Blog by Beebe Cline

<< back to article list

Decorate With Intention: Keeping Tidy in Smaller Spaces

Living in a truly small space can be a fun challenge — or just plain frustrating. Each small space is unique, and working out the best solutions can feel like putting together a really complex jigsaw puzzle. Make the most of every inch by sneaking in storage, paring down to the essentials and honing in on what you really love. Be patient with yourself, and know that it takes time to live with a space before you learn what works best for you.

Tidy need not equal minimal.
While there is no getting around the fact that less stuff usually means less mess, that doesn't mean you can't have fun and express your style. A home can feel full, vibrant, colorful and glamorous while still being neat enough for company.

Read on for 13 ideas to help hide clutter and keep your space neat and pretty, no matter the size.
Slim down your technology. Let go of the bulky desktop computer and rely on your laptop; trade in your old stereo for a sleek little iPod dock; mount a slim flat-screen TV on the wall — and watch your space open up.

How Portability Can Make You Happier at Home
Studio dwellers — divide your space wisely to avoid clutter overflow. Separating your bed from the rest of the room (with a partial wall as shown here or with a decorative screen) will remind you to stop tossing things onto your bed. It's worth it to preserve your bed area as a space used solely for rest. Cluttering it up can interfere with sleep.
Know when to conceal and when to reveal. No, we're not talking about fashion, although the same rules apply in this instance. Having too much concealed storage can make a room feel closed off, while having everything out in the open can seem messy. The living room featured here strikes the right balance — a tailored table skirt can hide storage below, while a storage basket stowing magazines is visible beneath the acrylic coffee table.

See the rest of this house
No room for bookcases? Try vertical shelving. If you are a book collector without a place to house all of your favorite tomes, consider switching to one of the vertical shelves on the market now. They take up practically no floor space yet hold tons of books — all while looking fresh and interesting.
Use chic French market baskets anywhere you notice clutter piling up. One on a small side chair (or on the floor) in the bedroom can hold accessories or clothes you need to hang up. Another on the bathroom doorknob can hold extra hand towels or collect laundry for hand washing.
Make wall hooks a staple by every door. Use them at the entrance for coats and bags, in the kitchen for aprons and dish cloths, and in the bathroom for robes and towels.
Keep your counters clean and clear. In a small kitchen, this can make all the difference. Really think about which small appliances you use daily, and put the rest away. In fact, consider whether you can swap out some of your small appliances for even tinier versions — perhaps a French press instead of that giant coffee maker?
Get rid of uni-taskers. Tiny kitchens require ruthless dedication to the multipurpose tool. Any superfluous gadgets and rarely used items do not deserve a place. If you are an avid cook, perhaps try limiting yourself to one boxful of specialty items — remember, every inch is precious, and it's no fun to cook in a seriously cluttered kitchen.
modern kitchen by Iris
by Iris
by Iris
Take advantage of kitchen wall space. Slim shelves and hooks can hold cups and plates, and knives look sleek mounted on a magnetic strip. Just remember that anything in open storage will be on display, so choose your loveliest items to put front and center.
Choose storage pieces whenever possible. Hidden storage is your friend! Ottomans with lift-up lids are perfect for quickly chucking in kids' toys, remote controls and messy piles of magazines. But it doesn't stop there — instead of a side table, choose a cabinet; instead of a plain bench, pick one with under-seat storage. Sneaking in extra pockets of storage here and there throughout your home will add up to a cleaner, tidier space.
Give up wall space to gain major storage. If you are really having a problem keeping things in order, it could be worthwhile to construct a floor-to-ceiling cabinet system. Yes, you will be losing valuable wall space — but having a storage system this vast can feel life-changing.
Embrace fold-up finds for the laundry. If your washer and dryer are on the main floor of your home with little to no storage space around them, you'll have to get creative with your laundry accessories. Try mounting a storage shelf on the back of a door to hold detergents, and look for collapsible drying racks and ironing boards that you can slide in beside your machines.
Figure out which products you love, once and for all. Is your bathroom filled with half-full bottles and tubes you know you will never use? Give yourself permission to let go of the products you tried and didn't like. When you know what you like and use daily, suddenly it will seem easy to fit everything onto a few small shelves — perhaps with a bit of overflow in a pretty lidded basket on the back of the toilet.

Tell us: What's your best tip for living in a small space?