Category Archives: Tiny Homes

7 Easy Tips to Throw a Major Housewarming Party (in Your Tiny New York Apartment)

You did it! You packed all of your belongings into a seemingly endless row of boxes, stored all your seasonal goods, and made your move to the big city.

And not just any city. New York City.

We’re certain it was no easy feat (unless you used these 20 brilliant moving apps and services, of course). And we know how excited you are to start celebrating.

The trouble is, you’ve never really had to host anyone in such a small space. Who knew living in the greatest city in the world meant squeezing into the smallest pad imaginable?

Not to worry. The folks from Postable, an online service that sends cards in the mail for you, have outlined these seven handy tips for hosting in a small space. Stock up on ice, make sure no plates were shattered during your move, and get ready to throw a major housewarming in some minor square footage.

1. Don’t rush the date

Young couple moving in new apartment. Standing by the kitchen and using tablet.You may be super excited to show off your new place as soon as possible. But after the stress of moving, you’re going to want time to settle into the rhythm of your new home.

No worries if you still have several half-full boxes scattered around the place. As PopSugar points out, seeing boxes will get your friends excited about the final outcome of your home.

Focus more on unpacking in the areas you’ll be hosting, so there’s room to mingle without the risk of guests tripping over a crate of fancy china.

This may mean waiting a few weeks (or even months). The good news is, you can use this time to charm your neighbors — and maybe even invite them to the shindig.

2. Keep your guest list light

two women enjoy a dinner party in the backyard
A Beautiful Mess

Think about how many people you can fit without basically being on top of one another. Jot down the names of everyone you’d like to see, and consider skipping the plus ones.

Jaclyn from Wife Aquatic — a lifestyle blog about the author’s experience living aboard a 46-foot boat in the bay — suggests rotating your celebrations:

“Consider throwing multiple parties with different groups of friends.

If you have a large social circle, think about throwing a separate party for each friend group. This way, your guest list will be totally manageable and you’ll ensure that everyone at each event gets along.

Sure, it’ll be a little more work for you, but each party will be way more fun (and way less crowded).”

3. Send your invites out in time

a handheld invite for a housewarming party

Once you’ve found the perfect date and finalized the guest list, it’s time to send out your invites.

You finally made that big move you’ve been dreaming about, so why not step up your sophistication game and send real paper invites?

Don’t forget to include an RSVP date, so you have enough time to prep accordingly. The ideal timeframe is three weeks in advance.

If you decided on a more last-minute affair, a good old Facebook event page will do the trick. Just remember to keep the event private, so as not to offend anyone that didn’t make your guest list. And toggle off the guests’ ability to invite new people.

As much as you’d like to host the entire neighborhood, your small space likely isn’t cut out for it.

4. Keep the menu light and fun

a table with snacks like dried veggies and beer

Cooking not your forte?

Then attempting to make an elaborate new dish in your tiny kitchen probably isn’t the best idea.

Instead, opt for finger foods, which will eliminate the need for space-hogging utensils. These bite-sized caprese skewers are a fun, easy spin on the classic salad. Or cater to every New Yorker’s love of brunch with some mini Belgian waffles.

Layering snacks on tiered platters follows the golden rule of small-space design: Make good use of vertical space.

Just make sure whatever you decide to cook up doesn’t take you forever — you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for your big affair.

5. Embrace the small space

a candle lit on a cozy table

Think of it this way: The smaller the space, the greater the opportunity for creativity.

Turn your coffee table into the centerpiece of the party by stocking it with the food essentials and utensils. Try to keep the edges clear for people to set their drinks.

Use stools and giant pillows for alternative seating. Emily from the lifestyle blog House Method suggests investing in a pouf or two:

“When you’re not hosting, they’re great accent pieces. When you’re hosting, they’re double the seating.”

And as much as you’d love to display your most treasured decorative pieces, think twice before leaving anything precious out.

Your new home is about to get even less spacious with all the invited bodies roaming around — accidentally smashing a priceless family treasure will bring the party to a literal crashing halt.

If you’re not completely unpacked, just use pretty sheets or drapery to cover some sturdier boxes. Voila: backup seating.

6. Take advantage of all your new resources

makespace storage app on a white iphone

Living in NYC can be hard. Luckily, there are apps that make it easier.

While in the past you may not have needed an your clean laundry delivered on-demand, it’s now time to get acquainted with some tech-fueled game changers.

Want to send paper invites, but don’t have a single New York minute to spare?

Use Postable to easily send classy housewarming invites without ever leaving your apartment.

Need to clear room before the party, stat?

Schedule a MakeSpace pickup (your first pickup is free) to quickly get organized.

Mixing drinks? Stocking up on groceries and booze in advance may end up taking up more counter space than you have to spare.

To avoid cluttering up the kitchen as you prep those scrumptious finger foods, get booze delivered to your door in just before guests arrive, via the Minibar app.

7. Don’t forget to thank your guests

a mailed thank you note

Gratitude is good for your soul and for your health.

It doesn’t matter whether you thank your guests via text message, email, or sending a thoughtful, hand-mailed “thank you” note.

It’s the act of being grateful that will put you over the top as a, well… a gracious host.

This is a guest post from Postable, a website that makes sending seriously stylish snail mail as easy as sending an email. Postable prints, stuffs, stamps, addresses, and mails all of your cards directly to everyone for you. 

8 Stylish Ways to Display and Store Art in Small Spaces

All artwork — whether it’s a curated piece for a gallery wall, or a portrait of a pug from the flea market — deserves a good home.

But that can be tough when your home is small. And it’s even tougher when the only decent wall space you have was recently taken over by your DIY clothes rack.

Before you shove your art beneath your bed or host an impromptu sale for your collection, though, let us help you out.

You can still store and display art in your small space — you just have to get a little creative. Here are eight ingenious ways to display your art when you’re pressed for room, plus five tips for storing it.

8 stylish ways to display your art:

1. Display small artwork on bookshelves

a bookshelf with some knickknacks and small art displayed

Your bookcase isn’t just good for housing your collection of pine-scented candles and Jack Kerouac novels — it makes an awesome art display, too.

Small pieces of artwork fit perfectly on bookshelves, and serve as a unique way to break up your rows of New York Times Best Sellers.

Free Bonus: 9 Creative Book Storage Hacks for Small Apartments

2. Use large artwork as your room’s statement piece

oversized tapestry art hangs from a bohemian room
SF Girl By Bay

Maybe you don’t have enough space in your tiny apartment for the chic sectional you wanted or the red velvet chairs you envisioned yourself using for afternoon tea parties (here’s a roundup of stylish space-saving sofas and coffee tables perfect for a tiny home).

But that’s okay. Instead of statement furniture, embrace the idea of statement art. Hang your biggest and boldest piece somewhere visible and prominent. Since it’s just on the wall, it’ll add style to your home without cluttering or overwhelming it.

3. Consider the style of your art when figuring out where to display it

a woman approaches a work of art to examine it closer

Graphic artwork with bright, vibrant patterns is easy to see from a distance, whereas art with intricate scenes or small details is better observed up close.

If you own the type of art that makes people squint their eyes or walk toward it to get a better look, display it in a more intimate space. Think places like above a desk, leaning atop a dresser (check out these Ikea hacks to get the dresser of your dreams), or in a narrow hallway.

On the other hand, if you have art that’s best viewed from afar to see how the colors and details connect on a larger scale? Hang it above a sofa, bed, mantelpiece, or dining table.

4. Take advantage of narrow spaces for mini galleries

four photos hang in a narrow corner
Apartment Apothecary

If you have a diverse collection of cohesive artwork, don’t stress about finding a spot for each individual piece. Group them together instead.

Entryways, bathroom hallways, and even corners (like in the photo above) make ideal gallery spaces.

Your blank wall will be filled with something beautiful and you’ll have a cool area to bring guests when you want to show off your taste in art. That’s a double win.

5. Use the leaning method

a piece of art is propped up against the wall next to a bed
Paper & Stitch

Out of space to hang your favorite pieces?

Here’s an idea as stylish as it is easy: Place your art on top of a desk, nightstand, or dresser and lean it against the wall.

Simple. Chic. No nails required.

6. Create a tranquil window scene with your art

natural artwork hanging in a small space

A print from nature or a gorgeous landscape piece make the perfect figurative window to open up your space.

Bring the outdoors into an area of your home that doesn’t get a ton of natural light.

Free Bonus: 7 Easy Ways to Fill Your Apartment With More Natural Light

7. Place large and small pieces alongside one another to add depth

This method is the low-key alternative to a gallery wall.

Instead of grouping 10 unique pieces or hanging just two identical paintings, strike a balance: Pick three or four pieces in different shapes and sizes.

The look will add dimension to your space without feeling chaotic.

Pro Tip: Try these 4 easy decorating ideas to make your small apartment look bigger.

8. Hang art in unexpected places

two tranquil art prints hang above turkish towels in a bathroom
Monika Hibbs

Showcase your art where you’d least expect it. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, lean a frame or two against your hearth.

Prop a piece on your open kitchen shelves, or hang one above your toilet or bedroom doorway.

