Organizing a Crowded Apartment

Picture a one-bedroom apartment, three dogs, one husband, and a frazzled newlywed wife. We have a lot of stuff that we stuffed into our apartment, and I need advice on how to organize, simplify, and decorate.

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We know and have things in our colors (red, olive, and yellow-gold), but we also have two dog kennels, two tall bookcases, lots of books, speakers, and wire stuff, baskets, lamps, childhood memory toys, candles, vases, and until recently three loveseats and a couch. (Now we just have one loveseat and a couch.)

I can paint if I want, but I don't know that a newly colored wall will help. Any advice on where to start? (A bigger place is a great idea, but not possible right now.)

Thanks.
Olivia, a recovering pack rat.

Answers:

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

Take 3 large boxes or bags. One is for "must" keep;the second is for "get rid of" and the third...you and your hubby take a bit of time each week-end and see which of the first two boxes/bags get these items.

As for the dogs, not much room to run in an apartment, is there. Either give them to someone who has space and time for them or move to the country. Actually moving to the wide open spaces might solve all of the problems. Good luck. (10/01/2005)

By Miranda

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

The first thing I would do is pare down your books to 1 bookcase. Ask yourself if you can borrow any of those books from the library. Then start donating them to friends or sell them on half.com.

Next would be to declutter everything else, especially knick knacks and clothes. You will be amazed at the space you will gain. (10/01/2005)

By Patt

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

Look up...then look down. I bet there is a crawl space in your apartment that is accessible through an opening in your closet. Great place to store things provided you don't forget they are there. Also, try storing things under furniture.

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Maybe you could get by with 2 small speakers mounted high on a wall and donating the rest to a local, struggling theatre group.

If those dog kennels are the portable kind, turn them into a table by putting a piece of plywood on top and covering the whole schebang with a pretty cloth. If the dogs don't use them much, then viola. You have extra storage in them as well.

Give those books to a rural school that is in dire straits for money and their library hasn't seen a new book in years, nursing homes, and homes for the differently abled would appreciate them as well.

As you probably don't play with the toys anymore, keep one or two favorites, take pics of the rest for a memory album and give them to someone who will love them as much as you did. Toys just hate to be forgotten.

For your walls maybe this will work, get a big flat sheet, a print you like or tie dye it. Soak it in a very heavy starch mixture. Wring it out some, then put it on the wall while it is still damp. The starch will make it stay up and you can redecorate on a whim.

One more thing, its amazing how much you don't need. Your life will become much less cluttered, providing you with more time for your pets and hubby when you break the hold material things have on you.

Good luck. (10/01/2005)

By Kathy

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

First of all you need to buy those plastic storage bins. Then you need to go through your books and cut down the size by half. All those childhood memory items need to go into a storage bin and if it isn't necessary to keep and are just keeping it because you want to. You need to get rid of it. I have a three bedroom townhouse and I just cut down everything by half. If you need more help trying asking a friend or family member to help you part with the things you love most. Another quick rule if you haven't used it or noticed it in the last 6 months to a year you need to get rid of it. (10/01/2005)

By Jordanmom1

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

www.flylady.net -- All you need to know.

PS: I have a bachelor apartment, just as much stuff and it's me, DH, and the cat. I know your pain. Trust me on this one. (10/01/2005)

By Rawiya Storyteller

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

If you can put it on a wall and not on the floor, do so. For example, wall mounted lights rather than floor lamps. Every piece of furniture should have some storage underneath. All shelves, drawers, and storage should go to the ceiling. Build it if you have to. Build to take with you, but to look built in. Build side-to-side then to the ceiling.

The dining room is the library with shelves to the ceiling and a nice big table when you're not eating. In a one bedroom or small dining area place, use a round table. No bar stools. Get upholstered chairs or loveseats only, no full sofas. For example, two or three loveseats, six chairs, and a round coffee table. Remember the desk is the dining table. Computer table stands alone and is very small or folds closed until you have a dedicated room.

Linens go in the room where they're used. Use the linen closet to store other things. Underbed boxes. Closet shelves use labeled boxes.

In the kitchen, keep only those things you actually use. Wire basket separators for flatware and utensils. Line drawers with rubber slip-proof material. Use lid rack in cabinets for pots/pans lids. Store less-often used things higher up, covered with flour-sack dish towel (K-Mart, the only kind to use).

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Keep cleaning tools, mops/vacuums, in front/coat closet.

