Mark Roemer image of a small space changed into something with a large amount of storage.

Tips for Making Your Small Apartment Livable

In an attempt to have more housing available in a block of apartments, many landlords are reducing the size of the units — much to the dismay of new and old apartment dwellers. I don’t personally do this, as no one likes to live in a small apartment. However, the more time that passes, this may be a reality for me as well. Therefore, in this blog, I, Mark Roemer, am going to share some ways that you can make your small apartment a little less confining. I am sure that you have thought of some of these ideas, but perhaps I can surprise you with a new take on getting the most out of your apartment.

To start, we must first look at the definition of “small apartment.” This can be quite a subjective term. For someone that is used to living in a large house, anything less could feel small. For our purposes here, we will be discussing apartments that are 400 square feet or less. For most people, this would be considered very small.

No matter what kind of square footage you have, it all boils down to making the best of the space that you do have. In North America, even our smallest apartments are considered large by people in Europe and more so in Japan. While we may not have access to the ingenious ways, they make the best of their situations; we can still use some tricks to make what we do have much better. Let’s dive right in.

Go Vertical

If you are only thinking of your apartment horizontally, you are approaching the problem wrong. Take a look around your residence and see if you can locate a couple of places where you can add some shelves. Additionally, look above your cabinets. In an attempt to look luxurious, some contractors leave a space above the cabinets in the kitchen. This can be used to store things that you do not use very often. 

Above the door is a commonplace that is overlooked. Often there is a two to a three-foot gap between the top of the door and the ceiling. Make use of this space by adding shelving unit or two. Again, you will want to use this space to store things that you don’t use as often as other things. Be sure to check with your landlord to make certain you are allowed to drill holes in the wall. On a final note, make sure that you are using adequate anchoring into the wall for the weight of the items you plan on storing. You wouldn’t want to walk through the door, only to have a heavy object fall on your head.

Last but not least, on the vertical aspect, look for places that you can hang hooks that will hold things with handles. Some everyday things you can hang on hooks are pots and pans, wire racks, brooms, and mops. Attaching your knives to a magnetic strip can also make room on your counter for additional items.

Just look around and try to think of things you can hang or stack up. This will give you more space in the limited space that you have.

Room Dividers

Open floor plans are all the rage these days. Therefore, to differentiate between rooms, many people add a physical barrier between them. Quite often, this is a small, thing room divider. Consider replacing that with a bookshelf or something of equal sturdiness. This will allow you to place items in this area and free up some more space. If you are the kind of person that likes DIY, you could also add some doors to the unit and transform it into something quite magnificent.


Nothing makes you feel more claustrophobic that having everything you own out for all to see. Consider finding a way to conceal the items that you use less often. A quick search of Amazon or any other online retailers will allow you to locate furniture with built-in storage. I have an ottoman that has storage inside. It is an excellent place for my wife to stash her knitting supplies. In honesty, it has three uses. It can be a nice footrest, a storage container, and a place for company to sit if they happen to stop by. It is things like this you will be looking for as well.

Another great way to conceal is by using curtains to hang across those bookshelves we talked about in the dividers section. It would be much easier to do that than build a door for each of the compartments. Placing them across doorways instead of a door might be a great idea as well. There is a loss of 3 to 4 inches around the back of every door. Take that space back and remove the inside doors from your apartment. Again, make sure that you are allowed to do this by contacting the landlord.


Perhaps the easiest way to move into a small apartment is by getting rid of the things you do not use. Above, I talked about storing many items that you are not using as much. If you aren’t using it, there is no real reason to hang onto it. Consider having a yard sale before leaving your old apartment or house. Likewise, you can use an online selling medium like eBay/Kijiji or Facebook’s Marketplace. You may not get top dollar for your items, but it will rid you of the things you don’t need.


I hope that I have provided you with some fun and innovative ways to make the best of your small apartment. I, Mark Roemer, understand your pain. When I was younger, I was living in a small apartment when I was in college. There is something unique about living in one of these places. It gives you a new level of respect for larger places. You will come to appreciate the time you spent in your small apartment in the years to come. Once you have to keep a large home clean, you will long for the days you were in a place you could clean in 15 minutes.