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Ideas for Small Living Spaces

Are you moving into a small living space or want more storage for your tiny apartment?

Even if you are enjoying a short-term apartment rental, you want to be comfortable and relaxed.

Whether you are downsizing, sharing your space, or living in a premium small space, there are so many ways to maximize on space and enjoy your freedom from STUFF!

Related: Design Ideas for Small Bathrooms

De-Clutter: Do you REALLY need that?

The number one objective is to declutter your possessions. Read: GET RID OF WHAT YOU REALLY DON’T NEED! Small living spaces means a smaller amount of storage.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. A clutter-free house is so much easier to keep clean and your mind will feel less cluttered, too.

Related: The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home

Get Organized: Find a system and stick to it!

Once you have your treasures pared down to a manageable level, figure out a system to keep things organized. You might not have the same system for every area of your house, but a good rule of thumb is to ALWAYS have a place for everything and ALWAYS put things in its place. You will know where it is, and it won’t be laying around to trip on and hurt yourself over.

Maximize Storage: Get Creative!


Shelving and storage can be created out of just about anything and put on any usable wall space.

Ceiling shelving can go all the way around small living spaces and it is out of the way. You can keep things up there that you don’t need very often.

Over the door shelving is the same concept as ceiling shelving. This works especially well if you have some extra room above your bathroom door. You can store towels and extra TP up there.

Corner shelving can be tucked out of the way and actually hold quite a bit of stuff. The rounded design also lends itself to small spaces: less corners to wack your thigh or big toe on!

A nightstand shelf could be used in a corner next to the bed instead of an actual nightstand. This allows the bed to be pushed closer to the wall and eliminates a piece of furniture.

Furnituresmall spaces

Simple furniture with a sleek design and a minimalist look can free up floor space. Dressers, couches, beds and other pieces that have space underneath for storage are ideal. But don’t feel like you have to use doll house furniture for everything and skimp of comfortable.  A few well placed bigger items can mix it up a little.

Short Term Rental

Even if you aren’t planning on staying somewhere long, particularly a smaller space, it important to keep organized and have a system for staying on top of clutter.

Design Ideas for Small Bathrooms

Is your small bathroom cramping your style?

Small bathrooms don’t have to mean huge inconveniences. There are many ways to capitalize on tight spaces. Get creative!

Remove Closet  and Shower Doors

Anything that swings into a small space makes maneuverability harder. Removing closet doors eliminates this and makes the closet more accessible. But, since your closet is exposed now, it will force you to be more organized–or hide it behind a curtain. Either way works!

Replace shower doors that swing into the room with a shower curtain that slides back and forth. Plus, there is a lot more you can do with decor and colors with a curtain, than a glass door that gets grimy and has be be cleaned often.

Inventory Supplies

One quick and easy way to keep your bathroom closet or cabinet more organized is to regularly bathroom towelsinventory the supplies and get rid of old items, such as:

  • near empty lotion bottles
  • the stash of hotel shampoo you’ve collected and never used
  • Old and ratty wash clothes and towels that can be moved to the rag bag
  • Assorted bottles of cleaner
  • Old sponges or scrub brushes

Organize Bathroom Accessories

Jars, bottles, baskets, boxes….You name it, in can be used to organize any area of your house.

organizing a small bathroom

Bathroom Vanities

Here is an area where you can really save space. Rounded bathroom vanities are great for small spaces. Less sharp corners to bump into and it provides more room.

Kids’ Toysrubber ducks

Limit the amount of bath time toys to what will fit in ONE basket. Keep the basket in the tub or shower behind the curtain and out of the way. Don’t forget to rinse and clean the toys often.


Humidity can be more of an issue in smaller bathrooms. Paint is always preferable to wall paper in this situation. Run the fan for at least 30 minutes after a shower and buy high quality (Turkish) towels that are thinner and will dry quicker.

Use Large Scale Patterns

Big stripes on the walls, rugs or shower curtain can trick the eye into seeing a bigger space.

Get a Big Mirror

A mirror that covers the length of the wall, or at least extends past the sink serves at two purposes:

  1. Big mirrors make the room look bigger.
  2. Two people can use the mirror at once.

Share your ideas for small bathrooms. We’d love to see your pictures.

FIRE!!! Apartment Renters Fire Safety Checklist

If there is a fire, you may have LESS THAN 3 MINUTES to get out!

