We asked our readers to share their best small-space solutions, and reviewed hundreds of responses to come up with these Real Simple-approved favorites.
An Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer.
My husband and I had our first two sons in a tiny two-bedroom condo in Chicago. With two cribs in one small bedroom, there was hardly room for one dresser—certainly not two! So I bought the organizer and used it for diapers, wipes, blankets, burp cloths, and more. Five years later, we now have three sons and live in the suburbs. I still use it, but now for shin guards, lightbulbs, bulky socks, goggles, and flashlights. It has been so useful for our family, and it cost me less than $20!
—Molly Brown, Northbrook, Illinois
I stash mops and brooms on a pegboard in the
useless space behind the laundry-room door.
—Mary Pielenz Hampton, Bozeman, Montana, via Facebook
A hanging wall basket for fruit, ladder-style shelves for towels in the bathroom, and high shelves in the closet. Display mementos with everyday items to break it up.
—Amy Anna Reede, Santa Ana, California, via Facebook
I have a master bed
room with a little closet.
I purchased an upholstered bench that opens up. It’s not only a place
to sit but also a great place to store off-season clothing. I can lay the garments flat, which reduces wrinkles, and it’s easily accessible if the weather suddenly changes.
—Mary Kay Metcalfe, Seattle, Washington
Bed Lifts to Maximize Storage.
My husband and I recently moved from a 1,500-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot home in
Hawaii. The space that’s created underneath the bed gives us a
place to stash suitcases and boxes.
—Stephanie Sampier Zaleski, Kapa‘a, Hawaii
Wall Hooks of All Shapes and Sizes.
In my house, they hold keys, coats, and hats in the entryway; pots, pans, and gadgets in the kitchen;
and cardigans, jewelry, and scarves in the bedroom. Their uses are endless.
—Rachel Walsh, Upton, Massachusetts
When my daughter was in first grade, I realized I already had several tubs in the basement full of
her art projects. I started to panic, knowing I had another
11 years of schooling to go. So
I started to photograph her
work using a large white poster board as a background, then made photo albums, organized by school year, online. I kept four or five truly special pieces, and the rest went in the recycle bin. Now not only do I have a cleaner basement but we all look at and enjoy her work, too.
—Jen Sterling, Arnold, Maryland
I use the space near the floor
for junk-drawer items that would take up precious room elsewhere.
I now go there daily to find pens, rubber bands, flashlights, batteries, nails, etc.
—Marilyn Sweitzer, Salem, Missouri
A Folding Table for a Workstation.
During the day, it comes out from under my bed and transforms a
corner of my bedroom into my office. When I’m done working, it’s collapsed
and put away. (I stow my laptop and supplies in the closet.) A side benefit?
I never have a messy desk.
—Kat Miner, Apple Valley, California
They easily allow you to save space but also entertain.
—@courtAfed, via Twitter
Wall space is limited and I can’t stand having notes lying around, so I painted the inside of my pantry door with chalkboard paint. I use it to jot down reminders and schedules. And since
it’s tucked away, guests don’t see when feminine products are on the shopping list!
—Allison Hess, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, via Facebook
Long Bins Under Every Bed.
Our favorite thing to put in them is Lego blocks. The bins hold
a ton and make it easy for the kids to find what
—Katie Cartwright Hampton, Anchorage, Alaska, via Facebook
Don’t Accept Everything.
Of course I thank the gifter of the
Halloween-themed googly-eyed salt
and pepper shakers, but then I think about if I really need them. If not, I pass them along to someone who will love to decorate their home with them each fall.
I have to choose what fits my style and what I feel brings life to my home. I try to toss or give away everything else.
—Sarah Clay, Nashville, Tennessee
I use them to organize items such as spice jars, medicine bottles, and canned goods.
—Millie Benson, Oak Park, Illinois
For more solutions check out 10 Tips for Living in a Small Space with Kids.