How to Get Organized When You Live in a Small House (2022)

Learn how to get organized when you live in a small house with these simple organization tricks and ideas!

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I have lived in a lot of small spaces in my lifetime. During my first year of college, my dorm room was what they called a “converted triple,” meaning that it was actually made for two people, but they stuck three of us in there. Good thing I loved my roomies– it was close quarters!

Right after we got married, Donnie and I lived in the obligatory one bedroom apartment. It was just the two of us, so it wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely cozy to say the least!

By the timeConnor was born, we were living in a teeny tiny two bedroom townhouse where we had to push our dining room table back into a corner to make way for a pack-n-play.

Currently, our family of four lives in a three bedroom townhouse, which is where we’ve been for nearly seven years now. SEVEN! Though we hadn’t planned on being here for that long, it has been fun to have the time to transform the space and truly make it ours.

I am so thankful for our home, butthere have definitely been times where I have said, “We just need MORE ROOM!!” It’s kind of a tight squeeze with four of us, especially as the boys get older, but we have managed to make it work and we even all still love each other, so I feel like that’s a win! 🙂

After hearing from my readers, it seems like many of you are dealing with small spaces too, so I thought I would compile a list of some of my favorite small space living tips to share.

How to Get Organized When You Live in a Small House (2)

Grab our free guide, 7 Strategies for Getting Organized When You Live in a Small Space!

After living in a tiny townhouse for many years, I learned tons of helpful tips and tricks for getting organized when space is at a premium, and I share my favorites in this quick guide!


How to Get Organized When You Live in a Small House

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Purge like crazy. Declutter often.

After years and years of organizing and re-organizing in different homes, I’ve often found that the small space isn’t necessarily the problem.

The problem is that I have too much stuff.

(Video) how to get organized when you live in a small house with these simple organization tricks and ideas!

I know. It’s hard to let go of things sometimes because we think, “Well what if I need that someday…?”

I so hear you on this one.I confess: Iheld on to binders filled with my hand written notes from every college class for 7years after Igraduated. And I’m not even using my teaching degree!

But eventually I realized that I wanted a calm, peaceful, uncluttered house more than I wanted to have random notes lying around because I might need them “sometime.” And you know what? There hasn’t been one thing that I’ve thrown out while I was decluttering that I ended up absolutely needing later.

If you can push past that mental block of being afraid to throw things away, it is seriously so freeing once you’re done!

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Decluttering our garage last summer… it had to get worse before it got better!

When I go about decluttering a space, I am absolutely ruthless.Since we don’t have a ton of space to work with, every inch has to be used well.

When we were in the midst of ourkitchen reno, for example, I gathered up all of my kitchen items– gadgets, small appliances, plates, cups, utensils, everything– all in one place so I could see exactly what we had.

Once I had taken inventory, I got rid of itemswhose job could be done by something else. For example, I had held on to our George Foreman grill for years “just in case,” but I never pulled it out to use it. I always used the regular grill or our range to cook meat. It went.

I had a beautiful blender that I got for my wedding, but in 9 years of marriage we used it once because we have a Magic Bullet and use that to blend everything. I gave the blender to my milkshake-loving dad who was then able to throw out the old, worn-out blender that he had gotten for HIS wedding over 30 years ago.

I had a ton of little gadgets that I never used andwas able to get rid of. Sure, there were times I thought, “But what if I need this later?” But I haven’t needed any of the items I purged, and my kitchen is organized and clutter free. Yay!

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I’ve had people ask what I do with the stuff that I get rid of while I’m decluttering. Anything that’s broken, worn out, or unable to be used by someone else gets thrown away or recycled if possible.

I have done garage sales before and sometimes sell items that are worth a decent amount on Craigslist. We donate some things to our local Goodwill. I try to do a major purge before our church’s annual garage sale and donate a bunch of stuff to them. If I’m waiting to sell or donate items, I keep them in a spot in the garage, but I try to only keep them there for a week at the most. Otherwise I’m just creating a new pile of clutter.

Very occasionally I will have an item (like the blender mentioned above) that I know someone else could use, but for the most part I try not to pass on my clutter to my extended family! 🙂

Bottom line: The best way to keep a small space (or any space for that matter!) organized is by decluttering like crazy and only keeping what’s really important! Purge, purge, and purge some more!

