Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The challenges of a small space

I love my condo- don't get me wrong. I signed on the dotted line on 09/09/09 and I never looked back (ok truthfully, I spent about 2 weeks freaking out, but then i never looked back). There are so many things I love- the location downtown but still close to harbourfront and parks, the relatively private view from my windows, insuite laundry, the full size appliances, the hardwood floors...I could go on and on.

But living in a bachelor apartment is CHALLENGING. There is no sugar coating it. I am super lucky to be able to fit in separate living, dining, and bedroom spaces- but I am seriously lacking in closets! I only have one small front hall closet. That's it. So I have to use an armoire and a small dresser for clothes. For years I stored pajamas and unmentionables in my TV stand. As of today, they have moved to a dresser, but I still store bathing suits and undergarmets under my bed (TMI, perhaps- haha).

I also do not have a lot of cupboard space. There are two full cupboards, one small one, and then one over the microwave and the fridge. So sometimes I store pasta in my fridge and I'm fine with that. It is pretty funny when guests find out my liquor collection lives in the fridge!

And you know something else- I have no cutlery drawers! No one ever says "when hunting for a home, make sure it has cutlery drawers". You don't notice until you go to unpack and go "ooooh fudgesicles". By some stroke of luck, I owned a cutlery set that hangs from a stand (my brother would like to point out that he bought me it, but it was a stroke of luck that he bought me one on a stand!). And the previous owner installed a hanging system for cooking utensils.

So here is what I have learned about small space living:
1. Furniture must do double duty
My dining table folds into seating for 6, but when not entertaining it folds to a 2 seater or down to a side table. It also has drawers for storage. My ottoman/coffee table/bench has storage and provides extra seating when guests come over. My bedside table is made of my boot storage boxes for when I pack them up for the summer.

2. Don't be afraid to use items for other than their intended purpose
Who says you can't put pajamas in your TV stand, or booze in your fridge? Don't be afraid to think outside of the box when you need an item to fit a unique need or space.

3. Be aware of what you truly need.
I constantly purge my closet to save on space. If I haven't worn it in months, or if I have similar items I am more likely to use, I donate. I also spend a long time deciding when to bring a new item into the house. It needs to serve a purpose in my life before I clutter my place with it (and yes, sometimes "being pretty to look at" is a purpose, but try to limit it).

4. Invest in closed storage
I love open storage and I hope to install some open shelving for books and knick knacks, but closed storage hides clutter best and this will help make your space look bigger. When you do have "stuff" out try to make it look very nice and orderly.

5. Keep it light
When I first moved in, the place came with a giant red TV stand with a built in red shelving unit. I kept it for a long time, but eventually I got sick of the red. I invested in white furniture and white bedding and now my place looks very airy and open! I know white isn't for everyone, but I don't eat in bed and I don't have kids running around with markers so it is very easy to keep clean. I like to put in pops of colour in accent pieces to bring personality to the space.

6. Put up art!
By inserting a bit of "you" in a space through art, design, pillows, knick knacks, whatever. When people have beautiful things to look at, they see less of a "tiny condo" and more of a "beautiful room".

There are so many more tips, but I find these are my top recommendations for anyone living in, or thinking of living in, a small space. You would be surprised how few things, and how little space, you need to live comfortably and stylishly!


  1. So true. I don't think I've quite got the hang of #3 yet. I'm trying though! The books are the hardest for the BF and I. As english Majors we both really have to decide what to keep and what to purge because we can't bring more in if our shelves are full.

    I think maybe a buy one donate one policy should be in effect for us.

    1. There are lots of beautiful book storage display designs online- perhaps you can turn it into less "bookcase" and more "functional art"? :)

      I only keep the books I love and will read again, but I know not everyone can do that!!

  2. I think I'm too much of a hermit to go with the light colors.


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