorm, apartment, or townhome. This small space living has often presented me with different configurations of closets and cabinets, and limited storage, especially as our family has grown. I often have had to find creative storage solutions, and be wise about different apartment organization ideas. Because, the biggest problem in every apartment we’ve lived in is the lack of storage space! Where do we shove Christmas stuff until the following year? Where do we store outgrown baby clothes and baby gear until we may need it again, years later? The following are some ideas on how to better organize your apartment and some creative apartment storage ideas too. I hope they’ll help you, in whatever small living space you may be in.
Over the Door Hooks and Shoe Organizers
Over the door hooks and hangers have been our go-to storage solution in every single apartment. We have especially liked the over the door shoe organizer, especially since entryways aren’t always huge, and everyone has more than one pair of shoes. The front of our house was always getting littered with shoes, often making it hard to open or shut the front door! In our last apartment we bought an over the hook shoe organizer (I recommend not getting a plastic one – they rip and tear pretty easily) behind our guest half bathroom door (which was at the front of our apartment). With it on the inside of the guest bathroom door, you didn’t immediately see it when you came into our house, but it was easy to access (since our bedrooms were upstairs and where other non-frequently used shoes lived).
We have done something similar in our current place. But, our coat closet is further in our house. We also optimize the regular over-the-door hooks for our coats, purses, reusable bags, and diaper bags on these. We also use them in our bathroom for putting towel, bathrobes, and even neckties and belts. These hooks are awesome for easy access and extra closet space and to keep things vertical. It helps free up your apartment closet space for other things, too, because we like to…
Put Bookcases and Dressers in Closets
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With living space at a premium, and with young children, the biggest thing we’ve done to optimize the actual living space in our apartments is to put bookcases and dressers in closets. The benefit is that you can stack things on top of bookcases and dressers easier, but you can close the door and keep kids out and off of them! It optimizes bedroom space and closet space.
Another great spot for bookcases and storage dressers is in the coat closets (see above picture). We have put things like gloves and warm clothes in plastic storage drawers, as well as puzzles, art supplies, light bulbs, batteries, tools, and sporting balls and equipment. I have loved implementing this apartment organization idea. With sometimes only one real coat closet for storage, it is important to use them to their full potential.
If you lack a pantry and cabinet space, a large shelving unit is a beautiful thing. You can put all sorts of kitchen gadgets and pantry staples on one. You can also put it in a bedroom or hallway (if it’s big enough), and stack with boxes that you still have yet to find a home for, or put linens on it, or whatever.
Wall Organization – Go Vertical
There is a lot of vertical space that often goes unused in our small space living. I hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t think vertically that often when it comes to storage. Perhaps it’s because I don’t love pounding holes in the walls of a place I am not going to be in forever, compounded with the difficulty of finding studs. But, in our current apartment we bought some office wall organizers for things like mail, weekly store flyers, magazines, blog planners, notebooks, manuals, and iPads too. This is in part because my husband can’t stand how easy it is for any horizontal flat surface to collect junk. Having a place for paper storage is pretty helpful in keeping a home organized and decluttered.
I am a recent convert to the storage bin craze, but I have to ask myself why I never jumped on the bandwagon before? I picked up a few canvas bins at Target (on clearance) and put them under our runner table, and put things like our Homeschool binders in one, library books in another, and then coloring books and paper in the last one. It makes them easy to get to, yet organized, and much cuter than loose stacks of stuff like it was before we bought them. I really need to buy some more for other storage areas on our home. I also have a simple, small basket on top of the table, and a few other organization items to store things like my scriptures, Kindle, coupons, cell phones, etc. My friend even used a basket to store all her home office supplies.
I don’t know about you, but there has generally been a lot of wasted storage space in apartments we’ve lived in under our sinks! While under the kitchen sink gets pretty full with cleaning supplies and paper towels, bathroom sink cabinets tend to be pretty sparse, or not fully organized. If you put in little storage shelves or drawers or stock up on toiletries, it’s a great place to store them!