5 Smart Tips for Storing Your Art

1. Clean it first

a pile of clean brushes lie stacked together on a table

Gently wipe dust off your artwork with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. If you have wood or metal frames, spray them with a protectant polish to prevent rusting and disintegration.

Don’t want to muster your masterpiece? Check out Apartment Therapy’s tips for cleaning all kinds of artwork.

2. Cover your art with a cloth

artwork lies on a bench next to some cloth that will cover it

If your art is framed, tape cardboard pieces to the corners to protect it, then drape a clean cloth, blanket, or piece of felt over it to prevent dust and dirt from settling.

If you’re transferring your art to a new home or storage facility, wrap it with a blanket or cloth and place it in a sealed plastic bag to prevent water damage during the move.

3. Store your art in a clean, dark, temperature-controlled space

a lightbulb shines on a piece of art in a dark room

Changes in temperature can cause your art to expand or contract, which leads to warping, stretching, and cracking over time.

Steer clear of spaces like attics and basements, as the moisture build-up from high humidity can lead to mold.

Same goes for bright, sunny places, since intense light exposure might fade your artwork over time.

Your best bet is to keep your art in a clean, dry, windowless space that stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit all year.

4. Keep your artwork separated

two botanical prints lying side by side

If you’re storing multiple pieces of art in the same small space, keep them cushioned against one another with foam or padded blankets.

Whenever possible, keep your artwork off the floor (hang it on a closet wall or use open shelf space) to protect it from mold, dirt, and potential moisture.

And remember: Stack your pieces standing up (like books on a shelf), not lying flat.

5. Let MakeSpace store your art for you

The MakeSpace storage bin of Ashley Albert, owner of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, NY.

For all the framed posters and flea market finds you don’t have room for, use MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a FREE pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll grab everything from your home and carefully transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when you want that massive 3-by-5 forest print back, just browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it straight to you.

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

11 Helpful Tips For Hosting Overnight Guests In A Small Apartment

Hosting overnight guests always requires some work, but it’s extra challenging when you live in a small apartment.

If your mind is spinning with visions of beauty products cluttering the bathroom counter and suitcases splayed open across the living room floor, don’t worry.

Accommodating guests in a space-challenged apartment doesn’t have to be a nightmare, or even a lesson in patience. With some extra effort and a positive attitude, you can make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.

Read on for 11 clever tips to host overnight guests in a small apartment with ease:

1. Clear your space to make more room for guests

clothes hanging on a garment rack

The first thing you should do to prepare for overnight guests is give your space a thorough cleaning. Pick up scattered clothes and shoes, toss the pile of junk mail on your entryway table, wipe down all surfaces, and vacuum the floor. (Need more genius cleaning tips? Click right this way.)

Next, walk through your apartment and find areas where you can make room for your guests’ belongings. Leave a few hangers open in the coat closet, or invest in a garment rack to make unpacking easier. You can even rearrange your coffee table or sofa to make a spot for luggage.

Clear space in the bathroom, too — whether it’s an entire cabinet drawer or just a shelf riser.

Pro Tip: Check out these incredible cleaning tips to get your place sparkling on short notice: 26 dazzling deep cleaning tips and 35 powerful spring cleaning tips and tricks from professional organizers.

2. Invest in an air mattress

a woman sits on a bed with a mug of tea and a journal
Homey Oh My

If you don’t have a futon, pull-out sofa, or guest bedroom complete with an actual bed, your best bet is to invest in a high-quality air mattress.

Wirecutter rounded up the best air mattresses currently on the market. Here are some key takeaways: Look for extra cushions, a velvet-like top so the sheets don’t slide around, and a pump that plugs into the wall.

3. Gather your coziest blankets and sheets

an organized linen closet
By Stephanie Lynn

You may not be able to provide your guests with a five-star mattress that’s somehow equally soft and firm, but you can give them the next best thing: comfortable sheets and cozy blankets.

You already know to use cotton or linen during warmer months, and flannel sheets during colder ones. On extra chilly nights, The Washington Post advises laying a blanket between the mattress and bedding to provide additional warmth.

Don’t forget the pillows! Liz Marie recommends keeping a variety of pillows out, so guests can choose to their liking. Also keep out a few extra blankets… just in case.

Free Bonus: How to clean and store bedding in five simple steps

4. Make your living space sleep-friendly

a nightstand and a couch in a white room

If your guests are sleeping in your living room or another common area, do what you can to make it a comfortable experience.

First and foremost: Position your guests’ air mattress strategically.

The best spot is near a lamp or light switch, so they don’t have to fumble around in the dark. Also, make sure you have curtains or blinds that block out streaming sunlight and the glow from street lamps. If not, opt for a snug, high-quality eye mask.

If possible, Reader’s Digest recommends positioning the mattress at the foot of your sofa so your guest has a makeshift headboard.

Other thoughtful additions, like a white noise machine, fan, power strip for charging devices, and effective earplugs, can make all the difference between a restful snooze and a night of tossing and turning.

5. Stock up on bathroom necessities

a perky bathroom with a pink shower curtain and flowers on the counter
Honey We’re Home

Your guests may not have their own room, but they can still have a taste of hotel life with little pampering embellishments.

Think mini toiletries (especially convenient if you grabbed some the last time you stayed at a hotel), color-coordinated towels, and even a bathrobe or slippers.

Free Bonus: How to easily clutter-proof your bathroom in only five steps

6. Use a folding screen for privacy

a bright rattan-woven folding screen divides a room in two
Sugar & Cloth

When hosting guests in a studio, privacy is hard to come by. A folding screen  makes  perfect temporary room divider and extra changing area.

Free Bonus: Learn how to create a foyer using a room divider

7. Fold up your guest’s bed and sheets during the day

a closeup of two pillows lying on the ground
Imperfect Homemaking

If you have a tiny living space, consider putting away your guests’ bed during the day so you have more room to hang out. Yes, it’s a hassle to unmake and remake the bed. But the extra breathing room will be well worth the 10 minutes of effort.

Store your sheets, pillows, and deflated air mattress in a nearby coat closet or stack them in a basket to slide into the living room corner.

Another option? If you’re tight on space, stash them in an empty suitcase under your bed.

Free Bonus: This real estate agent’s top three tips for living in a small apartment can help you maximize your space

8. Set up a chair as a makeshift luggage rack

a canvas overnight bag lies next to a white chair

If your guests have a place to put their stuff, it’s less likely to spill into other parts of the home. Give them a convenient spot to store their luggage, whether it’s a chair, bench, or ottoman.

9. Keep snacks, drinks, and breakfast foods on hand

a full, spacious and open kitchen
Just A Girl And Her Blog

When you’re hosting guests in a small space, it’s important to make your daily rituals and meals as easy and stress-free as possible.

Buy tasty snacks, fill the fruit bowl, and load the fridge with a variety of drink options. Leave a pitcher of water and glasses out and readily accessible to all.

And, unless you’re the type who loves to whip up individual omelets or veggie quiches, opt for pre-made or quick breakfasts. Think cinnamon rolls, bagels and cream cheese, pancakes, or yogurt and granola.

10. When in doubt, go out

a closeup of a woman's hand holding a beverage while out at a bar

Even with careful planning, a small home built for one can feel cramped with two or more inside.

If you feel cabin fever coming on, go out for a drink nearby, or go for a walk around the neighborhood.

11. Use MakeSpace

When all else fails and you need to make more room for your guests, use MakeSpace. We’ll store your surfboard, bike, coffee table, space heater, and more while your sibling or BFF commandeers the living room.

Simply schedule a pickup (your first pickup is free!) and pack your stuff. We’ll grab everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when your guests are gone and you’re ready to restore your home to normal, just browse your convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it back to you.

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

20 Brilliant NYC Apartment Decorating Tips And Ideas On A Budget

Renting an apartment in New York City poses its own unique set of challenges.

For starters, your upstairs neighbors seem to go bowling at 4 AM every single night.

Then there’s the ambulance plowing down your avenue right when you’re nodding off.

And should you investigate that weird smell coming from the building entryway?

We can’t help you with the smells or noises. But we can help make your home a welcoming respite from all that outside chaos.

Here to show you how is Jamie Hord of Horderly, a professional organization company that serves the greater New York City area. Jamie shares her expert tips on organizing, decorating, and personalizing the types of apartments you’re likely to find in New York City.

The best part:

None of these genius solutions will break the bank. (Trust, we know NYC is ridiculously expensive enough.)

Read on for Jamie’s 20 NYC apartment decorating tips and ideas for turning your place into a home for crashing in the city that never sleeps.

Click any of the links below to jump to decorating tips for your apartment type:
Studio apartment
Railroad apartment
Shared apartment

Studio apartment

A studio apartment bed next to two windows
Jamie Hord

You might instantly cringe at the thought of a studio apartment, but some of my all-time favorite apartments are studios.

If you set your studio up right, it can be the perfect little living space. Here are some tips on how to decorate your small NYC studio:

1. Use curtains to make the room look taller

Instead of hanging your curtains at the top of your window, hang them as far up as they can go — think ceiling to floor. Making use of vertical space like this creates an illusion of height, and will make your room feel taller.

