Just like your first car, your first apartment is something you’ll never forget. It was probably up six flights of stairs, lacked natural light, and smelled a bit musty, but it was your own. No matter where you lived, however, that first home was probably missing one crucial amenity: space.
Even if you’ve moved on to a larger pad, everyone can use a bit more room. Thankfully, some creative people have come up with a dozen tricks to maximize the floor plan that you do have.
Whether you’re a clothes horse or a baseball card collector, having too much stuff is a common occurrence. You don’t have to be a hoarder to need a little bit of extra storage space.
Colin Mulvany/ The Spokesman Review
Keeping your living space clean is especially important as modern life becomes increasingly stressful. Coming home to an uncluttered bedroom can help create a calm sanctuary from the modern rat race.
The current real estate market clashes with that plan, however. Properly organized storage requires extra space and, as any house hunter can tell you, extra floor space costs extra money.
Thankfully, home improvement experts have come up with some innovative ideas to help you take advantage of the space you do have. In fact, one strategy can creatively replace your night stand.
Night stands might seem convenient, but they often turn into a dumping ground; you’re taking up a lot of floor space with a glorified garbage can. What if there was a better way?
You can actually tuck an over-the-door organizer between your mattress and box spring! The pockets are a perfect place to stash the TV remote, your reading glasses, or anything else you need near the bed.
2. Let’s say you do want a conventional night stand, however. Designers have come up with a way to let that simple piece of furniture pull double duty and save you space.
Adding a charging station to your nightstand can help prevent a rat’s nest of wires from forming under your bed. But that’s not the only unique storage option you can add.
3. Milk crates or other boxes are classic storage containers, but you can also turn them into space-saving shelves. Just grab a hammer and nails and you’re on your way to efficiency.
4. You can also use that hammer and nails to turn a few wooden boards into book ledges. They take up way less space than a conventional book shelf and provide easier access for young readers.
5. And on the subject of easy access, you can also use rolling baskets to store pillows or blankets. They’re easy to pull out for bedtime and move out of sight during the day.
6. For toy storage, experts recommend stackable crates or other containers. They keep everything off the floor, reducing the chance that you’ll painfully step on a LEGO late at night.
Frédérique Voisin-Demery/ Flickr
7. A classic cleaning technique is to simply cram everything under the bed; out of sight is out of mind, after all. But what if there was a better way to make use of that space?
Many modern beds have built-in storage spaces, allowing you to tuck things below your box spring. If you’re especially handy, you can even build your own wooden bed frame suited to your needs.
8. You’re not out of luck if you already own a bed frame, however. As long as there’s some room between your bed and the floor, you can buy sliding containers to make use of that space.
9. There are also some hacks to help you make better use of your closet! Once again, stackable crates can be useful for optimizing limited space; things are easier to store when they have their own specific spot.
10. Valance holders generally support decorative drapery, but they can be more functional in the hands of a home improvement hacker. Adding them to your closet can be helpful in one specific way.
Since they’re already designed to support fabric, valance holders make great hooks for scarves, shawls, and pocket books. Just make sure you don’t overwhelm one knob with too much weight!
Our Southern Home
11. Let’s say your house didn’t come with built-in storage; many older homes simply offer a great deal of empty space. How can you best utilize all that room in an efficient and stylish way?
An easel-style coat rack is an easy way to start building out your closet or foyer. Not only does it give you a place to hang larger items, but you’ll still have plenty of space for other storage options.
Rob and Courtney M/ Hometalk
Now that the inside of your house is clean and organized, it’s time to move outside. There are actually a few simple tricks to take your gardening game to the next level, too.
1. Plants need a little pick-me-up in the morning, too. Bring your used coffee grounds to the garden and mix them directly into the soil, this will actually help your plants flourish faster.
2. Use wine bottles to create a walkway — and to prevent kids from trampling your seedlings. They’re both attractive and functional if you stick them in the dirt neck-first.
3. Inside every kitchen utensil drawer is a handful of spoons that no one uses anymore. But did you know your old silverware could find new life in your garden? It’s easy! First, use a hammer to flatten the spoons you’d like to reuse…
Turning Clock Back
Once you’ve hammered down your spoons, select your favorite color paint and paint pens. Then dip the spoons in, and use the pens to write the names of herbs and vegetables in your garden. Voilà – you now have cute and quirky garden signs!
4. Push the bottom of a muffin tin into soft soil in order to plant well-spaced seeds and plants. You can start your digging once you turn it into a proper grid!
5. Going away on vacation, but you can’t find someone to water your plant? Simply punch a hole in the cork of a clean wine bottle, fill it with water, then quickly turn it over and push it into the soil.
6. Just because you decided to redesign your bathroom, that’s no reason you need to throw away the sink! After tying off the plumbing ends, even the most retro sink can find a second home as a cool, shabby chic-style planter.
Cherry Hill Cottage
7. Plastic takeout forks stuck in the soil, weirdly enough, can scare away creatures that would want to snack on your budding vegetables. Seeing forks all lined up like this may look a little creepy at first, but it truly works.
