Organizing Small Spaces: Organizing Yourself

The “Closet Under the Staircase” is coming along wonderfully! We spent the weekend ripping out the carpet and the old shelves, painting three walls & the ceiling white and the fourth wall a vibrant color, and laying wood floors. (you really didn’t think I could paint a room and not put at least one different wall color in it, did you?) We still need to install some quarter round around the base of the trim and choose & install new shelving. Then I get to pick out what kind of organization/storage items I want to use. Baskets, metal bins, etc.? Decisions, decisions!

My daughter is in the process of organizing her apartment and is sharing some of her and her roommate’s tips on living in and organizing small spaces. Today she is talking about organizing yourself.


Starting on January 1st of this year, Netflix began streaming Friends—all ten seasons. Why is this a big deal? As a college student, my Saturday evening cleaning routine revolved around listening to the show in the background and reciting quotes out loud with each episode. (With over 240 episodes, they never get old!) Once television became too advanced, however, our non-HD, non-wide screen copies fell to the wayside and were replaced with DVDs of The Office and New Girl. As I’m sure you can imagine, my New Year’s Day experienced back-to-back episodes of the show’s first season and my cleaning routine fell into good, old habits with the renaissance of my favorite show—which got me in the mood for a little organizing.

With the new year moving in, a lot of people make resolutions to clear out their junky rooms and reorganize for a more productive year, and that is a great resolution to make! Organization can make all aspects of daily living easier, faster, and less stressful, but many times it can be overwhelming to open the closet door, see how many clothes you have to go through or how much stuff has managed to pile itself on the shelves, and think you have to go through all of it to make any progress. If you are living in a smaller space with limited storage, however, making room and being innovative in your organizational methods is an absolute must! We live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, which sounds like it would have a lot of storage—until you see how much stuff we have together. Because we’ve had to learn some organizational strategies to make the most of our space, we’ve become innovative in our storage and in our living. Here are a few tips to help others living in smaller spaces like us.

Organize Yourself: A lot of the time, especially in apartments, there is a designated space for storing items, such as a bathroom linen closet, but no built-in organization. All of our closets have great shelves and space, but there are no drawers or separators to help us keep things in their place. If you try to make simple, flat shelves work, you are likely to run into the problem of things overlapping or losing their space as your collection grows. Lotions move into medications as the bulk of toilet paper you bought on sale takes over the bottom shelf and moves your Kleenex into the front closet.  Suddenly, you can’t find anything you need and your well-intentioned work was all for naught.

The best way to avoid this is to organize yourself before you organize your items. Baskets are a fantastic way to separate items by their purpose, which is very helpful for bathrooms. For our bathroom linen closet, we use the top two shelves for towels and wash cloths; for the bottom two shelves, we use baskets for everything else: we have baskets for emergency aid supplies (because you usually need to find those in a hurry), non-emergency medications that we do not take regularly (such as Tums or Advil), hygiene products (spare razors or toothbrushes), feminine products, and even beautification products, such as facial masks and nail polish. The baskets occasionally get a little messy and require us to clean them out again, but they make finding the Excedrin Migraine much easier when I need it quickly. Baskets are great for small spaces when the items do not easily lend themselves to simply sitting on a shelf.

Shelf organization

Other smaller items similar to baskets will work for various spaces as well. Take for example our shower shelf organizer. I was tired of having rings in the corner of the bath tub where shampoo and bath wash sat every day, letting towel strings collect and keeping the water from washing everything off. I found a great shower shelf that suctioned to the tile and holds everything at arm’s reach. It is easier to use and keeps the tub cleaner!

shower organization

For larger spaces, such as closets or bedrooms, larger tubs work in the same way—they even make long, flat tubs to store seasonal clothing under the bed. Don’t forget to label the tubs, though. Digging through seven tubs to find that your sports equipment is in the last one defeats the purpose of organizing it all in the first place.

Lastly, keep in mind that, even though it might sound extreme, sometimes it does well to give everything its place and keep it there. My mom and I are the type that likes to assign a place to items and keep them there; that way we always know where things are and keep it all in order. This occasionally drives our other halves crazy, but it works. We have a small built-in desk at the end of our hallway. We never really use it as a desk, mostly just to keep our mail and important papers in order, so beneath it I keep our cats’ toys in a small cat bed so they are not all over the floor. For a few weeks, every time I would pick up the apartment, I would collect all the toys and drop them in the bed. After a few weeks, we noticed that our cats would go under the desk when they were wanting to play and come back with a toy. Even cats can learn that everything has a place for organization!


Yep, that apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to wanting everything in its place! I hope she has given you a few ideas to help you begin your new year organization!

Y’all have a great day! Later gators!

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