2. Use rugs to divide the room

I always recommend to clients to use trays to categorize items on tables. You can use this technique basically the same way when it comes to your studio apartment. Simply use rugs as your “trays” to designate distinct areas: dining, living, bedroom, etc.

3. Light the walls (without breaking your lease)

Instead of taking up floor space with a floor lamp, or table space with a table lamp, use a wall lamp. Apartment Therapy has a roundup of the best wall-lamps that don’t require a lease-breaking foray into rewiring your apartment’s electricity.

4. Get extra space under the bed

Put your bed on bed risers for an instant storage boost.

5. Downsize your furniture

Purchase smaller furniture pieces. Consider a love seat sofa instead of a full, and make sure it’s comfy.

Free Bonus: 15 Seriously Genius Space-Saving Furniture Ideas For Every Room In Your Apartment

Railroad apartment

a well-lit room in a railroad apartment
Jamie Hord

Railroad apartments can be tricky because of their awkward, narrow shape. But they can also be a gorgeous and very uniquely New York home.

Here are some tips for organizing and decorating a railroad apartment:

6. Keep the space visually clear

Because of the fact that you can look across your apartment and literally see every room, keep the tone minimal. Reduce as much clutter as possible, which will calm the space and leave it feeling less cramped.

7. Set up the space according to any natural light

If you’re tasked with balancing and designating the apartment rooms, take note of the lighting. The living room tends to feel best at the end of the apartment, because it gets the most sunlight.

However, this means you’ll have to accept the fact that your bedroom is in the middle of the apartment.

8. Take down any unnecessary doors

Remove doors to open up and brighten your long apartment. This will also help with ventilation.

9. Keep the color palette consistent

Paint the apartment either one color or in neutral shades for continuity.

a room in a railroad apartment has been converted into a closet
Jamie Hord

10. Think outside the closet

Closets in railroad apartments tend to be limited.  Try transforming one room into your “closet” by putting a wardrobe, dresser, and mirror in it. This will also clear tons of space in your bedroom.

To clear even more space in your home, schedule a MakeSpace pickup.

MakeSpace will pick up the stuff you don’t need in your home right now (like your summer and spring clothes) and store it in their secure storage facility. When you need something back from storage, they’ll deliver it to you.

Free Bonus: 53 Insanely Clever Bedroom Storage Hacks And Solutions


A mirror hangs in the entryway of a micro-apartment
Jamie Hord

No need to fret over a tiny apartment. Have you ever heard the saying “less space, less stuff?”

In a micro-apartment, you’ll actually end up accumulating less, simply because you won’t have anywhere to put new stuff. There is nothing wrong with living with less.

In fact, it is said that with less you can enjoy more. You might find your smaller space allows for a bigger life.

Here are some ways to maximize your small space:

11. Use mirrors to visually expand your space

Don’t be afraid to go big when it comes to using mirrors in a small room. This will create the illusion of depth.

Use mirrors even in the bedroom and kitchen. Some great areas to place a mirror is facing a window, in the entryway, along a narrow hallway, or above a fireplace.

Free Bonus: 15 Amazing Multi-Purpose Entryway Storage Hacks And Ideas That You’ll Love

12. Pick mirrored and acrylic furniture

Mirrored and acrylic furniture is also brilliant when it comes to decorating small NYC apartments. I recently used this mirrored dresser and this acrylic desk for a few clients, and we were obsessed with the the overall look it gave their apartment.

a large wardrobe with mirrors
Jamie Hord

Mirrored furniture can make the floor space look bigger. However, you don’t want to use mirror furniture if you already have a lot of patterns going on in the room.

As for the acrylic desk, it’s almost like it isn’t even there.

13. Position the bed foot-first

The bed always looks best head-on when you enter a room, even if that means placing it in front of a window.

14. Maximize any and all vertical space

Take advantage of all vertical space. Use shelves and over-the-door hooks wherever possible.

a bed is positioned under a window in a tiny apartment
Jamie Hord

15. Keep backup tables without wasting room

Nesting tables are a great way to store additional side tables for guests.

Shared apartment

a classy gallery wall hangs above a large brown dresser
Jamie Hord

Living with roommates is hard, but I think almost everyone in NYC  has to experience it at least once in their crazy Big Apple journey. Here are some ways to manage sharing a space:

16. Compromise with a shared wall

Who doesn’t love a gallery wall?

What’s best about a gallery wall is it can pretty much be as random as can be and still look good. Try putting together your and your roommate’s favorite pieces and see how much you both love it.

17. Try a touch of DIY

If you’re both bringing in furniture and decor that you each already have, you may have to pull it together by adding a little DIY. Try covering pillows with different pillowcases, painting furniture, and changing dresser and door knobs.

a plant sits next to a window with a gorgeous view from a studio apartment
Jamie Hord

18. Add some (green) life

Increase your happiness and productivity by adding fresh flowers to your apartment. Placing plants by the window will improve the overall aesthetic, too.

Free Bonus: 7 Gorgeous Houseplants That Will Purify The Air And Make You Happier

19. Get creative when dividing the space

There are many unique ways to create a room divider:

It could be a simple 4-part screen, a bookshelf/open bookcase, slider doors, or a curtain. Or simply ask your landlord to build out a wall (yes, sometimes they will do this).

20. Be 100% yourself in your own space

When sharing a small apartment, you may have to sacrifice a few of your favorite decor ideas. So be sure to embrace your bedroom, and make it totally your own!

This article was written by Jamie Hord of Horderly. Horderly is a professional home organization company serving the greater New York City area. Specializing in decluttering, organizing, and unpacking, they help clients feel a new sense of clarity with their belongings, along with maintaining a steady, functional lifestyle.

The Boss Guide To Setting Up And Organizing Your Home Office

So you’ve decided to kiss office life goodbye and work full-time from home. Or maybe you set up a home office to pursue your new side hustle. Good for you!

Working from home gives you complete control of your schedule. And if you play your cards right, you can skip out early anytime.

But you can’t just flop onto your couch with your laptop and expect to be productive. It’s important to establish an office or workspace within your home. Without it, you’re bound to get distracted, fall behind, and pretty soon, your home won’t feel so comfortable anymore.

The good news is setting up and organizing a home office is easy. Simply follow the tips below and you’ll have an efficient, organized home office setup in no time.

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:
How To Find Space For A Home Office
How To Set Up A Home Office
How To Organize A Home Office

How To Find Space For A Home Office

1. Ask yourself these important questions

a woman doing work on her computer at her desk inside a home
The Merry Thought

Before you dive into any sort of redecorating, pause and consider a couple of things.

Jo Heinz, president of the Dallas design firm Staffelbach, offers a great checklist in Entrepreneur. It all boils down to asking yourself these nine questions:

  1. What will you be doing in the space?
  2. What type of work needs to be done?
  3. Will clients ever visit the space?
  4. Will colleagues visit for work?
  5. What type of materials will you store?
  6. What kind of equipment do you need?
  7. When will you be doing most of your work?
  8. Will you make conference calls?
  9. Will you ever video conference?

All of these questions will help you determine and visualize what kind of setup you require.

2. Look for windows

a macbook on a home office desk next to a window that's letting in a lot of natural light

Having a window in your home office is key for two reasons:

  1. It lets in a lot of light, which you’ll need to illuminate your files, phone, or keyboard.
  2. Natural lighting is crucial.

Think about the last time you did any work in a windowless room. It was unpleasant, right?

Having a window will keep you in a healthy, productive headspace. Just as long as you don’t spend all day staring out of it.

Free Bonus: 7 Easy Ways To Fill Your Apartment With Natural Light

3. Assess the noise level inside and outside your home

airpods are next to an iphone and a macbook air on a white home office desk

Obviously, you want to work in a relaxed environment where you can focus. So avoid the loudest part of your home.

Pick a space where your neighbors’ music, the construction down the block, or the birds chirping outside are the dullest.

And if you still need to muffle some ambient noise, take advice from Amanda Thomas, AKA the Domestic CEO, and cue up some calming background music on Spotify.

4. Carve out corners in your home

a wooden chair and small desk are a makeshift home office inside a living room

Have a spare room in your home?

Then your new office location is probably a no-brainer.

But if you have a less spacious apartment or house, you’ll need to get creative. Camp out in the corner of your living room or dining room, for example.

As home office expert Lisa Kanarek tells Mashable, rooms that you use infrequently are your best bets. Just try to make your space feel as separate and distinct as possible.

And avoid your bedroom if you can. Harvard sleep medicine experts say that working in your bedroom weakens “the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.” So unless you want mild bouts of insomnia, keep your laptop off the bed.

How To Set Up A Home Office

1. Pick a paint color that makes you feel calm and focused

2 floating shelves are storing various household items above an organized desk and office supplies
Delineate Your Dwelling

You’re about to spend a lot of time in your new home office, so it should be a place that you like walking into every day.

Pick colors that suit your taste and make you feel serene. Blue and green are naturally calming colors.

Christa O’Leary, founder of Home in Harmony Lifestyle, suggests adding an accent of red if you’re a salesperson or negotiator since that color stimulates appetite and increases heart rate. A splash of yellow amidst a sea of blue can also increase your ability to focus.

Not sure where to start?

