Living Small: Solved

John, Finn, and I all have lived in a 400 square foot studio apartment for the past year. Although we lived in a small apartment last year, we had about an extra 200 square feet to work with (and an actual bedroom). We decided to move because it’s fun to have moved 4 times in the last 4 years (yea right…). We were just tired of having roommates honestly. We love having our own space and we still save money by spiting the rent between the 2 of us, it’s just slightly difficult to share a small space with 2 large humans and a large dog.

When we first moved in, I thought this was literally going to be impossible. We have A TON of stuff. We have our whole lives with us and between a guy who has a ton of random stuff, a girl who has a million clothes and makeup products (not to mention supplies for my Etsy shop), and a dog with a wardrobe larger than John, we needed more space. As we settled in and started getting used to the space, we realized how to utilize it to the best of our ability. These are some of my tips for how we make 400 square feet work for 30 square feet of people and dog.


1. Think Vertical

This was something we learned very quickly when we started moving in. We did not have a lot of space on the floor, but we have really high ceilings so we needed furniture that was tall, but not wide. I already had these shelving units in my childhood bedroom, but now they work great as our wardrobe and linen closet. The shelves are the Billy X Morliden Bookcases in birch from IKEA. We have 2 of them and they work great for us. We keep them organized the the collapsable bins you can find anywhere really (these are from Home Depot) and the cool part about the bookshelves is the black inserts in the doors come out so you can change them to white or add in a cool wall paper to fit the design of your home. The shelves are just over 6 and a half ft tall and since we have such high ceiling we store stuff on top of them too (not as aesthetically pleasing), but they were the first thing we got in here that really gave us some much needed extra space.

Bookshelf: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S39023406/#/S39023406

Bins: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Home-Basics-10-5-in-x-10-5-in-Smokey-Grey-Collapsible-and-Foldable-Non-Woven-Storage-Cube-SB51079/308323280


2. Utilize Storage Bins

We got this shelving unit from Amazon because the only storage we have in the bathroom is under the sink and this girl is a product whore so I needed some extra storage for random medicines, sunscreen, dry shampoo, and some other random products. This worked out great because, again, it was tall, but took up no usable space in the bathroom. At first, I was just throwing all my products on the shelves and I could never find anything and it looked a cluttered mess. I realize this still looks cluttered, but now it is much more manageable for me. These little bins were great for allowing me to organize things into categories and to have easier access to the products as well. They don’t take up the entire space of the shelf because the shelves are a strange dimension, but now I can pull them out and get a product from the back without knocking my toothpaste into the toilet (ask me how I know).

I also keep all my makeup on the counter because I use it almost everyday and investing in some quality makeup containers was one of the best decisions I ever made. You can find these makeup organizers at TJ Maxx and Walmart, but I bought mine from The Container Store (I know, my wallet is screaming), but I think it was really worth it. I bought these 3 years ago when I was living in my first apartment and they have held up perfectly over the years. They have not cracked or scratched through lots of ware and through 2 moves. Plus, you can wipe them down with soap and water when they get makeup on them and they look as good as new. I actually think I’m going to be investing in another shelf underneath soon because as you can see, it’s overflowing slightly….

Storage Unit:https://www.amazon.com/ATS-Spacesaver-Shelving-Organizer-AllTim3Shopping/dp/B076TVYQGV/ref=sr_1_91?crid=39XU7EDP10O4P&keywords=over+toilet+bathroom+organizer&qid=1551040264&s=gateway&sprefix=over+toilet+%2Caps%2C377&sr=8-91

Bins on shelf:https://www.target.com/p/y-weave-small/-/A-53816527?preselect=16554613#lnk=sametab

Makeup Storage: https://www.containerstore.com/s/luxe-acrylic-modular-makeup-system/d?productId=10036225&q=makeup%20storage


3. Don’t forget storage down low

We are lucky that this apartment came furnished and the room already has furniture with great storage, but all of these tricks are things you can do with the furniture you already have. Our bed is raised about 3 ft off the ground and it is great for storing stuff! We literally keep everything under there. I keep my holiday decorations, my suitcase, school supplies, extra clothes, and much much more under the bed. John even fits our massive cornhole boards he made us under there. We keep everything organized in storage bins to make sure we can find things easily, but I also hide all the bins with our large comforter. Our bed is only a full size bed (no we do not fit in it well, but we have no choice), but the comforter is a queen size. The extra length allows us to hide most of the stuff under the bed without having to buy an extra long bed skirt.

We also have wicker storage bins under our coffee table and on the shelves of our TV stand. This is where we keep things like my massive candle collection, Johns Xbox games, and random dog toys. Keeping things low also helps me have easier access to them as opposed to if they are up high. Raising other things up to put storage underneath is always a good idea to keep in the back of your mind when living in a small space.


4. Make the most of the storage space you were given

Our apartment has 2 closets. One is this coat closet and the other is our main closet which is twice the size of this one. We store our clothes and shoes in the other big one, but this one is sort of a catch all. As you can see, this thing is stuffed to the brim, but it has so much stuff in it you can’t even see. We AGAIN used a storage bin to hold stuff in the bottom of the closet. This holds, tissues, paper towels, potting soil, and other random stuff that would fall out of the closet otherwise. We also have something hanging on the back of, I kid you not, every door in our house. This one is for scarfs and jackets, but we also have a shoe one, one for our towels in the bathroom, and another one for belts and purses.

You can do so much more in a closet than just hang clothes up. This closet also has a shelf on top that has about 4 ft above it of empty space so we started stacking things up into the top. We actually have a step stool in this closet (for me obviously) and we keep stuff way up into the top like our Kan Jam, extra toilet paper, and extra kitchen appliances. It’s always nice to get things off the counter when you’re not using them so we keep things like our food processor and Kurig in here because we barely use them and need the extra counter space instead.

Also, my big winter coat is covering 4 other jackets on that one hook next to his closet. That’s a hook I bought from Francescas and put up with heavy duty command strips and it takes up literally no space in our apartment and it’s perfect to keep my jackets that I wear everyday.


Living in a 400 square foot studio apartment has taught me a lot. Mainly, that I really don’t need a ton of space to be happy. It taught me there are so many things I don’t need and it taught me what is essential for me in our next apartment. I hope this post helps you out with making the most of your space, big or small, and maybe it will inspire you to possibly downsize a bit. I do recommend getting a place with a bedroom though. It’s going to be a strange transition when I don’t have to wake up next to my couch and looking at my microwave.