As we get older and our life events and situations change, we often find that the cute little two-bedroom house we fell in love with and bought a few years ago just isn't quite big enough for our current needs. But what if you're not ready or able to move up into a bigger home yet?
That's when it's time to get creative. There are about a million articles online telling you how to maximize your minimal space, which can be overwhelming. So we've got a few basic ideas to get you started. Make some room in your home — and your heart — so your little nest can really work for you.
With minimal space, you need to make sure there's a place for everything, and that everything goes back where it belongs when you're done using it — every single time. This includes making your bed every day, drying the dishes and putting them away immediately, and putting your shoes and coat back in the closet as soon as you remove them. Tidying can also reduce your stress levels and instill a feeling of control over other parts of your life as well as your home. In a little house, tidying up daily will make your space feel larger and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
In your little castle, sorting and thinning out your possessions must be a part of your routine to prevent your home from becoming overfull and uncomfortable. You may only need to do this once a month, but it's critical that you do it regularly. If you find an item that never seems to have a home when you're tidying up, make it the first thing that goes in the Goodwill box. Let go of the hobby materials you've never used and the skinny jeans you've been saving for 10 years for when you lose that last 10 pounds.
When you have a limited number of rooms, they need to function as multi-purpose spaces. Use free-standing bookshelves to section off an area. They’re a clear divider, but won’t make it feel as if you’re closing off part of the room. Don’t fill every shelf to capacity so light isn’t blocked and air circulates freely. You could also hang sheer curtains from the ceiling to partition off the room for more privacy. By dividing the space, it’s possible to turn a bedroom into a bedroom + office, or a living room into a living + dining room..
Bookcase as headboard? Check. Drop-leaf dining table so it "shrinks" into a console table when you're not using it? Check. Wall-mounted fold-down table for dining and working? Check check check!
If you're really tight on space, you may need to get really creative with this one. For instance, let's say you only have two bedrooms and need the second bedroom to function as an office, guest room, and living area. If you have the ceiling height, you could build a loft with stairs to the bed (or use a ladder), and create a padded bench underneath that functions as a sofa. Install a fold-down table, so you can use it as a workspace when needed.
Need more ideas? How about:
Platform bed with drawers
Coffee table that opens into a small desk with storage
Stairs with slide-out drawers in each step
Do you really need two closets full of shoes? Is your guest room just wasted space, having never hosted a guest? Does owning two complete sets of dinnerware make you feel fulfilled? Give yourself permission to turn that guest room into a room you really need, like a nursery or workspace. Remind yourself that you can only eat off of one set of dishes at a time. Empty a closet (read: sort out your stuff) and use it for a little home office. When there is something you really need to make your little home more efficient and a pleasure to be in, then it's time to take a hard look at wasted space and start making changes.
If you've really outgrown your home, these ideas obviously only work as a stopgap measure, but at least you'll be a bit more comfortable in your small space — and you'll have less to move when the time comes!