When New York City couples move in together, it often means searching for, or being absorbed into, a modest one-bedroom apartment. For many, taking this plunge will be both exciting (think of all that saved rent!) and excruciating, as sharing a space will mean compromises, fights over housework, and the paring down of personal items so everyone’s stuff can fit.
So for those about to take the plunge—and those who could benefit from a bit more squabble-proofing at home—we’ve culled a list of our favorite self-preservation and storage tips for shacking up in small apartments.
1. Use visual dividers to create “rooms” ↑
Dividers are a great way to fake extra space for an office or reading nook, or to create a private escape in a shared space. As Kate Stone, an artist living in a 400-square-foot Bushwick apartment with her husband, tells 6sqft, “Part of our studio is our ‘office.’ We have a ‘living room,’ ‘dining room,’ etc., even though they’re all the same space. It’s good to designate specific areas for specific functions.”
The conveniently cubic Kallax shelves are a common go-to for many folks thanks to the added bonus of extra storage space, but wood crates can provide the same effect for much less. Using shelving for dividers also gives partners more opportunity to express their individuality in a space. Foldable partitions, on the other hand, are easy to stow when guests are over.
2. Keep separate closets ↑
“Separate closets are a must,” says Yuka Yoneda, an NYC editor living in a two-bedroom LIC apartment with her husband and a newborn, “even if one person has to use the front entrance wardrobe as their own. It’s the best way to eliminate quarrels caused by one person trying to unwedge a pair of their pants out from between the other’s polo shirts.”
If closets are limited, consider using room partitions or hanging curtains around a garment rack or wardrobe to create a makeshift walk-in closet. (Bonus tip: Slim or muti-tier hangers will also help maximize available space.)
3. Think beyond the walls of your apartment
If you have the opportunity to start anew together, search for an apartment building with common space, or seek out a neighborhood that’s well served by cafes or other spots that can be used year round. Inclement weather and unexpected fallouts will make a small apartment feel even more strained and claustrophobic.
4. Use Hooks
If closet space is scarce, add hooks to the interior of closet doors or on the sides of dressers where you can fit them. If you’ve got great stuff you can show off, hang your belongings gallery wall-style using strategically placed hooks.