Check out this paint 101 guide from House & Garden. Choose a scheme that works for you and then decorate the rest of the space in a matching, aesthetically pleasing way.

2. Get an ergonomic office chair

a comfy chair is pushed in underneath a wooden desk with a laptop

It’s tempting to just use your kitchen stool or couch, but we recommend investing in a dedicated ergonomic desk chair. You’re going to be sitting in it most of the day. The last thing you want is to develop back pain or poor posture from your home office.

Don’t want to spring for a brand-new chair?

Copy Amanda Thomas and upgrade a chair you already own with paint, fabric, and extra cushioning.

3. Or consider a standing desk

The health benefits of standing desks may be inconclusive, but there’s one thing science can agree on:

Sitting for too long is bad for you.

If you’re worried about chaining yourself to a desk chair all day, or if you want to save a little space, look into standing desks. Lifehacker and Wirecutter have several recommendations from Fully, UpDesk, Varidesk, and others.

4. Don’t forget an office lamp

a desk with a printer and small reading lamp

When it comes to home offices, task lighting is king.

Task lighting refers to illuminating a specific area in a way that makes it easier for you to accomplish tasks. In this case, it means lighting that best suits your workload.

Ideally, you have some natural light already streaming through your window(s). Regardless, set up additional lamps or overhead lights near your desk so you aren’t straining your eyes.

Just don’t situate the lamps too close. You don’t want a glare bouncing off your computer screen, either.

5. Position your computer properly

two computers are elevated to meet eye level

There is a right way and a wrong way to stare at your computer screen for eight hours.

As Fast Company notes, the top of your computer screen should be set at eye level or a bit below that.  That way, as you scan down text, your eyelids will naturally close a little and moisten. This prevents your eyes from tiring, which keeps you at a good work pace.

Here are a few other important tips you’ll want to follow:

Keep your feet resting on the floor, or another surface, as you work. And place your keyboard so your forearms are parallel to the floor.

6. Figure out your other hardware needs

a big open desk with shelves on each side and plenty of tools and resources

Every home office needs a computer. But depending on your line of work, you might need a lot more hardware than a simple laptop.

Sit down and take stock. Do you need a separate mouse or monitor? How about a printer? Maybe one that also scans and faxes? Or use Scanbot to scan and fax documents from your phone. Think hard about what tools you need to accomplish daily tasks.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the essentials, go to an electronics store or shop online for your office equipment.

7. Then figure out your software needs

a closeup of a laptop with editing software

You may have found the perfect computer, printer, and keyboard, but you’re not done yet.

There are certain programs you’ll probably need to purchase and load onto your shiny new hardware.

If you do a lot of spreadsheet work and writing, you might need Microsoft Office.  Or you could opt for the cloud-based G Suite.

If you’re a graphic designer, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator could be key. Make sure to look into any applicable discounts before you buy. Your company may even cover the cost.

8. Designate “work zones”

books are lined up in a small nook, under which is a stack of three storage boxes
The Proper Blog

To give your office an organized flow, Lifehack recommends establishing separate “work zones” depending on the type of activity.

There’s your “main hub,” AKA the desk with your computer and phone.

There should also be a “reference area,” dedicated to your filing cabinet, binders, folders, and any shelving units.

A closet or set of drawers for your Post-It notes, stamps, stapler, and other office supplies can serve as your “supply area.”

If you have a printer, designate one corner as the “copy area.”

9. Buy an office plant

the tendrils of a houseplant hanging over a clean home office desk, google home smart speaker, and laptop
Homey Oh My

Greenery can do a lot of good. Plants have a soothing effect on people, which is great for a potentially-stressful work environment.

But that’s not all. The Denver Post points out that a houseplant can decrease drowsiness, headaches, congestion, and even common cold-related illness.

Want something low-commitment?

Find a simple fern or peace lily. Neither plant requires a ton of care, and both will brighten your office.

Free Bonus: 7 Gorgeous Houseplants That Will Purify The Air And Make You Happier

10. Set some boundaries

a nearly empty room with a desk and open doorway behind it

Your home office should be a sanctuary, so it’s important to set some ground rules for the rest of the household.

If pets are going to be too much of a distraction, keep them out of the office. Spouses or roommates shouldn’t be allowed to drop in any time of day, and neither should friends who live down the block (unless it’s absolutely necessary, of course).

You may not have a boss behind you breathing down your neck, but you still have to work.

With that in mind, if you managed to block off a whole room for your office, shut the door when you leave at the end of a workday. This will further associate the space with a place you work, and it will help keep you focused while you’re in it.

How To Organize A Home Office

1. Categorize your work supplies

a table with office supplies like scissors, duct tape, and sticky notes

Clutter happens when you don’t have a clear organizational scheme. The simplest plan is to group similar items together.

HGTV lists some common categories and examples of items in each one:

  • Stickies — Post-it packs, tabs, and stickers
  • Tools — Stapler, hole puncher, and straight cutter
  • Budget — Checkbook, calculator, and billing calendar
  • Writing tools — Pens, markers, and highlighters
  • Mail — Envelopes and stamps
  • Labeling — Labeler and label tape

Bundle the groups, and store them in separate drawers or boxes so they’re easy to locate.

2. Manage your files

a pile of files are labeled and organized
Julie Blanner

There’s a good chance you don’t need a filing cabinet full of color-coded folders. Many jobs are virtually paperless at this point. But that doesn’t mean you can let your digital files get disorganized.

Create appropriate folders on your desktop. Archive old or unnecessary stuff. And be sure to back up everything regularly on a hard drive and/or in the cloud.

Still need paper files?

Check out Good Housekeeping’s guide on how to organize your paperwork.

3. Sort through piles of paper

a pile of papers and mail cluttered together in a wall mail organizer

Offices accumulate piles of memos, mail, bills, and more on a daily basis. To stop those piles from turning into mountains, make a point at the end of each week to sort through them.

Throw out or shred anything you obviously don’t need. File stuff you need to keep. If anything requires immediate, or close to immediate action, set it aside and handle the task now.

4. Declutter your desk

a clean and tidy desk sits next to a tall lamp and chair in a home

Papers probably aren’t the only thing clogging your desk. Take a glance and clear off anything that doesn’t belong: the books that go in your bedroom, the dog toy that somehow wound up next to your phone, the remnants of your lunch.

It only takes a few minutes, and it removes so many distractions.

5. Label your wires

a usb cord organized with a DIY washi tape label
A House Full of Sunshine

Even a basic workstation attracts its fair share of wires: chargers, printer cables, modems, and more.

To keep the tangled web straight, Martha Stewart recommends attaching tiny labels to the ends of each cord. It’ll save you the agony of following each wire back to its source. And, as Stewart’s example proves, it doesn’t have to look ugly.

6. Stay stocked on office supplies

pens and files packed into a briefcase

You don’t have an office manager to restock your supplies anymore. The last thing you want is to run out of paper mid print job.

Do a quick scan of your cabinets and drawers at least once a week. How are you looking on pens? What about ink cartridges? Notepads?

Once something is running low, make a note and buy replacements over the weekend.

7. Let MakeSpace pick up and store your extra stuff

Have some old files you’re hesitant to toss, or extra computer accessories that are crowding your new home office?

Let MakeSpace pick up and store everything for you.

All you need to do is schedule a pickup (your first pickup is free!), pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.

We’ll pick up your stuff and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff (only if you want us to), so you always remember what you have in storage.

Need something back for your client meeting?

No problem.

Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you. That’s one less reason for you to leave home. And one less headache to handle in the middle of your busy work week.

Astronauts Show How To Live In Small Spaces [8 Genius Tips]

There was probably a point in your childhood when you proudly declared to anyone who would listen, “I’m going to be an astronaut when I grow up.” But unless you earned an advanced engineering degree, passed all the rigorous training tests, happen to have superhuman eyesight, and managed to make it through the flight simulator without puking, that didn’t actually happen.

Although you may not be a spaceman or spacewoman today, you can channel some of that NASA spirit by learning from astronauts’ insanely unconventional, small space lifestyle. The secrets of the International Space Station (ISS) — where crew members from all over the world live for several months at a time — can teach us a lot about how to live in small spaces.

Here are eight of the best small space living ideas derived from articles and videos about ISS, and how you can apply them to your gravity-bound apartment.

1. Streamline your sleeping arrangements.


If you think your bedroom is tiny, get ready for a culture shock. Astronauts do not have real rooms where they can doze in peace. They also don’t have any mattresses, memory foam, or plush pillows to their name. Instead, each one is issued a small sleeping pod with a sleeping bag, which is tied to the wall so it doesn’t float away.

This might seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but it actually makes sense in space. Since you’re in zero gravity, sleeping standing up in a bag doesn’t feel any different from lying down horizontally on a surface. As Internet-famous astronaut Chris Hadfield explains in the video above, you can relax every muscle in your body until you zonk yourself out. Provided you’ve already changed into your PJs, of course.

Now, you can’t pull off this scheme on Earth without some serious back pain. But you can apply this minimalist approach to your own situation:

  1. Skip the bulky headboards and go for a no-frills frame. Or find a space-saving bed that comes with built-in storage, so you maximize the space.
  2. Mount shelves above your bed or next to it on the adjacent walls.
  3. Use your window sill as a nightstand.
  4. Add bed risers.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but you will find about 50 more in our list of insanely clever bedroom storage hacks.

