Living in a small house or apartment can sometimes feel stifling.
For many people looking to rent or buy apartment units and small houses, space is a luxury that cannot be afforded. But learning to live with less space can help people on lower incomes save money on rent and mortgage payments over time.
The number of people living in urban areas — where there is a higher density of small, confined housing — is rising. According to UN data, in 2018 55% of the world’s population lived in cities. This is projected to increase to 68% by 2050.
Particularly in the central areas of world cities like New York and London, where the cost of property development is at its highest, housing can be very cramped. Homeowners have their work cut out to repel feelings of claustrophobia.
Luckily, there are a number of inventive ways to make the most of the limited space you have. Apply these ten tips and be amazed at how expansive your living space can become.
1. Clear out unnecessary items
Having a clear-out is the first place to start in freeing up space. When you look around your room, kitchen, or living area, consider which items you actually need.
If you haven’t used it in the last six months, the chances are it can go. Scrap any duplicates lying around. Do you really need two airers? Or two carving knives?
2. Use vertical space
The further up from the floor you go, the more free space becomes available. With the exception of bookshelves and mounted shelves, vertical space in your home is probably largely unoccupied.
Of course, gravity stops us from filling vertical space to the brim. But by stacking things on top of each other, you can maximise storage space and free up other more valuable gaps elsewhere.
Make the most of any space above cabinets in the kitchen and place shelving units on top of each other for some easy fixes.
3. Use foldable furniture
Investing in foldable furniture is a great way to free up extra space when you have visitors.
You’re probably most familiar with couches that double up as beds, but the foldable furniture scene is expanding rapidly and developing lots of new ways to save space. Foldable tables, chairs, desks, shelving units, and even kitchen islands are all options.
4. Maximise natural lighting
Let as much natural light flood into your home as possible. This will illuminate your rooms, giving the impression of more space.
5. Paint your walls with light colours
Following on from the previous point, this is another way to get the most out of your small flat or apartment. Light walls are just one of many visual tricks you can use to give the illusion of more space.
6. Go paperless
Gone are the days when we needed a large filing cabinet in our homes to store reams and reams of documents. The growth of digital technology means that you can now transfer many of your important files onto a computer.
Of course, there will still be some documents you need to keep in physical form, but this is another way to clear some extra space.
7. Opt for minimal decor
When living in a small space, avoid the temptation to over-decorate. Adorning every wall with pictures and paintings will only make the room feel more confined. Instead, hang just two or three statement pieces on the wall. Less is more.
8. Buy multipurpose devices and utensils
Where possible, buy devices that perform multiple functions. Single-purpose items are deadweight.
This might be as simple as an all-in-one opener that can tackle cans and bottles simultaneously or as advanced as a smart TV that can broadcast cable, Youtube, Netflix, and Hulu.
9. Use door hooks
Buying some hooks to attach to your door frames is a cheap way to use vertical space. Using the hooks to hang up outerwear should spare you from needing a coat rack.
10. Mirrors are your friend
Mirrors are effective for two reasons. They trick your eyes into thinking the room is bigger than it really is. They also help to bounce more light around your rooms, which has the same effect.