10 Ways to Make Space When There Just Isn’t Enough of It

20 Jul

Are you living in a compact space?  Do you want your home to look and feel more open?  Here are some quick tips for increasing the amount of usable and/or visual space in your home…

1-Turn shelves into “drawers”.  Measure the depth, height and width of your shelves and look for some woven or plastic bins just under those measurements. The look is clean, and a bin generally holds more than a shelf.  If you can’t find the perfect measurements, feel free to mix and match.

2-Use fuzzy space-saving hangers. (The Real Simple variety is my favorite.) They really work, and in spite of their narrowness, they won’t stretch the fabric.  A stretched out shoulder “bump” happens when garments slide to one side, leaving all the weight on one corner of the hanger.  Hangers with a no-slip fuzzy texture will not allow sliding, and can often be used vertically, saving even more space. As a bonus, the similarity of the hangers will make your closet look neater.   Avoid the plastic hangers with the evil swiveling tops, commonly used in clothing stores.  The swiveling leads to annoying tangling, not to mention clanking noises.

3-Look for furniture with storage options, like seating benches and ottomans with removable lids.  Consider replacing end tables and night tables with small cabinets or dressers.

4-Use hooks in closets, on the backs of doors and anywhere else you think a hook can work for you.  Some hooks fit over the tops of doors, some require screws, and some stick on with adhesive.  If you want to hang something heavy, screw a hook into wood, not drywall, to prevent damage to the wall.

5-Before you buy, consider whether something you already own can serve the same function!  For example,  a firm ottoman can work as a serving table (and as storage: see #3), a sturdy drinking glass can hold flowers, and a vase can also function as a candle holder.  Some hangers can double as outfit planners, holding scarves, belts, or jewelry.

6-Use more vertical space to preserve horizontal space.  A narrow table lamp with a high shade leaves more usable surface space than a short and broad lamp.  Better yet, use hanging light fixtures suspended with ceiling hooks — you don’t even need an electrician for those!  (Not that there is anything wrong with electricians; I happen to be married to one.)  A loft bed can allow space for a desk underneath. Mounted shelving eliminates the need for bookcases.  A hanging pot rack can open up new cupboard space.

7-Decorate on the floor or walls, instead of furniture surfaces. Vases and candles can cover up a table and leave no room for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, magazines, or mail.  If you have a small sofa, the last thing you want to do is cover it with “accent pillows”, no matter how great they may look on HGTV.  Pillows reduce seating space and will also make a tiny sofa look that much tinier.  If you want to add accents of color to a room, try a bright patterned rug, new curtains, a hanging mobile, or a bold shade of paint.

8-Use under-bed storage.  Some bed frames come with drawers.  If you want to use storage bags under a plain frame, be sure to measure the height of your bed-frame first.  There are bed risers available if you want to increase this space.

9-Use collapsible items.  They do the same work, and they can squeeze into limited storage space.  I have seen collapsible or fold-able dish drainers, vegetable strainers, tables, chairs, storage bins, laundry baskets, hampers…

10-Get creative!  I was looking for a place to hang an over-door shoe hanger in an apartment with no doors, and found it worked well as a “curtain” hanging from the closet rod, with a shelf of shoes fitting nicely behind it. (These are not my shoes.  I own a total of twelve pairs, including my rubber rain boots, so shoe storage is not an issue for me.)

78 Responses to “10 Ways to Make Space When There Just Isn’t Enough of It”

  1. bigsheepcommunications July 20, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Fabulous ideas! Hope HGTV will call you any minute now and offer you your own show : )

    • acleansurface July 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Thanks, but I have stage fright, Big Sheep. No show for me.

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster July 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    This is so perfectly timed! I just bought four pairs of shoes, which was enough to make me realize a shoe rack has gone from “nice-to-have” to “need-to-have.” It’s not just that, either; every surface we have is covered in bills, miscellaneous papers, toys and figurines. I can get by barely noticing these things only so long!

    • acleansurface July 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

      Time to clean some surfaces, Deborah!

      • Deborah the Closet Monster July 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

        I only had a few minutes for shopping this morning, but I picked up a shoe hanger and a small stacker for make-up, hairties and vitamins. Both these small changes make such a difference in how open their relative spaces feel! I’m looking forward to moving further down this path, even if it is going to be a slow journey.

      • Rayme Wells of A Clean Surface July 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm #


  3. donnahuebsch July 21, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    Thanks for the great tips – I was just planning on getting rid of half of everything I own 🙂

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:33 am #

      Ha, well, that works too, but the hard part is deciding WHICH half. Thanks, Donna.

  4. Kathryn McCullough July 21, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Great sugggestions for someone like me, who just happens to have too much stuff. And congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  5. Mikalee Byerman July 21, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Glad to see the feedback about the fuzzy slim hangers — I’ve always been afraid of the shoulder hump!

    Great tips — thank you for sharing…


    • Mikalee Byerman July 21, 2011 at 8:07 am #

      …and congrats on being Freshly Pressed, btw. Always great to see a well-deserving post featured from an awesome blogger…

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      I was afraid of the shoulder hump, too, when I first saw them Mikalee.

  6. georgettesullins July 21, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    You’re definitely right about #5. We need to enter any store with great storage ideas carefully so that we don’t pick up another specialty gadget. A lot of times we already have something at home that does the job. Great ideas.

  7. mellifluousmurmurs July 21, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Great ideas, loved reading..will implement soon 🙂

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:38 am #

      Mellifluousmurmurs! What a great name! Thanks for the comment.

  8. Lonnie July 21, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Thanks, good suggestions especially number !.
    Congrats on the FP!