2. Downsize your medicine cabinet.


Going to the bathroom is crazy complicated in outer space. As you can see in the above video tour, ISS has a specialty toilet and plenty of different papers and wipes to help astronauts do their business.

But the “bathroom” is cramped to say the least, and doesn’t include a sink or shower — let alone a medicine cabinet. So instead, the astronauts are reduced to a small toiletries kit containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, combs, brushes, deodorant, and razors. Plus the specially-made-for-space shampoos that require no rinsing and very little water at all.

They can use those products in the “hygiene corner,” seen in the video below. Be grateful you don’t have to clip your fingernails over a grate, like European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti:


We’re not suggesting you ditch your shower, but you can learn a thing or two from this basic setup.

First things first, clean up your medicine cabinet. Go through it and throw out any empty toothpaste tubes, snapped hair ties, or expired mascara. Then get smart about how you’re using your space.

Install an organizer with sliding shelves under the sink. Suction cup your shampoo to the shower wall. Or make a magnetic board for all your makeup. You’ll find those creative tips and more in our collections of 42 brilliant bathroom storage hacks and 16 amazing beauty storage ideas.

3. Learn to exercise in close quarters.


Astronauts are not allowed to be lazy. Exercise is a required part of their daily routine, and for good reason. When you’re constantly floating around rather than walking between rooms, you’re not really engaging your muscles. That kind of inactivity makes them weaken, and can lead to muscle and bone loss.

To stay fit, crew members work out on a very special treadmill called the Colbert treadmill. It’s named after Stephen Colbert because, if you’ll recall, he encouraged Colbert Report viewers to flood NASA’s naming poll in 2009.

This piece of equipment does not have any sort of handle or frame for astronauts to grip. In order to run in the weightless environment, they must strap themselves into a harness before firing up the machine. You can watch astronaut Karen Nyberg run on it in the video above.

But that’s not all. The ISS has two other pieces of exercise equipment: the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) and Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System (CEVIS).

In less scientific terms, the ARED is a weight-lifting machine and the CEVIS is an exercise bike. Watch the ARED in action:


If astronauts managed to sneak three fitness machines onboard a cramped space station, you can store some exercise gear at home, too.

If even the skinniest machine is too large for your apartment, invest in a set of kettlebells for your weight-training needs and a simple exercise mat so you can follow aerobic routines on your TV. Then slide them under your bed or into a closet when they’re not in use.

If you’re big on yoga, Etsy is a goldmine for mat holders and racks. You can also invest in a rolling exercise equipment cart. Or build a custom cabinet to suit your needs.

4. Get smart about grocery shopping.


Probably the most fascinating part of life on the ISS is … space food. You know all about astronaut ice cream and Tang, but that stuff is just the beginning.

In order to keep the crew fed for long periods of time and keep liquids under control, NASA and its international counterparts have to seriously manipulate their meals. In some cases, that means removing all water from the food to conserve weight and make the food rehydratable.

In other cases, that means applying ionizing radiation to the food to keep it from spoiling. The food also has to be slim and lightweight so the crew can stockpile. That’s why most of the containers you see Chris Hadfield handling in the video above look like Capri Sun pouches.

So what lessons can we glean from the ISS kitchen?

Well for one, you probably shouldn’t be buying in bulk. If you have a large family, it’s a necessity. And if you actually have a garage, go for it. But that 30-pack of paper towels is a major space suck that’s hard to justify. Try to stick to the stuff you need in the immediate future, and leave hoarding to these people on A&E.

Shed unnecessary extra packaging, like the boxes your teabags come in, to make spare room in your cabinet. Mount a magnetic strip on the wall for your knives, or a set of hooks for coffee mugs like Monica from Friends. And when in doubt, turn to this list of kitchen storage hacks for more tiny home living tips.

5. Optimize your library.

An organized wooden floating bookshelf is storing 11 different books.

What does an astronaut do in his/her downtime?

Well, they have plenty of movies to watch to keep themselves entertained. They can catch up with loved ones by calling home through the software on their laptops. They can also turn to the locker filled with paperback books on the ISS to stimulate their minds.

One locker for all their books? That’s a pretty tidy book storage system. You could probably use help organizing your own collection of novels, but you don’t need to acquire a locker to pull this off.

First, consider what books belong in the library donation bin. Know all the recipes in your cookbooks by heart? Have useless old college textbooks collecting dust on your floor? These are prime candidates for the pile. Here are a few more things to consider when deciding what books to keep.

After you’ve downsized your collection, consider where you’re storing your favorite books. You don’t have to buy a bulky freestanding case for them. Instead, get creative with headboards, hallways, and high-perimeter shelving.

If all else fails, you can always go digital with an e-reader.

6. Purge your closet.

declutter closet makespace was here

There is no place for fashion divas/divos in astronomy. Crew members on the ISS are allowed only a few basic clothes for their stay.

As NASA explains, astronauts typically get about one pair of shorts and one T-shirt for every three days of exercising. Work shirts and pants (or shorts) have to last longer; those are changed every 10 days. Underwear and socks are swapped every other day. There’s also a two-sweater allotment, and Polartec socks for chilly nights.

Astronauts repeat their outfits for as long as they can. But eventually, clothes get dirty and there’s no way to wash them onboard. So when they hit the point of no return, dirty clothes are shot into space with the rest of the ISS garbage.

Luckily, you have access to a washing machine and, hopefully, a closet of your own. Don’t have a closet? Here’s how to live without one.

Either way, you could certainly stand to clear out some clothing. Go with Marie Kondo’s  trendy KonMari method of organizing. Consider each item individually, and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it does, it can stay. If it doesn’t, mark it for donation or a garage sale.

makespace offers free goodwill pickups for storage customers in nyc, chicago, and dc
MakeSpace offers free Goodwill pickups in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC

7. Ditch the alarm clock.

red alarm clock on a white and black paw print blanket and next to a tea mug

Alarm clocks are nowhere to be found aboard the ISS. So how do astronauts wake up? Thanks to an assist from the crew back home.

Every morning, the NASA staff on Earth pipes music into the PA system. The track is dedicated to a different astronaut each day, and it’s chosen by a family member or colleague. For instance, one astronaut’s wife selected “Macho Man” for him the morning after a difficult spacewalk.

You can also clear some space on your dresser or bedside table by eliminating alarm clocks from your life. The simplest alternative is to set an alarm on your phone. But if you’d rather not be roused by one of your iPhone’s token tones, you have other options.

If you have Sonos, you can set up an alarm through that wireless system. Just go to Menu, then Alarms, then New Alarm. There you can choose a time, track, volume, and frequency. Just don’t forget to set it for your bedroom, rather than the kitchen or patio. Here’s a guide from Sonos in case you get lost.

Prefer not to rely on any hardware?

You can train yourself to wake up naturally. No really, it’s possible!

You’ll need to track your sleep patterns and then gently wean yourself off an alarm by setting a softer tone and forgoing the snooze button. Here’s how. With practice, you can do it.

8. Or leave the space stuff to the astronauts, and store your stuff in MakeSpace.


A photo posted by MakeSpace (@makespace) on

There’s a reason only an elite few go to space. Living above Earth is hard work. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get your kitchen to the streamlined standards of ISS. Instead, effortlesly store your spare stuff in MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a pickup and we’ll pick up  your appliances, furniture, and paperback novels so you have more space in your home to do whatever you want with.

After we’ve collected your things, we’ll transport them to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always know what you have in storage.

The best part: When you want something back from storage, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

We may not be on the moon yet, but we are in four cities.


Top image via Wikimedia/Michael Edward Fossum

A Psychologist Explains Why Micro-Apartments Are Popular In Large Cities

Brokers have been using words like “spacious,” “airy,” and “HUGE” to sell their clients on apartments since the dawn of leases. But for some people, small spaces are the next big thing.

In large cities across the nation, micro-apartments are exploding in popularity. Just consider Manhattan’s new micro-unit development Carmel Place, or the surge in micro-housing out in Seattle. Still, plenty of skeptics question why anyone would choose to live in a virtual broom closet — and that’s where psychology can help.

The clean, minimal, and furnished interior of Carmel Place, NYC's first micro-apartment building, which is located at 335 E 27th St in Kips Bay, Manhattan.
One of the gorgeous micro-units in Carmel Place, NYC’s first micro-apartment building.

“There are two distinct types of people who would want to live in tiny homes at the moment,” says Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist and founder of Design with Science. “People who have the resources to live in other places, but the tiny homes appeal to them. And then there are people who don’t, who would otherwise be sharing with other people.”

While the draw of micro-apartments should be obvious for those in the second camp — housing is expensive, and less space means less rent money — Augustin explains that folks who aren’t under a financial strain still have plenty of reasons for staying small.

“Some people have a real need for uniqueness and for the time being, it’s an unusual way to live,” she says. “Some people really like puzzles and living in a tiny home can be quite a puzzle to figure out how to cook real meals and have a shower you can comfortably step into. Some people are really concerned about environmental responsibility. And sometimes, but not always, these tiny homes are more responsible.”

