The first rule of the #smallspacemafia is that you don't talk about the #smallspacemafia. The second rule of the #smallspacemafia is that you ignore all the rules, cause WHEN YOU LIVE IN A SMALL SPACE YOU'RE ENTITLED TO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN RULES, BITCHES. And truth time: It might be time for an upgrade.
Truth time: our space challenges are so unique, sometimes the only good solution is spending some cash on working them out. I always like to go for a budget option if at all possible, but sometimes you gotta spend some dolla dolla bills, y'all.
So here are the 5 things I think are *totally* worth throwing a bit of cash at (if you can!), whenever you are ready to make some bomb ass upgrades in your small space:
1. Custom Closets
Image via Closet Concepts
The first place to start on your upgrade adventures in a small space is mos def your closets. Storage is almost always an ish in small apartments and houses, and so you need to do your best to make sure that your closets are all tricked out to the maxx.
Also, don't think that just because you don't have a walk-in closet there's no way to make it look bangin. No, no, no, and no. I'm not sure why people think this, but I'm here to tell you that you can trick out a reach-in closet, a coat closet or anything in between.
Luxe Custom Closet Upgrade: I'm crushing pretty hard on the Container Store's new line of closet organizers and accessories. It's called TCS Closets and it's kinda like if Elfa grew up, went to Harvard Law School and then got a job at some hot new startup in Silicon Valley. These closets are dead sexy, so if you can swing it, I'd highly recommend you check them out pronto. You can chat with someone at the Container Store, get them to measure for you, and pick out whatever your heart desires.
Budget Custom Closet Upgrade: If you can't quite to afford to splurge on a closet like Lisa Vanderpump's from the Real Housewives (that's the stuff that dreams are made of, ppl), then you can try cobbling together a DIY version yourself. It's surprisingly easier than you might think it is. But remember! Anytime you look at a DIY and start to feel panic-y, remember you can do what I do all the damn time: hire someone to do it THEMSELVES. You know, instead of you. I'm a big fan o the Ikea Pax system (so much so, that I use one in my tiny kitchen), and this is a great post from Classy Glam Living with scoop on making one look "built in."
2. Built-In Shelves
I'm not sure why small spaces have so many odd nooks, but man do they ever. If you happen to have a nook or two (or even just some open space like above in the living room), you might want to give some serious thought to adding some built-in bookcases or shelves. Again: chances are high that you have storage challenges if you're low on square footage, and a crapload of extra shelving will go a long way in helping you to wrangle all of your stuff.
Luxe Built-in Shelves Upgrade: If you want to get all fancy, I would clickity click over to Craigslist (look under services and search custom bookshelf, custom millwork, or carpenter), Yelp, Angie's List or Task Rabbit and see if you can find a great carpenter to make you something fab. Depending on the size of your space, the sort of wood you choose, and any extras (like doors), you'll generally be looking at a price tag that ranges from $500 to several thousand. But just think of the hawt shelfies you can make once you have your sexy new shelves.
Budget Built-in Shelves Upgrade: There are loads of tutorials online for taking budget bookshelves and making them look like you hired that cute carpenter that I just told you to find on Craigs. Many of them involve the Billy bookcases from Ikea, but I really dug this one from Crane Concept where she made some ordinary Target bookcases look like Beyonce on her way back from the hairdresser. OH WAIT, she even has a tutorial for built-in looking Billy bookcases too. This chick has got it goin' on!
3. A Banquette
Image via House of Brinson
I love banquettes more than McDonald's french fries, the entire cast of Real Housewives of New York, or any member of the Kardashian family. Ok, not more than Khloe, but more than everyone else.
Banquettes are one of my goto picks whenever I'm decorating a small space, because you can shove em into corners or small awkward spaces. Almost always, they will provide you with more seating and make use of your space in a more efficient way than individual chairs would.
This pic above was taken in our kitchen in our tiny Park Slope, Brooklyn apt. We didn't have a dining room, but because we had our banquette, we could still have friends over for dinner parties.
Luxe Banquette Upgrade: You're probably noticing a pattern here: luxe upgrades always involve hiring someone to build you a custom piece...and that's where we're going again. You can always have a custom banquette built that were perfectly fit your space. You can then either use throw pillows, OR go super luxe and have cushions made in any fabric of your choice. Here's a tutorial on how you could build a custom banquette (though truth time: I'm not crazy about how the final product looks from a style standpoint. BUT, there are some good really good instructions there).
Budget (ish) Banquette Upgrade: Ok, so this isn't *really* a budget choice (in fact, it could be more expensive than the luxe one depending on how luxe you get), but this is my favorite-y fave semi-custom banquette that you can order up and have delivered straight to your door. They have a couple of different choices for pre-fab banquettes: Coventry (my pick) and Bristol (also really nice, but doesn't have same storage option that Coventry does). The cool thing is, you can choose your own fabric to get these upholstered in, or even send in your own. With Coventry, which I've ordered for both myself and clients, they even have benches with seats that flip up so that you can store stuff in them. #yesplease.
4. Compact Appliances
Image via House of Brinson
If you have a tiny kitchen, you really might want to think about adding some compact appliances. Choices these days are better than they've ever been, so you can usually find slim/compact versions of every appliance there is out there.
If you already have regular sized appliances you might be thinking: "uhm, why would I want to give up my regular size fridge for a narrow/tall one!?" Well, for me: using compact appliances allowed us to fit more in the kitchen. So at first we thought there was no room for a dishwasher or a washer/dryer. But after I scoped out some skinny fridges and skinny stoves: BOOM. All of the sudden there was room for all kinds of shit.
Luxe Compact Appliance Upgrade: Miele or Bosch is your goto for luxe compact washer/dryer combos (NOTE: Good news/bad news: these compact dryers are all electric and not gas. Good news: you don't need to vent them, so if you're in an apartment building you're golden. Bad news: they definitely take significantly longer to dry stuff...and I speak from experience). Miele also has an 18" dishwasher. Another fun option is a dishwasher drawer, like this one from Fisher & Paykel. So instead of a standard pullout dishwasher you actually have a drawer that you can install in your existing cabinetry (if the plumbing hook-up works out in the space you are thinking of).
Budget Compact Appliance Upgrade: Summit makes some decently budget friendly gas stoves (we have this one in our guest house airbnb). And I opted for this Electrolux compact washer/dryer combo (one of the few on the market that offers steam cycles). Also: my goto move is to pick out the appliances that I really want and then stalk craigslist like it's my job. You'd be surprised how often brand new or barely used appliances show up on there and you can really save some serious cash.
5. Wall-mounted Sconces
Image via West Elm
Another major space saver in a tiny house or apartment is getting your lamps off your side tables and on to your walls. If you own your home, you can certainly go for mounted sconces (with no visible cords), however, if you are renting or even just on more of a budget, options for cord sconces are reallly good these days.
Budget Sconce Upgrade: I totally love this two-armed fixture from West Elm pictured above for $349. And this swing arm brass sconce from CB2 for $89.95 is also pretty sexy. Oh wait! Here's one more from Lamps Plus for $99.95. All have cords, so they are super easy to install on your own. So now you can take the money you were going to spend on an electrician and go blow it on hookers and coke. Kidddddddddding.