One of the annoying things about living in downtown Baltimore (and in many other large cities) is that you pay money and square footage for good location. I avoid thinking about the $$$ per square foot of space that I pay for because it’s objectively ridiculous. But, it’s cheap, I can walk to work, grocery store, and popular restaurants, and it doesn’t take much to keep it cool or warm, depending on the season.
When you only have a small studio apartment to occupy (think 300-500 square feet), things are going to get cramped and occasionally cluttered. Unfortunately, it’s not like we have the money to go all HGTV on up in there, because that would be a different story. But, the key to thriving in this space (and holding onto the bare bones of your sanity) is figuring out how to use every inch. Granted, I’ve lived in my tiny-ass studio apartment for about six months now and I still haven’t perfected the tiny apartment life, but it’s a work in progress.
First Things First, Assess Your Space
How big is it?
How many of your personal belongings can you get rid of? Get rid of stuff, reassess the remaining stash and your new space, and then get rid of more stuff.
What’s the flooring like (hardwood floors, tile, concrete, linoleum, carpet)?
Not only what is the overall square footage but where does the space exist? Is it in weird nooks of the apartment where nothing can actually be conveniently placed?
Will your couches and tables fit through the doorway? Some older apartments have narrower doorways and you might have to dismantle things to get them in.
The reality is that many twenty-somethings resort to small spaces to save money, avoid roommates, and downsize. As a result there is a plethora of websites that can help you make your tiny space an enjoyable place to live in. Apartment Therapy is my personal fave, because you can find literally anything on this site about a problem you might be facing. Houzz is another home decorating site that has a pretty nice phone app to filter through ideas. As dangerous as this can be for your bank account, Ikea has some really great (relatively inexpensive) items to make small an absolute delight—even just wandering around the store can give you ideas. Some others to check out include: HGTV and Pinterest (obviously), this Brit+Co article, and Buzzfeed.
Make Functional Aesthetically Pleasing
In small spaces you have to make everything count. It’s easy to jump for those ridiculously functional furniture or organization items without considering the effect they’ll have on the atmosphere of your residence. But, don’t underestimate the importance of bringing color and light into your tiny area. If having a slightly less practical item makes you smile every time you walk in the door, then by all means buy it.
Utilize Your Vertical Space
Darlings, above all else utilize your vertical space. You don’t have to be an interior decorator to figure that shit out—just acquire a tape measure and a bubble leveler, and you’ll be golden. That means hanging your bike from those hook things (very technical term, I know) from the ceiling, or mounting floating bookshelves on the walls instead of taking up floorspace with standing bookshelves. Bathroom storage can be the most difficult to navigate (like, seriously, why are they all so weirdly shaped?), so use those little nooks in between your sink and the wall, and the space above your toilet. When you feel like you can’t go any higher, grab a ladder or step stool and keep going.
Make Space For There To Be Space
Attractively organized clutter is an art, but having some clean, empty areas can make your room look bigger. Maybe just having a small table with a picture on it and nothing more, or one wall without anything on it. It’s tempting to try to use every single inch, but that just makes things look cluttered. Also, make the wall art and furniture as coordinated as you can to avoid making your place look like a cluttered, mismatched garage.
Keep The Space Tidy
There is clutter that will inevitably be there, like books, comfy pillows, or coats and bags on a rack. The clutter that you need to avoid are the dirty things, piles of mail, magazines, recycling, or dirty dishes in the sink. Those things can (kind of, not really) be forgiven in larger residences but yours is now a different situation. Time to up the cleaning game, friends.
Finally, make the space your own and don’t let others make you feel weird for living in such a tiny apartment. There’s no shame in living efficiently and saving money, and it can actually be rather cozy and fun.
So tell us, darlings, do you live in a tiny-ass apartment? How do you make it work?
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