Tiny living makes space a commodity. If you’ve ever moved from a larger home into a small apartment, you’ll quickly learn there’s simply not enough room for certain things. Liquidating, consolidating, and rethinking unpractical, space-hogging possessions is an immediate concern — obvious things like a large couch that won’t fit through the door, or exercise equipment you don’t have a spot for. Once you’ve dealt with the obvious, it’s common to move on and overlook the multitude of other items that would further streamline and de-clutter your life if removed or replaced with a smaller version. Take a look at the following list and decide if there’s even more that needs to go.
#1: A tall trash can
I don’t know why, but somehow it’s a rule that everyone has to have a large indoor trashcan at some point in their life. Small apartments rarely have a good place for a full-sized trash can: there’s no place to hide it unless you have a pantry, and it doesn’t fit well anywhere else in the kitchen. Once you realize that this is a socially-reinforced ‘norm’ that might not be the best option for your space and situation, you can experience the freedom of being a little rebellious by getting rid of this ugly, space-hogging item.
A small, under-the-sink or cupboard-mounted trash bin should be more than sufficient for anyone’s needs, especially if you recycle or compost. For ease of access, install a simple pull-out rack that costs no more than about $40. If you want something fancier, purchase a trash cabinet that features a tilt-out drawer, and provides another counter surface.
In addition to saving space, a smaller trash bin will encourage more frequent emptying, resulting in fewer funky odors. You can even use those extra plastic grocery bags instead of trash bags to save money while you’re at it.
#2: A full-sized dining table
This is another social norm we fall into. If you live alone or don’t have kids, having a large table doesn’t make sense for your lifestyle, and just takes up space. These days, few people eat at their kitchen table unless they have company, anyway. If you already have a kitchen island or outside counter, a few barstools create an instant dining area for everyday living. For entertaining, choose among various styles of smaller fold-down tables you can use for other purposes and expand when you have guests for dinner.
#3: A large couch and coffee table
A friend recently moved into my last apartment, which is smaller than my present one, with a single-door entrance in a narrow hallway. Even though she ordered a different couch to fit the size of her new living room, it still wouldn’t fit through the door. Couches are bulky under any circumstance, but in a small place, they demand a central location and won’t bend, tuck, or fold into a smaller area. If you’re determined to have a couch but can’t fit a full one, purchase just part of a sectional (an increasingly available option) or armless couch more readily situated anywhere in the room. For that matter, a few comfy chairs get the job done with greater versatility. More and more small-space dwellers are finding freedom in getting rid of cumbersome couches altogether.
A couch’s companion item — the coffee table — is also not your only option. Small side tables, ottomans, lamps with built-in shelves, and sofa/chair arm trays provide a surface for drinks and magazines without hogging floor space (and banging up your shins in the night).
#4: A dresser
I had to get rid of both my beautiful dressers when we moved across the country, but I expected I’d replace them when we bought new furniture. Although I did get a dresser (a much smaller one that fits neatly in the closet under a clothing rod), I discovered there were many other creative options for clothing storage in my present space, including canvas baskets, nightstands, and plastic drawer units that fit well under shelves.
If you’re tired of your bulky dresser, assess your layout and consider other options that will allow you to get rid of it. I promise you the extra space is worth it.
#5: A large television and entertainment center
Unless you host movie nights or have an addiction to satellite television, you may even be able to get rid of your TV and bulky entertainment center. Most shows and movies can be streamed online and viewed in just as high quality on a laptop or tablet. Not having to accommodate a central location for this large item and all its accessories frees up your floor plan (or wall space, if mounted). For even better reasons to get rid of your television, read this blog.
Rethinking the Need
Just because you’ve always had a particular item in your home, or everyone else seems to, doesn’t mean it’s a requirement. Step out of the box by re-evaluating the purpose of what you have and whether it best suits your needs, and you’ll be free to create the ideal layout for your small space lifestyle.