  9. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 21, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Awesome tips. My wife and I lived in a 500-square-foot place for 2.5 years and one almost as small another two. We learned to be efficient.

  10. abbylorenz July 21, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    thanks for the tips, I’m moving soon and need to organiza a lot of STUFF in a little space.

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Good luck with the move, Abby, it’s always tough. Think before you pack! Consider selling some things and giving other things away to friends.

  11. lakeerie July 21, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Thanks. Picked up a few good ideas. Keep them coming.

  12. tar-buns July 21, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I lived in studio apartments when I lived in Chicago and learned to get very creative with storage and furniture having dual purposes. Still do that but have much more space for ‘things’ to accumulate in an old farm house. But, I’ll never be a hoarder!

    I’ve seen your comments on my sister’s blog, Peg-o-leg. Congrats on FP!

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      Welcome, Tar-buns! Creativity helps when it comes to storage.

  13. amberwrites July 21, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    I just moved into a new apartment, downsizing from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom. I’ve had to find creative ways to store all the stuff we’ve accumulated. So, these are awesome and timely tips for me! Thanks.

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      I’m so glad my post was helpful, Amber. Thanks for the comment.

  14. Van July 21, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    These are great ideas! I definitely need to use some of these tips since I live in such a small apartment. Still haven’t finished unpacking because I don’t know where to put anything.

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Uh oh! I hope you figure it out, Van! Maybe you should check out some of my other posts. =) Thanks for visiting.

  15. preeti18s July 21, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    quite good use of space

  16. Eva McCane July 21, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    i’m a total clean freak and i utilize nearly all of your suggestions. another good idea is buying multi-function furniture. I recently purchased some little ottomans that you can open for storage. I also use a big wooden chest as a coffee table. great for storing blankets, board games, etc. thanks for sharing!

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      My parents have two or three old chests for the same reason, and they look great in the house. Good suggestion. Eva!

  17. sannekurz July 21, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I love the shoe-curtain…good one!

    • acleansurface July 21, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      That is my most recent new idea, Sannekurz. I was proud. =) Thanks for the comment.

  18. chrissie July 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I have to go back to school soon and I need to make a whole lot of nothing into something. This helped a lot! Thanks.

  19. Slightly Bonkers July 22, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Congrats on the FP! Some great ideas here for me! I don’t have a lot of living space. I think I need to print out this post and walk round the house and see what I can apply 🙂

    • acleansurface July 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks for visiting, Slightly Bonkers, and good luck with the implementation!

  20. pegoleg July 22, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Hey, look at you all Freshly Pressed! Congrats!

    I especially like the idea of using shoe-hangers as drapes. Thinking of redoing my living room…

    • acleansurface July 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      Oh, a shoe hanger window treatment would be very fashionable, Peg! =)

  21. Paprika Furstenburg July 22, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    These were great suggestions! They reafffirm my organizational philosophy and now I can prove to my husband that it’s not just me who likes to organize and declutter.

    • acleansurface July 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

      You are not the only one, Paprika! Thanks for visiting.

  22. trialsinfood July 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    great ideas. implementing and upkeep is the hard part!

    • acleansurface July 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      It is definitely a lifestyle that takes some effort, Trialsinfood. Thanks for the comment.

  23. boomblastic July 23, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    great ideas ……

    • acleansurface July 23, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      Thank you, Boomblastic. I’m glad you stopped by. I liked your “fake nature” photo post so much I shared it on Facebook. =)

  24. pjmgfashionn11 July 24, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    This is brilliant. I loved the converting shelves into drawers idea – so simple!
    Great post, and congratulations on being freshly pressed

  25. Palak Jethwaani July 24, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    it is great…very helpful…thanks

  26. daagelle July 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    You mentioned a lot of great ideas in your post. I especially agree with number five. The second is quite original!

  27. Candice July 25, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Informative posts about home decor,thank you for sharing!

  28. Amber's Attic July 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    I, too, love space saving ideas! Thanks for sharing!!

  29. kat July 27, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    Oh wow, such great tips! I always use those plastic hangers with the swivel top, but do the other ones really save more space? I know for sure they’re more expensive lol. Thanks for sharing! I’m new to blogging here and I just love how supportive and creative everyone is! If you have time, could you please check out my blog? http://shecooksandheeats.wordpress.com/ I would love some advice and feedback, and how to get more exposure 🙂

  30. Eric Gouge July 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Good stuff I think I know some people that need to read this lol.

  31. DIGI5 July 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    great ideas!

  32. Kim P. July 28, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Wow! You’ve given me so many great ideas with this post–I love it! I always have a terrible time storing clothes–though like you, shoes are no problem for me. My 10 pairs fit neatly in my tiny closet 🙂 I think I’ll share it…

  33. suzannebrandsen August 1, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Good advice! Just stumbled on your blog while searching wordpress for “home” & came away ready to clean house. 🙂

    Thanks for the tips!

  34. Vasare August 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    great ideas tho don’t think its possible for me to fit all my clothes even using these techniques! hehe

  35. eagleidahohomes August 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    This is a great post! Wonderful ideas for making the most of the room you have available – I particularly like the idea with the hangers (a much more low cost solution than buying those closet organizer things!).

    Warm Regards,
    Eagle Idaho Homes

  36. Nibby August 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    These are great solutions! I’ve found using jars for my cotton balls, q-tips, and bath salts function as saving space and creating a cute set up for bathroom decoration!

  37. Ali August 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Great Tips!

  38. realanonymousgirl2011 August 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! You look pretty organized.

  39. RedwoodPropertyManagement June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Great tips for saving space! Thanks for sharing.

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