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Have you ever felt like your home, or *ahem* the state of your home, isn't aligning with your personal goals? It might feel cramped, especially in a world of overstimulation, decision fatigue, and too much of everything.
And in a world where most of us live with thin walls, converted living rooms, and nomadic roommates, it's no wonder not dealing with your tiny space is adding physical and mental stress.
Keeping a clutter-free home and simplifying life, whenever possible, can have a huge positive impact on your mental health.
Best case scenario, this less-is-more attitude also helps minimize your financial burdens, while freeing up some precious space to enjoy your home.
You'll finally be able to spontaneously invite people over for game night or Netflix without a “Sorry it's small” preface.
But if inviting friends over sounds like a pipe dream at the moment, I'm here to help. I've moved around a lot as a digital nomad in the past years and accumulated some tips and tricks to make small spaces feel inviting.
Here are my go-to steps to make the most of every inch of a home (or room). You don't have to save up for a star interior designer to create a space you'll feel comfortable in.
1. Really, pick a favorite color now
When it comes to visual separation, it's all about colors.
Using a different wall color to signal different areas in your home - like where the living area starts and the kitchen ends - can create the feeling of more distinct rooms within your space.
And the colors don't always have to be bright either. Sometimes a navy blue or dark green can create a perception of depth in a small space (as long as it's not covering every inch).
Pro tip: Go for paint with an eggshell finish, which creates a nice, even, semi-matte texture that you can roll onto the walls (with a foam roller) without worrying about weird layering or it flaking off later.
2. Get furniture so nice, you can use it twice
It's often hard to find a good spot for a big, bulky bed. So, if your back can take it, consider a sofa bed.
For people who *physically* feel their space, being able to transform a sleeping room into a cozy sitting area is the key to shifting from introvert to extrovert mode.
These small switches can also help make your room, or studio, feel like a place to grow.
As for doubling down, use cubes or small stools as coffee and bedside tables. They don't take up much space and can be easily transformed into extra seats when you have friends and family over.
Pro tip: Foldable is your friend. For the WFH peeps, folding away everything is a great exercise in mentally “leaving the office” to relax in your home.
3. Everything is art, when on a wall
Is a wall just decorative space for your photos and TV - OR is it really an open free-for-all storage space to hang up your commuter bike, as well as some folding chairs, mugs, plants, and a collection of bags and hats?
By storing these items on the wall as art, you gain valuable floor space for the bed, comfy chair, or even a fancy rug you've had your eye on.
Rugs with interesting patterns can make a great focal point and bring life to a minimalistic space. Just make sure the rug is of a proportionate size.
Pro tip: If you can, invest in mirrors. They open up your space and help you think bigger!
4. Embrace the weird spaces as storage areas
Walk around your apartment and search for weird spaces that you thought didn't fit anything. That's storage space now.
If you don't have any space under your bed or sofa, you might want to see if there is some space between your cupboards and the ceiling. This space often stays empty as it's hard to get to, but with that sturdy foldable chair or step you invested in, it should be easy to get to.
By utilizing those tiny crevices and strange pockets of your apartment, it'll be easier to create an impression of space and cleanliness. Just remember those spaces exist!
Pro tip: The step can also double as a plant table if you only need to use it as a step to access stuff seasonally.
5. Or, just aim for decluttering all around
There is absolutely no reason why your home, however small it is, can't become a haven of coziness and calm.
Even if you don't have the cash or time to redecorate, there are small habits to keeping your space Marie Kondo approved.
Over the years as a traveler, I've adopted several tricks to keep any home clutter-free without having to spend hours on cleaning:
- Wash dirty dishes directly after cooking, when possible. Avoiding a pileup is the best way to never have a pileup.
- Have one designated basket in the house where everything gets thrown in, instead of leaving stuff all over the house. Once a day (or week, if your basket doesn't overflow) you can return everything to its original place.
- Spend a few minutes every month to unsubscribe from junk mail to keep your inbox clean.
- Use the one-minute-rule. Can a task be done in one minute or less? If yes, do it right away and don't leave it 'til later. Adjust this rule to 30 seconds or 5 minutes, depending on your lifestyle.
- For every item you buy, give away, donate, or throw out something old. This way you never accumulate too many things.
Alexandra Huetter is a writer and digital nomad who writes about traveling and conscious living. See more of her work at alexmariahuetter.com.