Maximize Bare-Minimum Space

My grown-up apartment hunt extravaganza has taught me a thing or two about small spaces. It’s inevitable that you’ll live in a tiny apartment at some point (usually straight out of college), but that’s nothing to be afraid of. Whether you’re cramped on campus or searching for small places to claim as your own, here are some tips and tricks to maximize that bare-minimum space.

Downsize, for starters

Before you pack up a bunch of books and sweaters and other potpourri that you’ll never touch and lug it across the country, go through all of your items and sell, toss, or donate what you don’t want or don’t use. I’d suggest starting the process a month before the move, if possible, so you can get a better sense of what items you’ll actually use on a daily or weekly basis. For example, if you wear a pair of shoes, keep it near the front of the closet. Any pair that doesn’t get worn will collect at the back. Those are the ones you should feel comfortable donating or selling. Don’t be afraid to repurpose items, though—if your favorite T doesn’t fit anymore, fashion it into a cute tote. There are plenty of other methods for downsizing, most notably the KonMari method (as seen in the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo).

Invest in multi-purpose furniture

My family is huge on cedar chests. They’re decorated to look like typical drawers, but the lid is the only thing that lifts, revealing a hollow center. One of the chests in my parents’ house is used to store beach towels and other seasonal items. For my apartment, I’ll be using the same type of chest to hold towels, blankets, and linens, since closet space is limited. You can decorate the top of the chest with different items, especially because it won’t be open and closed every day. You could throw some stuffed animals or candles or books on there and call it a day. Or, if you’re over 50, try a dust runner or doily.

Use shelves for more than books

Subreddits like r/shelfporn have been a huge inspiration for me. Though I’m a bit of a bookworm and have over a hundred books to take with me to my new place, I’ve also got plenty of dorky trinkets to include in the mix, like video game figurines and colorful paperweights. To maximize space and create a cool conversation piece, I recommend combining books and trinkets onto bookshelves. Plenty of people already do this, so I may be preaching to the choir, but it looks so cool to stare at a shelf and see classic American lit sharing space with boxed RWBY vinyl figures. And, if there’s space on top of the shelf, you can put carnival glass or other cool décor up there.

Get a high bed

E-town students often loft their beds the whole way up and shove half their belongings under them. And while that seems like a typical college move, it’s actually got some kernels of reliability. There are beds with built-in drawers underneath, as well as beds that have high legs. You can even purchase lofting blocks to bring your bed up all the way. Another option, if you’re feeling adventurous, is to look for a bed-desk combo, where the bed is up high and below it, beside the ladder, is a desk. Of course, you don’t need a super high bed for plastic containers to fit underneath, but sometimes it’s fun to monkey around and climb.