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Six Strategies for Living Large in Small Spaces

At a recent gathering of women, I overheard a conversation that is becoming all too familiar in our social circles. The conversation went like this: “We don’t have enough space” and, “We need to buy a bigger place because we are squished in our home and the kids’ junk just seems to be multiplying.”

Truthfully, in Canada, we have abundant living space per family compared to other developed countries. The reality is we just aren’t using the space we have uniquely and efficiently.With a commitment to declutter and re-organize, even a 1,000-square-foot condo can feel gracious and spacious. Here’s how!

First, think vertically. Many European designers utilize a floor-to-ceiling concept in both décor and storage, creating more floor space. For example, use a bookcase to store more than just books. There are many attractive storage boxes on the market that fit most standard shelving, which can take your mundane bookcase to efficient and fabulous. Moreover, installing additional shelving in any closet keeps items off the floor and easy to locate creating more ‘room’ we all desire in our closets.

Second, think multi-functional next time you are furniture-shopping. Need a coffee table? Buy a storage ottoman instead. These ottomans keep magazines, remotes and toys out of sight, while providing a place to put your feet up and have a cup of tea. Also, consider installing a window seat. It is a great place to enjoy a good book, while storing everything and anything out of sight. A child’s room window seat is a home for dress-up clothes, books and toys using an open cubby concept. In a family room, a window seat can be constructed with drawers useful for electronics, games and even drop-files. Other multi-functional furniture pieces include futons, nesting tables and armoires.

Third, create double-duty areas in your home. These are areas that are made for one purpose, but can be used for several things. For example, put the family ‘communication centre’ in the kitchen. Gather the necessary supplies for a homework centre in a lower kitchen cabinet. Create a small home office in the family room so that you can keep one eye on the kids while you work on the computer. If you keep these spaces neat and tidy, they add to your décor concept instead of looking misplaced.

Fourth, give your builder-made closet a makeover.
With a little help from a hardware store, a few baskets and a hanging sweater organizer, you can create three times the useable storage space in standard size closets. Not handy with a drill? Suspend a simple wood rod from your existing closet rack to create double the hanging room.

Fifth, think outside of the closet! There are many hidden spaces waiting to be used in an efficient way in your home. For instance, the back of a door has many uses; in the bedroom, hang a shoe rack, hooks and even your hamper; in the pantry, hang a chalkboard, lid rack for pots or a wire rack for spices. Also, evict the monsters and dust-bunnies from underneath your beds and use that space for out-of-season clothing, a gift-wrapping station, school papers and projects. In addition, use every inch of space in drawers by installing drawer dividers and cupboard inserts readily available even at your local dollar store!

The sixth, last and most important strategy to creating more space… go through your possessions and keep only what you use and what you love. Sell, donate or get rid of everything else. You’ll be amazed at how much space you have after a relentless possession purge! Then, find homes for the remaining items and keep those items ‘at home’ when not in use. Don’t think you’ll be able to do this step alone? Call a friend or a professional organizer to keep you focused and honest!

The result of these strategies? You’ll have a home that is gracious, spacious and free of clutter. And, you’ll save tons of money by not moving into a bigger home!

Sylvia is the owner of Niche Designs Inc., a company focused on creating streamlined homes and small businesses, providing organizing solutions to fit your needs and your budget with consistent support every step of the way. Visit for access to free ‘Sorting Secrets’ and learn how you can stay on top of everything.


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