2.Separate rooms into zones.

Often times in a small space, one room has to serve many purposes. Rather than just throwing everything together, I like to create “zones” within the room to separate the spaces, define their function, and make it easier to keep them organized.

(Video) How To Get Organized When You Live In A Small House

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the living room and dining room “zones” of our main living space

For example, our main living space is actually one big room, so we divided it up, using part as the dining room, part as the hanging out/TV watching space, and part as the Cs’ toy area.

Would I love to have a dedicated room for the Cs’ toys (preferably with a door I could shut!)? Of course. But that’s just not an option in our current house, so we make the “zone” setup work.

There are perks to it too– since there is just one main living space, we all tend to spend our free time together rather than breaking off into different rooms. Family bonding!

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the toy “zone” of our main living space

Maybe you don’t have spaceto designate a full side of a room to a separate function. My friendChelsea from Making Home Base was able to create a toy zone for her daughters’ stuff out of a little corner in the room.

Donnie and Idefinitely didn’t have room for an office in our first little one bedroom apartment, so we put a secretary desk in one corner. It worked perfectly because we could have a work zone when we needed it and close it up when we weren’t using it so that it didn’t take up much space at all.

Rolling carts are another great way to create a little “zone.” They’re small, can hold a decent amount, and can be easily moved out of the way when you’re not using them. (One of my favorite carts is the IKEA RASKOG.)

3. Maximize closet space.

This is something we’ve worked at like crazy in our current house that doesn’t have much storage. We’ve recently started putting closet systems in to really maximize the space (you can see how we’ve done that in our pantry, bedroom, and my craft room), but even if a permanent closet system isn’t an option for you, there are still ways to make the very most of the space you have.

The Cs share a room, and space is tight. In order to fit two dressers into their room, I was able to put one in the closet, and it fit perfectly underneath their clothes, making use of otherwise wasted space.

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Before we turned our entry closet into a permanent pantry, I put an inexpensive shelf in there to hold items that our former minuscule pantry couldn’t handle.

Our old neighbors’ entry closet in their townhouse was right next totheir living room, so they put a small cube unit at the bottom to store their kids’ toys. If you have a lot of empty space at the bottom of a closet, there is probably something you can put in there to utilize the space to its fullest potential!

4. Look for ways to use space creatively.

Just because the house “says” a room is supposed to serve one function doesn’t mean that it has to serve that certain function. We have an 8′ x 8′ space in our basement that was intended for storage, but since we’ve purged and can fit all of our stored items in the garage, we’ve been able to use that space for other purposes.

Before Caleb was born, I used it as a workout area. I had a small TV and DVD player to put on myworkouts, and there was room for my weights, bands, mats, etc., plus just enough spaceto do the actual exercising.

(Video) Clever Storage Hacks for Keeping Small Homes Organized

When Caleb was born and had his own room at first, we moved Donnie’s office into that little basement space. It’s not gorgeous or glamorous, but it creates a “room” that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

In our current house we also swapped our entry closet with our pantry, giving us a much-needed larger pantry space and a mini “mudroom” so we could still hang coats.

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our front entry closet-turned-pantry

5. Get items off the floor.

When I asked Donnie (who is actually WAY more organized than I am) what his favorite small space living tip would be, he immediately said, “Don’t put stuff on the floor.” Of course weput furniture or rugs on the floor, but what he meant was to not use the floor as storage space whenever possible.

This was definitely true with the Cs’ toy space. We used to keep all of their big toys in the corner on the floor, but it soon became a dumping ground and looked messy all the time. After some purging (see tip #1!), we brought in some inexpensive shelving units to hold the big toys, and the area feels so much less cluttered!

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Our master closet also became way more organized when we were able to get our shoes off the floor. In our previous rental home where we couldn’t install a closet system, we used super cheap pantry bins from WalMart (similar to these) to hold our shoes and keep them organized rather than having a free-for-all all over the closet floor.

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We’ve used the IKEA ALGOT system (now called BOAXEL) to organize 3 closets in our home, and we love it!

Not only does having the floor clear help to tame the clutter, it also makes it easier to sweep, vacuum, etc. because you don’t have to move a bunch of items every time you need to clean.

