When apartment hunting, it’s easy to be blown away by an apartment’s pool view, central location and awesome amenities and neglect to think about where you’ll store all your stuff once you move in. However, overlooking available storage can be a regrettable mistake. And sometimes you have to create your own.
“All space can be storage space, but it depends on how comfortably you want to live and how cramped of a space you can handle,” says Jake Lizarraga, a writer with Interior Charm, a home design blog.
The key is figuring out whether there are creative ways to add space, he says.
With that in mind, take a stroll through this list of 13 storage spaces to inspect before you sign a lease on your next apartment. Then check out some storage solutions that can bring order to any tiny apartment.
1. Bedroom and Hallway Closets
Spacious closets are not the norm in apartment living.
Don’t get so enamored with the big living room that you overlook a tiny closet that will contain only a fraction of your wardrobe and has no room for storing shoes and non-clothing items that need tucked out of sight.
2. Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers
If you don’t cook or have many appliances, kitchen cabinet space may not seem like a priority. However, if you cook a lot, you’ll need cabinet space for dishes, bakeware, pots and pans and bulky appliances. Even if you don’t cook much, check out all cabinets for alternative non-kitchen storage uses.
3. Bathroom Cabinets
Where are you going to put all your hair and skin products, hair dryers, prescriptions, makeup, over-the-counter medicines, curling irons, lotions and other items that you use daily? One little medicine cabinet probably won’t do the trick.
4. Linen Closets
Is there a hallway or linen closet where you can store towels, sheets, comforters and bedspreads, tablecloths and extra quilts and blankets? You’ll have to store all that stuff somewhere.
An alcove, which is a small, recessed section of a room, may seem like a good place to put a reading chair or a breakfast nook but the space can also offer ample storage opportunities.
6. Enclosed Parking Spaces
If you’re lucky enough to have a private, enclosed parking space such as a garage or carport, the space could be ideal for storing boxes, bicycles or furniture you want to keep that won’t fit into a small apartment.
7. Storage Bins or Units
Some apartment buildings have space in storage bins in the basement or off-site storage facilities that may be included in the rent or that you can purchase for an extra monthly charge.
8. Storage Rooms
Do you really need all three bedrooms in that apartment? If not, one may serve as a convenient and out-of-sight storage area for unpacked boxes, extra furniture, chairs and other items you can’t fit.
9. Wall Space
Take a good look at available wall space, a commonly overlooked storage option where you can hang racks, shelves, pictures, kitchen pots and pans, knife sets and much more.
10. Kitchen Counter Space
Where will you store your humongous turkey roaster, bulky coffee maker and gargantuan standing mixer? If there isn’t much counter space, you’ll need cabinet or closet space for large appliances.
11. Under-Stairway Space
Is there space under the stairs to store boxes, seasonal items or maybe even a couple of bikes? Peek beneath open stairways to find out.
Nobody likes that neighbor who piles a bunch of boxes and furniture on his balcony, but if you don’t go overboard, a balcony may have shelves or alcoves you can use for hidden storage.
13. Built-In Shelving
Who doesn’t love built-in bookshelves or built-in shelves in the kitchen or bathroom? These shelves don’t jut into what precious little space is available in a small apartment.
Getting the Most Out of Your Apartment Storage Space
Now that you’ve got an idea how to size up storage options in small spaces, here are some tips from organizers and other people who know how to make the most out of the square footage you’ve got to work with.
Measure Before You Rent
Measure the space and determine how the available storage space will be divided, says Justin Pogue, author of the rental guide Rental Secrets.
“In addition, take full inventory of all the storage spaces that come with the apartment,” says Pogue.
Measure bedroom and hallway closets, storage rooms, storage and kitchen cabinets and enclosed parking spaces to make sure before you move in that you’ll have enough storage space.
Inquire About Additional Storage
Ask the landlord if the building offers additional storage space you may be able to utilize, recommends Jesse Harris, Property Manager of Medallion Capital Group, a real estate development and property management firm.
“There’s a chance they’ll let you store your bike in the furnace room over the winter or they have unused space in a shed or garage on the property,” says Harris.
Rent Another Tenant’s Storage Locker
Not everybody uses available storage. Harris suggests checking apartment complex or building bulletin boards for tenants seeking to rent out an unused storage unit or bin. Or, post your own notice that you’re willing to rent another tenant’s storage area.
Rack up Wall Space
Use racks to hang mugs, pots, spoons in the kitchen and to store toiletries in the bathroom, suggests Lior Rachmany, CEO of Dumbo Moving + Storage. But don’t stop there.
“Place floating shelves around your bedroom and take advantage of the least-used space in your apartment to display favorite items like family photos, mementos, personal collections and books,” says Rachmany. “Make the most of your walls to free up more floor space.”
Explore In-furniture Storage
Rachmany suggests using storage ottomans and customizing or converting existing furniture into handy storage areas. For example, invest in storage boxes that fit under the couch or bed.
“Pull-out couches can offer an ideal space-saving solution,” says Rachmany.
Create Extra Storage With Shelves
“Place floating shelves around your bedroom,” says Rachmany. “Use a shelving unit as a room dividerand place where you can store books, antiques and knick-knacks.”
Use Space Under the Bed
Why leave that big, empty space to collect dust?
“Utilize empty shoe boxes that fit perfectly under your bed, which makes them ideal for storing out-of-season items, holiday decorations or clothes,” says Rachmany.
Think Outside the Apartment
“Some apartments also come with storage rooms, storage cabinets, or enclosed parking spaces outside of the apartment,” says Pogue. “These additional storage options can make a mediocre apartment more attractive by reducing the amount of livable space that needs to be used for storage.”
Add Stand-Alone Storage
If your closet space is limited, try adding a stand-alone wardrobe for hanging clothing or stacking pull-out boxes for folded items, says organizing coach Lisa Dooley, author of More Space, More Time, More Joy!
“This uses vertical space to its greatest advantage,” says Dooley.
Get Unconventional With Dressers and Drawers
“Move a dresser that won’t fit in the bedroom to a hallway or into a closet,” says Dooley. “No one says it has to stay in the bedroom.”