7 Key Storage Tips for Small Apartments and Homes

The question is, “Can anyone really ever have enough storage?” The answer is “probably”--if you live in a home you had built with your personal storage needs in mind. For the rest of us consider these seven tips:

Organization for small homes


In order to create adequate storage a thorough inventory should be taken. Organize one room at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed by the task. Start small—a junk drawer in the kitchen is a great place to begin. Once you have taken everything out of the drawer, make piles of like items and focus on the space each grouping will need. 

Whether you live in a New York City condo or a small studio apartment in Ohio, purchase, or make drawer dividers using plans from sites like DIY Projects that you can customize for the types of objects that will be going back into the drawer. Remember, it is okay to throw away staplers that haven’t worked in ages and packs of cards with less than a full deck. Never let yourself become a borderline hoarder; not only will you lessen the ability to find items you need but if you declutter you will enjoy a more peaceful space.

Your Extra Stuff

Think of organizing and de-cluttering like taking a shower after a long weekend of camping. It feels so good to get rid of the extra grime. Once you have honestly edited your drawers and closets you may find yourself with piles of stuff you no longer want or need. This is the time for a rummage sale or a donation trip to the neighborhood thrift shop. 

If you have had a full-time job for seven years and you still have outfits from high school--and three sizes ago--it is time to cull. If you find that an object is too sentimental to part with consider keeping a piece of it, perhaps a bit of fabric and a note to yourself tucked inside an envelope as a keepsake. 

For items that are seasonal--like holiday decorations or bulky winter clothing--get clear plastic tubs with sealable lids and find out of the way places to store them. A basement storage locker, a garage or even an off-site storage facility are all good places to keep things you rarely, or only occasionally use. Your parent’s house is NOT the place to store your stuff. (You are welcome, parents!)

Vertical organization

Go Vertical

A small apartment or home may have limited floor space but there is always room for storage. Instead of dressers and tables or other bulky furniture made for storage, go vertical. Install shallow floor to ceiling shelves wherever you can. 

In the living room you can keep your books, accessories, office essentials and more; simply put things in small decorative baskets to reduce visual clutter and everything you need will be within reach. By positioning shelves up to the ceiling, you will increase the space visually. Shelving can be made or purchased in bookcase style or as separate shelves. Places like Ikea or Wayfair have a wide variety of storage products from shelves to baskets. 

Why Containers?

If you take the time to separate your stuff into categories and then place each category in a different bin or basket you will be able to find what you are looking for instantly. For example, if you have no room for a chest of drawers in your bedroom, keep your socks, underwear, tee-shirts and shorts in small plastic bins like those available at places like Target or Walmart and stash the bins in your closet. If you get containers with lids you can even stack them. 

Double Duty Doors

The purpose of a door is, of course to close, but why not give all your doors a second job? Over the door storage is one of the easiest types to install and/or move in a small space. Keep beauty products and rolled washcloths in a clear plastic shoe behind your bathroom door.

Inside kitchen cabinets, try mounting the kind of wire mesh magazine storage racks sold in office stores to hold things like wax paper, plastic wrap and aluminum foil like this:

Small home organization


Many times, a small apartment or home lacks sufficient ceiling lighting and sometimes the existing ceiling fixtures just create the wrong ambience. Rather than use prime real estate for a floor lamp, consider wall mounted lamps, commonly referred to as wall sconces. 

Some wall fixtures mount flush against a wall but others are hinged so that they can either rest against a wall or be moved out for tasks like reading. Check out a ton of choices at Lamp Plus. Warning: you may end up spending the day at this site!

Hard-working Furniture

Furniture placed in small rooms should do more than look cute. Try placing an ottoman in front of your couch that has room for storage inside and a lid that flips over to become a table; that is a hard-working piece of furniture. 

Small sectional sofas with a lift-off sections are an ideal place to keep extra blankets and pillows. If you purchase a wall unit to store your television and music equipment, consider buying one with doors underneath. You can keep games, office supplies, extra platters or even sweatshirts behind those doors. 

A small storage bench, with a cushion on top, placed beside your entry door is not only a seat for putting your shoes on but a place to keep the dog’s leash, a mail basket, and your bag. Add a few decorative hooks or antique doorknobs above the entry bench and your jackets and keys have an instant home.

The basic strategy for creating a lot of storage in a small apartment or home is to find alternate, inventive places to put your belongings. Pay attention to the tips above and you will accomplish just that!


Storage for Small Spaces

Sam Radbil is the content manager and a contributing author at ABODO. Sam previously worked as a content and media specialist at an Austin, Texas software startup. He has a Bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State University and a Master's degree in strategic communication from American University in Washington, D.C.