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  • Julia Weaver

17 Creative Space-Saving Solutions and Storage Ideas for Your Cozy Space

In today's world, where urban living often means embracing smaller living spaces, maximizing every square foot becomes paramount. Whether you're residing in a cozy apartment in Minneapolis, MN, a rental home in Overland Park, KS, or a compact studio in Springfield, MO, the art of space-saving is essential for creating a comfortable and functional environment. From clever storage solutions to strategic furniture arrangements, navigating limited square footage requires creativity and ingenuity. In this article, we'll explore a myriad of practical tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your small space, allowing you to live large even in compact quarters.


1.  Built-in storage to optimize every inch of your space

Emer Gillespie, founder and director of modern and contemporary lighting store Spark & Bell, suggests utilizing built-in storage solutions such as recessed shelving, under-stair storage, and custom cabinets to fully optimize your space. This approach not only enhances functionality but also ensures a tidy and organized appearance, allowing you to make the most of every inch of your home or office.

A room with built-in storage.

"Built-in lighting is also key," emphasizes Gillespie. "You can achieve this by either wiring it in behind the storage units or incorporating plug-and-switch lights. This approach eliminates the need to call in electricians for extensive rewiring, saving both time and money. By strategically placing lighting within your built-in storage, you can illuminate your space effectively without compromising on aesthetics or functionality."


2. Get the most out of your furniture 

Prioritizing functionality is essential for crafting a practical living environment within limited space. Below, two furniture experts share insights on selecting the ideal pieces to optimize your home's layout and functionality.


Utilize multi-purpose pieces

“One of the reasons why we love Danish furniture is its multi-function capabilities and ability to blend in with many styles,” says Jackie Williams, Furnish Me Vintage, offering restored and original mid-century modern and Danish furniture. "Integrate minimalist Danish furniture effortlessly with vintage or contemporary decor. Opt for a teak credenza, serving as both a sleek media center with ample storage and a chic addition to your space. Explore the versatility of expanding draw-leaf dining tables, seamlessly transitioning from compact daily use to expanded settings for gatherings. These tables also double as convenient work desks, ideal for home offices. Danish furniture excels in maximizing utility, offering ingenious solutions for space-constrained European homes."


Employ the floating furniture technique

“To maximize space in your home, try employing the ‘floating furniture’ technique, which involves positioning furniture away from walls to establish a fluid, open layout,” suggests John Adams of Fine Furniture Los Angeles. “Additionally, it allows for versatile use of space, fosters creativity in layout design, and creates opportunities for focal points. Ultimately, incorporating this technique enhances the perceived spaciousness and livability of your home.” 


3. Sometimes more storage isn’t useful

While it may seem counterintuitive, excessive storage can sometimes lead to clutter if not strategically utilized. Jacqueline Chen, founder and interior designer at The Glade Design weighs in on how to appropriately incorporate storage solutions. 


“Having lots of storage might not always be the best idea,” says Chen. “Instead of prioritizing quantity, consider the functionality and accessibility of your storage spaces. Evaluate your daily routines and movement patterns within your home to identify areas where storage would be most beneficial. Opt for storage solutions that align with these usage patterns, placing them in convenient locations to streamline organization and minimize clutter buildup.”


4. Clear out unworn clothing items

Ever find yourself overwhelmed by your closet? An overflowing one leads to frustration and inefficiency, adding clutter and disarray to your living space, which affects your overall well-being. We hear from several personal stylists on how to declutter and organize your closet effectively, reclaiming space and restoring a sense of order to your home.


Slowly purge items you no longer love

“The simplest way to maximize space in your closet is to clear out your unworn items,” states personal style expert Elysha Lenkin. “Set aside 30 minutes to sort through your wardrobe, pulling out any pieces you haven’t worn for over a year. Move these pieces to the front to make them more visible. Every day, select one of these pieces and decide whether to wear it that day or clear it from your closet. This daily routine not only optimizes closet space, but also helps you reconnect with your clothes and curate a more functional wardrobe that contributes to preserving the additional space you've created.”


Keep your closet neat and tidy

Gab, NYC-based and virtual personal stylist at Wardrobe Editor, advises starting with a cleanout when building an organization system around a smaller wardrobe. “Remove items that don't fit, are damaged, or don't make you feel good. Organize each category (tops, sweaters, jeans) together in a designated space, ensuring neatness by hanging or folding items uniformly. Store less-used or seasonal items in less accessible areas, prioritizing easy access for frequently worn pieces.”

A lady organizing her linen closet.

Display clothes for the current season only

“I advise all of my clients to only keep seasonally appropriate clothes in their closet,” shares image consultant and personal shopper Katherine Rose of Capsule Wardrobe Stylist. "This minimizes clutter and decision-making fatigue, allowing for seasonal wardrobe curation. Store out-of-season items in canvas garment bags in a designated storage space at home."


