I live in a small duplex with one closet, a tiny pantry, and four cabinets. I’m also a bit of a hoarder, so finding storage solutions has been a challenge. At first, I piled stuff behind doors, in bins, and anywhere else I could hide it. But that isn’t practical long-term, so I had to find better solutions – and cheap ones at that. After all, I’m a renter. I don’t want to buy a bunch of high-priced organizational tools I won’t be able to use once I move.
Fortunately, there are a number of affordable storage and organizational tips that can be utilized to save a great deal of space, and make a small rental unit feel much larger and more comfortable:
How to Organize a Small Apartment
1. DIY Shelves
My closet came with one shelf and several feet of open space. I added a second shelf by cutting a 2×4 the size of the first shelf and stacking the board on top of a few paving stones. It doesn’t look perfect, but I paid less than $10 for all the supplies.
2. Over-the-Door Shoe Racks
I paid a little less than $15 for a shoe rack that fits over my closet door. The rack has six rows with four pockets each. I’ve divided the six rows into sections, and I use each section to hold something different. For example, the top row has scarves, the second row has hats, and a few other rows hold flip-flops, shoes, and other accessories.
3. Create Storage Under the Bed
I can’t fit everything I own in my tiny closet. So instead, I keep seasonal items in my closet, and out-of-season items are stored in suitcases under my bed. At first, I considered buying plastic bins designed for under-the-bed storage, but it’s free to use what I already have on hand, and it’s a better use of space than having my suitcases sit empty.
4. Wall Storage
My kitchen only has a couple of drawers, and I have those filled with bigger items like dishes. I store pot holders, kitchen towels, and some utensils on the wall using 3M Command Hooks (a pack of six medium hooks costs less than $10). I have six lined above my stove, which keeps items out of the way, but accessible when I need them. Another option is to make a DIY hanging pot rack.
5. High Placed Storage
When most people organize a room like the kitchen, they look eye level or below, and so tend to store everything in lower cabinets and drawers. But to maximize your storage space, you need to store things higher up as well – like on top of the cabinets. I stack small kitchen appliances and other accessories I don’t use much on top of my cabinets and on the top of my refrigerator.
6. Cleaning Product Totes
The cabinet beneath my kitchen sink is too small to hold a large plastic cleaning case. Instead, I use small reusable shopping bags to organize and store different supplies. For example, I have small items such as extra sponges and cleaning brushes in one tote. In the other totes, I divided the cleaning products according to the room they’re most used in. This way, I can just grab the tote and head to the room. It saves me time and space.
7. Repurposed Storage Racks
Most bathrooms don’t have enough storage. You could buy a storage cabinet designed for the bathroom (which may cost upwards of $100), but you could also use something else much cheaper to hold your toiletries. For example, I found a three-tiered steel plant stand at a garage sale for $5. I use it in my bathroom to hold my hair dryer and some cosmetics. Just about anything will work as long as it has shelves and will fit in the bathroom.
8. DIY Jewelry Hanger
I do not have enough countertop space in my bathroom to store jewelry and accessories, so I built my own wall storage out of a cork board. I purchased a small framed cork board for $6 and a few decorative push pins for about $5. I painted the frame to match my bathroom decor and hung it on the wall. The decorative pins hold the accessories in place, and it frees up a great deal of space on my countertop.
9. Interior Door Storage
Thanks to a few pieces of PVC pipe, purchased for only $6, I can store my hair care tools against my cabinet doors. I purchased three small pieces of PVC pipe and pipe caps, and added a cap to one end of each piece of PVC pipe. Then, I attached each PVC pipe to the cabinet door with removable putty, and once attached, I used each piece of PVC pipe to hold a different hair care tool: a hair dryer, a curling iron, and a hair straightener. The cylindrical shape is good for holding the tools, and the PVC pipe protects the cabinet door against damage.
Organizing a small space doesn’t have to be impossible or expensive. While you can buy professional-looking organizational tools, or even have a professional come install them in your closet, you can save a lot of money by making your own storage out of items you already have or can buy cheaply. I paid less than $65 to organize every room in my small duplex, and now, everything I own has its own place. This makes my current living space much more pleasant, and will make moving much easier in the future.
Have you found any other good ways to add storage to your small space at home?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)