Attention apartment renters- do you know what to do?  Apartment fires have the potential to spread fire, heat and smoke throughout a building affecting the safety of all occupants.  This Fire Safety Checklist is a MUST-READ for all apartment renters.

Smoke Detectors

  • Are they placed in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area?
  • Are they checked monthly by pushing the test button- it should chirp?
  • Are the batteries changed at least once a year?
  • Are the detectors less than 10 years old- check with your landlord?

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

  • Are they located on each level of the apartment?
  • Are the batteries changed at least once a year?
  • The detector should be less than 7 years old- if unsure then ask.

Kitchen Safety

  • Are flammable items out of the immediate cooking area?
  • ALWAYS stay in the kitchen while using the stovetop or microwave.
  • Don’t use the stove when tired, have consumed alcohol or have taken medications or drugs that cause drowsiness.

Appliance Safety

  • Check the outlet before plugging in- does the outlet feel warm?
  • Is only one heat-producing appliance plugged into an outlet at a time?
  • Are electrical cords in good condition- not broken or cut?
  • Do you clean lint from the dryer EVERY TIME?

Escape Plan

  • Do all windows and doors open easily?
  • Are there 2 ways out of every room?
  • Do you have an escape plan? and
  • Do you review it periodically with your roommates?
  • Have you designated a safe meeting place outside?

Always ask the landlord about specific fire policies for your apartment complex and if there is a fire sprinkler system in your apartment building.  Even better… check with your local fire department for any restrictions, especially on BBQ grills, fire pits or chimaeras on decks or patios.

See more fire safety prevention tips.

Do you have a fire escape plan or have you survived a fire? Please share your experience so others can be prepared!

Apartment Hunters- Great Advice for Students and First-Timers Part 2

Apartment Hunters Great Advice for Students and First -Timers PART 2 explores the commonly overlooked details once you’ve found an apartment.

I Think I Found the Perfect Place

You’ve spent the time apartment hunting and have found a great place to call home.  But before you sign, talk to someone that actually lives in the building.  Here are some things to ask about:

  • What they like about the place and what they don’t?
  • How are the amenities?
  • Do they find the landlord responsive to their questions?
  • Are issues addressed immediately?
  • How’s the location and can you get where you need to be, rather easily?
  • Is the size of the apartment adequate just in case you consider a roommate in the future?
  • What about the other residents in the building?
  • Are they mostly college kids or families?

If they comment on blaring music or the scurrying of critters in the kitchen at night…move on. Talk to your landlord about the types of neighbors on all sides of your unit so you’re not caught off guard by screaming babies or late-night partying.

Consider the Minutia

What is the flow of the apartment community?  Is there plenty of parking outside your building?  Do you have to open 3 doors just to access the building? Is there and elevator or only stairs?   Truly consider the minor details before accepting the unit unless the thought carrying 8 bags of groceries and a 24 pack of Gatorade up three flights of stairs, sounds invigorating.  Good luck with that.

It’s Move in Day

Read the lease in its entirety; even the stuff you don’t understand.  If you are unsure of something, ask for clarification- you are legally bound by that document once you sign.  Make sure all details are IN WRITING (emails count) and that you receive a copy of the signed lease (the landlord has 30 days to get it to you).

Now… put that smartphone to good use. When you move in, take pictures of the condition of the apartment, anything that is in need of repair or any damage you find. Write everything down on a list, date it, and take a picture of that as well.

Get a receipt EVERY TIME you pay your landlord for something – whether it’s for the lock installation, the security deposit or for the carport rental.  Keep your receipts, the copy of your lease and the printed pictures you snapped of your unit on move-in day, in a safe place.  Congratulations- you’ve made it!  Happy Apartment Living!

Were you an Apartment Hunter with a great or not-so-great roommate experience? Share it with our readers in the comment section below.

Questions about your rights as a Massachusetts Tenant? The MA Attorney General’s Office Student Renters Guide can help. 

Apartment Hunters- Great Advice for Students and First-Timers

In PART 1 of Apartment Hunters Great Advice for Students and First-Timers, we explore commonly overlooked details in apartment hunting. Keep a sense of humor and READ ON!

The Hunt Begins

First things first; will you fly solo or are you considering a roommate? If you want to share the expenses, make sure you know that person REALLY WELL.  Before you set out on the apartment search, ask your potential roommate these questions.