6. Utilize vertical space.

This is probably an obvious one, but when you are constrained by small rooms and can’t go “out,” go up! We especially do this in the Cs’ room with bunk beds, a vertical shelving unit for toys, and even a vertical arts and craftscorner.

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We also tried to use as much vertical space as possible on the storage wall in my office, bringing in book cases and mounting a pegboard on the wall to hold craft supplies. It’s pretty too and doubles as decoration! Win! 🙂

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7. Be very choosy about what you allow to come into your house.

This one is so key. I know it’s easy to walk down the aisles at Target and want every single thing. I’ve totally been there {like at least twice a week 😉 }. I know well-meaning friends and family members will offer you really cool stuff that is hard to refuse.

I know yourkids (or your significant other!) will want all of those awesome toys and gizmos that you don’t have space for. It’s hard to say no to these types of things. But in order to maintain the decluttered spaces that we worked so hard for in #1, we have to be super duper picky about what we bring into our house.


If I’m considering getting something new, I try to make sure it can serve multiple functions and isn’t a duplicate of something we already have. When we bring new items into the house, I also try to get rid of something else. (This is especially true for toys!!!!)

Before I buy something, I think about where it will go. If I don’t have room for it or it will complicate or ruin one of my other organizational systems, it doesn’t come home with me. Be super picky! The clutter isn’t worth it!

Whew! I’m already over 2,000 words and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface! Do you live in a small house? What would you add to my list? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Living in a small space can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible! When we purge often, get creative, and find ways to make the most of our space, we can definitely make it work, even if the situation isn’t ideal. And hey, small spaces have their share of perks as well– it’s less to clean, for one thing! 😉 Let’s embrace oursmall space!


Have a wonderful day, friends!

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.



How do you stay organized in a small space? ›

The 10 Commandments of Keeping a Small Space Organized
  1. Build upwards. ...
  2. Take advantage of any dead space. ...
  3. Find storage offsite.
  4. Store things where you use them. ...
  5. Make it multifunctional. ...
  6. Buy pieces you don't mind looking at. ...
  7. Buy the smallest possible version of things like appliances.
15 Apr 2014

What is the fastest way to organize a cluttered house? ›

How to Organize a Cluttered Room
  1. Step 1: Set a Goal for the Room. ...
  2. Step 2: Knock Out Some Logistics. ...
  3. Step 3: Pick a Strategic Starting Point. ...
  4. Step 4: Take Everything Out. ...
  5. Step 5: Sort and Declutter. ...
  6. Step 6: Clean Anything That's Dirty. ...
  7. Step 7: Find a Home for Every Item. ...
  8. Step 8: Snag Any Storage Items You Need.
31 Jan 2022

What are the 4 tips to stay organized? ›

4 Tips for Staying Organized
  • Reconsider your daily routine. It can be difficult to lead an organized life and be an organized person when there's uncertainty around simple, everyday tasks. ...
  • Keep everything in its right place. ...
  • Keep a checklist. ...
  • Focus on one task at a time.
23 Sept 2021

What are 3 ways to stay organized? ›

Consider the following ways to stay organized at work:
  1. Set goals. Achievable goals can help you stay focused and productive. ...
  2. Track progress. ...
  3. Use an agenda. ...
  4. Create to-do lists. ...
  5. Practice accountability. ...
  6. Limit distractions. ...
  7. Incorporate a timer. ...
  8. Keep a clean environment.

How can I organize my house when overwhelmed? ›

9 Ways to Get Organized Without Getting More Stressed
  1. Deal with one situation at a time. ...
  2. Zero in on essentials first. ...
  3. Set realistic expectations. ...
  4. Declutter the excess. ...
  5. Build in margins. ...
  6. Make more room for things you love. ...
  7. Collect experiences, not stuff. ...
  8. Don't overthink.
27 Oct 2016

Is living in a smaller house better? ›

Smaller homes are often more energy efficient because they have less space to heat and cool, which means they have a lower ecological footprint. Less Cleaning and Maintenance Required. Fewer rooms means less time spent on cleaning and home maintenance.

