A Look Inside Our Tiny Apartment

In Lifestyle by Sally3 Comments

In the video below, I take you through a short tour of our tiny apartment and explain some of the hacks that helped us to live in such a small space. Read the full story below the video. Thanks for watching!

What Is Tiny?

As you might already know, there’s a whole movement about tiny houses. Really tiny houses.

The Tiny House Movement is a new cultural phenomenon in the US and around the world, in which ordinary people downsize their living space. By a lot. In the Tiny House Movement scope of the word, tiny generally means less than 200 square feet.

For the average American, fitting all the basic amenities of a house into a space smaller than the average bedroom is insane, but somehow people in the Tiny House Movement are able to do it.

Our apartment isn’t tiny by Tiny House standards, but to most people, it’s pretty damn small. Some might even say “cramped.”

The outside of our tiny apartment. If the door were round it would be a hobbit hole.

The outside of our tiny apartment. If the door were round it would be a hobbit hole.

At just over 450 square feet, it’s a little over double the average size of a tiny house, but substantially smaller than the average American dwelling.

Why We Made the Move

Searching for an alternative to our 1,000 square foot loft (a true yuppie habitat), we were completely taken by surprise with this apartment.

The living space in our 1,000+ square foot loft, or, that time we had room for a full sized couch, a coffee table AND a papasan!

The living space in our 1,000+ square foot loft, or, that time we had room for a full sized couch, a coffee table AND a papasan!

We liked the space and the location, but we loved the price and the money we would save on rent.

There were also cute details that we really liked about the tiny apartment, and the size made it easy to personalize the space; changing paint colors and installing shelves and wall storage was quick. Despite the startling amount of downsizing we would have to do, we were confident we could make it work.

The Space

Our space is different from a typical tiny house not only in that it’s about twice the size, but that it’s not a design planned specifically for tiny living. It’s simply a small apartment and because it’s the basement unit in a much larger house, there are a lot of elements about it that feel particularly slapdash, with a lot of quirks in the design that can be difficult to work with.

One such quirk is size of the bedroom compared with the other room, which is a kitchen and a tiny all-purpose living area. The two rooms are about the same size, but in the bedroom this resulted in a lot of space we don’t really use, and space in the other room that feels crowded.

That would never happen in a tiny house, where the bedroom is usually a loft and only allows room for a mattress. In a tiny house, every inch is planned to be completely utilitarian.

We don’t have that luxury here.

How We Made it Work

Clutter is a small space’s worst enemy, and without a lot of space for storage, fighting it can seem impossible. Here are the hacks we used to make living in a tiny apartment not just tolerable, but comfortable.

Use Vertical Space

Free up surface area on the floor, counter tops and tables wherever and whenever possible.

Wall racks are the BOMB. Seriously.

Wall rackin' it up! Use these bad boys anywhere, and to hang just about anything!

Wall rackin’ it up! Use these bad boys anywhere, and to hang just about anything!

We combined the Fintorp and Grundtal wall rack systems from IKEA to hang pots and pans, cooking utensils and more on the walls of our tiny kitchen.

Grundtal tiny shelf and containers to the rescue!

Grundtal tiny shelf and containers to the rescue!

The Grundtal system includes hanging containers to store things on the rack that can’t easily be hung like utensils, and even spices and bottles. Wall racks also take up less space than shelving by keeping items flush against the wall, while shelves just extend further into horizontal space because of their fixed depth.

We used this short shelf in an odd little nook in the kitchen. It's close to the ceiling, but it's enough to provide usable storage space.

We used this short shelf in an odd little nook in the kitchen. It’s close to the ceiling, but it’s enough to provide usable storage space.

Shelving isn’t necessarily bad, but if you want to use it, go higher. We did this in small nooks and crannies, and above our bed.

Don't waste floor space on a nightstand, just put everything on a shelf above your bed.

Don’t waste floor space on a nightstand, just put everything on a shelf above your bed.

There are lots of ways to make wall racks, and other types of vertical storage look cute, and not just like an alternative to traditional storage. Peruse through the IKEA catalogue and see just how many ways they use vertical shelving and storage to organize small spaces.

Mirrors

Mirrors reflect light and create the illusion of doubled space. A regular wardrobe mirror like you would hang on the back of a closet door, can be oriented horizontally and hung on a wall at eye level to expand the room. This is also a lot cheaper than trying to find a larger, portrait size mirror, and I think the end result is more flattering and understated.

Furniture with Built-in Storage

Easy storage with this IKEA coffee table.

Easy storage with this IKEA coffee table.

Our coffee table slash dining table slash desk is a simple IKEA coffee table with 6 built-in cubbies underneath, great for storing notebooks, storage baskets for chords and tech stuff, and whatever else will fit.

There are only four drawers built into the bed frame, but every little bit helps.

There are only four drawers built into the bed frame, but every little bit helps.

Our bed is a simple platform bed with four drawers and 2 cubbies.

Our tiny loveseat sofa actually contains a pull-out sofa bed, in the off chance that we have overnight guests.

