Since I have lived in the United States, I have only ever been in an apartment or a condo. We currently live in a multiple unit building and we are lucky to be able to use two apartments for our slightly bigger living space. But, our space is still limited. Initially, I thought having kids in a small space wasn’t a good idea, but now I actually don’t mind. I hope these apartment-living tips will help you feel more comfortable in your small space.
One good thing about a small apartment / living space it that it’s (generally) less work to clean. Even with a busy toddler running around the house, I can still keep up with the essentials. What helped me a lot recently is to divide the task list into a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly task list. On the daily list are tasks such as load and empty dishwasher, clean dining room table after each meal (or so I try), open mail, and throw out the trash. The monthly task list has bigger tasks on it such as mop the floors in the entire house, including the staircases that lead up to the apartment which is a bigger checklist item because I usually try to do this task all in an hour or two on the same day.
I realize I may be going in a reverse order here, because some people like to organize before they actually clean, but sometimes they actually fall in the same category. When I normally talk about cleaning, sometimes I am really only referring to organizing my house or taking care of clutter. All that to say; cleaning up (or organizing) clutter can be just as important as the actual cleaning- using the spray bottle type- deal. When I talk to my friends about cleaning and/or organizing, it seems as if everyone is struggling with keeping their clutter contained. As I’ve heard from people with multiple kids, the more kids end up living in your house, the harder it gets to keep things more organized.
All of the furniture in our current place, that is from after we got married and after we had kids, is from Ikea. I love that place. We get all our stuff there. Our leather couch, TV stand, dressers, cribs, etc. are all from there. I never walk away without buying a single item. It’s addictive. Need storage? They’ve got it. Need lighting? They’ve got it. Need a dishwasher? They’ve got it. Do I need to say any more? It’s amazing! My latest item from the store is an air purifier. Yes, they’ve got those newer trend items too. Needless to say, as soon as their Memphis location opened up in 2016, I got all of the stuff for our house there. We are slowly trying to replace, bit by bit, our old furniture with new Ikea items.
Don’t have what you’re looking for at Ikea? My next go-to’s are (mostly the dollar section at) Target, and I also really like the Container Store. I don’t go to the latter very often, but when I do, I always find extremely fun items there!
You can never have enough storage containers. Small cubbies and things are handy as it keeps things contained, and you can organize things by category. What I recently loved was the little racks I got at the dollar section of Target that I used to organize all my essential oils.
Minimize stuff constantly
Storing stuff in handy cubbies, storage racks, and bins definitely helps, but I recommend constantly going through stuff and organizing one closet or area at a time, continuously. Your kids grow. This week I went through Nora’s toy storage, took out all of the baby toys, and put all of the toys she currently plays with in place of the ones she moved away from. Pick your priorities, but keep organizing as your kids grow. Put things away for a while, and bring them back out later, when you need them again. If you just want to get rid of them, donate to a good cause, or try selling them. Facebook marketplace is my best friend.
I am trying to clean up as much as I can, but it is hard to get rid of stuff sometimes. My advice is: try not to get too much stuff in the first place. You might regret it later, because you realize you don’t even have the space to store that one extra thing in your apartment. Sometimes, you just got to get rid of stuff!
Creating a personal atmosphere in your home
Especially in a small space, I think it is important to add a personal touch to your home. I have hung up postcards from the Netherlands that I found at an antique shop in Memphis around the home, and two identical clocks, one with local time, and one with Amsterdam time.
Lastly, I would highly recommend to try to create a cozy space as much as you can. Even if it is just one room in your apartment. Try to create a go-to spot where you can have that favorite snack, watch a great show, or read a thrilling book. Whatever it is that reminds you of all the places you have lived, try to recreate each place within that one home. That’s what I love about our small place. When its all organized and clean, I actually enjoy a cozy afternoon under a warm blanket sipping my tea on the couch.