There’s a good chance that your first apartment will be fairly small. However, some small apartments provide great storage space. My 550-square foot studio apartment has a large outdoor storage closet, an indoor coat closet, a large walk-in closet adjacent to the sleeping area, and a linen shelf (not a closet, but storage space all the same) in the bathroom. Even if you don’t have the storage space I do, you can make the most of the space that you do have by following these steps:
1. Identify all your storage space
Do an inventory of all the potential storage spaces you have in your apartment. Do you have multiple closets? How much room in each? Any extra storage in your bathroom or kitchen cabinets? Any outdoor storage space, such as a balcony or a garage? Determine the space you have to work with.
2. Gather all of the items you wish to store
Assemble everything you want to put in some sort of storage. This may include your clothes from the opposite season (i.e., if you are organizing in June and you live in the northern hemisphere, you probably don’t need your winter coat and cozy sweaters), books you don’t often read, files and papers that you need but rarely reference, holiday/seasonal décor, items that you use occasionally but not on a regular basis (such as luggage). You may want to block out a few hours and physically lay it all out, so you can actually see everything you are working with and determine the most effective ways to store it all.
3. Sort items into groups…and determine the best way to store them
Things that you need easier access to, such as camping gear that you use every weekend, should be in a space that’s easier to access than, say your clothing for the opposite season. This may mean that your camping gear goes directly on a shelf in your closet, while your winter season apparel goes in boxes under your bed.
I have a variety of different backpacks and other gear – a large packing backpack and several smaller packs for day hikes and travel, as well as a climbing harness and other gear that I wanted to be able to access easily – and I found that the best way to organize it all was to purchase an inexpensive clothing rack from Target and hang them. This allows me to store them in a space-efficient manner and be able to access the easily when I need a specific item for my next trip.
4. Get your supplies
You may need to purchase some boxes, crates, totes, or other units in which to store your items. Here are some places I recommend for buying such items without breaking the bank:
Bed Bath & Beyond
The Container Store
5. Put it all together!
Store your items in the appropriate storage containers, and assign the containers to their proper areas.
-Save space by grouping similar items. For example, stack smaller suitcases and bags inside your largest suitcase, Russian doll style.
-Use vacuum space-saver bags (like these or these) to compress any clothing that you store (also, slip a dryer sheet or two into each bag to keep your clothes smelling fresh).
-Labels are your friends! Label all boxes, crates, and other storage units with the items they contain. Then when you are hunting for that certain purse or those Halloween decorations, you don’t need to dig through everything.
-If you want additional under-the-bed storage space, you can get bed lifts to add a few inches.
-Find storage units that can serve multiple purposes. For example, use a trunk as both a coffee table and storage space for extra blankets and linens (for a more budget-friendly alternative, get a large plastic tote and cover with a colorful tablecloth)
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