What is the 20/20 rule for decluttering? ›

The 20/20 Rule

Here's another rule from The Minimalists: the 20/20 rule! If you're on the fence about something and it costs less than $20 and would take under 20 minutes to replace, then go ahead and declutter it.

What room should you declutter first? ›

“If you don't know where to start, we recommend decluttering room-by-room! Start with the most high-traffic area in your home – probably the kitchen or family room – and go through the decluttering process of deciding what to keep, toss or donate.

How do you declutter when you want to keep everything? ›

10 Creative Decluttering Tips
  1. Start with 5 minutes at a time. ...
  2. Give one item away each day. ...
  3. Fill an entire trash bag. ...
  4. Donate clothes you never wear. ...
  5. Create a decluttering checklist. ...
  6. Take the 12-12-12 challenge. ...
  7. View your home as a first-time visitor. ...
  8. Take before and after photos of a small area.
22 Oct 2019

How do you declutter without being overwhelmed? ›

Here is the best formula for decluttering large, overwhelming spaces:
  1. Remove the easiest things first. ...
  2. Discard larger items next. ...
  3. Donate items instead of selling them. ...
  4. Break your large space into smaller bite-size challenges. ...
  5. Work until your bite-size piece is completed.

Why do I get overwhelmed with too much stuff? ›

Clutter can be a physical manifestation of mental health issues, Walsh tells WebMD. Those overwhelmed with "memory" clutter may have an undue preoccupation with things in the past and become depressed. Those who can't toss out items because they worry they will need them may be too anxious, he says.

What are five rules for staying organized? ›

You can, too, beginning with these 21 home organizing rules to live by.
  • Designate a Place for Everything. ...
  • You Can Be Organized and Messy at the Same Time. ...
  • Follow the Shopping Bag Rule. ...
  • You Can Never Have Too Many Hooks. ...
  • One In, One Out. ...
  • Get Creative With Your Storage Containers. ...
  • Become a Minimalist.
25 Aug 2022

How can I force myself to be organized? ›

Here are the essential habits on how to organize your life:
  1. Write Things Down. ...
  2. Make Schedules and Deadlines. ...
  3. Don't Procrastinate. ...
  4. Give Everything a Home. ...
  5. Declutter Regularly. ...
  6. Keep Only What You Need. ...
  7. Know Where to Discard Items. ...
  8. Stay Away from Bargains.
18 Aug 2022

Why can't I stay organized? ›

There are many reasons for disorganization including perfectionism, lack of skills, our beliefs and indecision, as well as mental health and brain-related conditions.

What are the 6 habits of being organized? ›

Your Action Framework
  • Keep it simple.
  • Develop routines.
  • Have a place for everything, and put everything in its place.
  • Keep a current and detailed to-do list.
  • Don't get bogged down by perfectionism.
  • Toss things daily and purge routinely.

How do I clean up and get organized? ›

30 Tips to Help You Get Organized
  1. Make the bed as soon as you get up.
  2. Whenever you leave a room, take something with you.
  3. Involve the whole family in keeping the house tidy.
  4. Commit to getting rid of 10 items per day.
  5. Have a donation box.
  6. Just Do It!!
  7. Set up a realistic cleaning schedule that you can follow.

What is the easiest way to organize? ›

Our Top 12 Organization Tips
  1. Start in one place. If you have several areas in your home you want to get under control, start with just one. ...
  2. Allow plenty of time. Don't expect organization to happen overnight. ...
  3. Clean house. ...
  4. Take inventory. ...
  5. Look for wasted space. ...
  6. Maximize vertical space. ...
  7. Divide the space. ...
  8. Keep it moving.

What is messy house syndrome? ›

The messy house syndrome (Diogenes syndrome) is present when, owing to a disordering of the personality structure, a person is unable to keep order, for example, in the household or his finances. Such persons are also referred to as "messies".

Does clutter increase anxiety? ›

Clutter can make us feel stressed, anxious and depressed. Research from the United States in 2009, for instance, found the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were higher in mothers whose home environment was cluttered.

What is ADHD clutter? ›

“Cluttering is another behavior typical in folks with ADHD. Leaving items out as visual cues is a common way of compensating for an unreliable memory or inadequate time-management system, but to the untrained eye it can resemble hoarding,” she says.

