Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Storage and Organization for Apartment Living

I just want to say thank you to all of you out there reading and following along with the 11th apartment. I've been trying my best to post more regularly since we got back from our honeymoon and I've been really encouraged over the past few weeks as I have seen the readership grow exponentially! The response to the blog has been incredibly positive and I am motivated by all the encouraging words that I have received lately.

So now on to today's topic, storage and organization!
When I post photos of our apartment on the blog, a common response is, 'where's all your stuff?'.
That's a good question! And the answer is certainly not, 'Oh, we don't have that much stuff'. Haha, no. We have lots of stuff. I mean, even people who don't have loads of things, still have stuff. Everyone has to find a place to store the socks, the nail polish collection, the random herbs and spices, the dirty laundry, the out of season clothing and the toilet paper that you bought in bulk!

When you live in a small apartment, you need to get pretty creative in order to find a place for everything. I've spent the last decade living in various apartments, none of them particularly large (except for the one in Stratford, that one was awesome), over the years I've come up with a whole lot of tips and tricks for living a peaceful and uncluttered life in an itty bitty apartment.

There's an old proverb that says, dividing space creates space. Most of my ideas for storage and organization are based on this idea. Think of an empty room measuring 10 ft x 10 ft. Imagine that you have to store all your clothes in this room. Where will you put them all? On the floor? But what if you add a closet storage system to the room? Dividing the space into shelves, hooks and hanger space will give you infinitely more storage area.

Ok, no more rambling. Here's a picture list of my organization ideas:

Glass Jars 

Instead of keeping flours, sugars, spices, rices, grains and beans in the bags that they come in, try storing them in glass jars. You'll be able to stack the jars in the cupboard or on open shelves, you can quickly see what's in each one and things will stay fresher longer.

Vertical Space

In a small home it's important to use your vertical space. Using hooks is a simple idea, but if you get a bit creative you can come up with some really good storage options. Below, I use 3M hooks to get more out of our limited cupboard space.

Where can you keep random large items like a pizza paddle or a cheese board? (I know you've been stressing over where to keep your pizza paddle!) Stick some 3M hooks up on the side of a cupboard, tie a string or elastic on to the items and they will be out of sight but easily accessible!

Pretty Baskets

For items that you have a lot of, toss them all together in a basket. It's a good way to keep multiples contained and you'll always know where to find them. Below, I store all my cookie cutters in a wire small wire basket and mason jars are stored in many wire baskets throughout the kitchen.

So many mason jars!  I purchased the above storage baskets at HomeSense, the tight weave wire mesh lends a streamlined and uncluttered look to the storage option. In the front hall, a large basket stores all our hats and scarves while a smaller one is a good place to keep my many many sunglasses. 

Roll Up Wires

You've probably seen this one before. Separate all your cellphone chargers, headphones and audio cables and keep them bundled separately using sections of tp or paper towel rolls, mini yogurt cups or whatever else you have around the house. I finally got around to sorting out our tangly bundle last month... the inspiring before + after...

Make the Most of a Drawer
To get the most out of precious drawer space, separate each drawer into segments using saucers and tea cups, small boxes, or baskets and trays from the Dollar Store. Below, I've used different types of containers to keep my canning drawer, baking drawer and jewelry drawer in order. 


In the kitchen I use adhesive cork inside drawers to keep things in place and help to protect sharp edges. 

Keep it in a Cart
Carts are so trendy right now, and not only are they cute, but they make stylish home storage a bit easier. Many carts costs as little as $50 or $60; we picked this one up at Ikea (found it in the bathroom section and removed the weird plastic tray that was on the top) for $60 and it works well in the kitchen as a place to store all my tea.
I like carts as a storage option because you can tuck them in a corner or beside a large piece of furniture and then roll them out whenever you need the items. Many carts have wheels and they come in all sorts of colours and various metallic finishes.

Think of the possibilities! A cart for all your bar items, your cereals, your makeup and hair products, your awesome junk food collection, or your current books and magazines!

Shelving and Storage Boxes

If you're small apartment also has a small closet, try switching out the rod and hangers in favour of shelving and storage boxes. You'll get a lot more out of the space, although you will have to fall in love with folding. I did exactly that with my closet when we moved in to this apartment.

Note Keeping
Two cork tiles from the Dollar Store stuck inside the cupboard door make a good place to keep recipe cards, appointment reminders and anything else that you don't want to lose. And on the right, a large pad of paper hung with two 3M hooks and placed out of sight on the side of the fridge is a good spot for us to keep to-do lists and write notes.


Labels + Bins
For any items that aren't kept out in plain sight, I like to use plastic bins (Dollar Store) and labels. In our work room, we have so many paints, tools and materials, so I've used cheap labels on all the bins to keep things sorted out and make them easy to find. 

Keep Counter Space Open

There are lots of ways to keep your valuable counter space clear. Here is one that I really like: instead of wasting space with a chunky knife block, display your knives and have them easily accessible and ready to use by storing them on a magnetic wall strip. The strips are easy to install and cost only $10 at Kitchen Stuff Plus (they often sell for 50% off). You can put up as many as you want to store a small collection or a large one!

Make a Caddy

For random collections of items (like nail polish) try using a combination of cheap plastic baskets or trays to make yourself a little portable caddy. 

So to all the neat freaks out there, remember being a good housekeeper doesn't mean tiding up after everyone else! By putting organization and storage systems in place, you'll give all the stuff a spot that it belongs, and that will make it much easier for everyone to keep your home (whether it's big or little) neat and tidy!

Have a great organization idea to share? I'd love to hear it! Post any and all ideas in the comments section of this post. 


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