10 ways to make the most of a small space

How a Couple Lives in a 240-square-foot Apartment

Reading My Tea Leaves – By Erin Boyle

By Lylah M. Alphonse

1. Hide your clutter. “In a tiny apartment, an errant hair elastic can feel like it’s encroaching on your living space,” Boyle points out on her blog. “In our case, a simple wine crate tucked under the couch does the trick to keep the peace. No one needs to see the pile of papers tucked messily within.”

The view from the sleeping loft.
The view from the sleeping loft.

2. Go small. A little green can go a long way toward making a home feel fresh and lively, and tiny plants in tiny pots are a great way to do it. Also: Seek out smaller versions of things you use often — like dish-drying racks, bath mats, and other necessities — so you can leave them out in the open (and, if they’re pretty, they can be decorative as well).

3. Be creative about storage. Investing in furniture that doubles as storage is smart, no matter what size your living space. But when it comes to extra-big or extra-bulky items, you really have to think outside the box. When Casey wanted to keep his surfboard in the apartment, the couple stashed it in the bathtub for a while before deciding to prop it artfully in a corner of the living room. (“It’s made to withstand water, right?” Boyle quips.)

The couple's hand-drawn floor plan.
The couple’s hand-drawn floor plan.

4. Buy beautiful versions of everyday items. “In a tiny apartment with limited space, the beauty and utility of even everyday cleaning supplies is important,” Boyle points out. Added bonus: They’re often sturdier and longer-lasting that their flimsy plastic counterparts.

5. Be selective about art. Boyle has hung pretty antique bottles filled with dried flowers off the edge of their sleeping loft in order to liven up a difficult-to-decorate space. Consider taking out only a few gorgeous pictures at a time and rotating your display to keep things interesting.

6. Cut back on garbage. Reducing, reusing, and recycling is a must in small spaces, but those who feel really green can take things a step further by composting. Some cities offer composting services or community gardens that can put your food-related scraps to good use.

The super-clean, compact kitchen below the sleeping loft.
The super-clean, compact kitchen below the sleeping loft.

7. Keep the windows clean. Boyle and Casey have just two windows in their tiny apartment. One is in a hard-to-see spot in the bathroom, but the other is right in the living area, and .keeping the window sparklingly clean turns it into a focal point for the room. The couple also chose not to block off part of the window with an air-conditioning unit, instead relying on a small, retro-looking fan to get through the hot summer months.

8. Put things away right away. A sink full of dishes or a still-not-unpacked suitcase can make any home look cluttered, but when your home is tiny those things also take up precious space.

Two people share this tiny, 240-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Two people share this tiny, 240-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.

9. Limit what you buy. Instead of stocking up at a warehouse store, make your purchases in the bulk-food (that is, non pre-packaged) section of your local grocery store, or remove products from their packaging and pour them into pretty, reusable containers at home. In the bathroom, streamline your beauty routine to just the products you use and love most, and then use them up completely before you buy more.

10. Make the city part of your living space. “Apartments are small. Summers are hot,” Boyle writes on her blog. “Don’t feel the need to stay cramped inside.” She says that she and Casey picnic in public parks and have weekend lunches on the church steps across the street. “We like our tiny apartment,” she writes. “But we’re not crazy.”

Erin Boyle and her fiance, James Casey, share this small bedroom in their small apartment.
Erin Boyle and her fiance, James Casey, share this small bedroom in their small apartment.


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