How to Stay Sane When Living in a Small Space

(Article)

I live in London, where house prices are high, rent prices are high, and, cost of living, in general, is high. So, although I would love to own my own property, I’m currently still renting. I’m renting a studio flat/apartment that I share with my husband. A very small studio flat. It was a choice between: tiny and in a great area, slightly larger in a less great area, or sharing a flat or house with housemates. I wasn’t keen on the flat sharing idea so I opted for tiny and in a great area.

This is the layout of my flat:screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-13-56-28

I actually got lucky with the layout. The living area is next to the kitchen area, and the sleeping area is towards the back, away from the kitchen. I’ve seen studios where the only place to put the bed is right next to the kitchen area, or studios that don’t have many windows, or studios where there is only a kitchenette so it’s difficult to actually be able to cook proper meals.

My flat has a huge window in the living area and a window in the kitchen area, as well as a window in the front door and above the front door. There are also windows in the bathroom. It has a small but full sized kitchen where I can fit a full sized cooker and fridge, as well as other kitchen appliances, and the bathroom is quite spacious. The layout of the flat is also in a way that makes it easy for me to separate the living area from the bedroom area.

But, as you can tell, it’s not the most spacious of places, especially for two people to share. Add in the fact that I’m a book hoarder and a shopaholic and we have two people, a small space, and a lot of stuff (thankfully, my husband doesn’t have nearly as much stuff as I do).

I’ve lived in my flat for almost 3 years and I love it. As I said, it’s in a great location, it’s cosy and bright, and it actually feels more spacious than it might look. But to get it this way took planning, a lot of creativity, and a bit of compromise.

So, here are my tips for keeping sane when living in a small space.

Furniture and Decor Placement

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You have to make sure you’re arranging your furniture in the best way possible. It all depends on the layout of your flat, but as a basic rule, furniture should be arranged in a way that keeps the space looking somewhat spacious: not too cluttered, not too many pieces, your furniture pieces should not be too large. There should be some negative space so that not everywhere you look is filled with furniture or décor. It also needs to still be aesthetically pleasing (to you) and fit your overall theme or décor. Sounds like a bit of a task, right?

When I moved into my flat it was unfurnished, which was perfect. It meant that I could furnish it whichever way I liked. So, the first thing I did was plan where pieces were going. I already had a few pieces of furniture, like a bed, bookcases and a chest of drawers, so I measured those and put masking tape on the floor, marking out the exact location I planned to put them to see if they would fit. Then, for the things I didn’t have but was planning to buy, like a sofa, I would choose the one I was going to get, check the measurements, and then check that it would fit well in the space I intended to put it before I actually bought it.

I also wanted to separate the bedroom area from the living room area. I hated the idea of my bed being on show all the time, and that whoever walked into the flat would immediately be able to see my sleeping area, so I separated the two areas with my bookcases. I got the idea from Apartment Therapy. It was my go-to site when planning out my space and it really helped me with ideas.

Lots and Lots of Storage

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Storage is your best friend when living in a small space, because it’s all your stuff that make a place look cluttered and, therefore, smaller. Storage pieces either keep your things tidy or get them out of sight, helping your space look less cluttered. So, I have a lot of storage furniture pieces: bookcases, DVD cases, chest of drawers, a wardrobe, decorative boxes to store random things, two ottomans that are also our coffee table and can be used as extra seating. Getting furniture that doubles up as storage or has multiple uses is also a good idea.

Light Colours

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As previously mentioned, my flat has a big window and several smaller windows, which bring in a lot of light and really help to make the place look more open and airy. Either way, I still kept everything light coloured. Light colours help to brighten a place, and brightening a place makes it look more spacious. The walls in my living area are painted a cream colour called Orchid White. All the furniture is either a light-coloured wood or white. The floor is also a light-coloured wood effect vinyl. The curtains are a similar colour to the walls and are translucent so they let in light even when closed.

Loft Bed

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Now, this last one is a polarising one, I know. Adults sleeping in a loft bed, is, well, unusual. Plus, it depends on if you have ceilings high enough (which, thankfully, I do). But, hear me out. We used to have a normal bed and it was fine. Because of my furniture placement, we had a cosy nook for the bed and some storage space underneath. However, we decided to get a loft bed after seeing the suggestion many times on Apartment Therapy.

Remember what I said about storage? Well, having a loft bed has greatly increased our storage capacity and has, in turn, increased our overall living space. All the floor space that our previous bed was taking up is now free. The space underneath the loft bed is like a little room in itself. I was able to move some storage pieces from the living area to the space under the loft bed so the living area is also more spacious as a result. I also added some more storage pieces under the loft bed so we now have more space to store clothes, shoes and many other things. In the space under the loft bed, I was also able to create what is now my favourite part of the flat: my office space!


I hope these tips were helpful. I did all of these things because I have a lot of stuff and I wanted to maximise the amount of space I had. However, using just one or two of these small space saving ideas will make a big difference.

Please comment below with any other tips that help keep you sane in your small space!

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