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.)