Keep bath supplies, soap, dental, cleaning, tissue, tampons, and towels in each bath under counter or in gorgeously-patterned large gift bag.

Start by making any architectural changes. Build or buy what you need like shelves, drawers, and doors. Put everything in the center of the room. Now put away what you like and need the most neatly. When the room looks the way you like it, stop. Throw or give away the rest. (10/01/2005)

By the Oracle

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

I didn't see this in any of the posts. Stack your dog kennels "condo" style. If the dogs are two different sizes put the larger kennel on the bottom.

I do this and they don't slide. I even put a short string of Christmas lights (Snoopy style) around each kennel and it looks adorable. (10/02/2005)

By Fran Marie

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

We had a two bedroom apt. with the same problem, minus the dogs.

  1. Do your dogs sleep in the kennels each night? Do they need to? Our dog (which we got when we moved into a house) stopped using her kennel and prefers to sleep under a chair in the corner of our bedroom. She chose her own "dog cave" and we don't have to have the floorspace taken up by the kennels.

  2. We are also book lovers and my suggestion is to get bookcases as tall as you can possibly get and make sure you put them together on one wall. If you have them in a wall, you can put the couch or loveseat in front of them and just leave enough space to walk behind and get at your books.

  3. If you're truly desperate, you can put the "wall" of bookshelves forward a couple of feet into the room and store a ton of things in boxes behind it. Otherwise, I highly recommend you make use of any storage area your apartment complex offers.

  4. I found that it's really hard to make a good decision on getting rid of things when you can't see everything you have at once. My best recommendation is that, if you're getting rid of, say, sweaters, pull out every sweater you own even if you have to get them from storage, spread them on your bed (thus giving yourself a reason to finish the project by bedtime) and choose from there. By doing one thing all at one time, you can feel like you're getting somewhere.
Good luck. (10/03/2005)

By Kathy K.

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

My "nightstand" is actually two totes stacked on top of each other. They are filled with childhood mementos I can't bear to give away. I just covered the totes with a piece of fabric. If you have luggage you don't use often, store things in it. If you have unused pantry or kitchen cabinet space, store things there. I fill zippered pillow cases with extra blankets, toss them on the couch and take them out when I need them. If you decide you don't need need all your blankets, pillows, afghans, check with your local animal shelters. (11/25/2005)

By thriftyboo

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

Rent a storage space.

Clear everything out you don't use every day. Put it in the shed.

If you need something from the shed, get it, but make sure it has a place (a real place, you pack rat) to store it, or it goes back to the shed.

When you get tired of going to the shed or paying out the shed bill every month (which, after all, really is cheaper than a shrink), start cleaning out the shed. You may only bring things back after there is a sensible place to store it in your apartment.

Now hear this: If you plan to have children, this is nothing compared to the mess you collect with them. So if you two children can't control your own mess, however will you control the mess of those darling little angels?

When you are cleaning out the house after they've gone to college, you will fondly remember me and what I have said today. If you don't believe me, there are up to four people who will vouch for me: your parents. Call them. I dare you. They'll think you're so cute and funny. (09/05/2006)

By the Oracle

Organizing a Crowded Apartment

I have lived in apartments for a long time. Most complexes with let you rent a garage for cheaper than a storage unit. It will be close to your place so you can get stuff out easily, and also get projects done outside the apartment. Since you have a lot of books you can make the garage a "library" just take one book at a time out and put it back when done. If you have furniture you could sit in the garage and read in peace with a space heater during the winter. Same with the rest of the stuff.

The garage can be a getaway. I suggest mounting a lot of shelves on the walls in the apartment and or garage or getting free standing shelves. I know you love your pets dearly, but in the case of a small space and a lot of pets, could one or all maybe stay with someone you trust? A person with a house and a fenced in yard? You can buy their food and vet care. They can be a play mate for a friend or family member till you get another place. If you have stuff in the garage you discover you don't need, sell it on craigslist and make a little cash.

My old roommate was a home owner and wanted to hang on to everythin, even and old fridge. He stored it for 5 years till he got another house again. I guess if you love your stuff you will store it. I would store stuff that is worth a lot, like couches, a kitchen table and chairs, and child hood possessions are a must to keep. I definitely think storing possessions and not getting rid of them is a wise idea. This way when you buy a larger place you wont have to buy all new furniture to fill it. (03/20/2009)

By Dalinams25

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