The incredible variety of things we are tempted to buy and own does not make it surprising that even people living in large houses may lack space to accommodate everything they would like to keep.
With small apartments and rentals, figuring out your storage options involves a more complicated proportioning: how much space you need to move around vs. how many things you own and use most often.
This may seem a challenge, but there are ways to maximize a small space or add character to your storage without some serious woodwork or buying anything expensive.
1. Crates and pallets
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind in the context of rented spaces or tight budgets. Crates and pallets are like queens and kings of DIY storage world, greatly honored by frugal crafters and renters, displayed in many magazines and online articles. It seems they are everywhere.
The road of crates and pallets is so often traveled for a reason – they are cheap or even free. You can paint and decorate them or skip that part, and in case you do not like the result of your experiments or simply have to move out, you may get rid of them with no regrets.
There are many really neat ideas of what you can do with wooden boxes, crates, and pallets – whether you prefer a rustic or a more sophisticated and stylish look – to make your space more functional on a dime. However, if you think you are tired of seeing these everywhere, or for some other reason they seem nothing more than an eyesore, you will have to get more creative.
2. Ladder storage
Actually, even if you think crates and pallets are genius, take a look at ladders that come close – or even prove to be more functional. Whether store bought or thrift and rustic-looking, ladders make great storage for blankets and throws, clothes and even shoes.
This is also a very convenient option when you can’t make holes in the walls. It works for places without closets and for these awkward corners or narrow spaces that can’t fit in anything else and so are difficult to make any use of.
However, ladders combined with shelves take this to another level, resulting in storage solutions that are functional and stylish, multitasking as closets, room dividers, shelving units, and even mini offices or work areas – without you having to buy some piece of furniture.
3. Shutters and shelves
Repurposed shutters or old shutter style closet doors can be turned into coat racks, cabinets, book stands, headboards, tables, photo displays, bulletin boards and even kitchen islands.
Since that is the kind of material that is cheap or free, it sounds like an easy answer to the typical renter’s or student’s dilemma: limited space and limited budget. Plus, different things made from shutters can pull together the look of the room and make it more personal.
4. Tables and suitcases
While a DIY kitchen island certainly seems great and may be a part of your dream home, if you are living in a small apartment you are more likely to wonder where to fit a table in your tiny kitchen.
Maybe a desk somewhere for a small, but functional hobby/work area would be awesome, but space is too limited? Or would you love just anything in the entryway to drop your bag and keys off when you come home?
Tables cut in half or fashioned out of something smaller than a regular table or desk size (like a wooden box or an old suitcase) are convenient DIY alternatives that work in spaces so tight or narrow you would think nothing can be squeezed in there.
Sections of tables placed on top of each other make great customized storage units that will not cost you a fortune but look even more stylish than something money could buy.
We have all been there at some point, using chairs as clothing racks for lack of something more appropriate or whenever feeling too tired. That is not convenient if someone needs to sit on that chair as well, but if you have got one to spare (or one that’s no good for its primary purpose anymore), putting it up on the wall can make a big difference.
If you like the look of vintage wood in your home, it is a perfect way of upcycling an old chair (or a part of it), but if that is not your thing, you can use modern-looking chairs that are still in a good condition – simply as creative elements to give your apartment a unique and personalized style.
6. Vertical space
The great-grandmother of thousands of awesome space-saving ideas proudly bears this family name: vertical space. That’s why professional designers say that the greatest hack to organizing small closets and apartments is making the most of that underused space above and in between things.
However, this does not mean that most of your belongings must live up next to the ceiling so that you have some space below to move around, and that you will always need a ladder or a stepping stool to reach them.
Even the smallest apartment has a considerable potential for storing your daily essentials within convenient range while preventing them from cluttering countertops, dressers, and tables.
There are lots of photos out there of the closet, pantry and cabinet doors seeming to hold more stuff than the shelves, racks, or rods behind them. Have you always been wondering how inconvenient it must be to close such doors, if that’s possible at all? Is it the messy and crammed look of these that makes you cringe?
You do not have to go the route of doors falling off their hinges even if space is very tight. There are neat ways of using doors as storage without adding a lot of weight or overcrowding.
After all, they do not have to hold a lot of different things in order to be your functional and space-saving helpers. In this case, less is more – and your doors may even look better with whatever is placed on them than they would on their own.
8. Spice wine and wine racks
When it comes to makeup, perfumes, crayons, and markers, using spice and wine racks for displaying these vertically is more convenient and better-looking than just letting a bunch of small items flood a shelf, a drawer, or a dresser top.
Rack up even more points when organizing things in every room and corner – wine racks may be used to store shoes, rolled-up towels and sheets, or even clothes that can be rolled up. If you have old CD and DVD racks and towers, these can also be converted to storage that is thrifty and functional.
9. CD and DVD racks
Even if you do not own any of these anymore, you can find them at garage sales and thrift shops. Repurposed CD or DVD racks and towers are great for storing pot and plastic container lids, books, jewelry and a variety of other small items – depending on whether these are placed vertically or horizontally. Such racks can also become sorters for your mail and paperwork or craft supplies.
There is a great variety of DIY hanging bucket organizer ideas, and they look incredibly nice, but making holes in the walls is not always an option. However, buckets are very handy for sorting and organizing a whole host of items that would otherwise end in a huge mess or tangle.
Whether you have limited drawer space or no furniture at all, or whether your roommates dump their things where they please or your kids scatter toys everywhere – buckets can save the situation. They can also be painted or decorated for a frugal yet stylish way to organize while adding color and creativity as well.
The good news is that functional and inexpensive storage ideas for small spaces do exist – and they can also fill a home with personality and style. A small area to work with really forces you to be creative if you do not want it to become a junk drawer equivalent where you can never find what you need. Many DIY ideas are totally worth the effort even if you can afford some standard organizing options, as they make your space more personal and unique.