Unless you start out in life rolling in dough or an area with insanely cheap real estate, you’re probably going to end up in a small apartment or small living space at some point in your life. Even if you have a big apartment you share with roommates, your own personal space in the apartment may be smaller than you would like. Small spaces work, but are not always ideal. Coming up with small apartment hacks can really save you space, money, and stress.

We currently live in an 850ish sq ft apartment. It is smaller than both of the apartment I have lived in previously, but it is massive for Evan who previously lived in a barracks room. We are at a point where yeah we could live in a larger apartment, but we would rather save up the extra money for a house. If you’re moving into a small apartment or need to figure out how to utilize your living space more efficiently, read on for our small apartment hacks.

Utilize Storage Under Your Bed

Here is a list of everything we have managed to store under our bed: Doors, extra pillows, computer monitor boxes, and a mermaid tail. I think our bed frame has the option for under bed storage drawers, but we got ours secondhand from other students and it didn’t come with the drawers. We just keep large things we don’t need right now under there. If you get a taller bed or ones with built in drawers, those are good for storing clothes or other smaller items.

For measurement reference, I believe our bed frame is an older version of the Malm frame from Ikea. We recently cracked our headboard, so we’ll have to upgrade at some point, but this one has held up for at least 2.5 years. I’m not sure how long the students before me had it. Ikea has many other bed frames with storage, so if you’re on a budget, those work well, especially if you can get the secondhand.

Use Incense to Make a Stuffy Area Smell Better

Our scent-related hack of the small apartment hacks is really key to our living situation right now. We have a total of one window and one sliding glass door with a screen door out to the balcony. Our apartment gets stuffy pretty easily. Honestly the air in here isn’t the cleanest. Random areas get dusty just because the air system is probably ancient and doesn’t have a filter. We get cigarette smoke pumped in from the apartment next door. So, our apartment doesn’t smell great all the time.

Especially when the weather doesn’t permit the door and window to be open, we use incense to make it smell less stuffy or cigarette-smoky. We also used it in our last shared apartment. We kept the door closed most of the time because our roommates had an evil cat who would literally attack you just for existing. They also couldn’t cut his claws at all because he was so feral, so his attacks were painful. We probably still have scars from him.

Anyway, so the door was always closed and one of the windows wasn’t built to open, so the room was stuffy a lot. These situations are probably pretty common. Air flow isn’t always easy to get, which leads to stuffiness.

Buy Storage Furniture

There are various types of furniture I’ve seen with storage options, such as the beds I mentioned previously, couches, or coffee tables. There’s many options out there. We don’t have anything fancy like that, but we do have a family heirloom antique trunk. We keep extra blankets, Chili’s crate, and other randomness inside and use the top for storing stuff we’ll use more frequently. Granted it looks kind of messy because it includes everything from the dog food to our spare school supplies. But just as a place to store things, it works well.

Use One Hanger for Multiple Items

We have what a walk in closet, but we store a bunch of boxes in there as well as things like motorcycle gear. We also have all of Evan’s USMC uniforms and my prom dress in there. I still have my prom dress because it’s black and still fits, so on the off chance I will ever need to wear a floor length gown, I’m set. Basically there isn’t a ton of space for clothes.

I have started using one hanger for all of my workout tanks. I just hang a strap from each of them on the half circle loop in the middle. They aren’t stretched out and it saves space. I’d need 10-12 extra hangers just for my workout tanks. I also have the same set up for shirts I need to hang over the bar of the hanger rather than by the shoulders. Some sweaters just keep their shape better that way. Scarves and skirts are hung that way too. We do have a small dresser for clothes that can be folded, but it is full.

Store Miscellaneous Items in Plastic Boxes

This is one of the most useful long-term small apartment hacks. I think we mentioned this in our post How We Planned Our First Move Together. We have maybe half our belongings stored in large plastic bins. It’s a hack I learned from my family and Evan figured out while enlisted.

It makes moving easier. It makes sense to store things you want to hold onto, but don’t use very frequently in boxes. Clear plastic ones are the easiest. If you do need to get something out, you can see inside instead of having to dig through every box. We have a mix of both opaque boxes and clear ones. The plastic ones are preferable to cardboard because they are sturdier and have handles. Boxes are easily stacked and hidden on shelves or shoved into closets. We don’t have enough space to store much out in the open. Most are in the little closets we have in the apartment, so they’re out of the way.

Keep Furniture Next to the Walls

To make your apartment or room seem bigger, keep an open area. In our living room, all of the furniture is next to the walls so the middle is empty. Well, Chili is lying in the middle of the floor right now. We could put our small dining room table in the middle, but the room would seem smaller. This area where we have the table currently wouldn’t be useful for anything other than another piece of furniture, so it’s not like that would add more space.

I did the same set up in my first apartment room. I had the bed, drawers, bookshelf, and futon next to two walls near the window, so the rest was open area for at-home workouts or just chilling on the floor. Is that something you do? Both of us just lie around on the floor sometimes, so having an open floor space is nice.

Create Your Own Area

This is one of small apartment hacks important for living with other people. If you have roommates, make your room or your side of the room your own. When we lived with other people, our roommates decorated and provided furniture for the common areas, so we didn’t use them too much. Particularly in the last apartment we avoided the common area a lot because we didn’t want to clean up after our roommates.

My room was where I spent most of my time. I didn’t decorate much, but I made it comfortable. When Evan started storing stuff at my place, I covered some of the plastic boxes in my closet with fabric. It looked nicer and that’s where his stuff went. Now we share basically everything. He has his desk and computer area for trading though, so he uses that a lot more than I do. I mainly work on my computer at the table or the bedroom.

Chili has his own space in the living room. I’m comfortable with Evan (obviously) so I never feel the need to retreat to my own space like I did when I lived with other people. If I’m annoyed or need to make phone calls, I just go to the other room. So even though we don’t have separate parts of the apartment we call “ours” we have space to be apart.


Living in a small apartment can be a lot more comfortable if you utilize small apartment hacks. You’ll feel better in your space if you arrange it efficiently. Through our experiences living in apartments and with other people, we’ve found out how important storage, appearance, smell and your own space is to being comfortable and liking where you live.


Recent graduate, blogger, girlfriend, dog-mom

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