Which locations work best and do they have their own transportation?  You have enough on your plate without someone constantly bumming a ride or asking to borrow your car.  What are their living habits?  Are they a slob, leave their wet towels on the floor and “borrow” your stuff?   Are your daily schedules compatible?  If you’re an early riser, is your roommate up all night playing Call of Duty, burning pizza rolls and setting off the smoke detector? What about pets- are you allergic to cats or hate snakes?  And finally, what are the ground rules for house guests- discuss it BEFORE their significant other keeps using all the hot water in the morning.

What about finances- do you plan to split the rent 50/50?  Does your potential roommate even have a job or do they expect you to front the money each month? What about the expense of items other than food, like toilet paper, laundry soap and cleaning supplies?  Do they even plan to clean at all?  Write up an agreement that is acceptable to the both of you and sign it.  Make sure you know what you’re getting into so you don’t get the urge to toss them off the balcony. Going solo has its advantages.

So… you decide to go it alone.  How much rent can you truly afford?  Are you a student or just striking out on your own for the first time? Make sure you aren’t getting in over your head or tying yourself down with a huge rent payment.  If you are working 50 hours a week to afford the rent, consider a different place.  You want to be able to shop for groceries, go on a date or take a weekend trip; plus there are always expenses you didn’t consider (think car repairs and Christmas presents).

Take some time to consider your options and mull over your choices. Part 2 of this blog will be published soon. 

Renting an Apartment – Remember the Basics!

When renting an apartment, remember the basics on your list of must-haves.

It’s all too easy to get swept up in the perks offered by an apartment community.

Whether it’s a gorgeous pool, a deluxe fitness facility or even your own garage; make sure these basics are at the top of your list.

Is it centrally located?  You may have found the best apartment ever, but stop and consider the location. Will you have to travel a longer distance to work?  It may not seem like a big deal initially, but in the dead of winter the added travel time can become burdensome.  Make sure you drive or walk throughout the apartment community and the surrounding area and note the proximity to grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. The best apartment in the world may not be worth the added travel time to get to the office or your favorite stores.

Walk through the actual apartment you’ll be renting.  Get a feel for the space and note the layout.  Will your couch and bedroom furniture fit?  Does it get enough natural daylight or too much sun?  Can you picture your “stuff” here and does it feel like a place where you can relax?  Close your eyes and take a moment to visualize yourself living here- it should feel like home!

What about laundry facilities?  It may be a great apartment with a fantastic view but will you have to haul your laundry to the opposite end of the complex in the dead of winter?  Is there is hookup right inside your apartment and will you need to provide your own appliances? Does each building have laundry facilities?  Keep in mind how many loads of laundry you do a week- it may be an important consideration.

Pre-plan!  Make a list of the amenities you want in an apartment. Refer to your list often during your search and jot down notes on each apartment you visit. Most importantly, take your time and trust your instincts when making the final decision on the apartment you’ll call home.

Read MORE helpful tips for your apartment search.

What other information have you found useful in your apartment search?  Please share it with us!




Apartment Guide – Know Your Renter’s Rights

Apartment Guide – Know Your Renter’s Rights offers practical advice on the Renter/Landlord relationship.

You found the PERFECT apartment and you’re eager to sign before it’s gone…but STOP! Knowing your rights and following a guide can save a headache later!

No time to find a place? A broker can find and apartment but be prepared to pay a finder’s fee- usually a half month’s rent to a full month’s rent.

How much will you pay up front? Typically you will be required to pay for first and last month’s rent and one month’s security deposit. You may also be asked to pay a charge for installation of a lock and key.

Can a landlord decide not to rent to me?
The State of Massachusetts “prohibits landlords from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, sex, nationality etc.” The exception is owner-occupied two family homes.

Do a walk through.  Take a look around the apartment and check to see if anything is in need of repair. If it’s not in good condition, tell your landlord and make sure you get repair agreements in writing.

What  should be included the rental agreement? According to BostonInno, “state consumer protection regulations mandate landlords have the following in writing: the names and contact information of others responsible for taking care, maintaining and repairing the property; the names and contact information of the person authorized to receive notices of law violations and the amount of a security deposit and the rights under the Security Deposit Law.”  Also, a good idea is to have a list of your own questions ready such as under what circumstances can a landlord enter the apartment, what amenities are included in the rent and how many parking spaces is allotted.

