Living in a small space doesn’t mean you don’t need big storage. You’ve still got all the goodies—board games and photo albums and serving dishes—you just don’t know where to put them.
Bringing professional organizer ideas into a small space is a really fun challenge. The idea is to find a home for everything, yet leave the apartment feeling spacious. One solution is to use as many vertical storage options as possible. Since apartment residents typically can’t attach things to the wall, freestanding bookcases are the best solution. Here are a few ways to use them to your advantage.
Make Shelves a Focal Point
Bookshelves hold a lot more than books and are a great way to maximize storage in a small apartment. One of my favorite tricks is to use a bookcase behind either a sofa or a bed. With artful arranging of books, trinkets and framed photos, it can become a stunning focal point while providing plenty of storage. The lower shelves, hidden behind the furniture, are great for items you need to keep but don’t need to access daily, such as off-season clothing, holiday decorations and memorabilia. Place your sofa or bed on castors or sliders so it is easily pushed away from the shelf when you need to do so.
Hide Your Belongings in Plain Sight
Of course, you may not want all of your belongings on view—I’m pretty sure no one wants to study my stack of spare sheets, extra vases and reams of printer paper. That doesn’t mean bookcases won’t work for you! Opt for a model that has closed storage, such as this trendy barn door that hides items from view. There are also units that offer some open shelving and some behind doors. Before hunting for the right bookcase for your home, think about the kinds of things you need room to store and whether open or closed shelving is your goal.
Create Rooms from Thin Air
While open-concept living is all the rage in home design, it can feel as if too much is in view. A bookcase can make a great room divider in a studio apartment, loft or dorm room. Use it to section off your “bedroom” from the rest of the space. Or, divide your kitchen area from the living room.
Create a dining room out of empty space by sectioning off an area with bookshelves you’ve filled with pretty dishes and glassware. This adds storage and defines the room’s use. Your bookcase can also become an entertainment center with the addition of a T.V., speakers or video games. Or, it can become a china hutch as you tuck pretty pieces behind glass doors.
When you find you need to move across town or across the country, the bookcase you’ve used in one space can easily transition with your move into another use.
Use Containers to Get Organized
Get organized by creating storage zones. Use canvas bins, wicker baskets or decorative boxes to hold items on the shelves you don’t want to have out on display.
Don’t think of the containers as hiding clutter, but rather as a way to get organized. Clutter comes when you’ve mixed up your belongings to the point where you can’t find anything. To beat that, define your containers by use. Sort your items into like kinds so each container has a particular purpose. For example, use one for winter sweaters, another for paperwork you need to keep and still another for housing cleaning supplies. Keep organized by adding labels to your bins.
Bookcases can range from just 10 inches in depth to 18 inches. Whether you use one to store your extra linens or display your china, it’s a storage solution for small spaces that won’t take up much of your floor space.
Lea Schneider is an organization expert who writes about her organization tips for apartments and other homes for The Home Depot. In her work, Lea seeks to find unique ways to organize rooms based on optimizing storage while taking into account décor selection. To review a wide selection of bookcases available to implement Lea’s advice, you can visit Home Depot’s Home Decorators site here.