Oct 8th, 2023, 12:00 PM

The Art of Tiny Living

By Johanna Sletten Larsson
Image Credit: Unsplash/Annie Spratt
The tips and tricks for living in a small space.

The charm of living in Paris is living in a small one-bedroom apartment. Living in a small space can feel suffocating, claustrophobic, and cramped, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. There is a certain art to living in a tiny space, and a one-bedroom dorm room or apartment can feel like a kingdom with the right tips and tricks. By decluttering, cleaning, and design, you can make a small space feel a lot bigger. 

The key to living in a small space is decluttering. This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing away all your things, it means organizing so that your apartment isn't overwhelmed with stuff. With small apartments, what typically looks like a small mess looks like an explosion in a tiny space.

The first thing to be done is to go through your things and ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" If the answer is no, it needs to go. A great trick for clothes is, at the beginning of the month, hang up all your clothes with the hanger hook facing you. Once you’ve worn an item you can turn the hook to be facing away from you and, by the end of the month, if there are any hooks still facing you, then it’s probably time for that item to go. It also must be said that that old iPhone box, the birthday card that you got years ago from someone you don’t even remember anymore, the hundreds of broken chargers, the notebooks from the 3rd grade... can be thrown away. If it’s not of sentimental value or if it serves no purpose, then you don’t need it. Now that you’ve purged your things, it’s time to organize.

Everything in your apartment should have its own section---clothes, kitchen tools, literature, toiletriesOnce you’ve organized everything into its category, it needs to stay in that category. Invest in dividers or baskets to section clothes and accessories. Don’t just throw everything in a drawer, have a partition for your bras and a separate divider for your socks. This will make your space feel more put together, and you won't be making a mess every time you try to find a t-shirt. Another thing that might be good to invest in is a step stool. In a small apartment, it’s important to utilize the space you have, not only horizontally, but vertically. Using tall furniture can optimize your vertical space and leave you with more storage options.  

Image Credit: Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

A small mess in a small apartment can feel a lot bigger, so it’s important to keep your space clean. You will trip over your shoes unless you put them away, that is guaranteed. Make a habit of cleaning as you go, small details stand out so do your dishes right away, keep a laundry basket in a cupboard so there aren’t clothes lying around, and as your bed might take up 40% of your apartment, make sure to make it every morning.

Deep cleaning is also extremely important, not only because it looks better, but because it’s important for your health. Smaller apartments gather more dust, so vacuum at least once a week. It’s important to make cleaning easy on yourself because your living space should be a place for you to be able to relax. You can either have one designated day for deep cleaning, or you can split it up. For example, Mondays can be for the bathroom, Tuesdays for the kitchen, Wednesday’s laundry day, etc. You can also set a timer for yourself for half an hour, clean as much as you can in that half an hour and then repeat that the next day. Understandably, life as a student is overwhelming and cleaning can only add to that stress, however, especially in Paris with the high levels of pollution, and the dirt that can easily gather in a small space, it is important to clean often.  

Image Credit: Unsplash/Frantisek Canik

Decorating a small space can be a challenge, but the minimalistic approach will make your space feel bigger, so put anything that can go in a cupboard or a drawer in its space. This includes sunglasses, paper towels, anything that doesn’t have to be out and about or doesn’t have a decorative purpose, should be put away. Light colors will also allow for a brighter, more breathable apartment. Dark colors such as black or navy can be heavy on the eye. It is also useful to stick with a set of colors like greens, whites and blues. You don’t want your apartment to feel busy so sticking with a theme will bring a better flow to your apartment.

Another tip is to have mirrors. Mirrors instantly create the illusion of a bigger space by reflecting light and creating depth, making a room look more spacious. Natural light will also make your space feel more airy and brighter, so avoid blocking your windows and invest in using sheer curtains that allow sunlight to come in.

When it comes to storage, there are many space-saving furniture solutions. For example, if you have a couch in need of a coffee table, a chest could be a great option as it can be used for storage. Pull-out storage under your bed is also a great space-saving option. You can opt for a sofa that can be converted into a bed, foldable dining tables, stackable stools, etc. Living in a small space gives you a chance to get creative, you can transform your living space into a comfortable space where every foot counts.

When asked what her best tip for tiny living is, Ebba Skoog, a student at AUP said, “Choose a space that can be converted. It’s important to separate your work and relaxation spaces, so when moving into an apartment, see if it can be compartmentalized. For example, having a sofa bed, so when it’s closed then your apartment is a living room/workspace, and when it’s opened, then your apartment is a bedroom.”  

Tiny living is an art form, it requires you to get creative and think outside the box (literally). It is vital to keep your space clean, declutter, and decorate in a way that makes the most of the space you have. By doing this, a one-bedroom Parisian apartment can feel a lot bigger than it really is, and more importantly, you will be able to relax and live comfortably.