Bottom line.  Make sure you understand ALL the terms of your lease and if not, ASK questions. Finally, make sure everything is in writing!

Read the entire article on Renter’s Rights and check out the State’s consumer guide to tenant rights and responsibilities.  

Feeling Cramped? Tips to Maximize Apartment Space

Feeling Cramped?  These Tips to Maximize Apartment Space will help create a more livable space!

“No matter the square footage, it really comes down to being smart about storage and making your space as efficient as possible.”  These tried-and-true tips from Apartment Therapy could be just what you need!

Try a room divider.  In a small space such as a studio apartment, separate the living area from your sleep area with shelving or a bookcase.  Not only is it functional, organizes clutter and offers privacy but also lets light shine through.  This is a great option as it visually divides a space into usable areas.

Find extra storage space by going vertical.  Look for space above your cabinets and doors where you can add a shelf or two.  Take advantage of space inside closet and cupboard doors by adding simple hooks for bags or purses.

Conceal items with clever storage solutions.  
This goes hand in hand with de-cluttering.  Being able to see ALL your stuff can make your space feel even smaller. Some great solutions available are as storage beds, footstool cubes with covers, baskets with tops and stackable decorative boxes. Try hanging a curtain in front of a bookcase to add visual interest and to conceal over-stuffed shelves.


Want to see EVEN MORE TIPS to Maximize Apartment Space?

What tried-and-true ideas have worked for you?  Share your photos!

Renting an Apartment – Advice for First Timers!

Renting an Apartment – Advice for First Timers!

Renting your first apartment can be exciting and a little overwhelming! We’ll help you navigate the process so you can find YOUR perfect first apartment.

Budget:  Determine what you can afford. Keep in mind the expense of the move itself- a down payment, furniture and moving costs; in addition to your monthly expenses.  A general rule of thumb is that you should never pay more than 30 percent of your take-home pay on housing, including utilities, Internet and cable.  If you’ve found the perfect place but money is tight, consider a roommate to split the expenses.

Location:  Where you want to live is just as important.  Do you prefer to drive or walk to work or school?  Is public transportation nearby?  How far is the grocery store?  These factors can affect your commute so spend the time researching the neighborhood.

Amenities and Terms:  What are the terms of the rental and what does it offer?  Can Fido join you? Is there plenty of parking and an in-unit washer/dryer? Can you paint the apartment a different color?

Lease:  Little or no credit?  You may need to secure letters of reference, a co-signer or prove a strong income.  Make sure to READ all of the rental agreement and ask questions.  Is there 24 hour maintenance or a penalty if you break the lease?  What about renter’s insurance and tenants right?  If it’s unclear, ask before you sign.

Renting your first apartment doesn’t have to be stressful. Make a plan, do your homework and START PACKING!

Want to read MORE advice for first time renters? There’s even links to resources, too!




Boston’s Bully Boy Distillers – Business is Booming!

The Willis Brothers, Boston’s Bully Boy Distillers, are Upping the Cocktail Game and Business is Booming!

Growing up on a farm outside Boston, originally owned by their great grandfather, Will and Dave Willis made their own apple cider. Now they’re distilling spirits in a warehouse in Roxbury’s Newmarket neighborhood.

“Making cider was our intro into the idea of making our own thing. Our grandfather had a small farm in Sherborn, and we had a five-gallon cider press and would use it a lot as young kids. When we were in our late teens, we started experimenting with hard cider… we were intent on figuring out a way to make income from the land.”

In 2010, they started the company- the inspiration for the distillery name was from a horse named Bully Boy, owned by their great grandfather. They officially launched Bully Boy Distillers in Boston in June 2011- the brothers knew they wanted to stay in Boston. “We love Boston and Boston is a brand unto itself.”

The Willis brothers credit their booming business to “good timing because of the ride of the whole go-local thing… it permeates all aspects of consumerism. People sort of get what we’re about.”  They’ve also enjoyed a great reception from restaurants and from customers demanding local products.

Next up for Bully Boy Distillers?  They are expanding dramatically and rented an additional 8,000 square feet. The existing space will become a barrel house. and the new space will house a 750-gallon still (their current still is 150 gallons).  They also plan to open a tasting room- CHEERS!

Read more on Will and Dave Willis, including the farm vault and bootlegging history. 

Would you like to more stories on Boston businesses?  Let us know!