8. If you’re looking to add a beautiful wind chime to your garden, you need not place a special order on some delicate piece of blown glass art. You can actually turn your old metal strainer into a wind chime by hooking spoons onto the base!
You can also dress up your makeshift wind chime by filling it with real or silk flowers for added decoration. The strainer’s many holes offer a ton of drainage, which prevents your plants from being overwatered.
9. Don’t throw out your banana peels! Compost them instead; they can be just what your plants need to grow. The peels are full of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates, potassium, and sodium.
10. When people look at an empty soda can like this, it’s hard for them to see it as being anything other than garbage or recycling fodder. However, cans like this can be a saving grace in any garden! Grab an empty can of soda and use a can opener to cut out the top like this…
Be careful when using the can opener; while it will take off the top in a snap, these cans aren’t designed to be used this way, so their edges may be sharp. Now, simply select your favorite spray can colors and paint the cans completely.
Once the spray paint has dried, use a screwdriver or knife to pop tiny holes in the bottom of the can. After that, add fresh soil and plant seeds for your favorite herbs — boom, you’ve got a garden in a can.
11. If you dry out eggshells for three days and then add them to the soil in your garden, they can provide young seedlings with much-needed calcium. It might seem strange at first, but if the shell was able to help nurture a chick into life, surely it can help plants, too!
12. Create a naturally slow-draining planter using a colander and some coffee filters. This is another great hack for how to use your strainer in the garden. If you don’t want to waste new coffee filters, dirty paper towels work just as well, as does peat moss.
Once the filters or paper towels are in place, add springtime flowers to the mix and hang them somewhere for a beautiful outdoor decoration. It can be a lot of fun to match the color of your strainer with the colors of the flowers! This is such a cute look, you might want to buy strainers especially for this purpose.
13. If your home or apartment doesn’t offer much space, you might think a garden is out of the question—but it’s possible! Simply create a lovely hanging bottle garden instead. Cut a hole in the base to make space for the necessary soil and plant seeds. If you want to avoid dirt, this technique works well for hanging air plants.
14. Here’s another way to reuse all those empty egg shells… If you’re able to crack them at the top, you can transform them into teeny cups to start your new seedlings. Simply fill each shell with soil and the seeds of your choice and watch them grow! Egg-cellent!
One Little Moment
15. How adorable are these tomatoes? You don’t need to be a botanist to grow fun shapes like these. All you need is to slide your favorite cookie cutter shapes around the tomato fruit while it’s still nice and small. As it grows, it will take the shape of the cookie cutter surrounding it!
One Little Moment
16. Are you worried you planted your garden too early and you’re scared a snap frost will kill your new plants? No need to panic! Try cutting the bottoms off your old milk gallon cartons and placing them over your sensitive plants. The cartons act as great insulation during those tricky, chilly spring nights.
One Little Project
17. White vinegar is incredibly versatile, both in cooking and cleaning around the house. It also packs a punch outside, too. If you have weeds cropping up in your driveway and you want to avoid pesticides in favor of an all-natural deterrent, a dose of vinegar will stop them in their tracks.
18. Do you have a plant that needs to be watered constantly? Your soil may not be doing its job of holding in hydration. A quick fix to this problem: line the bottom of your terra cotta with diapers. Yes, diapers! They’re super absorbent and trap the water, making sure your plant stays nice and hydrated.
Balcony Web Garden
Of course, the great outdoors isn’t the only part of your home that could use a few upgrades. These home improvement DIY ideas will turn your house into a paradise, and they’re ridiculously simple!
1. A sun tunnel not only brings in sunlight, but it can also help you save money on electric bills. You do not need to spend a fortune getting massive built-in sunlights added to your home. A sun tunnel does exactly the same job, saves energy, and isn’t quite as much of an undertaking.
2. You don’t need baby gates — just install dutch doors. These doors are easy to make, cheap to produce, and they look so much better than all that ugly plastic. Plus, no need to worry about getting rid of them when the kids grow up! These also work well for pets.
3. Collapsible drying racks can help you conserve space. Living in a super small place doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to your kitchen. All you need to do is think a little bit differently! These drying racks are a great example of just that.
4. Adding shelves to long hallways gives you ample storage. Plus, it’s a great looking design! Rather than dent and ding your walls by hanging up pictures, you can line the walls with a beautiful array of meaningful books and art that everyone in your house can enjoy.
5. Do you really need some more outlets in your kitchen for your countertop electronics but you’re worried about little fingers exploring?Put extra outlets behind false drawers! These covers are a great way to get what you need without risking the safety of your children.
6. Every unused space is an opportunity to put in something functional — like this paper towel holder. It can feel impossible to find the “right” place to store them, but this built-in nook makes sure the roll is nice and accessible. It also keeps the roll dry!
7. Heat sensitive tiles in the shower? Yes, please. The only problem with adding heat sensitive tiles to your shower is that you might become so entranced by them that you don’t want to get out! That said, I don’t think anyone would blame you.
