Making the Most of a Small Apartment


Maybe it’s your first apartment out of college, maybe it’s a temporary situation after a messy divorce, maybe you’re a self-diagnosed starving artist—but you find yourself signing the lease to a bachelor pad that is about the size of a minivan.

Looking around your new home with realistic eyes for the first time, you wonder how on earth you are going to fit all your belongings into this shoebox. Between the surfboards, the U-shaped sectional sofa, the artist easels, and the shoe collection that makes Carrie Bradshaw look like an amateur, this is going to be a tight squeeze. God forbid you should have to get rid of your king-sized bed just as you became single again.

Sure, you may have to make some adjustments, especially when downsizing from a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 4-level house with double garage, but with these tips, anyone can make the most of a small apartment.

The Art of Zen

To paraphrase Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “We have more possibilities available in each small apartment than we realize.” In other words, if we truly open our eyes, we will see that there is more space in this 400-square-foot residence than we thought. All you have to do is live like a Zen monk (minus the celibacy, of course; we’re not asking you to perform miracles). Monks have existed for hundreds of years in tiny, dormitory-sized rooms and they are as happy and peaceful as you can be.

Some common Zen-living principles you can start practicing now are: devote time to meditation (when you’re meditating with your eyes closed, you won’t see the clutter around you), serve others (by giving away your DVD collection of Ken Burns’ Entire History of Everything and Everyone In the World), and spend more time in nature (i.e. away from your colossally overstuffed pad). 

All Aboard, Matey!

If you’ve ever spent time on the high seas (or docked at port, for that matter), you’ve probably noticed that all sea-going vessels share one thing: they make the most out of the tiny space they have available. A bed doubles as the kitchen table (often at the same time), shelves reach all the way to the ceiling, and the toilet is in the shower.

To really get into it, you’ll have to think like a captain (and making your friends call you Ahab when they come over won’t hurt). Everything in your small apartment should do double duty. Your bed should fold up into the closet, the Ottoman should store your pillows and linen, pots and pans should hang on the wall, your fruit should hang from the ceiling, and your bookshelves should circumnavigate the upper portion of the walls. You can hang your bathroom toiletries on the back of the door, your shoes on the back of the closet door, and your head in shame. Just kidding. There’s no shame in being a hoarder. 

Self Storage Solutions

If looking at this problem with a new perspective (or being in denial) still isn’t enabling you to live comfortably in your new Japanese-style capsule hotel, the only other option for you is psychotherapy. And while you’re trying to figure out why you are so resistant to letting go of stuff, you may as well put your belongings into storage. Wherever you are, however much stuff you have, for as long as you need it, storage facilities such as Self Storage Finders (shameless plug alert!) will always welcome you with open arms. As far as they’re concerned, the more junk you have, the better!

So you see, your problem is someone else’s solution. And how Zen is that?

Selena Templeton

Selena Templeton is a writer and editor who sees the world through Giggle Glass, a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display plus false nose and mustache. It reveals the absurd, amusing, and inappropriate goings on of daily life and displays it in a lap top-like hands-on format, from which she posts to various blogs such as Self Storage Finders, Romantically Challenged, and As a former professional organizer and a current Virgo, she is a self-diagnosed authority on storage, packing, organizing, and general neat freakishness.

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