Mary Helen Rowell definitely understands the puzzle appeal. When she moved into her 90-square-foot West Village apartment, she loved the neighborhood and low rent, but was also excited to turn the cramped spot into a real home.

“After I signed the lease, I would go there every day after work and sit in the room and try to figure out what to do,” says Rowell. “I just felt I could make it work. The worst that could happen would be that I’d be uncomfortable for a year.”

The brainstorm led her to creative tricks like hanging her seasonal clothes “shoulder-in” (the rest of them are stored in MakeSpace) and mounting foldable chairs on the wall.


Graham Hill is another micro-dwelling disciple, and not just because he likes a good puzzle. Hill has lived in all sorts of small-scale homes, but he’s probably most famous for the 420-square-foot “convertible” apartment he once owned on Sullivan Street.

The interior of Graham Hill's 420 sq ft micro-apartment in SoHo.
With the help of MakeSpace and transforming furniture, Graham Hill packed eight rooms of functionality into his former 420-square-foot micro-apartment in SoHo.
Graham Hill's open Resource Furniture wall bed inside of his SoHo NYC micro-apartment.
Graham Hill’s Resource Furniture sofa doubles as a bed that pulls down from the wall.

Working off a design from two Romanian architecture students, Hill remodeled two tiny adjacent apartments into one single pad with moving walls and space for a 12-person dinner party.

It was all meant to demonstrate his company LifeEdited’s mission — “design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy” — and Hill is still working on getting people to see the unexpected perks of giving up some square footage.

The minimal living room and kitchen inside of Graham Hill's 420-square-foot micro-apartment in SoHo Manhattan.
Graham Hill’s transforming 420-square-foot micro-apartment proves that it’s possibles to live large in small spaces.

“Sure, bigger houses can be nice, but they also have a lot of hidden costs,” says Hill. “More space to clean, heat. Big homes also tend to be further from city centers, meaning more driving, which ups your carbon footprint and takes a bite out of your wallet. What small houses might lack in features, they make up for in freedom to not be a slave to your space and your stuff, to live a life that is both financially and environmentally responsible.”

But of course, micro-apartments aren’t for everyone. Experts believe that kids who grow up in teeny apartments can develop short attention spans or social problems, and older adults may also struggle with a dorm-sized home.

For certain personality types, it can just be a mental minefield. “If someone has a hobby that’s really important to them, like say someone is a painter who paints larger canvases — for those people, moving into a tiny home can be really difficult,” says Augustin. “Because that’s an important part of their identity. I think there are also people who are more attached to things than others. You have to think what their options are and what’s important to them.”

Rowell remembers struggling with this material problem when she started living in her micro-dwelling — giving up on the dream of a couch “or even a cozy armchair” was an early battle. But she thinks ultimately, it does come down to your core personality.

“You get to know yourself so much better in a challenging living situation like that,” says Rowell. “Everything you bring into your life becomes a question. Is it a necessity or not? You learn how adaptative you are.”

That might sound daunting, but making a micro-space work is getting easier each year. As Augustin points out, technology is digitizing more and more of our belongings (think ebooks and all those photos on your phone), so people are bringing less literal baggage to these diminutive apartments. And in the end, having any sort of apartment does great things for your mood.

“People have really strong psychological reasons for wanting a place of their own,” says Augustin. “It signals you’ve reached a certain life stage, it gives you an opportunity to express who you are, and it gives you an opportunity for privacy. That’s important for obvious reasons, but it also allows you to mull over past life events. We need respite every now and then to make sense of what’s happening to us.”

And even if it means one seriously streamlined kitchen, a micro-apartment can do just that.

The left side of Grayson Altenberg's 100-square-foot micro-apartment has a bookcase, an organizing tray, and wall-mounted storage shelves.
Chef Grayson Altenberg’s 100-square-foot Upper West Side micro-apartment.

Behold The Space-Creating Glory Of The Domino Loft System

What do you do when you have a blank corner of your apartment, sitting unused?

Most people might settle with finding the perfect sectional, storage bed, or space-saving billiards game to fill the space, but not Donnie and Nicki Wang.

They wanted to maximize every square inch of their 500-square-foot San Francisco condo, so they hired architects to design a Domino Loft system that would transform their one empty corner into five functional living spaces.

The result, created by Peter Suen from FIFTH ARCH and Charles Irby at ICOSA Design, is stunning. So stunning that we just had to find the Domino Loft’s owners and creators to learn more about the loft’s birth, features, materials, and of course, the answer to the million dollar question:

How do we get our hands on this spectacular space-saving loft?!

Keep reading to find out, and try not to ogle too hard.

The birth of the Domino Loft system

Nicki Wang writes on the Domino Loft system's whiteboard.
Brian Flaherty

When the couple first reached out to Peter and Charles, Donnie told us they had a clear idea of what they wanted:

“Five functional spaces depending on the time of day or occasion: bedroom, office, dining room, guest room, and walk-in closet.”

Working collaboratively, the designers started from scratch and went through months of content exploration before settling on the ultimate solution. Peter said he and Charles “spent more time than typical on the initial schematic and conceptual phases,” testing at least eight ideas, but the planning paid off.

“We focused,” Peter told us, “on how a static spatial configuration can still produce dynamic, multifunctional spaces.”

Like the Gramercy Park micro-apartment with a sliding storage wall and the tricked-out YO! Home, the Domino Loft feels dynamic even when it’s not in use. Its energy is partly due to its growing out of (and into) the Wangs’ condo.

Fabricated piece-by-piece in Charles’ Oakland shop, the loft system fits seamlessly in the Wangs’ home where it was assembled on site.

The Domino Loft system as a workspace

The Domino Loft system has a multipurpose workspace with a computer station, whiteboard, storage bench, fold down table, and more.
Brian Flaherty

In addition to eating, sleeping, and watching movies in their loft, Donnie and Nicki run treadfast — a business that designs and sells premium tall socks with grips — from home.

As a result, the couple needed a designated workstation and more storage space for their inventory. The Domino Loft provides both.

The Domino Loft system has convenient storage space and shelves to store your clothes, shoes, accessories, and more.
Brian Flaherty

With a built-in standing desk in the interior, a full-wall whiteboard, and storage shelves and drawers just about everywhere else, the Domino Loft system gives the Wangs the workspace they need while saving them from having to stack unsightly boxes in a corner.

Donnie told us they store “thousands of socks in, on, and around the loft, though you could never tell just by looking.” He’s right. We can’t.

The loft’s two tiers allow Donnie and Nicki to work or rest separately, which is one of the keys to successfully sharing an apartment with your significant other.

The Domino Loft has separate areas for relaxing, sleeping, working, and more.
Brian Flaherty

The Domino Loft system as a guest bedroom

Living in Downtown San Francisco often means you attract friends and family from all over the country. Which is great if you have a spare bedroom, but it’s tougher when you’re already two people living in a 500-square-foot condo.

So does that mean the Wangs have their guests sleep on an air mattress that deflates throughout the night?

Nope. The Domino Loft’s whiteboard folds down into a Murphy bed that sleeps two.

Nicki Wang opens the Domino Loft system's Murphy bed.
Brian Flaherty
Nicki Wang tidies the Domino Loft system's Murphy bed.
Brian Flaherty

What’s the Domino Loft system made of?

Donnie Wang opens the Domino Loft system's curtain.
Brian Flaherty

The Domino Loft is primarily made of concrete, steel, and a gorgeous maple plywood with a white lye and natural soap finish. This follows the industrial, urban aesthetic Donnie and Nicki wanted to create in their home.

“The loft platform,” Peter told us, “is formed from a series of solid wood joists that allow lighting to tuck into the member spacing.

The loft’s concrete and steel live up to their sturdy reputations, and because of its sleek and multifunctional design, it doesn’t create a heavy or bulky presence. Details like the sliding library ladder contribute to the energy of this system. It shifts and adapts while standing perfectly still.

The Domino Loft system has convenient hat storage shelves and a sliding library ladder.
Brian Flaherty

Want a Domino Loft system of your own?

We do too. But we’ll have to wait for an indefinite amount of time.

“We would like to develop a kit-based system based on this concept that owners could potentially configure on their own,” Peter told us. He also couldn’t say what the Domino Loft’s price range might be, since the cost of the loft built in the costs of construction and demolition of the Wangs’ condo.

All hope isn’t lost, though. ICOSA Design specializes in computational architecture, meaning they’re experts at turning concepts and data into physical structures.

The Domino Loft is the first living space project that ICOSA Design has built, and it hopefully won’t be their last.

Donnie and Nicki Wang relax on the Domino Loft system's bed in their beautiful 500-square-foot San Francisco condo, which also has a home theater.
Brian Flaherty

This article was written by David Michael McFarlane, a writer from Texas and Oregon who lives in New York and loves smart design and organization.

Enter The MUJI Hut, Japan’s Newest Prefab Homes

Who doesn’t want to trade the skyscrapers and crowded trains for the quiet, serene, and spacious country some days?

It’s a common impulse of urban living, whether you’re in Chicago, New York, London, or Tokyo. It’s why people still move off the grid and live in cabins. And it’s also the philosophy behind MUJI Hut, the latest prefab homes out of the Land of the Rising Sun.

