Making The Most of Small Spaces

Jun 6

We’ve all seen amazing spacious homes on the internet, on social media, and in magazines. You know, those homes with tons of space to organize everything. Those huge kitchens with tons of cabinets. Bathrooms with beautiful hidden storage. Fully built-out home offices and garages. But the reality is, most of us don’t have that space luxury. Therefore, we have to make the most of those small spaces, nooks and crannies in our humble homes.

Myself, I have a decent sized home (3200 sq ft), but this home was built in 1960. So I’m working with 1960’s storage planning = VERY limited hidden storage and not a lot of built-in storage in the main living areas. Not a problem for me! I take it as a personal challenge to make the most of my little spaces…with a lot of other people (mainly little people) living here. I’ve already done quite a bit to make use of the small spaces in this house…and I’m going to share a lot of photos and a bit of a recap below to inspire you.

Not only have I worked hard at my own home, but I help other people use their small spaces to the max too. Remember Nicole’s living room cabinets?

Before…

After…

We made the most of her little space. There was a huge variety of items she wanted stored away in here, and I made it work. With a beautiful outcome!

If you have small spaces and cabinets, you too can make the most of that bit of real estate and get it organized. I thought I would share some of my own tips, as a professional organizer, for working within a small space. These steps are important before you tackle any organization project, but particularly when you are organizing small spaces….

1. Go through the contents of the space and decide if you really need it. Be brutal – remember this is a small space we’re working with so real estate is at a premium.

2. If you really need it, ask yourself if you really use it. If you don’t use it, let it go. Donate it so that someone else can use it.

3. Once you’ve decided what is staying, measure your shelves / space. Take these measurements with you while you’re shopping for solutions. Whenever I head out to the Container Store or Target to buy solutions, I bring along a measuring tape too.

4. Buy the correct storage solutions! I’ve seen time and again those who were inspired to organize when they found a great product. But that product didn’t fit in the area they were organizing. So it ends up getting used but it still doesn’t work, fit or make sense. When you buy solutions that work for that space and were purchased because they fit into that space….they will work! And you’ll save money too because you won’t end up buying something that eventually gets donated because it didn’t work afterall.

Enough chatter, let’s get to the pictures of small organized spaces here in my own home.

My most recent small space organization project was my coat closet turned wine closet.

Before…

After…

Just because this closet was intended for coats and is technically called a “coat” closet, doesn’t mean you have to use it for coats. Truth is, I never used this closet for coats for a number of reasons…

1. Our huge coat inventory would never fit in this tiny space.

2. I keep coat’s in everyone’s respective closets…which have also been organized in a way to maximize space.

3. This closet backs up to the kitchen, which is very small with limited storage. Made sense to make use of this space to move all of the wine out of the kitchen cabinets.

Don’t ever let the name of a space dictate how you use it. You can own a space and make it your own so that it works hard for you.

Another way to make a small space work hard might seem a bit backwards, but you can remove shelving if necessary. I know, sounds crazy because you want to make the most of your space and shelving definitely helps solve that problem. But in the case of my little coffee bar

That bottom shelf wasn’t working for me because I love my coffee bean container…yet it wouldn’t fit when the shelf was there. I removed the shelf, added a small stand-alone riser for the coffee mugs and that left plenty of room for my beans.

Using vertical space is a must when you have limited real estate to work with. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive either. In my laundry room, there’s a little hanging space created behind the door using just a few pieces of base moulding and hooks…

I use these hooks to hang delicate wet clothing that can’t go through the dryer. I also use it to hold my broom and dustpan, which are used daily around here…

I have big plans to build my own mudroom in the garage, but until that happens I needed a spot for shoes. A small shelf right outside the door to the garage works very well!…

We have a “no shoes on in the house” kind of house. Since we come and go from the garage, the kids know shoes come off here before coming inside and when it’s time to find shoes…we know exactly where they are!

Besides the garage, laundry rooms tend to be the catch-all space in a home. I have a few small cabinets in my laundry room and I’ve made them work hard for me. How? By only having what I absolutely need and use inside…and using the best storage solutions for the space…

Yes, that’s a 3-drawer organizer intended for an office. Works just as well in the laundry room too!

