10 Tips for Vertical Living

New York City is my favorite habitat, and it has everything anyone could want – except space. You will not have space.  Every now and then I hear someone say “but I could buy a whole house in Saint Louis for the cost of a one-bedroom in Manhattan!” Yes, and you could buy a whole town in North Dakota for the cost of a whole house in Saint Louis. This is called the law of Supply and Demand.

Before you got hooks.

Just because you have no space, doesn’t mean you can’t adapt. Who needs space? Here are 10 tips to living vertically.

ONE – Hooks   I am shocked when I go to a home or a hotel or a bed and breakfast, and there aren’t any hooks. You need hooks behind all your doors, including the closets.  Inside the closets, too, if you have closets.  If not, you’ll need even more hooks.

After you got hooks.

TWO – Rolling Step Stool Unless you’re of a height to be tapped for the NBA, you need a way to reach all your top shelves. To use them wisely, you need a rolling step stool. If you have to get out

Not as scary as it looks. You should get one.

a step ladder and use it, it’ll never happen.  And then, where does the ladder go?  The rolling step stool looks scary, but it’s very stable.  With a little practice, you can use your feet to roll it all over the apartment to do things, then back to its corner when you’re done.

THREE – Bed with Drawers What are you doing,  just letting that space collect dust bunnies? That’s valuable real estate you are wasting! Get the underbed drawers or, even better, buy the bed that has drawers built in. Then use them.

FOUR – Beds That Stay Out of Your Way  Even better than a bed with storage is a bed that knows how to stay out of your way.  A loft bed is great, because you can use the area under it for a desk, art studio, or yoga retreat. Your other option is a Murphy bed. These are the ultimate New York object.  They fold out of the way, and take a minimum of air space. Murphy beds say that you have achieved true vertical living.  You aren’t using that wall, anyway, so put it to work.

FIVE – Shelves Too obvious? Au contraire. Get some shelves installed on a wall. Put shelves over a doorway.  Install them behind a door, or in a closet. Shelves are your best friend.  Your landlord hasn’t given you enough of them, so DIY or tip your super.

A murphy bed in action.

SIX – Hanging Storage Overhead racks in your kitchen keep those pots and pans from taking up valuable space. The more airspace you use, the more counterspace you have. Just make sure they are high enough not to cause concussions. You can hoist a bike up on ceiling hooks also, but why not just try Citi Bike sharing service instead of owning one?

SEVEN – Fold-down Tables You aren’t going to host

Here’s how it looks folded up.

Thanksgiving more than once a year, so why have a table that seats 10 taking up all that space? Find one of those amazing drop-leaf tables that folds out in stages.

I’m not talking about a cheesy folding table — I’m talking about a miracle of engineering in fine wood.  You can seat 10, then turn it into an end table that can barely fit a vase. Perfect.


EIGHT – Suction Hooks These things are great. You don’t need counters in bathrooms if you can suction everything to a wall. Toothbrush? On the wall. Cup? Wall. Razor? Wall. Soap?  Even in a dispenser?  You know where it is – suctioned to a wall.

You’ll need more of these.

NINE – Baskets If you have kids, you have stuff. You need a strategically placed basket in each room where you can fling the loose legos, Barbie heads, sticky stuffed animals, and chewed books. Then, when no one is looking, it’s off to the dumpster in the basement.

TEN – Your Suitcase You didn’t move to New York City to stay here every day of the year, did you? I know you’ve got a wheelie for weekends. When it’s not on a Bolt Bus with you heading for a good time in Philly with a cheese steak, it should be pressed into service storing stuff you don’t use every day. Holiday decorations, cookie cutters, winter socks, “Sexy Vampire” costumes – whatever.

You may have a more updated version.

And my last and best tip is …

ELEVEN –  Prune  Throw away. Toss out. Declutter. If you don’t need it, don’t like it, or don’t use it, get rid of it. If it’s not pulling its weight in your life, it doesn’t matter how much it cost when you first bought it. You’re paying rent to keep each and every item in your apartment, so make sure each thing you have is helping keep you happy and fulfilled.

Pruning. It’s not just for shrubbery.

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