You could call MUJI Japan’s response to IKEA. Both companies design and distribute simple, low-cost, and good-quality products.

MUJI diverges from that comparison, however, with its scope. Not content with furniture and ligonberry jam, the Japanese company has created everything from CD players to the MUJI Car 1000, a 2001 collaboration with Nissan.

Now, MUJI is building tiny prefab homes, having enlisted three international designers to create affordable, quality retreat houses. Like most of MUJI’s products, their huts are stunning, modern, and (we hope) affordable.

Check them out below!

The Philosophy of the MUJI Hut

A beautiful Japanese landscape from MUJI Hut.

MUJI Hut’s website beckons you to sit in stillness and contemplation. As the page loads, you see and hear a video of quiet, subdued nature scenes with no buildings or people in sight.

Music begins, and calm rhythms play over bird songs, waterfalls, and crickets. You wait, expecting something to appear. Until you realize that waiting and listening is the point. It’s mesmerizing. It’s the kind of experience MUJI hopes to create with their prefab houses.

“Slip away,” the copy reads when you discover you can scroll down, “from the hustle and bustle of the city to a place where you can feel instantly at home and at ease.”

Suddenly, you want that home where you can sit and listen to the rain and watch the day fade into night. That home where you can sit around a fire in a private space talking to your friends.

You can have it, the copy infers, if you live in a MUJI Hut. Three unique MUJI Hut designs were unveiled at last year’s Tokyo Design Week, each with its own amenities and distinct personality.

MUJI Cork Hut

The exterior of a MUJI Cork Hut, a prefab home in Japan.

British designer Jasper Morrison created the Cork Hut, so named for its cork walls and, inside, cork doorknobs. Its 100% natural material is carbon negative and recyclable, all the while insulating the tiny house from cold and noise. This selection of materials aligns with the overall aim of MUJI Hut to live at peace with your surroundings.

The interior of a MUJI Cork Hut, a minimal prefab house in Japan.

The interior of the Cork Hut is spare but offers traditional tatami floors, a wood burning stove, kitchenette, dining nook, and bathroom. In essence, it has everything you need to survive, which was the aim of Morrison. He wanted to create a “house as a product rather than a one-off” for everyone who wants to live on a piece of land but can’t build a new house from scratch.

MUJI Aluminum Hut

The exterior of a MUJI Aluminum Hut, a minimal Japanese prefab house.

Simpler, smaller, and more portable than the Cork Hut is the Aluminum Hut from German designer Konstantin Grcic. With a footprint around 100 square feet, Grcic built this prefab house within the parameters of projects that require no construction permit. Which means if you live in or move to Japan, you can place this tiny home just about anywhere without legal challenges.

The minimal interior of a MUJI Aluminum Hut in Japan.

Three sides of the Aluminum Hut’s exterior are made with, you guessed it, lightweight aluminum. You’d think this would block sunlight from entering inside, but that’s not the case. The front of the Aluminum Hut has traditional Japanese sliding front doors that admit plenty of natural light.

Inside, there’s a loft and ladder. But nothing else. The minimalism is intentional. Grcic wanted to create “a free space, which can be personalized and accommodated for a number of different uses.”

The Aluminum Hut is a basic, beautiful shelter that’s also private, portable, and self-supportive.

MUJI Wooden Hut

The exterior of a MUJI Wooden Hut, a minimal tiny house in Japan.

Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa considered the associations with the word “hut” before he drew the floor plan for his Wooden Hut: “Not quite a holiday house, yet not as simple as going camping.”

With a stove and kitchenette like the Cork Hut, plus a full Japanese tub and wall of windows, Fukasawa created this house with more pleasures in mind.

The minimal interior of a MUJI Wooden Hut, a prefab home in Japan.

The expanse of windows was designed for the kind of vistas you see on MUJI Hut’s website, and the Wooden Hut’s interior similarly melds with natural surroundings.

The floor and wall are made of timber and offer a shelf for storage along the back. As the small cot in that photo indicates, floor space is limited, but the pitched roof and generous use of glass brighten and expand the single room.

As for the Wooden Hut’s bathroom, it’s stunning, and pictured below.

The interior of a MUJI Wooden Hut, a minimal prefab home built in Japan.

MUJI Hut Price and Availability


So, how much are these gorgeous MUJI Huts? And how soon can you move into one?

We’re not sure.

The bottom of MUJI’s website reads “We are not ready to announce any details yet, but to keep up with the latest news, join our mailing list or follow us.” And when we asked MUJI’s head office in Tokyo for more information, they told us that’s all they can say for now.

Other media outlets, however, cite prices ranging from $25,000 to $40,000 along with a 2017 release date. Given that MUJI’s gorgeous three-story Vertical House sells for just $180,000, that price range for their tiny homes may just be accurate.

Unfortunately, and maybe tellingly, MUJI only sells their prefab Vertical House in Japan. Keep your fingers crossed though until more news develops. And be consoled: There’s still the Ecocapsule.

This article was written by David Michael McFarlane, a writer from Texas and Oregon who lives in New York and loves smart design and organization.

Look To The Sea: Storage And Space-Saving Inspiration From Sailors

Living in small spaces is no 20th century phenomenon. Humans have made do with less room since we first climbed down from trees and built primitive shelters. We’re an economical species, adept at efficiency and thrifty living in big cities, and the open water.

Sailors and everyone living in offshore homes have pioneered many advancements in small-space living. Bobbing beside a dock or anchored in a marina, sailboats, houseboats, and small yachts use clever design to make the most of a few square feet.

If you live in a small apartment or tiny home and crave some space, consider these space-saving, furnishing, and storage tips developed by sea-dwellers.

Mount plates, cups, paper towel, and spices to the wall.

A SeaTeak dish/cup/spice/towel rack is storing plates, a paper towel roll, spices, and cups.

Like a lot of tiny apartments, few ship galleys have the space for cabinets. Ceramic dishes wouldn’t last too long sliding around in a sailboat buffeted by waves anyway. Enter SeaTeak, a company devoted to beautiful, practical storage products that can be mounted to the wall of any home, land or sea.

The dish/cup/spice/towel rack seen above is one of many home storage solutions they make that free up counter space and keep your belongings secure. From knife blocks to book racks, their marine-inspired designs will enhance any home by looking beautiful while saving space.

Think cozy, not cramped.

The cozy bedroom in Tracy and Marty Metro's "Retro Metro" houseboat.
Apartment Therapy

Sure, most of us would love to sleep under a 12-foot ceiling with a huge window overhead or, better yet, a skylight, but that’s not feasible in most small apartments. For centuries sailors have slept in cramped beds with low ceilings, and many modern marine dwellers do too, except they make the spaces cozier.

If you have a loft bed or an apartment with less headroom than you’d prefer, use lights, colors, and textures to make it warmer, and more pleasant. While the headboard in the houseboat pictured above nearly touches the ceiling, its cushion material adds comfort to the small space. The lights pointed upward and outward, and the basket hanging from the ceiling also create more dimensions, making it less of a cave and more like a cozy den.

Hide your counter.

A foldable prep station counter in a Prospect Heights, Brooklyn apartment.

A New York City architect looked at sailboats for inspiration when designing a Prospect Heights apartment, pictured above. He built the foldable prep station with a table bracket used in many boats and yachts. It locks firmly and holds up to 330 pounds, then drops out of sight whenever you don’t need the extra counter space.

Oh, and the stainless steel bracket only costs $16 on Amazon, which makes it economical in every sense of the word. If you need more prep room, or if you’re just looking to save space in your small kitchen, this is among the cheapest and simplest tricks you can find.

Cargo nets are your storage buddies.

Two cargo nets are attached to a tiny trailer's ceiling and storing clothes.
Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers

Already a common sight in the trunks of most cars, cargo nets can be found in nooks and corners on boats of every size. You can adapt them to apartment storage as well. Their elasticity makes them ideal for compressing bulky items like spare duvets and pillows. When you’re done storing your stuff in them, they hug the wall, ceiling, or base of your bed, taking up little to no space.

Just like on boats, cargo netting comes in every shape and size for your small home, so you have a lot of options to maximize storage space with these stretchy tools.

Collapsible canvas baskets are your space-saving superheroes.

A large and small canvas storage baskets are storing logs and kindling in a small apartment with a fireplace.
Not on the High Street

We’re fans of our durable plastic storage bins, but when it comes to storing things in your studio apartment, canvas baskets are the way to go.

Seafarers rely on them to store everything from food and toiletries to jackets and linens for two good reasons:

  1. They’re durable.
  2. They’re soft and moldable, which lets you compress them when they’re empty to save space.

You can also store your possessions in canvas laundry hampers or canvas wastebaskets, and then tuck them into nooks and corners where rigid storage containers like a box or trunk might not fit.

Abandon ship clutter.

A layout of a small boat's interior showing multipurpose furniture and smart storage solutions.
Beneteau 235

Every time sailors take to the sea, they bring only the most basic tools, provisions, and cherished belongings with them. The reason is simple: If there’s no room for stuff, there’s no reason to take it. It’s a nice, simple philosophy for anyone who lives in a tiny house or tiny apartment to keep in mind.

