5 Tips for your Tiny Apartment

You can live in a big condo with a spare bedroom, a home office, and lots of closet space.  Or, you can live in New York City.  You can do both if you have a large trust fund.  Do you have a large trust fund?  I didn’t think so.

My mother was raised in the wild hills of the western slope of the Rockies before relocating to a lovely mid-century ranch house in San Diego.  The first time she visited me in Manhattan, she started to get a bit claustrophobic.  “Land sakes!  It’s like living in a submarine!” she said, possibly not actually saying “land sakes”.  Then she began to move my canned goods from the top shelf to the bottom shelf before I reminded her that NYC is not earthquake country.

NY apartments aren’t like a submarine. A submarine has more space.

Living in a New York apartment is not really like living in a submarine, although there are some similarities.  Both require you to start cultivating a more Zen-like relationship to your personal possessions.  That, and these five tips from today’s guest blogger, Hannah Miller,  might help you shoehorn yourself more comfortably into a two-bedroom share with 3 other roommates (one of them, hopefully not you, is in the living room).

5 Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Small Apartment

Millions dream of living in New York City. But what if you already do, and what if the state of your apartment isn’t something that people fantasize about? Here are just five tips for eliminating mess and clutter from your small NYC apartment.

One:  Strip Your Wardrobe

Will you really fit into those jeans again? Do you really think you’ll find the energy to get

She ignored tip #1

those shoes shined? Instead of hanging on to useless, non-essential clothes, make a pile

of everything that you haven’t worn in three months or more. Then donate it all to charity.

If you do this during August, remember to hang onto at least one winter coat.

Two:  Use Your Closets Wisely


Once you’ve cleared some room in your closets, use the bare floors and walls for storage space. Stack boxes; hang shoe racks; use hooks and shelves on the backs of your doors. You can even install metal bars on your ceilings to hold plastic bins. This is called “vertical space,” and if you learn how to use it, you can save a lot of floor room.  It’s New York.  You’ll need to go vertical.

Don’t forget that your luggage is just sitting around when you’re not traveling, so fill it up, too.

Three:  Create Zones

Zones are an easy way to keep track of your belongings, especially if you’re in a small apartment where things tend to get scattered in piles. Create a specific area for each of your most common needs or hobbies:

Not that type of zone!
  •  Bedroom
  •  Study or work area
  •  Creative corner

(Note for outta-towners:  we’re talking about zoning off 300 square feet of space, not a four-bedroom house.)

Once something has a “zone,” keep all of your related belongings in that place. For example, your textbooks never need to leave your study area, and your paint supplies should never be stored anywhere but your creative corner.  (Note:  this approach works very well for me, so I can endorse it fully.)

Four:  Use the 5-Minute Rule

The five-minute rule is simple: If it can be done in five minutes, do it immediately. Don’t
put it off and let it become your next mess. Whether you’re taking out the trash, arranging your knick-knacks or sorting through your mail, do it in five-minute stretches.  Time management is an art and a science, and it works.  If you want more extensive time-management hints, try the Pomodoro technique

Five:  Call the Professionals

If you don’t have the time or energy to maintain your apartment by yourself, there’s no shame in outsourcing the problem.  You’re in New York City….do you WANT to stay inside cleaning your room?  Instead of going to a comedy club, a museum, a free concert, or that great new noodle house?  Sites like Handy will deliver high-quality NYC-based apartment cleaning crews right to your door, and you can even arrange “cleaning plans” for standing appointments with professional de-clutterers.  There’s a website and an app.  Welcome to the 21st century!


These are just a few tips for eliminating clutter in your small home or apartment. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the city or if you remember Times Square when it looked like this,


these tips should help you keep your living space neat and clutter-free.

My guest blogger today is Hannah Miller of Perennial Relations.  Hannah, originally from Northport, Long Island, currently resides in Astoria, Queens and has a life-long passion for the New York Rangers.  Perennial Relations represents clients such as handy.com, mentioned in this post.  


  1. What’s a closet? I’m looking around my (roughly) 352 sq. ft. rent stabilised Hell’s Kitchen abode and I don’t see one. Maybe it didn’t exist when the building was constructed (1892). Sounds really nice though!

  2. I’m guessing that your apartment WAS the closet in 1892. Seriously though, I don’t think people had more than 2 outfits back then if they were lucky. Less laundry, and no need for a closet. What do you do instead…under-bed storage?

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