Make the Most of Your Small Space with Double Duty Furnishings

By Monica Ricci,

First apartment living usually means your space is at a premium and you share it with others. No matter where you live, taking steps to maximize the space you have makes your life more enjoyable and your digs feel a little less crowded.

I remember moving into my first apartment. What fun it was figuring out how to combine furnishings with my roommates, deciding whose couch we’d use and who had the better glassware. If I were to do it all over again today, I wouldn’t just bring every hand-me-down item I could scrounge from my mom’s basement, regardless whether I liked it or not. Nope, I’d be smarter. I’d take some free stuff from mom but also seek out affordable items I really loved on Craigslist and I’d maximize storage and minimize clutter by using multi-purpose furnishings.

To make the most of common areas such as living rooms, instead of using a standard coffee table, opt for one with drawers or lidded ottomans. They are great for storing things such as games, video games, bed linens and boxed photographs or photo albums, just to name a few.

When I was living in an apartment, we never had the luxury of an extra bedroom for guests. The poor things all had to sleep on the couch, which as I recall wasn’t so comfy, and if there were two people, good luck! These days I’d invest in a nice queen-size futon or pull-out sofa bed to accommodate friends and family. Most of the time they’re couches but when you need an extra bed they’re easy to convert.

As more people become self-employed or tele-commute a few days a week, a dedicated office space at home has become increasingly important. If your apartment doesn’t have an office or a small study, consider hiding a workspace in plain sight. A computer armoire, like the one below, will hold your computer, paper files, office supplies and a few books. It may offer drawer space for other items, too so when it’s open you’ll have everything you need to work. When it’s closed up it’s just a nice piece of furniture.

Computer Armoire

 Computer armoire from Amazon

If you don’t even have space for an armoire, how about a cool wall-mounted fold-out convertible desk? It hangs on the wall and literally folds up when it’s not in use. When open, it takes up just over 5 square feet of floor space. Genius!

Fold down desk closed

Fold Down desk Amazon

 Wall-mounted fold-out convertible desk from Amazon

To beef up storage in an entry foyer or in a wide hallway, consider adding a storage bench. Perfect for storing out-of-season clothing and other items you don’t access frequently, a storage bench can become part of a gallery when you place a few framed photos on top of it and hang a grouping of framed photos to the wall above it.

If you’re on a budget (and these days who isn’t?) seek out furnishings that do double duty at your local thrift store, Goodwill Store, eBay or Craigslist. Buying used is a great way to economize while still getting the multi-functional pieces you need to make the most of the space in your new apartment.

Monica Ricci is the organization expert at, the leading, free and secure service that lets consumers manage all of their bills and accounts in one place online or using top-rated mobile apps. Ricci also founded Catalyst Organizing Solutions in 1998 and has been helping people change their lives ever since. She is the author of Organize Your Office In No Time and was named one of the nation’s “Organizing Elite” by Forbes Magazine. Monica is a Certified Professional Organizer and she sits on the committee that created her industry’s only professional certification program. She is also a winner of her industry’s highest honor, the National Association of Professional Organizers Founders Award.

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