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Published February 01, 2017
Let's take a moment and celebrate the studio apartment, shall we? These (relatively) affordable rental options are the perfect solution for those of us on a budget. Plus, if you're lazy a multitasker, this could be your ideal living situation -- everything is in the same room!
But for all their advantages, studio apartments require a sacrifice: space.
Squeezing everything you love -- whether it's your spelunking equipment or your collection of miniature cast-iron animals -- into such a small space is a challenge worthy of "American Ninja Warrior."
Need a miracle in your tiny abode? These seven pro tips promise to keep your studio uncluttered, organized, and livable.
1. Make everything a double agent
When you're squished for space, follow Food Network host Alton Brown's golden rule both inside and outside the kitchen: Never buy a unitasker.
If your bulkiest furniture doesn't have multiple uses, it's wasting square footage. A dining table can serve as a desk, and if you have a nightstand, it should deliver some serious storage.
Professional organizer Jamie Novak recommends using a trunk for your coffee table.
"It offers a large amount of storage in addition to making a distinct statement," she says. Other space-saving options include a storage ottoman with a tray on top, or rolling bins underneath a traditional coffee table.
2. Develop a storage plan -- and stick to it
Squeezing your life into a studio requires developing a detailed plan for how you'll store all your precious belongings. You can't (or shouldn't) just throw junk into a drawer. Plot out where you'll keep your pots and pans, and figure out where you'll stow your winter coat.
Knowing where things go can help you slim down your stuff, too.
"If it doesn't have a place to go, get rid of it," says Diane Figlar Wilson, vice president of public relations at Dcor Aid, an interior design firm. "If you haven't used it in a year, toss it."
3. Follow the '8-minute rule'
You need to spend only a few minutes a day organizing your studio to feel cleaner, brighter, and more spacious. Christina Giaquinto, a New Jersey -- based professional organizer, developed the "eight-minute rule" to keep her clients' homes shipshape.
"Set a timer for eight minutes, and put things away," she says. "It will prevent your apartment from getting chaotic. Eventually this will become a habit, and when it becomes a part of your lifestyle, your apartment will never get out of control."
She recommends setting your timer before going to bed, which lets you pick up the remnants of the day's activities. But the goal is to fit the exercise into your current lifestyle, so if your schedule requires decluttering in the morning or after lunch, feel free to squeeze it in then.
4. Think -- and build -- vertically
When you're low on space, create your own. In studio apartments, that usually means looking up.
Wilson recommends building custom storage from floor to ceiling. A hallway is the perfect spot for your new built-ins, but running them along the back wall of your living area is also an attractive, space-saving option.
"If you want to increase storage space by about 50%, fold your items into a small rectangle and then store them vertically versus horizontally," Kero says. "This way, you can see everything and it's easier to grab what you need and put things away once you're done with them."
5. Stay sleek and slim
If your mom wants to bequeath you that enormous four-poster bed, just refuse. Bulky furniture is simply a no-go for studio apartments. So say goodbye to your oversize coffee table and plush armchair.
"Stick to products that are sleek and slim," Giaquinto says.
And it's not just your furniture that needs a diet. Take a peek in your kitchen and closets: Are your serving dishes enormous? Hang them on the wall as dcor, or buy smaller options. Do your clothes hang on thick plastic or wood hangers? Something slimmer will let you stuff more shirts and jackets into your itty-bitty closet.
6. Try a 'bedside organizer'
No room for a nightstand? Novak has a brilliant solution for your bedroom woes: A "bedside organizer" created from an over-the-door shoe organizer.
Slide the organizer between your mattress and your box spring, "leaving a few pockets hanging over as a 'bedside organizer,'" she says. It's just right for holding nighttime essentials like your reading glasses, TV remote, or Kindle. Perch a lamp and your water glass on a small stool, and you're all set for bedtime.
7. Make a makeshift mudroom
Mudrooms might seem like they're only for well-off people in big homes, but there's no reason you can't create this space in a studio. A conveniently located closet can be an easy solution, but if there's no storage space near your entrance, some creativity may be required.
Novak recommends placing an armoire near the entryway. Installing hooks on the doors provides space for coats and hats, and "the shelving and hanging space will be much appreciated," she says.
If an armoire might be too bulky in your studio space, consider a baker's rack instead. Its exposed shelving and simple lines make it an ideal choice for an unobtrusive entryway organizer.
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Watch: What $1,800 in Rent Gets You Across the Nation