life in a tiny apartment.

August 6, 2014

floor space Tip #106: Preserve as much open floor space as possible.

Blame it on the witching-hour walks around our apartment with Faye—spent shushing and patting and looping round and round the mulberry bush dining table until the little bug conks out and I can steal an hour or two to write—but I’ve been thinking a lot about floor space lately. And more specifically, keeping that floor space clear and uncluttered by too many rugs or pieces of furniture or other things that might impinge on the illusion of space if not its actual existence.

Our new apartment has at least 70 percent more floor space than our old one, but in both spaces we’ve made decisions about furniture and rugs that mean that a majority of the available floor space is left well enough alone. Rather than crowding our larger aparment with more stuff, we’ve kept the amount of furniture in our main room more or less the same as it was in our old apartment: one loveseat, a dresser, a bookshelf, our tiny kitchen table-turned-desk, and a new slightly larger table with our same four dining chairs. (There’s a new bench, too, but we’ll save discussion about that for another post.)

I like to think that we’ve taken a page from the style book of the early American colonists. While we haven’t taken to pushing all of our furniture to the edges of the room during the day, we have tried to furnish sparingly in an effort to maximize the way our space can be used. Mostly, I like the flexibility that having less big and heavy furniture affords us. Doing crazy things like dragging our loveseat over to our dining table to make more room for guests wouldn’t be as easy if there were ottomans and bookshelves and overly styled bits and bobs to contend with. If you think I haven’t already contemplated adding a Shaker peg rail and hanging our kitchen chairs when they’re not in use, think again.

In our apartments, we’ve kept floor space open by packing a closet to the gills instead of adding another dresser and sliding wine crates below the couch to double-up on the real estate that’s already occupied.

Everyone might not emulate the spartan utility of the Shakers the way I do, but for me the surest way to achieve a sense of space and serenity is to keep available empty floor space to a maximum. If that means hanging kitchen chairs, hang on!

For the curious:
Our couch (we’ve had it for three years and it’s still in great shape).
Our radio.
Our new-to-us table (painted).

Tiny apartment survival tips #1 – 105, right here.

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27 Comments

  • Reply Jocelyne August 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    It's perfect.

  • Reply Anonymous August 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    We use a drop leaf table and vintage folding chairs for dining with guests. The table is usually folded down and holds a lamp and plant. The chairs are tucked in a closet. We eat our daily meals at a breakfast bar we added to the kitchen. This keeps most of the floor space in our main living area open.

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Sounds perfect!

  • Reply Paige August 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Every time I clear out and de-clutter and create more open space with less "stuff" in our small home, I feel great!

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Such a good way to de-stress, eh?

  • Reply Laurie @ Odd Bird Studio August 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Oh, Erin, could you please share where you found your loveseat? In the land of overly deep, oversized sofas, I have been beating my head against a brick wall trying to find something – anything! – that has a petite profile and doesn't overwhelm a room.

    • Reply Alexa August 6, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      i, too, would love to know! i am looking at a similar one from west elm (or maybe it's the same?), but it would be great to hear about yours.

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Added a few links above! (We love our loveseat!)

    • Reply Laurie @ Odd Bird Studio August 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Thank you! And, hey, it's on sale!

  • Reply bymarion August 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    That's right!
    And bonus point for cleaning made way easier.
    Your new space looks lovely!

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks (and yes!)!

  • Reply jenn @ beyond the stoop August 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    we use a double-dropleaf gateleg table for a sofa table and dining table. no need for end tables when the dining table is right behind the lower-backed chesterfield sofa. plus the table is large enough for dining for 2 with both leaves folded down into the "sofa table" shape. it's perfect for keeping floor space on normal days, and can stretch bigger for dinner parties (with a little bit of furniture shuffling too).

    great tip!

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Sounds like a great solution!

  • Reply Jacquelyn | lark & linen August 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Love this tip. I'm the queen of over-styling and over-cluttering. Your space always feels so light and fresh – I'm taking notes!

    • Reply Erin August 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks, friend!

  • Reply Yelle August 6, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    you have done such a great job making the best use of space – it takes skill!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic August 7, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I think it looks great. It always helps to read posts like yours, because it teaches me how to de-clutter my own life (and apartment).

  • Reply Martha August 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

    My husband and I are kind of Shaker obsessed! I want to put Shaker pegs everywhere.

  • Reply Aude August 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Great tip. The temptation is always there in a small flat to cram every nook and every shelf and use every inch of floor space. And that indeed just shrinks the whole space. I love the idea of hanging the dinner chairs when not in use, why not?? Especially as when the little one starts walking you will need all the space possible. Still, don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Children are happy with their parents. They couldn't care less about the space and your flat is gorgeous.

  • Reply momentstoyears August 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    "we have tried to furnish sparingly in an effort to maximize the way our space can be used. Mostly, I like the flexibility that having less big and heavy furniture affords us. Doing crazy things like dragging our loveseat over to our dining table to make more room for guests wouldn't be as easy if there were ottomans and bookshelves and overly styled bits and bobs to contend with."

    Seriously, that is one of the best descriptions of support for living simply that I've heard in a long time! It confuses so many people I've encountered when I talk about not wanting end tables or ottomans or knick knacks in my home because it just so many times makes a room so much more fussy then it needs to be, it's always encouraging to read your comments on living simply, it gives me well phrased explanations to reference to when I find myself unable to explain well why living simply is so important to me! 🙂

  • Reply Julia August 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I just came across this post, and I'd love to know where your rug came from! 🙂

    • Reply Erin January 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Sorry, I'm just seeing this now! The rug was from West Elm!

  • Reply Catgirl August 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Just discovered your blog… Love the content! I too would love to source a couch like yours, but can't get the link to work?! Can you say where it's from or what it's called? I'm over in the UK, so sourcing it may be an issue, but would love to know anyway :). Many thanks!

    • Reply Erin January 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Hi there: Just noticed this! The couch is a loveseat from West Elm.

  • Reply KATIE June 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Erin, wondering if you could share where you source your crates from? Or do you just pick them up at fleas and such?

    • Reply Erin June 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Street corners! Flea Markets! Tag sales! This particular crate has been with me since college, but you can find one that's very similar at most large hardware stores (like Lowes or Home Depot or anything that's local to you! Just search for wooden crate!)!

    • Reply Erin June 3, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Whoops! Thought your comment was on a different post! These are wine crates, both found at neighborhood wine shops! Pop in and ask if they have any they're getting rid of!

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