Review your wardrobe with a critical eye

“If you’re short on space, consider going through your wardrobe with a critical eye,” says Tara Williams, Certified Image Consultant/Personal Stylist at Style Elevation With Tara. “Most people only wear 20 percent of their wardrobe 80 percent of the time. That means a lot of clothes are taking up closet space and creating decision fatigue. Ask yourself the following questions when deciding whether to keep an item: Does this fit? Have I worn it in the last year? Does this represent who I am now, in this season of my life? Do I love it?”


5. Opt for smaller furniture

“In compact living spaces, furnishing poses a unique challenge due to the diverse needs of everyday living,” explains David King, president and CEO of  DōMA Home Furnishings in St. Petersburg, FL and Tampa, FL. “In a narrow living room, every piece of furniture matters. Opt for slender tables, wall sconces, and compact seating like tight-back sofas or club chairs to save floor space. Choose wall-mounted shelves and floating desks instead of bulky furniture. Divide the space with furniture, such as a smaller sofa in the center, flanked by a convertible console table and smaller dining chairs, creating a versatile and intimate area.”

 

6. Utilize vertical space

Maximizing vertical space offers numerous benefits for organization and functionality within a room. Denise Allan, a Certified Professional Organizer at Simplify Experts in Seattle, WA, emphasizes the advantages of utilizing bookshelves. 


“It is great to use your vertical space well with bookshelves,” shares Allan. “I prefer those with cabinet doors below and shelves above to avoid excessive visual clutter, minimize noise, and ease dusting. A golden rule of organizing is to not fill spaces, drawers, or cupboards over 80% full, you need some empty space to make retrieval of items easy.”


7. Use the back of the door in the bathroom

“Struggling with limited storage in a small bathroom?” asks Susan Stewart, owner and professional organizer at Perfectly Placed St. Louis, MO. “Utilize the back of the door with an organizing system like the Elfa from The Container Store, featuring versatile baskets perfect for towels, bath toys, and other essentials. You can find options in various sizes that offer customizable storage solutions to optimize your space.” 


8. Purge and declutter

Over time, we gather possessions that may outlive their usefulness, often without noticing the gradual clutter accumulating in our homes. It's natural to hang onto items for their potential future utility. However, overlooking the clutter can take a toll on our mental well-being and our usable space. We hear from professional organizers on hacks to keep clutter at bay.


Practice the one-in, one-out rule

“You control your space, not the other way around, so choose to be picky about the things you own,” advises Kammy Lee, professional organizer at Organized By Kammy in Chicago, IL. “Avoid defaulting to accumulate ever-growing collections by using the ‘one-in, one-out’ rule, limiting once-a-year items (such as Halloween mugs and Valentine's Day towels), and specialized purpose items (such as juicers, breadmakers). Let go of ‘someday’, ‘meh’, and ‘just in case’ items, and fill your space with only the things you truly need, use, and love.”


Create a donation station

“The key to maximizing a small space is owning items you truly love and use,” explains Mary Ann, professional organizer at Find Your Gold. “Create a donation station — whether it's a box, bin, or bag—and easily declutter as you go about your daily routine. Once it's full, drop off donations, return items, pass along to friends, or prepare items for sale. Your donation station serves multiple purposes beyond just donations.”


9. Establish a nightly home reset routine

“Your living space can instantly feel more organized if you commit to resetting it each evening,” explains Anne Lunsford, professional organizer at Simply Easy Organizing in North Carolina. “Tidy up your space by putting away stray items and completing kitchen tasks. Prepare for the next day by creating a to-do list and gathering the necessities for tomorrow. With consistency, this 5-10 minute routine will keep your space organized and cultivate positive habits that will spill over into other aspects of your life.”


By tidying up regularly, you prevent clutter from accumulating, making your space feel more spacious and organized. Additionally, a nightly reset allows you to start each day with a clean slate, reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm in your living environment. This routine also ensures that essential items are readily accessible, saving time and effort in your daily activities.


10. Choose similar colors

Jacqueline Chen of The Glade Design suggests incorporating bold colors sparingly, focusing on one or two key elements, while maintaining the majority of the palette in neutral tones.


“Picking items with similar colors can make a room feel larger than it actually is,” emphasizes Chen. “If you're into bold colors, try limiting them to just one or two items, and keep the rest in neutral tones. This not only makes those bold items stand out, but it also creates the illusion of a bigger, tidier space.”


11. Opt for the minimalist approach

"The minimalist choice, in furniture and decoration, is fundamental if we are facing small spaces,” shares interior designer Sergio Nistico. “When it comes to furniture and decoration, prioritize essentials. Opt for a strategically placed, sizable painting over numerous small objects. Consider structural interventions like combining the kitchen with the living room to create larger usable spaces, complemented by a suitable color scheme. Choose furniture with dual functions, such as a breakfast table that doubles as a workspace, to maximize space efficiency.”

A living room with light colors.

12. Be mindful of what’s in your space

Give thoughtful consideration of every item's purpose and value within your living environment while prioritizing functionality and ensuring that each object serves a specific need or brings joy to your life. Below are expert strategies from organizing and cleaning professionals to help you make intentional decisions about your belongings.