Do you spy silverware organizers here? Those are great for containing any small item…

The inside of cabinets are great for small space storage too!…

I’ve done a lot with the inside of cabinets around here. Like under my kitchen sink

And inside a kitchen cabinet to organize all of those school papers and homework items

There’s no smaller space than under your kitchen sink

Or inside your freezer!

Using the right solutions can make any small space suddenly seem so much bigger!

If you spied those garbage bags on a roll, I shared this easy DIY project that got those bags off the cabinet floor and up on the cabinet wall…

If shelving doesn’t exist, and you don’t have the handyman knack for building it yourself (who does?!), you can buy some great versatile shelving. My favorite shelving option is the Studio Wall Shelf from Pottery Barn…

Not the cheapest option, but I promise you this will last forever! I have owned these 2 black shelves (in my home office) for almost 8 years now. I LOVE this shelf!…

And here’s another one in my bathroom…before…

After…

This shelf uses vertical space and has a lot of surface on each shelf for holding items. It’s wider than similar versions sold at other stores. I’m NOT getting paid by PB to talk about this shelf. Just sharing solutions that actually work…and look good too! This shelf works very well in my office and bathroom because I don’t have already built-in storage. As you can see, my sink has no drawers or cabinets.

My oldest son’s bathroom also doesn’t have built-in storage. I purchased a small free-standing ladder shelf for his space…

Another great little space to take advantage of is under your bed. I shared another easy DIY project for creating rolling baskets that look just as nice as the expensive version sold by Pottery Barn…

I use these to hold my magazine stash. But you can create (or buy) rolling underbed storage for bedding, shoes, out of season clothing and more. It’s a great space to take advantage of!

A new space I recently organized is this little closet just outside the kids bathroom…

It has an odd shape inside because there is a cutout on the right side, but I’ve used this space to the max and it contains a lot of random items, but…it works!…

Some items in here are for the kid’s bathroom, others are for the kitchen….

 

 

 

Everything you see inside this cabinet is a “used” item. Not something simply stored away because I own it. It’s here because it will be used.

A small cabinet at the end of the hallway was recently purged so I thought I would share an update. It’s the cabinet where I keep the kid’s bedding…

Now that winter is over and hot summer temps are here, their bedding changed and some of it was ready to be donated. I sorted through the bedding and put it all away neatly folded and sideways to maximize the space.

I have 2 cabinets that are going to get a serious overhaul in the coming weeks…and each of those will be shared here in detail on the blog. The first one is in my oldest son’s room. His room is the original master bedroom. Behind his door there is this great set of small cabinets…

It’s the perfect spot to get those Lego’s organized…along with a few other things he doesn’t want little bro and sis getting into. Here is how it currently looks, but this is going to change a lot…

And I have a cabinet in the master bathroom that is not being utilized appropriately. Again, this is a project you’ll see up close and personal during the transformation…

One issue for sure is those rolling closet doors. They are very pretty, but they don’t making accessing the closet very easy. I’m thinking bi-fold doors, but I’ll consider a variety of other options. The rolling closet doors came down in my daughter’s room…

They not only kept falling off the track…

They also made it impossible to get to what I wanted inside the closet…or to put away laundry. Down they came! This helped make the small closet overall more functional and useful. I was able to stow away her book shelf inside too!…

When it comes to small spaces, sometimes we have to think outside the box…which can be a very fun, inspiring part of the process!

I hope I’ve inspired you to get your small spaces organized with my tips. Please share your small space organization ideas with all of us in the comments!

Have a great weekend!

(I linked up with Tatertots & Jello)

comments +

  1. Great ideas!! I changed out our coat closet for extra pantry space. It is right by the kitchen, so it works out well. I never understood why they put the coat closet there. I have a question. I don't like shoes in the house either. Most people that I know, don't have a problem with it. But, I was wondering if you ask everyone to take their shoes off. Sometimes we have people over that come with friends and I can't bring myself to ask them to take off their shoes. Do ask everyone to remove their shoes? If so, what do you say??

  2. That's brilliant! I love how you took out the shelf to fit your coffee canister. Thanks for sharing. Hello from Link Party Palooza.

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