6 Tips to Stay Organized in a Small Home

There’s no doubt about it…we both live in some pretty small spaces.  Let’s just say we won’t be hosting any 20-person dinner parties anytime soon.  Bridget lives in a 3 bedroom/1 bath home, while I live in a 1 bedroom/1.5 bath apartment that doesn’t even have room for a dining room table. #citygirlproblems

How to Stay Organized in a Small Home

But even though we’re living in small spaces…we’re living BIG lives. We’ve both figured out how to survive thrive in our little slices of home heaven, and today we want to share how we stay organized in our small homes with all of you.


When we first moved into our Chicago apartment, we were coming from a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo in St. Louis. That meant that we had a lot of stuff to part ways with before we could start living in Chicago. It was difficult to get rid of so many of our belongings, but honestly, we felt like a million bucks moving in so much “lighter.” Here is your new motto, “purge, purge, purge!” It can be difficult to say buh bye to items you’ve had for a long time, but no one wants to live in a chaotic mess of clutter…so you gotta purge baby purge. I used to be the kinda gal who would think, “well, I have to hold onto this because someday I may need it!” Someday is not today. If you don’t use it on a regular basis, you don’t need to live with it in a small home. Period.

One Thing In = One Thing Out

Now just because you’re living small, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to shop. Heck, both Bridget & I are big-time home decor shoppers. We can’t get enough of thrift stores, antique shops, and our weekly trips to HomeGoods. But when we buy something for our homes, we absolutely have to get rid of something already in our house. It’s one thing in…one thing out for us. If we didn’t follow this rule, we would be hardcore hoarders, seriously!

And this rule doesn’t just apply for home items. It’s something I follow when it comes to clothing, shoes, purses, you name it! If I buy a new sweater, I find an old one that I haven’t worn in years and donate it immediately. In fact, I love this tip on putting a donation bag directly into your closet so you’re constantly purging!

Secret Storage

We’ve talked about “secret storage” many times here on the blog. Essentially, it’s a way to hide everyday items within your home in a pleasing, unobtrusive manner.

For example, a bench can hold all of our electronics, DVDs, and games. Everything is concealed, so from the outside, it looks neat and tidy.

While this tall white dresser (from this post) holds all of our craft supplies, my photography equipment, and some not-being-used-right-now home decor items. #sneakysneaky

Look for items that can work double duty in your home. If it’s pretty and offers some function…then that’s what you’ll want to scoop up and bring into your small space.

Be Tidy

There’s no need to hire a cleaning crew, we’re not talking about that kinda clean. Instead, we think it’s essential to be fairly tidy in your space.

When you live in a small area, you can come into your just cleaned house with groceries, shopping bags, your purse, shoes, and coat…and suddenly it looks like a crazy mess. In order to avoid this, it’s best to try to be tidy most of the time. Because if things get out of place, it can look like a disaster zone in minutes.

Here are tips we use to keep our homes looking clean all the time.

Everything needs a place to call “Home”

This one is similar to “Be Tidy”…but we feel it deserves a category all its own. Giving everything a place to call home is key when it comes to organization. When you use something and know exactly where to put it back, you’re much more likely to keep your home not only looking neat and tidy, but also keep it functioning well.

This hardworking “fauxdenza holds so many items, including our printer!

Store Seasonal Items Elsewhere

You guys recently saw Bridget’s jaw-dropping Christmas home tour, right? It was complete with an adorable Christmas tree, knit stockings, and holiday trinkets galore. Well, there certainly isn’t room for all of those gorgeous items in the closets and drawers inside Bridget & Matt’s suburban ranch. Instead, they neatly pack it all up and haul it up to their attic and the top corners of their garage. There simply isn’t room to stuff it in the livable area of their home, so they must organize it in other areas.

My oh-so-generous mom allows us to store our seasonal items in her attic (organized and in a tidy manner, of course). We recently took a trip to her home to drop-off our Christmas bins and large tree to be stored in her unused attic space. #ThanksJanimal

We’re not saying you should hit up your family and friends to try to make use of their attics, garages, and crawlspaces. No, no, no! Instead, we’re suggesting that you find a creative solution for storing your seasonal items. We keep extra bedding (good for the winter), in underbed totes. We pile our coolers, sports gear, and summer items in the small storage area in our condo building. And we store things we don’t need right now (like my preserved wedding dress) at my mom’s house. For you, it may be a matter of finding a monthly storage unit or getting creative with your attic/crawlspace/garage. Do what it takes to keep seasonal items out of the way when you don’t need them, in order to keep plenty of space for those items that you need today.

So there you have it, 6 tips to help you stay organized in a small home. Remember, just because you’re living in a small space…doesn’t mean you can’t live a BIG LIFE.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.