Everyone who's tiny house-living knows the feeling: You walk in the door after a long day of work, sighing as you see the pile of mail, bills and magazines on your workspace/dining room table; unwashed dishes in the sink and just-dried dishes taking up the 2 feet of counter space; and laundry and other miscellaneous items piling up on the catch-all chair/makeshift couch. This doesn't feel like home; it seems more like a nightmarish box for which you pay steep rent. Whether you live in a small house or apartment by choice or necessity, it can easily seem like you're compromising or limited. But what if some creativity and clever adjustments could leave you feeling like you have everything you need? These space-saving techniques and ideas will make your place more functional, and ultimately, into a space that is home.
Decluttering regularly is one of the simplest and most effective space-saving ideas out there. The buildup can even affect your well-being. The University of Mexico's Catherine Roster and her colleagues published a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology on how clutter impacts a person's perception of home and overall satisfaction. They saw that when clutter "becomes excessive, it can threaten to physically and psychologically entrap a person in dysfunctional home environments which contribute to personal distress and feelings of displacement and alienation." So before you dive into layout and design, start by purging unnecessary items; take a good hard look at which possessions matter, and which no longer "spark joy" (as the now-famous professional tidier Marie Kondo advises). The fewer things you have the larger your space will look -- and the lighter you'll feel. Make it a seasonal routine and you'll have the experience of newness all year round.
Once your bags of donations have been cleared away, think about your intention for your space. How does it need to function -- or do you want it to function -- day to day? Maybe you want some floor space for morning yoga, or you work from home and prefer separation between your sleeping area and office. If you host weekly dinners for friends or are a "Top Chef" contestant in the making, you'd want maximum kitchen space. With your priorities in mind, you can dedicate the greatest amount of square footage to them.
Keep as much floor space open as you can to maximize space in a small home. An easy way to accomplish this is by arranging your furniture against the wall. You can also limit furniture to a few statement pieces that will add depth without overwhelming the space, such as a retro couch or bold light fixture. Fortunately, small-space living has increased so much in recent years that multifunctional furniture is a global trend. The website Vurni highlights "the most stunning, most ingenious, most useful pieces of furniture that are coming out." Featured in the article "30 Multifunctional Furniture Ideas For Small Apartments" is the coffee table by Daniel Pearlman, which sneakily houses an armchair and side table that can be pulled out when company comes over for cocktails or a Monday night "Bachelorette" viewing. Also shown is the Holly & Martin Drop-Leaf Console, a hybrid twist on these two furniture pieces. "When fully extended, the table can comfortably seat six; when folded down, it makes a foot-wide shelf to stand against a wall and use for everyday storage," says Margreet at Vurni. Get creative with your furniture and you'll have more freedom in your space and functionality.
Little prep space in the kitchen can easily suck the joy right out of cooking, but Emily Lee shows on Oprah.com that your kitchen can be transformed so you get the most out of your space whether you're in chef mode or not. To "give your countertops a lift," she insists on installing rods along your backsplash from which you can hang baskets and canisters. This allows you to house daily kitchen essentials while maintaining the counter space beneath them. The sink is valuable kitchen real estate that can be optimized when not in use. Have a custom over-the-sink cutting board built, Lee suggests, which can be stowed away when you need to wash dishes. Every inch of your space matters, and these tricks will keep your culinary inspiration flowing.
When it comes to small-space living, your layout and accessories may not look the way you expected, or hoped. But when you take the time to think creatively and see what's out there, what once seemed like a difficult puzzle can turn out to be a healthy challenge with happy results. There's an abundance of space-saving opportunities out there. Get started today and in no time, there'll be no place like home.