In a world where under stairs cupboards are rented out as a ‘single person room’ and studios that you can make a cup of tea from the comfort of your toilet seat, there’s never been a greater need to make the most of whatever space you do have.
I always knew my flat was small. As the attic of a Victorian house it’s got more than a hint of ‘servants quarters’ going on but it wasn’t until I read an article about the minimum space the government recommended for living that I realised just how small.
My flat is just 33 square metres, it’s six metres squares short of the governments living space guidelines. It also has zero real storage. But it’s too late, because I bought the flat 2 years ago, so I’ve had 24-whole months to work out how to exist in the space.
Flick through Pinterest and there’s thousands of ‘tiny space hacks’ but they all seem to require a) the kind of carpentry skills that if you possessed them you’d be living in a home you’d built yourself b) amounts of cash that if you had you wouldn’t be living somewhere so bloody small… BUT it’ s not all humdrum, there are things you can do, whether you’re trying to maximise space in a room in a houseshare or eke out storage in a studio, here’s what I’ve learnt.
1. No space should be dead space
Think about the space you can’t see. Under and behind is my tiny flat mantra. The 20cm gap under my sofa is the perfect home for an ironing board and clothes airer (more on this key item later) – push them right to the back and you don’t see a thing, your unrolled yoga mat can live behind a sideboard.
2. Aim high
Shelves placed super high make use of space you didn’t even realise you had. Bookshelves over the top of doorways looks super Pinterest-y and it’s a good place for precious items too as even the most raucous of flatmates are unlikely to get that high.
3. Mix and match
Who says you have to keep your things in their traditional rooms? I have a bookcase full of novels in my kitchen and a chest of drawers doubling up as a tv stand in the sitting room that I store all my off-season clothes in.
4. The two-use rule
Wherever possible make sure your furniture provides two or more functions. For me this means a large chest in my sitting room that I primarily use as a coffee table, but can also throw a sheepskin rug over for handy extra seating and it’s a home for my spare bedding and towels.
5. One in one out
Much like a nightclub at 1am, if something’s coming in, then something’s gotta make room for it. That means every time you take something home- a new piece of clothing, a set of wine glasses, even a new moisturiser you’ve got to chuck, charity or Ebay something else. Nothing cuts clutter (or spending) like it.
6. Make more of your doors
An under-utilised resource, the inside of room doors and wardrobe doors can provide valuable extra hanging space. I use an over the door set of hooks on the back of my bedroom door to hang my work week wardrobe and hooks on the inside of my wardrobe for bags and scarves.
7. Not pretty but practical
If there’s one thing I urge fellow tiny flat inhabitees to buy it’s this. A heated clothes airer. Glamorous it ain’t but when you’ve got no space the sight of a load of laundry taking three days to dry and taking over half your living space is beyond depressing. With one of these you can put it all out before you go to bed and wake up to dry, fresh smelling clothes and then pop it away ’til next time.
8. Basket case
When is clutter not clutter? When it’s encased in a chic basket of course. Ignore specific under bed storage solutions- they tend not to make the most of the space and invest in a load of squishy baskets that you can cram to bursting then kick under your bed, meaning even if your guests lay on your floor you’ll still look tidy.
Main image credit: instagram @whitneyleighmorris