Whether you live in an apartment, are about to move into a smaller home, or are planning to tidy up á la Marie Kondo, know that the space-saving solutions above can only go so far.

Think about everything you own and decide whether or not you really need certain objects taking up space in your home. Some items you might want to keep, others you might want to donate, gift, sell, or toss.

Either way, you don’t have to make every decision permanent, or regret parting with an item forever. Simply store the stuff you love, but don’t necessarily need in your home right now, in MakeSpace. And when you need something back, we’ll deliver it to your house, apartment, office, or port.

This article was written by David Michael McFarlane, a writer from Texas and Oregon who lives in New York and loves smart design and organization.

NYC’s First Micro-Apartment Building Is Absolutely Gorgeous, Spacious, And Chock-Full Of Amenities

Picture coming home to a newly-made bed, fresh linens, and clean clothes that are folded and put away in your drawers and closet. You don’t have to worry about what to eat for dinner. Your fridge and pantry is already stocked with your favorite food. And you don’t have to worry about cleaning your apartment. It’s already sparkling.

Did someone break into your apartment while you were at work and do all your chores?

Lol. No. That’d make him/her the sweetest criminal ever.

In this case, all you actually have to worry about is deciding whether you’re going to:

  • Relax on your incredibly comfortable Italian sofa from Resource Furniture that transforms into a bed, or on a chair at your desk that pulls out into a table for 12
  • Stare out your floor-to-ceiling window at a breath-taking skyline
  • Work out in your downstairs gym
  • Chill on your Juliet balcony or sky terrace
  • Unwind in your lounge, game room, or courtyard
  • Or have the time of your life mingling with influential people at private events held at your city’s hottest spots

Are you a multi-millionaire and/or Bruce Wayne?

Maybe. But you don’t need to be either to live here. In fact, 22 of the building’s 55 apartments are for low and middle-income people. The rest are market rate.

Ok, so what’s going on in this hypothetical dream?

It’s not a dream. This place exists.

The address: 335 East 27th Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan.

The name: Carmel Place.

Formerly known as My Micro NY, Carmel Place is NYC’s first micro-apartment building. Its micro-apartments range in price from $2,650/month for an unfurnished 265-square-foot unit to $3,150 for a furnished 355-square-foot unit. As for the “affordable” units, they cost $950/month. All of which are absolutely gorgeous and spacious, and include plenty of storage space.

See for yourself, and try not to drool too much:

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Who’s responsible for bringing these beautifully designed and furnished micro-apartments that come with pretty much everything you could want in a home?

nArchitects, Monadnock Development, and Ollie.

A word play on “all inclusive,” Ollie is Stage 3 Properties’ micro and co-living experience. Part of which includes Hello Alfred doing your chores and running your errands. You also get a Magnises membership, which gives you VIP access to top-secret events, private concerts, luxurious getaways, exclusive restaurants and clubs, and a slew of other perks that you’d expect a fancy black metal card to bring you.

“It’s a strong example of one of our basic premises—that we can elevate quality of life for tenants by eliminating less-valued square footage and reinvesting those savings in areas that make a material difference in their everyday lives,” said Chris Bledsoe, a founding partner of Stage 3 Properties and Ollie.

The best part: You don’t have to pay any extra money. Ollie is included in the rent at Carmel Place and will be included in the rent at future complexes, one of which will be opening in Los Angeles.

But that’s not all. Chris also told us about two upcoming Ollie services that will be available as add-ons:

1. Ollie Box

Ollie Box is a package of the accent items, such as “the floor rug, pillows, quilt on the end of the bed, and vase in the corner that you see,” that Ollie curates for you based on your tastes and then delivers to your door.

Ollie Box is a curated design package of accent items that Ollie curates and delivers to your door.

2.  Bedvetter

Bedvetter is a platform that Chris says “aims to streamline the household formation process” by “making it a lot easier for roommates to come together based on compatibility because part of Bedvetter is a roommate-matching algorithm similar to say, eHarmony.”

So basically, you’ll never have to deal with another roommate from hell ever again.

Sounds good to us.

Want to live in one of Carmel Place’s exquisite micro-apartments?

Apply here. Right now. Because there are only eight micro-units left. And more than eight million people in NYC who’d probably love to live in a beautiful fully-furnished home that basically cleans, restocks, and furnishes itself. Kind of like Bruce Wayne’s mansion that’s serviced by Alfred.

Hello Alfred

8 Small-Space Living Tips From The People Who Perfected Small-Space Living

Few human dwellings have endured as well or as long as the cabin. Log cabins appeared in Europe over 5,000 years ago, and besides indoor plumbing, not much has changed in them since. They’re practical, economical structures that have used limited space wisely for thousands of years, which makes them wonderful models for modern tiny-apartment dwellers like you.

Whether you’re still acclimating to a small apartment or not, there’s no denying that all of us could use a little extra breathing room. Here are eight smart decorating, storage, and small-space living tips from cabin owners that you can easily apply in your own home.

1. Simplify your possessions.

A woman is reading at a table in a minimally decorated cabin with a wood burner stove.
Lawrence Modern

The first homesteaders on the frontier only owned the provisions they carried in wagons from the east. They filled their newly-built cabins with these possessions, and until the mail order catalogue appeared, not much more.

Simplifying to the bare essentials became a tradition of cabin living, and it might be the best lesson for you to learn before moving, selling, donating, or storing everything that you don’t absolutely need. That means you, juicer we only used for one week.

2. Make your apartment work overtime.

A clean and organized tiny apartment has storage shelves and cabinets and is decorated in mostly white.
Cloud Pen Studio

A lot of migrants to big cities grew up with many single-purpose rooms. We had rooms for eating, cooking, sleeping, watching TV, doing laundry, storing holiday decorations, and even taking off our shoes. A lot of cabin owners did too, but they acclimated to their condensed space by forgetting the rooms they only used 10 minutes a day (or a month).

Cabins, like small apartments, still have all the necessary makings of a home. The layout and square footage may be smaller than what you’re used to, but there’s nothing wrong with having your kitchen, living area, and bed all within the same four walls like these spacious micro-apartments. That’s how it’s been for most of human history.

3. Think “cozy,” not “cramped.”

The cozy interior of a log cabin is dimly lit and minimally decorated.
Sortra Decor

Did that room feel bigger before you moved your bed into it? Yeah, that happens, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Cabins remain popular not for vast floor plans but for their small charm.

Having your table next to your bed, and only a step away from your refrigerator, doesn’t have to be claustrophobic. Think of your small space as cozy, good for nestling — like a cabin. Of course, a little feng shui doesn’t hurt either.

4. Go outside whenever you can.

The exterior of a Northern Woods lynx cabin in the woods during the day.
Northern Outdoors

Let’s not forget why most cabin owners became cabin owners: the great outdoors. Cabins allowed families and woodsmen easy access to open land and idyllic settings. As cozy as they made their homes, cabin fever loomed if people didn’t go outside whenever they could.

It can be a threat for tiny-apartment dwellers too, so like Grayson Altenberg, try to limit the amount of time you spend indoors. Especially during REDRUM winter.

5. Don’t underestimate a natural grain.

The white interior of a clean, organized, and minimally decorated small apartment that has storage shelves, a loft, and wooden furniture.

We love IKEA too, but if you can’t have the wooden walls of a cabin, furnish your apartment with at least a few pieces that have natural grains. Like houseplants, wood accents make living spaces more pleasant and warm.

Wooden furniture only adds to that cozy charm your small apartment needs. But don’t take our word for it, take a look at the wooden Bike Shelf that doubles as art.

6. Install storage solutions everywhere.

A man is walking down the Mieke Meijer Objet Eleve, a suspended staircase with storage, a desk, and a side table.
Mieke Meijer

Storage is a major feature of just about every cabin you’ll come across because it’s essential to living happily in a small space. Cabin owners have perfected the use of every nook to store quilts, food, and firewood. You should too.

Buy shelves if your apartment lacks built-ins. And think outside the box to create extra storage spaces like how Dutch design studio Mieke Meijer did with the above staircase.

7. Get creative with how you store your clothes.

A portable DIY closet made of pipes, a storage crate, a shelf, and a vintage trunk.

There weren’t closets in early cabins, and that coffin with a door beside your bed may not feel like one either. Cabin owners and tiny-apartment dwellers alike lack space for many clothes, so divide your wardrobe by seasons.

Sending winter coats in the summer and tank tops in the winter to storage might be the best hack, but also consider the cabin method: buying an antique trunk. You can use it as a coffee table, or a platform for shoes. When the weather changes, open it up and swap out your clothes.

8. Enjoy the independence.

A woman is sitting at a wooden table and drinking coffee on the porch of a treehouse in a rainforest during the day.
Crowd Social

You may not have braved the Oregon Trail to reach your apartment, but you can still take pride in your independence like the old log cabin settlers. Living in a small space is a small price to pay for autonomy, and there’s a deep pleasure in that.

Enjoy your apartment for the independence it allows. If you still find yourself wanting a little extra room, let us help. We’re called MakeSpace for a reason.

This article was written by David Michael McFarlane, a writer from Texas and Oregon who lives in New York and loves smart design and organization.