5 Tips for Living in an Apartment That Is Undersized

Dreaming about new apartment. Cheerful young woman smiling while sitting on the floor against white background with drawn home interior

If you think your apartments are getting smaller with time, you might be right.

In 2018, the average size of new apartments was 5% smaller than ten years ago, averaging about 941 square feet. Still, that’s smaller than the average, which is 882 square feet. Studio apartments have shrunk even more—some by up to 10 percent.

Crazily enough, rent prices have only spiked, with the average rent payment growing by 28% over the same time period!

Living in an apartment comes with certain luxuries, but space isn’t always one of them. That fact forces tenants to prioritize smart storage solutions within their space, as well as choosing items that can double their value by serving multiple purposes.

If maximizing your space is something you’re interested in, keep reading. We offer a few tips and storage hacks that’ll make your apartment experience more comfortable and, well, roomy.

1. Choose Multipurpose Items When Possible

One of the absolute best things you can do when living in a tiny apartment is to choose items that have more than one use.

For example, you wouldn’t want to buy an end table that serves as just that—a space to hold a lamp, a book, and little else. Rather, you could choose an end table that’s got small drawers incorporated, allowing you to both store things within it and set things on top of it. Using this mindset, shop for utilitarian items that serve several purposes.

Other multiuse pieces of furniture include:

  • Coffee tables that function as storage spaces, too
  • Loveseats, futons, or couches that double as pull-out beds for guests
  • Floor lamps that have shelves, for things like books
  • Storage ottomans that double as seats
  • Tables with leaves

The idea here is to use as many items as possible for more than one task.

Similarly, you can use the underneath of your bed for extra storage—more on that below.

2. Try Unconventional Storage Areas to Maximize Space

Does your apartment lack adequate storage solutions?

If so, it’s time to get creative and incorporate storage areas of your own.

The bed is worth mentioning first, as it can provide a ton of under-bed storage, depending. If you haven’t bought a bed yet, you can shop for options that have under-bed storage already included in the form of drawers. If you’ve already got a bed, but it sits low to the ground, consider lifting it by placing sturdy, durable blocks under each corner.

Then, you can buy fitted containers and store things underneath—such as extra linens or blankets; winter-weather clothes; and other non-essential daily items.

Other ways to maximize space include using your doors and the walls for storage. We touch more on that later.

3. Avoid Buying Duplicate Items

When you’re living in a tiny space, having redundant items may do more harm than good.

Buying in bulk is a great idea—if you’ve got the space for it. If not, however, it’s crucial to stay organized and only have what you need on-hand.

This step can be as simple as making a grocery list before you head to the store so as not to buy duplicate items and hassle with storing them upon returning home.

4. Use Smart Containers to Improve Organization

Mismatched containers—you’re not stuck with them. You can transfer items into other containers that make organizing a breeze.

Let’s consider this idea in your kitchen. When you come home from the grocery store, you’ve got long boxes, short boxes, bags, various-sized jars—the list goes on! If possible, consider transferring these items to other containers that could save you a lot of space in the kitchen.

Buy stackable containers, like Pyrex, that can sit on top of one another when not in use (saving you space that mismatched containers just don’t grant). When in use, they continue to be stackable, allowing you to designate space better in your fridge or cupboard. Clear containers also allow you to see everything better, making it easier to cook every meal.

5. Utilize Your Walls and Vertical Spaces

Let’s talk about the makings of a city: when contractors run out of horizontal space, they start thinking vertically. That’s why many congested downtown areas have skyscrapers—because builders are making use of that long space. There’s simply no ground space for more buildings, but there’s air space for more floors.

Take this idea and apply it to your undersized apartment. How can you get things off the floors—and onto the walls?

Here are a few examples:

  • Place shoes in a hanging rack on the back of a door, rather than on the floor or a shoe rack on the floor
  • Use hooks to hang jewelry, forgoing a jewelry box on your minimal counter space
  • Consider multiuse items, like a hanging basket for mail with hooks on the bottom for keys
  • Place backpack/purse hooks near the front door to keep bags off the ground or countertops
  • Utilize hooks within cabinets to keep things organized, in view, and untangled (think: hair straightener in the bathroom)

The moral of the story? Hooks are your friends, and so is back-of-the-door storage. Run with this idea in any way that suits your style.

When Living in an Apartment, Less Is More

Apartment living isn’t always a spacious situation—but if you use these tricks, you can make it look and feel roomier. 

Luckily for you, you’re not the first renter of an undersized apartment. Because of that, several tenants before you have used smart and unconventional storage techniques to make living in an apartment as comfortable as possible. Take their advice—and ours—to maximize your space, get rid of the clutter, and become more organized.

For all things home and real estate, keep scrolling our page. We’ve got tons of fun and useful advice like this!