What problems might you have when you live in a small home? ›

More than a quarter would also like a more spacious bathroom, a garden and more storage space.
  • The 5 biggest problems of small homes.
  • Families don't fit around the table. ...
  • Only small sofas are allowed. ...
  • Sharing bedrooms is the only way. ...
  • There's no room for families to grow. ...
  • General happiness and wellbeing is at risk.
19 Sept 2019

What are the disadvantages of living in a tiny house? ›

Disadvantages of Tiny Houses
  • Less Living Space. A tiny house doesn't have room for a full-sized luxury kitchen or bathroom. ...
  • Less Storage Space. ...
  • Limited Entertaining Capability. ...
  • Zoning Rules. ...
  • Financing.

What should I remove first when decluttering? ›

First, make your bed. It's hard to feel any progress decluttering a bedroom while an unmade bed stares you in the face. Start with your nightstands. Remove anything on them that doesn't belong there, and put it in your put-away bin.

What is the four box method for decluttering? ›

There are lots of ways to declutter your home and one of the easiest is the Four Box Method. Start by looking for four empty (big) boxes that you can label as TRASH, GIVE-AWAY, KEEP, and RELOCATE. You can also think of a more creative way to label each box just to differentiate them from each other.

What is the root cause of clutter? ›

Behavioral/psychological: Clutter caused by depression, attention deficit disorder, low self-esteem or lack of personal boundaries. Time/life management: Clutter caused by the need for better planning. Of these, the behavioral/psychological-driven clutter is the hardest to solve.

What is the psychology behind clutter? ›

“It's stressful to be in a cluttered environment,” says Woody. According to Psychology Today, clutter causes stress in part because of its excessive visual stimuli. It also signals to our brains that our work is never done and creates guilt, anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Why do I struggle to get rid of stuff? ›

Sometimes you struggle to declutter because having a lot of stuff makes you feel safe and secure. Decluttering and getting rid of stuff makes you worry you won't have enough when you need it. This scarcity mindset keeps you hanging on to things, even if you don't use or love them.

What makes a house looks bigger? ›

Making the exterior of your home a light color is the best way to make your home look larger, brighter, and more inviting. Light colors such as white, ivory, pale gray, and sage green reflect higher amounts of light than dark colors, tricking the eye into perceiving the home as larger than it is.

How can I make my house bigger without extending it? ›

There are several ways you can create space in your home without having to extend.
  1. Use your under-stairs space. ...
  2. Make good use of your attic. ...
  3. Add an extra toilet. ...
  4. Get more out of your garage. ...
  5. Create an open-plan kitchen/dining area. ...
  6. Add an en-suite to your bedroom.
16 Jul 2018

What color looks best on a small house? ›

Lighter, neutral, and earthy tones are the best color for a smaller home. Brighter colors like off-white, light yellow, or grey are perfect for making your house look bigger than it is. Light blue and cream colors give small homes a cottage or beach look.

What colors make a room feel relaxing? ›

Start feeling more zen with 15 of the most calming bedroom color ideas.
  • Lush Lavender. The flower itself is the perfect shade of purple with a light blue tone — perfectly regal and relaxing, but not overwhelming. ...
  • Tranquil White. ...
  • Blue-Gray. ...
  • Sea Blue. ...
  • Pastel Purple. ...
  • Dusty Pink. ...
  • Neutral Beige. ...
  • Sage Green.
20 Sept 2019

Is it cheaper to build up instead of out? ›

Building up is always the least expensive option for increasing your home's square-footage because it requires less material and labor. For example, if you have 1,000 sq. feet on the main level and want to add 1,000 sq. feet as a second floor, all you have to do is add more wood and framing labor.

What is the cheapest way to extend a house? ›

Single storey extensions are often the cheapest and most viable option, and could totally transform a small home, bringing in light, extra living space and opening up the house to the garden.

How do I make my house look put together? ›

10 Items That Will Make Your Living Room Look Pulled Together
  1. A Large Area Rug. ...
  2. Throw Pillows That Mesh, Not Match. ...
  3. Greenery. ...
  4. An Interesting Coffee Table. ...
  5. Multiple Lighting Sources. ...
  6. A Wide TV Stand. ...
  7. Curtains. ...
  8. Large Artwork.
23 Mar 2019


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