How I Live and Work in 500 Square Feet

I’ve been meaning to do a post on our little apartment for a while. Of all of the places I’ve lived over the last 10 years (9 different addresses to be exact) this apartment is the tiniest. Seriously. We’re working with 500 sq ft. So, earlier this year, when Jamie and I decided to move from our house downtown to this little space I was a somewhat concerned.

Mostly because Jamie said he needed more space to “get away from me” – whatever that means.

But, seriously, since our apartment also serves as my office, working in a tinier space takes a little bit of imagination and patience.

Our new space has a pretty open floor plan where the kitchen, dining, and living are all in one space. On one hand, that’s great because it makes it much more airy and seem bigger. On the other hand, it makes it tougher to fit in several functional living spaces in the area meant for one. So, the first thing I did was try to designate spaces as much as I could. The “dining” area became my office. The bar became our dining area.

Setting aside specific spaces for specific activities – no matter how small – gives a little organization to the apartment. I try to define spaces with different furniture styles, rugs to separate parts of a room, or even partitions like a bookshelf.

Speaking of organization. It’s key. I’m an organizational junkie and living in 500 sq ft has only made it much worse (poor Jamie). Everything has a home and unless we’re using it, wearing it, or eating on it, home is where it stays. Otherwise, 500 sq ft can become an episode of Hoarders REAL quick.

My fave organizational strategies:

Hiding Clutter: Incorporate storage into your decor. I have this really cool suitcase that was Jamie’s grandmothers and it not only is a cool piece of decor but also holds a TON of random stuff that I don’t need to see every day.
Russian Dolls: The Russians do a few things really right – snow, vodka, and organization. Take inspiration from those stacking Russian dolls and store your stuff similarly. I do this with my luggage – packing smaller bags into slightly larger bags, all the way up to to my suitcase. This way, I’m storing so much stuff and it just takes up the room of one suitcase.
Make Use of Available Space: Walls, under the bed, above the counters. Where can you store things that are a little unexpected. Jamie got this guitar like 2 Christmases ago, we’ve now moved it about the same number of times he’s played it (twice), and I finally got sick of finding a place to put it. So, on the wall it went. Now we look super hip and musical and I don’t have to store his clunky guitar.
Embrace Your Inner Minimalist: Get rid of stuff. Stuff is suffocating. Before we moved, I gave away, threw away, and sold everything that I did not absolutely love. Got that idea from Marie Kondo and her Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Ok, confession, we DO have a storage unit. There were a few pieces of furniture that I wanted to keep for our future house that just wouldn’t fit in our apartment.

Last, but not least, get creative with multi-function furniture. Everything in our apartment that takes up space better be worth it because we have so little to spare. Our couch pulls out and becomes our guest room. My desk can double as a dining room table. Our barstools become extra seating in the living area. Make as many items as possible pull double duty.

It’s a challenge to squeeze everything into a small area, but definitely do-able. To keep my sanity, I try to work outside or at a local coffee shop as often as I can. Otherwise, it can feel a bit like you’re living in a shoebox. Hopefully, I’ll be doing another post in 6 months or so sharing a NEW HOUSE 🙂

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My daily bullet journal layout.