By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

There is definitely a growing movement to live in smaller, more compact spaces where people are choosing to live with less stuff, less stress, and less clutter.

This new lifestyle trend, to live in smaller spaces requires some skillful planning so that your home is not only highly functional but that it is also aesthetically pleasing, reflecting the personality and taste of the homeowner.

People are discovering that they don’t need to live large to live well, but they do need to learn how to:

  • Save space in every possible way.
  • Take storage to a whole new level.
  • Edit.. edit… edit… because there’s no room for anything that does not serve a purpose.

Living in a more compact space causes you to think creatively about how you can best utilize every inch of space.

That being said, it’s important to identify 2 things:

  • Spaces that are not being used at all.
  • Spaces that are not being used well.


Spaces Often Overlooked and Not Used at All

1. Staircases

Have you ever considered using the empty cavity underneath your staircase for additional storage? This video exemplifies how spaces are overlooked that could possibly be great storage.

Watch the video here by Build Tiny

2. Vertical wall space.

Take advantage of vertical space wherever possible.

  • Take kitchen cabinets to the ceiling. That gives you another 12 plus inches of storage around the entire perimeter of your kitchen.
  • Take bookcases, wall cabinets, built-ins, floor to ceiling, and wall to wall if possible. This allows you to max out the storage and make your space feel more integrated and less cluttered.
  • Wall-mounted shelves. Provide storage for books, display, and it also frees up floor space to make your smaller space appear less cluttered.


3. Horizontal floor space.

  • Bathroom: Towers flanking a mirror provide great storage, but have you considered placing an additional storage cabinet above the mirror that expands the width of the flanking towers? An added benefit is that you can put recess lighting at the bottom of that cabinet.
  • Closets: The space above and below clothing is useful storage for seasonal items using bins or baskets.


4. Collapsible furniture.

  • Murphy bed: folds back into the wall to free up floor space. The underside of the bed can flip down to provide a workable desk area.
  • Extend-away dining table or work table: collapses to be pulled out only when in need of additional dining or workspace.
  • Folding desks or pullout desk/work areas: this collapse or fall back into the wall or into a cabinet.


5. Deep window sills.

Deep window sills can be used for books, decorative storage boxes, plants, photos, etc.

Your ceiling… for storage? A shelf built around the perimeter of a room can be a great storage/display area for books, collectibles, and artwork. Typically, these shelves are mounted approx. 12 inches from the ceiling.


Spaces Not Being Well Used

1. Kitchen cabinets.

Take time to look at the upper shelves of your kitchen cabinetry.

  • How well are they actually being used?
  • How could they be used more effectively?
  • What can be edited that you no longer want, need, or use?

I recently looked inside my own upper cabinets and discovered things I put there four years ago when I moved in, and have not used or thought of since. One of the cabinets had eleven flower vases. In my large home, I had the luxury of space to store eleven vases, but in my compact apartment, I don’t. I immediately got rid of all but three of my most favorite ones, freeing up space for some well-used cookbooks that had been taking up countertop space.

This is just one example of how you can “find space” that can be better utilized for what you do need, want, and use.

I hope these space-saving tips help you in your journey to live abundantly with less.

Share this blog with your friends and reach out to me on our website.

Check out my book “Downsize Your Life: Upgrade Your Lifestyle” and get chapter 3 for free here.