Decor & Design NYC Moving Guide

Tips to Make Space in Your Small New York Apartment

Have you outgrown your New York apartment? If your one-bedroom apartment once seemed spacious but is now bursting at the seams, know that you are not alone.  New Yorkers outgrow their modest living quarters every single day.

It’s pretty typical to run out of space as you grow older and your life situation changes no matter where you live, but in a city like New York where tiny apartments are the norm, running short on space is almost guaranteed. Perhaps you're now married, so you have an extra body and belongings to fit into that 500 square foot flat. Or possibly, baby number two has shown up and your tiny second bedroom isn't cutting it for your toddler and the newborn. Maybe upgrading to a larger apartment isn't in your budget, but you're not ready to say goodbye to living in NYC yet either. Luckily, there are some ways to remedy a lack of space in a small apartment. Here are some small space living tips to make your tiny New York digs look and feel bigger.

Edit – sell or donate your old things.

First things first – if you haven't used or worn something in two years (if you want to be ultra aggressive with your edit, then go with one year), trash it, or better yet, donate it. Not only will you score a huge tax deduction, but also you'll be surprised at the amount of space a good edit creates. You might find an extra drawer or section of your (probably) tiny closet, ideal for storing those items lurking in the corner of your living room. And above all, you'll feel proud that you've started making space in your too-small apartment without spending any cash.

Declutter your space and focus on vertical storage.

When you're out of floor space, go up. Install shelves where you can, and use wall space for hanging pots and pans, a bicycle, and most anything that will fit on a hook.

Use a room divider.

If you have a large living room, consider adding a room divider – ideal for storing books and tchotchkes – so one side of the living space could be an office, dining room, or sitting area. There's also the possibility of putting up a temporary wall or non-load-bearing wall to create another room. More on that next.

Install a temporary wall.

If it's permitted in your building, constructing a temporary wall could give you the additional space you need. Take that extra bedroom and turn it into two bedrooms. A baby doesn't need all that much space, and you can remove the wall in a few years after the baby has grown into a toddler. Adding a wall could give you that nook you need and solve your small space living issues altogether. Just be sure to check with your super before you install or build any wall.

Invest in multi-purpose & storage furniture.

A storage ottoman does wonders for keeping clutter at bay, as does a trunk, which can double as a cocktail table or bench at the foot of the bed. Purchase pieces that can store and act as seating or surfaces, as well as complement your design aesthetic. Add multi-purpose furniture to every room to maximize storage options in your small space.

Make your apartment feel bigger by keeping things light.

As silly as it might sound, good light can make a small New York apartment appear larger than it is. Keep the natural light flowing and don't use heavy curtains. Keep the walls and furnishings lighter and avoid dark colors. Your apartment could take on the illusion of being larger than it is because square footage doesn't dictate the efficiency of any space, even a small one.

Update your the floor plan with a more spacious layout.

While moving furniture takes tends to be more involved than editing, sometimes a refresh and changing things up can make your space feel larger than it seems in its current layout. Play with rearranging your room on graph paper before you hire any helpers to lift the heavy objects.

Rent a storage unit.

And when you've exhausted every small space hack above, but you still need to make room, you might try renting a storage unit. Pull out your seasonal items and keep them in a place outside your small New York apartment, then rotate your items when the weather changes. You can find New York City self-storage locations here.

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. Find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. Find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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