Space Management Survival Guide: Studio Apartment Solutions: Part II
by Michael Allen
Last month we discussed hiding and otherwise disguising belongings that needed to be stored in a small space - studio apartment or college dorm. This month we will tackle two other storage options - move it or store it in plain sight. Moving your items basically means to make them portable as much as you can. For example, in a college dorm, bathrooms are usually shared by many people so putting together a portable shower organizer that can be toted from dorm room to bathroom makes sense. Use inexpensive plastic baskets or even attach several small strawberry baskets together with wire and add a handle. You can spray paint these with water-resistant paint to make them more attractive. The bottoms of rectangular baby wipes containers would also work well as a shower caddy (poke holes in the bottom so water drains out) and as a cosmetics organizer. To store it away, simply put it on a shelf or hang it on a wall.Using wheels is a great way to make your storage items portable. In fact, putting wheels on your furniture is a clever way of making the most of your cramped space. When you aren't using something, simply roll it away. For example, a wheeled t.v. cart can be moved behind a screen when not in use. A small desk with wheels can be moved near a dining table and when covered with a tablecloth, can serve as a buffet or bar. Filing cabinets on wheels are useful for moving your documents to where you are working (bed, couch, desk).
Underbed storage can be inexpensively made and easily accessed by adding wheels to cardboard underbed storage boxes or by adding wheels to shallow plastic or wooden boxes - don't forget to add handles or a length of cord or rope so you can pull the boxes out from under your bed!
In a studio apartment or college dorm, often the only place you can store items is in plain sight - right under your nose, so to speak. Fortunately, today's casual living and decorating styles lend themselves to using your stuff as display items while you are storing them. For example, you can display your things as a collection (a collection is anything you have 3 or more of). What do you do with all of your coffee mugs and tea cups? Install cup hooks and display them. No place for your pots and pans? Hang them up with a pot rack and show them off. You can display books, CD's, cassettes, pottery, collections, glassware, costume jewelry, Hawaiian shirts, etc. The key is to make the items decorative and functional. Have fun!
Sports equipment lends itself very well to storage in plain sight. Bicycles can be hung on a wall, skis and poles can be artistically placed above a bed, a surfboard can be hung from the ceiling, in-line skates can be hung on a hook with a helmet, etc. All of these storage solutions point to a "sports" theme in decorating and can really make an inexpensive statement in your room.
Little objects like spice jars, keys, watches, rings, and cosmetics can readily be stored in plain sight, but the key to organizing them is to use shallow trays or baskets to give them a home. This keeps the items where they belong so you can find them when you need them.
One last tip for bibliophiles (guilty). When shelf space is minimal, try stacking your books near furniture and use the tall stack as an end table. The bigger the books the better. Cheap and easy!
Michael Allen is a part-time planning consultant and professional organizer in Cleveland, Ohio. He offers workshops and organization services to homes and businesses to help people get, and stay organized and maximize their personal satisfaction and professional productivity. For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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