Small apartment organization ideas - 10 ways interior designers would streamline your space

These expert small apartment organization ideas will ensure your petite space is practical as well as pretty

small apartment organization ideas Living with Lolo
(Image credit: Living with Lolo)

There is almost nothing more satisfying than when your home is in order. When everything is in its right place, cabinets are tidy and closets are decluttered. The dream. And if you're living in a bijou space, then these small apartment organization ideas will change everything, helping to keep your home streamlined, while also remaining aesthetically pleasing.

As with any approach to small space design, the trick is to be as inventive as possible. 'Make sure to take advantage of all the available space, nooks and crannies in a room,' says  Ann Marie Cousins, founder of AMC Design. 'In a period property, there are often gaps either side of the chimney breast which make for great open shelves or cupboards.' 

So with the same inventive approach we would apply to decorating an apartment, here are 10 simple steps to keeping your home in order. A little organization that changes everything. 

Small apartment organization ideas

1. Commission customized cabinetry

small apartment organization ideas built-in cabinetry Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

'My number one tip for maximising storage in a small apartment is to commission made-to-measure cabinetry,' says interior designer Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. 'Tailored to the dimensions of your space, the cabinetry can be designed to work round any quirks, such as a sloping ceiling or an awkward corner. 

'In a small apartment, it’s a good idea to build bespoke joinery around your TV. This not only significantly boosts storage space but also helps to make the TV look less imposing.'

2. Install floor-to-ceiling built-ins

small apartment organization with floor-to-ceiling built-in storage by Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Another tip for organizing a small apartment is to build cabinetry all the way to the ceiling, making the most of what would otherwise be dead space.

'If you’re blessed with high ceilings, don’t forget that you’ll need a means to access the top shelves,' advises Irene. As with any apartment storage, which can often be in odd corners, the ability to get at it is key.

'Consider a rolling library ladder that will serve a practical purpose and add a decorative detail to your scheme.' Irene says. 'If this doesn’t suit the space, keep a stylish step ladder to hand.'

small apartment organization ideas floor to ceiling built-in storage by Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

She continues: 'To maximise storage in this pied-à-terre (above) we took storage to the ceiling. Particularly noteworthy is the small bedroom, where we wallpapered the wardrobe doors with the same Phillip Jeffries wallpaper used for the walls.

'This created a cohesive feel with very few distractions for the eye – a savvy way to increase the sense of space.'

3. Work with window seats and storage

Window seat in bay window with colourful kitchens

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Built-in storage doesn't always have to mean cabinetry alone - window seat ideas are fantastic for combining practicality with aesthetic advantages.

Ann Marie Cousins, founder of AMC Design, says: 'If you have a bay window, think about building a window seat with storage underneath - this is a great way to make use of potentially wasted space, whilst also doubling as another form of seating.'

small apartment organization with window shelving by JL Design

(Image credit: JL Design)

A window nook is also a great place to add open shelving to optimize every inch of space, as seen in the chic spot by JL Design above.

4. Build in banquette seating

small apartment organization with banquette seating in kitchen by Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Banquette seating can also work well in any space, particularly for small kitchen diner ideas. The kitchen-diner in the above 1950s Chelsea townhouse isn’t very wide, so design studio Gunter & Co chose space-saving banquette seating to maximize every bit of room. 

Irene Gunter says: 'This is a remarkably efficient way to squeeze more seating into a small area. To maximize space, build storage into the base of your banquette – you can easily access it by lifting the seat.'

5. Invest in a storage bed

small apartment organization storage bed ottoman bed by King Living

(Image credit: King Living)

Typically, a bed will take up the most space in your small apartment bedroom. 

Choosing a model with integrated storage makes sense, particularly for storing bulky items such as bed linen, blankets and towels. 

'A divan bed with drawers built into the base is one solution,' says Irene. 'An ottoman bed with a mechanism that lifts up the mattress to reveal a sizeable storage space is another.'

6. Choose shallow or hidden cabinets in the bathroom 

Small apartment organization hidden cabinets Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

When it comes to furniture in a compact bathroom, it’s important to strike a balance between making it useful and keeping it from overwhelming the space. 

This is particularly true above a basin, where a cabinet that protrudes too far can look a little intrusive. 

'Shallow mirror cabinets are widely available, and it’s surprising what can be stored in a depth of under 6 inches,' says Irene. 'For example, medicines and cosmetics that you want to keep out of children’s way will fit here.'

She adds: 'Another option for shallow bathroom cabinets is to build them in. This is brilliantly demonstrated in this en suite bathroom, where a stud wall allowed us to recess a pair of bespoke mirrored cabinets. 

'At first glance, the cabinets look like mirrors but a second look reveals that they hide a decent amount of storage.'

Multipurpose furniture and accessories that work doubly hard for more than one function are always a good apartment storage idea.

7. Swap a traditional kitchen island for one on wheels

small apartment organization ideas IKEA kitchen island trolley on wheels

(Image credit: IKEA)

There's plenty of apartment kitchen ideas that can offer a sense of space along with extra practicality.

'If your apartment kitchen is small, why not trade in a traditional kitchen island for a freestanding unit, perhaps on wheels?' suggests Irene.

'This way, you can roll it into a corner to keep the kitchen clear. The other benefit of furniture on wheels (or legs for that matter) is that it creates more visible floorspace, which in turn gives the illusion of more space.'

8. Opt for wall lights or hanging lights in the bedroom to save surface space

small apartment organization ideas hanging pendants in bedroom by Gunter & Co

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Bedroom short on square footage? Chances are your bedside tables will also be compact. 

To avoid lamps cluttering them up, why not opt for pendant lights instead? 

Irene Gunter advises: 'Once you’ve decided the exact position of your bed, you’ll know where to install the pendants. 

'Think about the amount of clearance you’d like between the bottom of the light and the top of the bedside table. To allow space for a pile of books or a carafe of water, I always recommend around at least 12 inches.'

9. Buy multifunctional furniture for extra storage

small apartment organization ideas bench seat ottoman by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

Choosing ottomans that can be used as seating as well as stashing things away is a desirable apartment storage idea that can help clear the clutter.

Pop a bench seat at the end of your bed or place one in the hallway or the apartment living room for extra seat space as well as storage.

AMC Designs' Ann Marie Cousins says: 'Choose furniture with a double purpose such a coffee table which also has storage underneath for items like board games or electrical items like chargers and remote controls.'

10. Use open shelving for storage as well as display

small apartment organization ideas open shelving in home office by Jessica Lagrange

(Image credit: Jessica Lagrange Interiors/Kelly Allison)

Open shelving is almost a prerequisite small apartment idea and serves as the perfect place to display your objet and vignettes, but also makes an ideal spot to store books and other necessities.

Make the most of every inch of space with wall-to-wall shelving for small apartment living room ideas, or utilize shelving for an apartment office, where you can store files in chic holders or racks alongside vases, baskets and books and up your home office organization game. 

small apartment organization open shelving in home office by Living with Lolo

(Image credit: Living with Lolo/Life Created)

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.