How to Organize a Small House with No Storage

Make the most out of your humble abode, even when it feels impossible, with these ideas for organizing a tiny space.

For two years, I lived in a teeny-tiny apartment (nicknamed the "shoebox") just so that I could be fortunate enough to wake up with an ocean view each morning. While I wouldn't trade those years of beachside bliss, it was a constant struggle to keep my things organized. During my time at that small home, as well as through helping clients make sense of their similarly tiny places, I developed systems and strategies that categorically maximized space. While I don't claim to be a magician, these tips might just feel like a miracle if you're looking to learn how to organize a small house with no storage.

living room with dark green sofa and fireplace
Helen Norman

1. Choose Multifunctional Furniture

A storage ottoman that holds sneakers while doubling as an end table. A couch with an attached chaise lounge that raises to store extra paper towels and toilet paper. A full-length mirror that opens to reveal jewelry. These were just some of the furniture items that I incorporated into my tiny apartment to effectively add storage space. Turn to flexible furniture with built-in storage to hide bulk items. Other options include coffee tables or bed frames that lift up to reveal a hidden home office or seasonal clothing storage.

2. Use All the Vertical Space You Can

I'm a bit of a minimalist, so I'll admit that I don't like filling walls with clutter. However, in small spaces, it can sometimes be necessary. Bring in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase or hang floating shelves to store books, bathroom products, or barware. Or turn a slim shelving unit on wheels into a perfectly organized pantry.

For a small office, choose a wall-mounted desk alongside a file cabinet that doubles as a bench. Hang hooks where you need them, such as for keys or a coat by the front door in lieu of an entryway. Or use customizable rack organizers to contain small things on the inside of any door, such as the coat closet. This allows small items to be hidden away until needed.

3. Put Organizing Products to Work

There is nothing quite as overwhelming as when tools that were designed to help you get organized begin to turn into clutter. I've seen it all too often, so I highly recommend that you be intentional about your purchases.

That said, organizing products can greatly improve the amount of space in your cabinets and closets. Some of my favorite storage supplies include shelf risers, stackable drawers or drop-front shoe boxes, two-tiered lazy Susans, and slim hangers. The key is to take careful measurements, particularly in a small space, and determine ahead of time the number of products needed to prevent excess. It might seem excessive, but I always recommend counting exactly how many articles of clothing you want to hang or hang many shoes you own so you can accurately purchase the right amount of hangers or shoe organizers.

Additionally, mastering the art of file-folding your clothing in drawers or baskets will also maximize space.

4. Keep It Minimal

While not exactly a storage tip per se, a "less is more" mindset can drastically improve the function of a small home. No matter how much storage you create using these methods, you'll continue to feel cramped if you own more stuff than space. Get into the habit of regularly decluttering your things. Before your weekly grocery run, take a minute or two to look through your pantry, fridge, and freezer to toss what's expired and avoid buying something you don't actually need. Keep a tote bag in or near your closet and fill it as you find things that no longer spark joy. Block off a half hour on your calendar once per season to go through skincare and makeup. Take the time to pare down on a consistent basis and you'll feel as if your home magically grew.

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