Thursday, March 31, 2011

Top 3 Kitchen Storage Ideas

My kitchen next year is tiny. As in minuscule. It's about 7 feet long and about 3 feet wide. Not a lot of wiggle room to move around in there. Add in some pots, pans, and food - much less my physical body - things are going to get interesting. The kitchen includes a fridge, small stove, and a couple of cupboards above the stove. I was panicking a bit, wondering where I'd put all my stuff so I researched a few creative ways to get the most out of your cooking and eating space. Here are my top 3:

1. Magnetic strips
Magnetic strips can boost the storage power of your wall. Just slap up a strip and start magnetizing stuff. This is a great option for knife storage as well as most anything else metal and fairly lightweight. Personally, I'm a big fan of storing spices via magnets. Transfer your spices into individual mini metal canisters with clear lids and you'll be able to easily see which spices are which the next time you're cooking up something fancy. (See the picture below for an example of a spice magnet strip.

2. Fruit Shelves
I came across this neat fruit shelf on Ikea Hackers (click the link to see the plans for this storage set-up). The main materials for the shelf appear to be wood and clear baking or serving dishes. This is a great way to display your fruit without having apples roll all over (and off) your counter. Win!

3. Pot Hanger
The ceiling is one of the top most wasted spaces in a kitchen in my opinion. It's a tricky location to utilize though. A ceiling's openness makes your apartment feel larger - something important in a small living space. A pot hanger, with its open design, does not have as much flow interruption in a space as you might think. Hangers come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you can pick the best one for your needs. Wall pot hangers are also great options.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lighting for a Small Apartment

My mom and I have been discussing my upcoming apartment for months now. We've been working out what I can take from home and what I'll need to buy. She's using the opportunity to hand me off a leather couch, mattress, and bed box. All so she can buy new furniture. She's thrilled. So over spring break she showed me some of the items I'll be able to haul back to the city. Included on the list are a matching pair of retro black and white speckled lamps. They were my grandparents' from decades ago. And they are wicked sweet. The lamps aren't big, but my apartment has large windows and a skylight overhead so plenty of natural light will be flowing most of the waking hours. Planning what you're going to do to shine some light on your space? Excellent. Read on.

1. Space-saving lighting options

Small apartments mean little room for stuff (did you check out my last post on storage?). Now lighting doesn't have to be included in the limited stuff you let in your front door. Put up track lighting or recessed lighting, if your apartment allows it. These types of lighting give off plenty of light - an amount which can usually be controlled via a switch - all the while saving valuable floor space from being taken over by giant floor lamps.

2. Natural light

Natural light. I can't get enough of it. I absolutely cannot wait till I get to my natural-light flooded apartment. Is your space lacking some sun rays? Maximize what you do get. Light colors reflect light well so opt for a lighter shade on the walls. Mirrors, like light-colored walls, reflect light (literally) but they also serve to make the room feel larger. Double win. Also, make sure that nothing is blocking some of the natural light you get now. I know that seems like a "duh" comment but really. Something as virtually unimportant as an extra-dark curtain or an overgrown plant can strip your space of some valuable light.

3. Cozy feel with smaller lights
If cozy is what you're going for, smaller lights are what you want. You may be wondering why I'm including this tip, considering this blog centers on apartments that are already pretty "cozy" in size. But there is a reason. Oh yes. If you happen to have vaulted ceilings, the space can feel larger but also cooler. Small lamps lower the perceived height of your ceiling, creating a more comforting - and romantic - atmosphere, especially for evenings. It's mood lighting, if you will.

If you have any other suggestions, please post a comment. I'd love to hear them!

Friday, March 4, 2011

4 Storage Tips

When you're confined to a small living space finding room for your stuff can be a challenge. Achieving that delicate balance, that I-have-a-lot-of-stuff-but-my-apartment-still-looks-fabulous-and-not-cluttered ratio, takes some creativity. Here are 4 tips for storage:

1. Tall and skinny shelving
To optimize wall space, select shelves that have a taller frame. Also look for shelving pieces that are lightweight-looking with skinny frames. A more streamlined piece will fit just right in your small living quarters; get too bulky of a shelf and it will become the elephant in the room - literally. The room will become overwhelmed it its size and the space will feel smaller.

2. Cubes
I love my cube shelving. You have the option of having fun-colored drawers or going sans drawers to display items or store books. The shelves are easy to carry, and by grouping cubes together, you can create a custom-sized shelf unit. They are especially handy if you have a studio apartment; a half-wall of cubes is a great way to set off a private spot for your bed while still giving the space an open feel.

3. Under-bed storage
Were you one of those kids that just shoved your mess under your bed and called your room clean? You may have been on to something ... Check out beds that substitute storage drawers for a box spring. If you don't mind having your bed higher than normal, you could also find a frame that allows lofting and place shelving underneath. Another never-fail idea is to buy long and shallow plastic storage containers that can just slide under your bed frame. With a duster or extra-long comforter, you're guests will never know they're there!

4. Utilize all your closet space
Let's face it: women have a lot of clothes. And shoes. And handbags. Store them right with a few closet add-ons. Add an extra bar, which will be perfect for shirts, halfway between the floor and the top bar. Add shoe or purse shelving on the closet floor to keep your accessories organized. A closet door shoe organizer is also a great piece - whether it's for shoes or other items like hairbrushes.