Minimize belongings on display

“You can maximize your space by being very mindful of what's in it,” explains Brittany Overstreet, Owner and Lead Organizer at Organize with Brittany serving South Carolina. “Ideally, your horizontal surfaces like counters and dresser tops should only house items that you use daily while your display shelves should only contain items that have sentimental value. If possible, nothing should be touching your floor except furniture. Bonus! Picking up or cleaning will be so much easier when you have less to put away or clean around.” 


Keep your space clutter-free

"The key to maximizing your living space is to keep it simple,” states Cleany NYC. “Don’t try to cram too many items into your area, and focus on creating a clean, clutter-free environment. Designate zones for specific activities and keep items related to those activities within their respective areas. Implement a regular tidying routine, like dedicating 15 minutes each day to quickly clean and organize one part of your home, to keep clutter from building up. Additionally, adopt a digital mindset by scanning and storing documents and photos electronically, reducing the need for physical storage." 


13. Embrace a cleaning routine

Cleaning and decluttering are essential for small-space living because they help maximize the available space and create a more organized and functional environment. Here's expert advice from professional house cleaners on the most effective methods for maintaining a tidy household.


Keep your home clutter-free

“To maximize space in your living area, embrace a regular decluttering routine to keep unnecessary items at bay,” suggests Comforts Cleaning Services in Chula Vista, CA. “Utilize vertical storage solutions like shelves or wall-mounted organizers to free up floor space or incorporate multifunctional furniture pieces such as ottomans with hidden storage or sofa beds to optimize functionality without sacrificing space.”


Set a monthly cleaning schedule

“Integrate both cleaning and decluttering into your regular routine,” advises Poiette Noel, Owner/Executive Manager at No More Dust Maid Services in Baltimore, MD. “Start by setting a monthly schedule to sort through and remove items that are no longer needed or used. As you declutter, clean the newly freed-up spaces before rearranging remaining items, which can often uncover additional storage opportunities. Regularly cleaning and decluttering not only maintains a tidy environment but also enhances the perception of space, making your living area feel larger and more organized.”

A lady organizing her calendar.

15. Enhance the perception of space with the use of mirrors

It’s no secret that mirrors are versatile and practical decor elements that not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of a space but also serve functional purposes. Sarah Chapman, owner and designer of Sarah Lorraine Interiors, explains how mirrors also serve as versatile additions to small rooms.


“Mirrors are a powerful tool for enhancing the perception of space and brightness in small rooms,” shares Chapman. “Strategically placing mirrors across from windows allows them to capture and reflect natural light, effectively brightening up the space. This reflection creates an illusion of depth and openness, making the room appear larger and airier than it actually is. Additionally, mirrors can be used to reflect other sources of light, such as lamps or overhead fixtures, further amplifying the brightness in the room. Choosing mirrors with decorative frames or unique shapes can also add visual interest and style to the space while serving their practical purpose of expanding and illuminating the room.”


14. Create ambiance with strategic lighting choices

Jenny Neilson, principal designer at Neilson Design Studio, underscores the significance of strategic lighting in creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

“Soft, intimate lighting, like lamps, cultivates a cozy space, in stark contrast to harsh overhead lighting's impersonal glare,” explains Neilson. “Wall sconces and directional spotlights further enhance the atmosphere and visually expand the space, especially when paired with light-colored walls. These fixtures offer versatility, providing targeted illumination for tasks and highlighting focal points such as artwork or architectural features. By strategically placing lighting fixtures and avoiding harsh overhead lighting, you can create a welcoming environment that feels both comfortable and visually spacious.”


16. Use area rugs to define visual boundaries

“It's counterintuitive, but an appropriately scaled rug will pull your focus outward, away from individual pieces of furniture, creating a sense of expansiveness,” explains Naomi McCormick,  Principal Designer at Naomi McCormick Design serving Philadelphia and New Jersey. “They're also incredibly useful for breaking up an open, multi-purpose space because they help to visually anchor separate areas within the space. Another bonus: They're one of the best ways to embrace and amplify the coziness of a smaller space by incorporating added color and texture.”

A minimalist living room.

17. Don’t forget about corner space

With thoughtful design choices, corners can transform from overlooked areas into useful space, contributing to a more functional and visually pleasing room. Spector Furniture in Ansonia, CT, highlights the importance of utilizing corners effectively.


"Corners often remain underutilized in rooms, presenting untapped potential for maximizing space efficiency," explains Spector Furniture. "By strategically incorporating corner furniture pieces such as entertainment units and curios, you can fully utilize this valuable space while adding both functionality and visual interest to your room. 


Space-saving solutions and storage ideas: final thoughts

Navigating the challenges of small living spaces requires a combination of creativity, resourcefulness, and practicality. By implementing these tips and strategies, you can transform your space into a functional, inviting home that enhances both comfort and quality of life.


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