8. If you love lending books, building a makeshift library is the logical next step. If you live in a small community or neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic, this can be a great way to connect with your neighbors while also digging into your next potential favorite read.
9. Even adding a small half-table to your bathroom can give you extra space to store towels and other items. It is simply amazing how something so small can make such a difference, especially in a space like a bathroom where extra storage always seems to be needed.
10. Don’t clutter the counters. Add outlets to your drawers instead. How brilliant is that? Rather than just keep them concealed, add them in a spot that you can also still use as storage! So smart. Kitchens are all about how you use the space.
11. If there’s wasted space between the studs in the wall, don’t be afraid to put some drawers there. Low-impact built-in drawers like these make storage a snap without bothering the eye with a cluttered up mess. You can never have enough storage!
12. Save room in the kitchen by discretely putting stools on hinges. Not only will there be a seat for anybody who happens to come inside to visit, but you don’t need to worry about tripping over chairs or bar stools that someone forgets to push in.
13. You don’t need a step stool in the bathroom when you have a slide-away step. This isn’t just really handy for growing kids who may need a boost; it works like a dream for when you have lightbulbs that need changing and they are just out of reach.
14. Kitchen drawers can be used as hidden cutting boards. Whoever first thought of adding cutting boards that are built into kitchen cabinets deserves some sort of medal. They are notoriously difficult to find a place to store where they won’t come tumbling out.
15. Use a built-in cutting board like this one with a nice hole in the center so that you can save yourself trips to the trash with all your odds and ends. An idea like this is easy to execute and makes food prep a snap like never before. So cool! This is worth trying.
16. A single chandelier can make your porch look super classy. Who would have thought that doing something like adding a lighting fixture to your porch could make it look like such an elegant place? It’s practically begging for someone to make mint juleps.
17. Just a simple window seat can make the stairs nice and cozy. It is such a great idea to create a small and inviting nook like this one. Every home can use a corner or two perfect for curling up in with a book and a nice hot drink on a cold night.
18. Install a sign to indicate where the guest bathroom is. You might think signs like this only belong in restaurants, but it can be a nice touch and make feel your guests feel much more at home! It helps that they don’t have to wander around looking for the bathroom in vain.
19. Use more contemporary fonts to replace your old house number. Details like this one can make all the difference in the world when it comes to redecorating or designing your home. Picking a modern font for the numbers on your house is like signing a painting!
20. Use the extra space in your kitchen to build a small cabinet as storage for cleaning supplies. Not only is a storage closet like this easy and affordable to make, but it completely robs you of any excuses when it comes to trying to get out of cleaning up.
21. Murphy beds save more space than bunk beds, and they’re much more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, when it comes to time to clean-up under the bed they make that a real snap. They leave plenty of space for playing when the time for sleeping is done!
22. Separate your child’s room with fun, colorful little tunnels! Many children have a hard time sleeping as they grow, this is a normal part of child development. Separating where they sleep from where they play can make a huge difference!
23. Keep pantry items like spices in slide-out drawers. Rather than buying clunky spinning trays to install inside your cabinets, these narrowly designed cabinets make it easy to spot the spice you need without unpacking your entire cabinet every single time.
24. Add a multi-hose head to your shower to make clean time extra fun! There are so many different and cool ways to make your bathroom fixtures just totally one of a kind. This fancy sprinkler system almost seems to transform this shower into a work of art!
25. Install outlets underneath cabinets to avoid ruining your backsplash. Fixtures like plugs for your electronics are necessary in order to get things done in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean they need to stick out and ruin the slick appeal of your new kitchen.
26. You don’t need to worry about putting your furniture against the wall with these recessed outlets. Outlets like these make it easier for you to plug in electronics no matter where they are located in your room. This is a simple yet ingenious way to make life easier.
27. If your home’s foundation is boring, don’t be afraid to decorate it! Below you will see a great example of how you can really make it sing with textiles. In some New England towns, people use seashells to decorate their own foundations. How neat is that?
28. You don’t need to buy expensive appliances to make them look high-end. Just use stainless steel contact paper. It is cheap, easy to apply and even easier to clean should it get a little bit dingy. Plus, when you’re really ready to upgrade your appliances, it comes off in a snap.
29. Adding a small door to your garage that’s connected to the kitchen can make it easier to bring in groceries. It is such a hassle transporting groceries (especially heavy ones) all the way inside the house to the kitchen. A little secret hatch like this is totally inspired.
30. If you’re concerned about germs, use different toilet seat tabs for each person in the house. Think about all of the time you spend cleaning up someone else’s mess in the bathroom. This idea might be a little, shall we say, eccentric, but hey, it works!
31. Drawers like these that pull out to the side make it really easy not just to keep all of your bulkier kitchen items sorted, it helps to make actually taking them out and using them a real breeze! Look at how cool and functional they are pictured below.
32. It is always, always, always a battle to try and find a place to store your longer utensils. Creating a diagonal drawer like this one creates storage salvation. You’ll never have to go digging for a place to put them again! How awesome is that?