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Make the Most of a Small Living Space

Living in a small house or apartment doesn't mean you have to feel cramped and confined. Using space efficiently can make your limited area seem much larger than it is, and you may find that a small home is all you need!

In housing, size matters, but not as much as you may think. Even in a small home, you don't have to feel cramped or oppressed by your surroundings. If you feel stifled or smothered when you're at home, you might wish you could afford a new and bigger house, but you don't have to move to change that feeling.

More than anything, spacious living is efficient, and if you change your attitude to prioritize the efficient use of space your home will undergo an amazing metamorphosis.

The Five Rs of Space Enhancement
So how do you turn your cramped little home into a grand, spacious castle?

You don't, that's impossible.

But if you follow the five Rs of living space enhancement, you can banish your feelings of claustrophobia and convert your house into a real oasis of peace and tranquility.

Rethink, revise, remove, reorganize and renovate: these are the five Rs:

Rethink your approach to home design, storage, and maintenance.

Revise your habits and your stock of furnishings to harmonize with your desire for space.

Remove everything that you don't need.

Reorganize your home and everything inside it, for better appearance and expanded livability.

Renovate as needed, within the parameters of a budget you can afford.

Everything you do you'll do with one purpose in mind—to make your home more comfortable and a joyful place to spend time.

19 Tips for Clearing, Saving, Finding and Expanding Your Space
The tips listed here will help you put the five Rs into action right away, and they should also stimulate your creativity as you look for even more ways to increase your home's livability quotient.

Eliminate clutter. Declutter with a vengeance: go from table to table, room to room, cabinet to cabinet and drawer to drawer, and through your closets, basement, and garage as well. Get rid of everything you don't need, or are unlikely to use soon. If you haven't used it in the last three months and don't expect to use it for the next three months, you should sell it, recycle it, donate it or send it on to the landfill if it is beyond redemption.

Increase your storage capacity. Clear plastic storage containers with covers are useful: they come in a variety of sizes, you can always see what's in them, and they can be easily stacked in closets or slid beneath beds, or kept in the garage or basement. Buy as many of them as you need to keep desk tops, table tops and floor clear of unnecessary items.

Organize by category. When you put things in storage containers or drawers, do it systematically, thematically and logically. Don't just haphazardly throw things together; if you do, you'll encourage random rummaging, accompanied by random dumping on the floor or table. Establish a system that makes sense, and your family will honor it. Do the opposite and they won't.

Keep stored items near where you will use them. Your family will gradually lose interest in putting things away again if doing so is a big hassle or inconvenience. Schemes of organization must be workable and practical if they are to be sustainable.

Paint walls and ceilings in white. White reflects light rather than absorbing it, and this is why rooms painted in white seem more spacious than rooms painted in darker colors. This visual trick won't give you more room to work with, but it will create an impression of openness and expansiveness.

Turn your basements or attics into family rooms, game rooms or bedrooms. Basement and attic rooms are cozy and private, and converting your basement or attic into a usable room will give you the motivation to keep them clean and decluttered. To hold down costs, you can furnish these new rooms with cheap, second-hand furniture picked up on Craigslist or at a thrift store.

Build shelves and put them everywhere. Put kitchen shelves above your stove or kitchen sink. In the living room or dining room, think about building a wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling bookcase, which can be used to hold much more than books. Shelving along bedroom walls can eliminate the need for night tables or standing drawer units. Extra shelves inside closets are perfect for adding efficient storage. Look around a bit, and you should have no trouble finding good DIY plans that will let you construct sturdy shelves that won't require a significant financial investment.

Put bunk beds in your children's rooms. Bunk beds save space, and kids often love them. To save money, keep an eye out on Craigslist for used bunk bed frames, or just track down a good DIY plan and build it yourself.

Sell the stand and mount your TV on the wall. If you haven't checked lately, you might be surprised to find out how inexpensive wall mounting kits are these days (less than $50). They aren't hard to install, and they will clear noticeable floor space.

Buy a shower caddy for your bathroom. These vertical poles can be mounted inconspicuously in the corner of the shower or the corner of the bathroom. Shower caddies are a cheap ($25-$50) form of efficient shelving that can hold all kinds of bathroom items that would otherwise be left sitting on the sink.