hi everyone! i wanted to start a little series about how we’ve made the most out of living in a small apartment here in new york city. we get so many questions about it, and while i shared a lot of tips and tricks in this apartment tour we did of our place a little while back, i thought it might be fun and helpful to get more into the nitty gritty of it all. i personally love seeing fellow city dwellers really maximizing their smaller spaces. and while sometimes i wonder if we are truly mad that we are still making our 2 bedroom apartment with three kids work, at the end of the day, it’s been a really good experience for our family so far (not that i haven’t debated in my head what body part i could live without in exchange for a second bathroom).
by the way, i loved reading this article and perspective on why another is raising her family of three little ones in a 2 bedroom apartment. helped me feel like there was hope to make this work a little while longer! love the idea of tiny home, big life concept.
let’s start with nyc closets! and how i manage clothing and shoe storage in mine, particularly. before we get into it, i feel like i have to preface this post with a big bold caption that says “I AM STILL FIGURING THIS OUT! AND THE FLOOR OF MY CLOSET IS USUALLY MESSY!!!” as well as “you may start feeling claustrophobic by how many pieces of clothing i shove in there (eh hem, hoard?) but you’ve been warned!”
1. FIND A SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU
for me, grouping things by color really helps me know where specific pieces are. it works for me since i tend to dress based on color sometimes before anything else. (i’m weird like that.) i also have a small dresser in our room with three deep drawers. one for all of my demin and pants, another for all of my work out and active wear clothing and the last for my pajamas and under garments.
i found this shoe rack for the back of my closet door to be the most sturdy. (i have tried several.)
since i have two clothing racks (one low and one high), i tend to put things on the higher one that i don’t wear as often, or that i wore recently and know it’ll be a little while before i wear again. it helps since i have to stand on a stool to get anything down from that rack, so it’s not my daily go-to’s right there. this system works for me though because it sort of lends itself to frequent rotation, if that makes sense. i always try to keep the majority of my blouses or dresses on the bottom rack and then heavier sweaters and coats on the top that i don’t wear as often.
we can fit several air tight storage bins underneath our bed where we store some summer clothing (or some winter pieces when it is summer) to help make room in our closest for the appropriate season. we also have a bin under our bed for some of our camera equipment as well as one for tools/household stuff and some emergency preparedness things too. it’s such a great place to store things when you think about it, because it’s a large amount of space that doesn’t need to be accessed really.
2. WHAT STAYS AND WHAT GOES
i absolutely love clothing and i like how it’s a sort of self expression in many ways. because of this, sometimes it’s hard for me to part with things, but i still try to do it frequently.
when i find and purchase new things, i try to get rid of something to make room. it’s hard, but it does feel good to purge. i don’t do it enough (josh will tell you that! ha!) but some things are difficult to part with when they have sentimental feelings or special memories attached. we have a salvation army and goodwill near us, so we donate items there regularly. there are also options for consignment and secondhand stores at local shops and online.
3. LET IT BE SEEN
having hooks to hang your hats and bags is a great way to store them and also see them! i forget what i have if i don’t have a visual of it sometimes. i once started storing my hats under the bed and it was just hard because i basically stopped wearing them because i kept forgetting which ones i had. so having things you use frequently in a place where they are accessible and visible is important.
along these lines, i don’t own or wear much jewelry. but i have a dish on my dresser in my bedroom with the few pieces i own. i think jewelry is so beautiful, it’s fun to have on display. i just wish i wore it more! (i’m actually bringing back a super old goal and hoping to wear some dangly earrings at some point this coming year! if you haven’t seen me sport any by the month of june, someone please remind me!)
4. HANG IT UP
the space on the back of closet doors often goes unused and forgotten even though it is some valuable real-estate when it comes to storage. in the hall closet in our front room, we use a shoe rack that has clear pockets to store pairs of mittens, hats, scarves and the kids’ shoes in the lower pockets. it’s fun to get creative when you don’t have a mud room, and this is great because the kids know where everything is, and can get their own shoes and hats each day, as well as know the exact place they go when we get home to put them away. even conrad gets his shoes and puts them back in his specific pocket on the door!
2. WHAT STAYS AND WHAT GOES (PART 2)
we also keep a lot of our winter coats in this hall closet. you can see in this apartment tour post from before that we used to stack some storage bins in here as well as car seats, but since we’ve kept in the spirit of downsizing over the past few years, we’ve gotten rid of all the stuff we stored in those bins for the most part as well as our car seats. (we usually always just rent them from wherever we are renting a car!)
5. SOMETIMES A CLOSET DOESN’T NEED A DOOR
okay, maybe i am reaching here, but since our apartment doesn’t have a great storage spot right in our entry way, we just created one with hooks and racks. it’s basically another closet, am i right?! we just gotta keep it looking organized and tidy since there isn’t any door to hide it all away. we keep the kids coats and boots right at the front door. we also keep our helmets there as well since we are grabbing those almost daily since the city has encouraged us to be a big scooting and biking family.
i know some people think we’re absolutely crazy to have remained in our smaller space, but like pretty much everything in life, everyone is different and prefers different things. we also haven’t really known anything else but city living which maybe is a good thing. i remember our newly wed days in our tiny studio apartment in harlem where there was only one closet which josh and i had to share! we’ve come a really long way, haha! who knows, maybe we’ll head out to the suburbs someday and be like, “why didn’t we do this sooner?!” but for now, our family can’t imagine leaving the city or doing it any other way.
when it comes to city living with our family, what other things would you like to me to focus on or share? and do you have any great closet or storage tips for small spaces (or even big spaces!) you are willing to share?
PS. here’s my post on tips and tricks for getting the most out of your time visiting nyc. and by neighborhood, my guides with videos in each of them to the UPPER WEST SIDE, guide to CENTRAL PARK, guide to SOHO + NOLITA and more guides HERE.