Tips For Living In A Small Apartment That Worked

Tips For Living In A Small Apartment That Worked – for me. I need to always always preface that with “for me”. What works/worked for me wouldn’t necessarily work for others. When I said yes to my current apartment back in December 2012 (move in January 2013), I kept panicking about how the hell I was going to live in a bachelor apartment. The idea of living in such a small space was exciting but also daunting. The usual concerns: where would I put all my STUFF? Would my  bed smell like my dinner? How will it NOT look messy everyday? Blah blah blah. It was a long, trying struggle to find a balance. To make myself feel better when I first moved in, I combed the internet for tips and ideas about how to live in my little bachelor apartment. My savior came in the form of Erin Boyle at Reading My Tea Leaves. Erin writes a beautiful, simple series on her blog about “life in a tiny apartment”. It’s magical. Not only does Erin give super practical tips, but her home (previous and present) is lovely. Not only did I benefit directly from her sage space saving advice, but I aspired to keep my home looking simple and beautiful as well.

Simple simple suggestions helped to keep me sane:

 Before moving into my place, I was determined to keep it white as white. I know from my years of blog reading, that keeping a space white is a great way to make it feel more open and ‘clean’. I even got in a disagreement with my landlord about the colours of my walls. She asked me what colour I preferred, I said white. Painter painted them beige. We had a 3 hour stand off about it. She couldn’t understand why I cared so much. I stuck to my guns and won. Erin recently blogged about painting things white too.

Row House Nest homeMy home is the whitest of whites thanks to Para Paints. Everything. Walls. Doors. Trim.

painting my apartment white

I painted my entire apartment with Para Paint Crysler Hall White (2118-00).

Para Paint white

Shoes. I have like no closet space. And lots of shoes depending on the season. Erin suggested putting them in a crate. I went out and bought two very adorable Thornbury apple crates in spring 2013. This is especially nice for me as I lived in Thornbury as a kid so it was nice to bring a little of my once home, into my current home.

Thornbury apple crate

Not sure if it was Erin that suggested it or I read it elsewhere, but always always always make your bed. Oops just reading Erin’s archives and OF COURSE she has written about this topic! It has the ability to make your small apartment feel less messy even if it is a disaster. I use to always have white bedding. I love the clean, crisp look of white bedding. Then I got Nan. Erin suggested using white sheets. I wish I could but I can’t. Nan is a rough and tumble, get into every creek/mud puddle/gross thing possible dog. So white sheets are a thing of the past for me.

Nan on the bed

Purging. Although I did this well before Erin suggested it, I regularly go through all my clothes and purge. In fact, a friend of my sister’s has a pretty good clothing swap twice a year and it is a great opportunity to get rid of my things and pick up a few new duds free of charge. My mom laughs, I actually purge so often that I leave myself with little or no clothes sometimes. It feels good. Be aware though, it’s addictive. My mom told me a rule she read in a de-cluttering book, if you haven’t worn it in the past year, get rid of it. I live by this rule now. If I haven’t worn you, I don’t love you so you gotta go. Bu-bye. Also, put out of season clothes away. It is such a fun feeling to be able to drag them back out when it starts to get cold/hot and feel like you have a new wardrobe again.

Take advantage of potential storage under your bed. Erin suggested bins but I went with a more permanent solution. I bought this Ikea bed. I actually saw it on Andrew Knapp’s Instagram feed and was like “woah that’s a nice bed” and it’s from Ikea. And is solid wood. And matches my ‘style’. Done and done. It is heavy as well.

Mandal ikea bed

Ikea Mandal bed.

Don’t worry about cooking odors. I didn’t even realize that Erin blogged about this but I came to that conclusion on my own. You just can’t. It will drive you insane. Just let it go and make whatever you feel like. Most of the smells are yummy and nice to come home to.

stop worrying deadweight


My STOP WORRYING print is by Sandi from Deadweight.

Now here are my two biggest keep sane suggestions that Erin gave that I swear by. (1) Take out your recycling and (2) keep your green bin/compost in the freezer. Such simple suggestions that make a world of difference to me. I take out my recycling almost daily and find it just keeps things free and clear of clutter. And what’s the big deal? I am taking Nan out 3-4 times a day anyways, no biggie to make a stop at the recycling bins on my way out for a walk.


This is definitely the most glamorous photo I have ever shared. This is real life. Those are real coffee stains. And a 7 month old pie crust.

I like to update. Move things. Bring new elements in that make me feel like I freshened up the place. Recently I brought herbs in from the garden – sage, lavender and some random flowers and are drying them in bundles. And they look pretty. And I am going to use them. So bonus.

Row House Nest drying herbs

I am not sure if this is really just a style choice or actually helps at all, but I have plants everywhere in my apartment. Every nook and cranny has some sort of life in it. My apartment feels so much nicer filled with plants – I feel like it’s good for me mentally and obviously does good things for my air quality. If your apartment is small and feels cramped, try buying small plants. Succulents, smaller cuts of flowers from friends. If you like it, expand your collection.

Row House Nest plants

Row House Nest plants





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  • Vanessa

    I love this! I found your blog through one of Erin’s RTs and I’m in a similar boat (small small space, implementing lots of her tips). I’m excited to see what you do next in your small space!

    • Hi Vanessa! Thanks so much for checking my blog. I love Erin’s tips and couldn’t have gotten by without them. Do you have a blog? I tried looking it up so I could look at your stuff and return the comment love!

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