On Top of Cabinets
If your kitchen cabinets come off from the wall, and there is space on top of them, you can put extra pantry items, kitchen gadgets, or even random storage boxes up there. It may not be the prettiest, but it sure is a small living space storage solution!
Even if you only have a laundry closet, there is generally some room to play with in them. In our last apartment we put a bookshelf in our laundry room and turned it into pantry storage, since it was right next to the kitchen. It worked great! We also shoved some things next to the dryer as well.
In our current apartment’s laundry closet, we put storage containers on the shelf already in there, putting things like batteries, light bulbs, and extension cords. But, you could also hang up extra shelves, install curtain rods for drying clothes or storing items.
Utility Rooms and Closets
Some utility rooms are locked, and some don’t offer any additional space, or the room is just nasty. However, if yours has some workable space, you may think about putting some items in the utility room or utility closet. In our current apartment there was plenty of space for us to stash our bike trailer, bike pump, and a few other miscellaneous items that we don’t use on a regular basis, and won’t be a problem being next to the water heater.
Smart Stacking in “Storage” Closets
The picture below was a rather stacked closet we had in our last apartment, shortly before my son was born. Was had boxes and cooler (which cooler was full of stuff) on the top shelf, and then jigsaw stacking of boxes on the floor of the closet, and a bookcase full of clothes, plus a toolbox on the floor, and more. If you can dedicate an entire closet in your home to storage, it is a great organization idea for an apartment. Just shut the closet doors, and you don’t have to see it.
Are you taking full advantage of all the drawers in your house? Whether in a desk, or a nightstand, or a table by the front door, drawers are a great place to stack, store, and file all sorts of things. And don’t forget about the drawers in your kitchen. Make sure you are organizing them to their full potential.
In the Master Bedroom
I am not what you would call a top-notch decorator (so far from it), so if I have to put storage boxes somewhere, because we just can’t fit that large box of maternity clothes or old car seat in a closet, I look at the extra square footage in our master bedroom. We’ve stacked boxes and items in our master bedroom on multiple occasions, as master bedrooms are usually very large rooms. We don’t have more furniture in them than a bed, dresser, and nightstands. Since no guests ever go in our master bedroom, and kids are restricted from accessing our room, it’s a pretty great place for extra, ugly storage boxes, or perhaps even a bicycle, crafting or art supplies, and more.
Under the Bed
Who says hiding things under the bed has to end once you become an adult? Some bed frames come with built-in storage drawers even. But, if you just have a regular metal bed frame underneath your bed, you can still fit some items underneath. I’ve stored flat papers (like old art projects), empty, collapsed moving boxes (since I know we’ll move again), other moving supplies, old books and journals, and more. Add an inexpensive bed skirt, and the items are all nicely out of sight.
On top of Dressers
Those canvas storage baskets or other small plastic organizers can help you better organize jewelry, extra small items, or bigger things like belts, bras, ties, or maybe even socks. We actually used the top of our dresser as a place to put some of our extra stocked up toiletries. Not very attractive, but again, it’s in our master bedroom, and out of other people’s eyelines.
Storage Containers (in bathrooms)
Some apartment bathrooms lack linen closets, medicine cabinets, and even a cabinet underneath the sink. I know that buying a simple small, plastic storage drawers made organizing my makeup, hair ties, nail clippers, and bobby pins easy and simple, and didn’t take up much space on our counter tops.
If you want to get started with some of these apartment organization ideas and storage solutions, I’ve included some affiliate links to some great small space living products on Amazon. I hope it helps you be a little more organized in your small apartment! I may not have used these exact products in my own home, but I have used something similar to those pictured below. We have usually gone to Staples, Lowe’s, Target, or discount furniture warehouse stores for various storage needs.
What have you done in your small apartment for storage solutions?