See a trend? If you have to have some furniture, make sure it’s really pulling its weight.

Get Creative With Furniture

We used the Kallax shelving units in our loft, but didn’t use these them as efficiently as we could have. We had a couple more units that we sold because they just wouldn’t fit in the new apartment, so the ones we kept we really maximize.

Kallax unit. We spruced it up a bit for the photo, normally it's jammed full of food. These units are great because they can hold a lot of stuff, but you can also customize them by adding doors and drawers wherever you want them!

Kallax unit. We spruced it up a bit for the photo, normally it’s jammed full of food. These units are great because they can hold a lot of stuff, but you can also customize them by adding doors and drawers wherever you want them!

A smaller unit sits just outside the kitchen for dry good storage, and a larger unit stays in the living area for all other types of storage, books, important documents, organization, and the bottom shelves we use as shoe cubbies.

This tiny shelf was originally made to hold picture frames, but I saw it being used for storing spices too in the IKEA show room. Those Swedes know their shit.

This tiny shelf was originally made to hold picture frames, but I saw it being used for storing spices too in the IKEA show room. Those Swedes know their shit.

Smart purchases at IKEA are worth their weight in gold in tiny spaces. Because many of their furniture designs are more modern, you can get more creative with how you use pieces. On top of that, they’re magicians when it comes to smart storage options.

Downsize Your Material Life

Don’t feel constrained by furniture you think you need for your house. Besides a mattress to sleep on, and somewhere to sit and eat, everything else is up to you and what you actually want to do in your home.

I think this huge downsizing in the Tiny House Movement is a backlash against traditional American assumptions about homemaking. Assumptions about what a home should have, like multiple bedrooms or “formal” living and dining areas. This encourages conspicuous consumption, and the need to furnish and decorate (see, buy stuff) spaces that aren’t regularly used.

One thing I find particularly ridiculous is the trend of fitness equipment in the home. A treadmill, a stationary bike, sometimes a full set of weights for lifting; most of it barely used.

Just because you can buy a big house and fill it with all the things you used to have to go somewhere else to do isn’t necessarily convenience.

What Downsizing Really Means

One way we downsized was making concessions with the living area. Our couch and coffee table serve as both the living and eating space. We eat both meals together sitting on the couch, and work on our laptops the same way.

Sometimes when you make the choice to downsize in one area, it has a domino effect- letting you cut out a lot of unnecessary items, cut costs and make better habits.

Like how we also watch TV from a laptop. This has been great because we only use Netflix now, and don’t pay for a cable subscription (or waste time getting sucked into network television).

When you have less things, you don’t need as much furniture to store it in.

This is a large, but more subtle component of the Tiny House Movement: the idea that your material possessions are only the basics that you need on an average day, nothing more.

If I didn't have any paper books, I probably wouldn't even need this shelf!

If I didn’t have any paper books, I probably wouldn’t even need this shelf!

If you didn’t have as many clothes, and instead, subsisted off of a closet full of only your best basics and favorite pieces, would you need that dresser or all the closet space? An example that’s harder for many people I know is one of books: if you just had a Kindle, or a library card, instead of all those books, would you need that bookcase or all of those shelves?

Would We Change Anything?

Since we weren’t actually building our tiny apartment, we didn’t get a say in how the space was designed. The bedroom has way more space than it needs, and the living room needs more for the amount of use it gets. However, these are very minor complaints, and overall, we’ve completely adjusted to our space and how we use it.

If you’re on the fence about downsizing to a much smaller space, I can tell you that we have never regretted it for a second, and consider it one of the best decisions we ever made.

Do you live in a tiny space? What have you done to maximize your use of space and/or downsize? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Chris

    I have been enjoying your blog. I am mainly interested in the Pacific Crest hike. But I saw this post and wanted to ask about where you store the gear you would need to have for something like a thru hike? Seems that you must have owned some of the gear you blogged about in the later post. Where was it stored in your small apartment?

    Seems kind of a weird question now that I asked it. But, as an example, I have some hiking gear that gets used about two weekends per year and the rest of the time it just clutters the floor of the closet. Should I be renting this stuff instead?

    Thanks for reading.

    1. Author
      Sally

      Hey Chris! Thanks for reading. We owned most of the gear for our PCT hike already, and certainly most of the bulkier items. We had no trouble storing these, as they were mostly lightweight. Backpack and trekking poles easily fit under the bed, and our tent, sleeping bags and pads we kept in a small box along with misc camping items like our stove, headlamps, etc that was kept in the closet. Getting gear that’s ultralight or lightweight can be a bit of sticker shock, but it has the benefit of being pretty compact and easy to store.

  2. Judith Adames

    Small Space Apartment seems like just about to organizing things which are messed up and you need to organizing again and again so better to make your apartment perfect one which is I think possible with your ideas. Thanks for writing.I would like to share some more decor idea which can utilize space with great design.hope you like to try it out.

    Source : goo.gl/vOJwmZ

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