Living in the inner suburbs has many obvious advantages: a short commute, plenty of good eating and shopping options, (reasonably) reliable public transport, and a decent pub on every other corner. But what you gain in convenience you pay for in higher rents and smaller apartments. Apartment buildings are a practical way to house lots of people in limited space, but living in them comes with its challenges.
Setting up home in just 40 square metres can be pretty difficult. Once you’ve got the essential furniture items in there’s not a lot of space left for everything else. Unless you want to donate half your possessions to the op shop and embrace a truly minimalist lifestyle, you’ll need to come up with some creative storage solutions. You’ve got to think outside the box, but with a few tips and tricks you’ll find you can make good use of even the tiniest corners of your apartment.
Under the bed
Most apartment bedrooms have enough space for a bed and not much else, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted room from a storage point of view. That space under your bed? Absolute storage gold. Invest in some tubs that slide nicely underneath and you just bought yourself several extra cubic metres of storage for your bits and pieces.
Be clever about how you arrange the things under there, because anything in the middle at the back is not going to be fun to get out. Christmas decorations, tax paperwork or anything else you only need to access once a year (or less) is perfect for those hard to reach places. Anything you need to access regularly – like shoes, hobby-related equipment or extra blankets – should be towards the sides so you can grab it and go.
On top of the kitchen cupboards and fridge
If your kitchen cupboards don’t go all the way to roof, hop on a step ladder and get some low use items up there. Any appliances you don’t use often, fancy glassware and crockery you keep for dinner parties or big cupboard-space-hogging items like slow cookers are good to put up high. Just make sure they’re safe and secure up there: the last thing you want is your grandma’s Royal Albert tea set having a big fall.
The top of the fridge is another great place to put odds and ends that won’t fit into your cupboards. Since it’s probably a little lower than the top of your cupboards, you can put more regularly-used items here.
Keep it all neat and easier to access with some baskets. Nice baskets turn a bunch of odds and ends you don’t have room for into a design feature. Why stop at the high surfaces in your kitchen? Baskets can be put under tables or consoles, on top of bookshelves, at the end of tables and even on the floor tucked away in a corner or at the end of a couch.
Hooks, hooks everywhere
If you’re renting, chances are you’re not allowed to attach anything to the wall. You could try asking your agent or landlord for permission, or turn to sticky hooks that are easy to remove and don’t damage the walls. Over-door organisers are another good option for renters.
A few hooks in your entryway is a great way to keep keys, coats and bags handy and free up some space in your wardrobe. Hooks on the backs of doors are good for keeping awkward items tidy, like shopping bags, belts, scarves, and umbrellas.
Replace tables with trunks
A nice trunk or chest can serve the same purpose and take up the same space as a table, but offers much more in the way of storage. Coffee tables and end tables can easily be replaced by a trunk to open up more storage for everything from towels, sheets and blankets to board games or off season clothing.
If you don’t need to own it, rent it instead
If you rarely use something, consider whether you really need to keep it. Chances are it’s just taking up space in you home that could be better used for something else. But what about those items that you really, really need or want to use, but not all the time? Many power tools fall into this category, as do large leisure items like kayaks and camping equipment, and occasion wear.
What if there was a way you could access these items the few times a year you need them without having to own and store them yourself? Enter the sharing economy. Through platforms like Toolmates Hire, The Vault and Camplify you can rent everything from a circular saw to camper vans and designer dresses when you need them and save the storage space when you don’t.
The same goes for your car. If your car sits around taking up space in your garage while you get around by public transport or bike, or if your apartment didn’t come with a car space, consider selling it and turning to car sharing instead. Car Next Door lets you borrow cars by the hour or day from people in your neighbourhood, so you can still use a car when you need it but use your garage space for something else (or save by getting an apartment with no carspace).
Have a 'one in, one out' rule
When you’re living in a tight space, sometimes you have to be ruthless about what gets to take up valuable storage. Adhering to a strict ‘one in, one out’ rule can help keep you focused on what you really want and need and what might turn out to be an impulse purchase you’ll regret later.
Tell yourself that every time you buy something new, you need to donate or sell something you already own. Seen a new dress you like the look of? Which item of clothing are you going to ditch to make room for it? Are you donating the blender or food processor to free up cupboard space for that new cheeseboard?
If you decide it’s worth the sacrifice, go ahead. If not, leave it in the shop and save your space (and cash) for something better.