Over the holiday weekend, I decided to take some time and rework bits of our apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I love our apartment dearly and still enjoy its petiteness! But there were just a few things that needed some changing—like the cluttered bookshelf under out TV. Seriously. It was such an eye sore that I didn’t even have the heart to take a before picture.
As I reorganized and decorated, I decided to take some notes along the way on decorating a tiny space, especially if there’s two of you in one home.
So if you’re downsizing to a smaller place, or moving out to NYC and joining the rest of us crazies that live in tiny little homes, then here are a few tips when trying to make your apartment feel like a home (without swimming in clutter all the time).
Use bookshelves as walls
Our apartment is split up into sections. We have our kitchen, a hallway that leads into our bathroom (not pictured, sorry, the pink tiles didn’t let me take good photos), and our main room. Our main room is 196 square feet, which compared to some NYC apartments we kind of have it made in my opinion. But since our main room is meant to be our living room, our dining room, our office, and our bedroom, we had to get creative. And that’s where the shelves come in.
We placed two of our shelves (we are using the ones with the square cubbies, great for storage), and had them sit next to each other in the middle of the room. This creates a barrier for a “bedroom” on one side and a living room on the other. Our couch faces the bookshelves, which is great because the second smaller bookshelf has our TV on top.
Create a good ratio of baskets, books, and breathing room on your shelves
When you have a bookshelf and very minimal space, it’s easy to try and stuff as much as you possibly can into that bookshelf. In your head, you’re probably thinking about how you’re saving so much room by taking advantage of your shelf. But, in all honesty, having a cluttered and stuffy bookshelf is just going to make you feel stuffy and cluttered when you’re at home as well. And yes, I’m talking from personal experience…these shelves used to look like an absolute nightmare and made me feel chaotic by simply looking at them.
Since we don’t have a ton of storage space (yes, the space underneath or couch and bed are already taken with bins of storage and instruments we can’t fit right now), I decided buying a few baskets would help to make this place feel organized and cozy again. Inside these baskets, I stored our extra sheets, towels, chargers, movies, placemats, blankets, seasonal decorations, household items (like light bulbs and command strips), games, coffee paraphernalia, envelopes, paper, tape, staplers, tote bags, scarves, hats, gloves, umbrellas…and much more.
After storing stuff in baskets, take time to actually *style* your bookshelves. Get crazy and use an entire cube for just a small knick knack and a plant, have a blanket on one shelf for an easy grab when watching a movie. Even choose some of your favorite looking books to have on display! Give yourself the freedom to create something beautiful that will make you feel all warm and cozy inside when you’re cuddled up at home after a long day.
Countertops aren’t “homes” for your everyday items. Give them a home
Although there is way more about this subject in the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (which you should totally read), I will paraphrase it for you: Give everything a home. This includes your wallet, your keys, your book, your sunglasses, or anything else that you carry with you day-after-day. Trust me, I understand how tempting it is to store something simply on top of a table or a nightstand at the end of the day, but it will make you feel cluttered in the long run. Give your stuff a place to live when you’re home. For example, all of my “everyday” items are either in the top drawer of my nightstand or placed in my dresser (which is in my closet, also not pictured because of #badlighting).
Take advantage of the walls (especially in your kitchen)
Because why wouldn’t you? We don’t have a ton of storage space in our kitchen, so hanging our pots and pans was a huge life saver for us when trying to put away all of our new dishes from the registry. Plus, it gives our kitchen a fun little decoration that is also extremely useful for us – and our cabinets.
But don’t go over board…
As you can see, we don’t have a ton of pictures hanging on our walls in the apartment. We have the large image from our wedding above the couch, a few square images above the table, and a calendar in our entry way. Past that? Not much else! Yes, hanging some photos does make our place feel cozy, but having too much on our walls would just make our place feel smaller. So we try to steer clear of buying any kind of artwork or printing out more photos just yet. To be honest, I kind of like the minimal look with our white walls! It makes our tiny place still feel big and refreshing.
Choose what’s truly important to keep
For me, that’s books. For Oliver, it’s his instruments and sheet music. We don’t just want these things—we need them. Okay, more so him than me since he’s actually in school. But still. I read like crazy, so having a library of books is a necessity for my everyday life. Plus, having a ton of books helps us to create that wall in our apartment.
What I’m trying to say is keep what brings you joy. Again, a paraphrase from Marie Kondo’s book, but it’s true. Prioritize the stuff that gives you life, and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. For example, we have a ton of mugs. But we only use the ones that truly give us joy. Some are in storage, and some we just got rid of.
Now here’s how we set up the rest of our studio! Please keep in mind the fact that our apartment doesn’t get great lighting, so these pictures aren’t 100 percent amazing. But hopefully this will help you when setting up your own place!
I hope you liked getting a peak at our home here in Brooklyn! What else do you want me to show you from our everyday life? Share below!