Apartment life can come with many perks, like a doorman, pool, and fitness center. Unfortunately, loads of space isn’t often one of them: Even the roomiest New York, NY apartments have their limits. With a little bit of creativity, however, you can make your 500 square feet (or less) seem like a palace.
Here are 10 DIY hacks to maximize your living quarters:
1. Turn to trunks
Vintage suitcases displayed in a corner can pull double duty as storage for sheets and towels if you don’t have a linen closet, says Lisa Zaslow, founder and CEO of Gotham Organizers in New York, NY. A large decorative trunk that doubles as a coffee table can hide a home office too. Store file bins, a box for supplies, and a wireless printer inside, and just pop the top when you’re ready to work. When you’re entertaining, the trunk can be used as a bench for additional seating (just make sure it’s sturdy!).
2. Rethink hanging storage pockets
We’ve all seen those over-the-door organizers that have a million pockets for shoes. But don’t limit their use to footwear. If you rent a townhouse with a garage, use these hanging organizers on the door for holding cleaning bottles or scrub brushes. In smaller rentals, sneak in extra storage by adding a hanging organized on a closet door for stashing small canned foods or spice jars. Cut to size, they can be used on bathroom cabinet doors: They are the perfect size to corral hair dryers, brushes, or curling irons.
3. Maximize your sofa space
“Pull your couch 12 inches from the wall and use the space behind it to store suitcases, sports equipment, holiday decorations, and other infrequently used items that are hogging limited closet space,” says Zaslow. You can also take it a step further and build a slim “table” that covers the stored items behind your sofa, really camouflaging them from full view. An added bonus? You can put drinks on it when there’s no room on your coffee table.
4. Get creative with magnets
For starters, magnetic knife racks can be used beyond knife storage. “In the kitchen, [a magnetic knife rack] can hold measuring cups and spoons,” says Zaslow. “In the bathroom, it keeps tweezers, nail clippers, scissors, and bobby pins and barrettes handy. In a home office, it works to hold pens, scissors, clips. In a kid’s room, it can hold small cars and trucks.” For more magnificent magnet tricks, use a single magnet to attach a small item that’s easily misplaced (like tweezers) to the inside of your medicine cabinet.
5. Hang temporary curtains
Landlords usually discourage tenants from hanging curtains, since the rod holders need to be secured into the wall with anchors, and the holes left behind can be unsightly. Circumvent this problem by using large adhesive hooks and setting the rod into the hook. Just make sure your curtains are somewhat lightweight (think sheers or linen panels).
6. Invest in binder clips
That’s right, binder clips. These gems have unlimited uses. When clipped to the edge of a desk, they can keep computer cords in place. In the fridge, they can keep bottles in a perfect pyramid. Or they can be used to secure your duvet corner to the duvet cover. The list goes on.
7. Use tension rods to increase your storage space
Apartments can be limited when it comes to cabinet space, so it’s important to make use of every square inch. Pick up some tension rods and get to work. Stick one horizontally in your under-the-sink cabinet to hang cleaner bottles from, freeing up the bottom of the cabinet. Alternatively, put a few vertically in a cabinet to keep baking sheets and cutting boards organized. They can also be used in a closet to create a small hanging section (just don’t overload it with clothes, or it’ll fall!).
8. Eliminate wasted space in the kitchen
Attach hooks with adhesive backs to the wall between your cabinets and countertops or on the bottom of your cabinets to hold mugs, utensils, and gadgets, says Zaslow. (Bonus: They won’t cause damage when you remove them.) Or place a cutting board over an unused stove burner or two to extend your counter space.
9. Use a shelf as a table
If you don’t have floor space for a nightstand in your bedroom but need a spot to rest a glass of water or reading lamp on, install a small floating shelf as your nightstand. Not only are these relatively inexpensive at home improvement stores, but they also are surprisingly easy to hang — usually just two screws. Floating shelves can also be used couch-side as an end table.
10. Perfect your paper product storage
Paper towels and toilet paper take up a surprising amount of room when you store them under a sink. Use a wall-mounted wine rack to hold paper towels (pro tip: These can also store rolled-up towels) or a hanging closet organizer for both paper towels and TP.
What’s the best storage hack you’ve done in your rental? Share in the comments!