Live large in small spaces

Fit shelves on walls for added storage.
Fit shelves on walls for added storage.PHOTO: SMALL APARTMENT DECOR/INSTAGRAM

Good organisation and decluttering habits can help you make the most of living in a smaller home

WASHINGTON • Homes are getting smaller in big cities worldwide as developers aim to make the most of a plot of land they have paid a high price for.

So, are there ways to avoid the big squeeze without having to sacrifice too many possessions or the dog?

Organising and decluttering expert Julie Morgenstern, who has run her namesake New York City-based business for more than 25 years, joined The Washington Post for an online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

I recently bought a condo with limited storage space. I am looking for organising ideas for the very small kitchen too.

There are many ways to stretch limited storage. Get out of the business of bulk purchasing, which can be great if you live in a big home, but does not work for small spaces.

Online services allow you to subscribe to basic household supplies, which automatically come to your door every month or so.

Get furniture with storage - tables with drawers and coffee tables with lift-up lids are great options.

And use vertical space. The inside of each door of every closet can be used for hooks, racks and shelves. Also, see if there is a wall where you can add shelves.

I just cleaned out my cupboards and I have several bags of clothes to donate. What is the best way to do so these days? In the past, I have been surprised at how thrift stores will not take all the clothes, even when they are from top brands. They seem much more selective than before.

We are in a time when there is so much stuff and people want to get rid of it, so giving things away (or selling them) is not always so easy.

Find out what sorts of items stores such as those run by the Salvation Army want, then send them only those things.

Recognise that we often cherish things we have owned more than others would, so unless the items are in exceptional condition, it can be hard to give them away or sell.

What is the best way to organise scarves? They are a big jumble in my drawer.

Scarves work best on a series of hooks on the inside of a cupboard door. Consider having two rows of hooks - one at the top of the door and another in the middle. Or, if they are beautiful, you can hang them on decorative hooks on a bedroom wall as a design feature.

I have a lot of inherited memorabilia from my family - books, photographs and old documents. They all mean a lot to me and I do not want to get rid of any, but I need to organise them so that they take up less space. They are now distributed throughout my home, mainly in an assortment of boxes.

Memorabilia is best enjoyed when it is displayed and accessible. When it sits in boxes, it is rarely gone through or appreciated.

For anything that remains in boxes, perhaps you can get a beautiful piece of storage furniture, divide the memorabilia into categories (for example, journals, letters and photos) and transfer each category into a labelled archival box, allowing yourself or other family members the pleasure of sifting through them when the mood strikes.

How do I find storage space in a small bathroom?

In a small bathroom, there are typically four areas to find storage.

The medicine chest is best used for everyday items such as skincare and toothbrushes. Store medicines outside the bathroom in a closet or cabinet.

Under the sink, you can put stacking pullout plastic or mesh drawers on either side of the water pipe to get the most out of that space. In the shower area, add a shower caddy for shampoo and soap.

Over the toilet, line the shelves with acrylic or metal mesh drawer dividers for easier cleaning and a more attractive look.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'Live large in small spaces'. Print Edition | Subscribe