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How to Get Organized in a Small House

by | Jan 12, 2013 | Organization, small houses

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How to Get Organized in a Small HouseCarve out an entry and storage with a small cabinet! via BHG

I love small houses. Part of the appeal for me is the challenge to make the house cute, organized and functional all at the same time! I love a good house challenge! My favorite thing is to find a way to make everything in the house earn its keep while looking cute or stylish at the same time, and that often means things need to do double duty. It’s my favorite small house organizing trick! I happened upon some great ideas while scrolling through the Better Homes & Gardens site today, so let’s take a look!

So many small houses don’t have separate foyers, and really that is OK if you can figure out how to create one simply with a piece of furniture. If you walk right into your living room from your front door as many people do, a small chest or dresser as you come in the door not only gives the entry a little definition, but it offers attractive storage for those excess shoes, hats and book bags!

How to Get Organized in a Small HouseBuilt-ins with boxes, baskets and bins! via BHG

In a small house, built ins can make a world of difference in how the home feels. Free standing furniture can appear cluttered and doesn’t always make the best use of the space you have. So tucking in a built in or a banquette, wherever possible, helps maximize space while offering attractive storage too. Glass doors on a built in keeps the visual space more open while offering organizational options at the same time.

How to Get Organized in a Small House

If you are fortunate enough to have a small breakfast nook or dining room, built in banquettes can offer tucked away storage for those extra dishes, entertaining platters, seasonal items and small kitchen appliances, as well as offer the maximum seating for sit down meals! That is a WIN WIN!

How to Get Organized in a Small HouseSmall space organization BHG

Tiny awkward cabinets like this can end up being a jumbled mess. Instead of being frustrated or limited by its diminutive size, find attractive and appropriately sized containers to organize items inside, making it CUTE as well as useful! And when a cabinet is actually CUTE inside, you are much more likely to keep it looking that way. Am I right?

How to Get Organized in a Small House

Laundry Room Details

Hanging back of the door clear shoe storage racks or over-the-door organizers also make the most of a small unused wall or cabinet door by rallying small items that would easily get lost or hard to find in a larger space.

Don’t let what little space you might have go to waste! Put it to good use and make it look pretty in the process.

How to Get Organized in a Small Housedouble duty organization via bhg

Big walls for hooks and memo boards such as whole wall “family command centers” can be so handy and attractive! But small houses do not always have large walls available to create an extensive system like that. But, you can still make the most of the space you have!  If you can carve out a small area to organize a “landing” space for each child’s school supplies, remember to think ‘double duty.’ A metal bucket for each child could have a magnet or clip for personalizing daily reminders! I like that idea!

How to Get Organized in a Small Houseback of the door organizing via BHG

So, we don’t all have dedicated craft rooms. Bummer, how will we survive? Obviously craft rooms are nice, but in a small house space is at a premium. But living in a small house doesn’t mean we can’t have cute dedicated spaces for crafts and wrapping! Think beyond the “whole room” to how you could use portions the space you have. You probably will have to pare down and not keep as much or as many craft supplies as someone who has entire rooms dedicated to crafting or projects, but you should be able to find a little nook or cranny for the basics of what you love to do!

I have my eye on a couple of doors in my own house that I’m determined to use to store craft supplies and wrapping paper. I may not have an entire room for craft supplies, but that is no excuse for not getting organized! When you can find what you are looking for in just a few moments, you are much more likely to USE your craft supplies, so that is a big plus too!

How to Get Organized in a Small House

Do you have a lack of cabinet space in your small kitchen? I use a freestanding cabinet for extra dishes (see it above!). I also created a pantry under our staircase. By taking the door off and making the small awkward space an attractive little nook by the kitchen, it does double duty by enlarging our usable kitchen space. It even holds our microwave! You could create a pantry in a cabinet or closet in a nearby hall or other room or with a dresser next to a kitchen or dining table. Come see our small pantry!

How to Get Organized in a Small House

Creating an attractive, dedicated space for everything you use in your home, no matter how small of a space you have, helps get a small house organized in style. I like that!

What organizational projects are you working on?

Related Posts:

Courtney’s Tiny Bedroom Tour

My House Tour

How to Organize Your House {Making the Best Use of Your Space}

5 Things Every Small Bedroom Needs

Small House Solutions

If you want more organizing ideas for your home, check out my home organization shop here!

How to Get Organized in a Small House

Get your copy of my book Simple Organizing at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Getting organized can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Bring order and purpose to every room when you create an orderly vision for your home, design organizational systems to inspire you, and focus on progress, not perfection. Full color images.

How to Get Organized in a Small House

Some links in this post are affiliates, thank you!

How to Get Organized in a Small House
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  1. Gretchen Peacock

    I love the back of the door organization. What a great place for wrapping supplies. I am going to have to look into this. I even have a perfect place for it. Thanks for the information.

  2. Glenda Childers

    My utensil drawer.

    My last two homes have been small and I love it … but you are so right … everything must be worth keeping and work.


  3. Nicole

    Ha! You wrote this one for me!! We have a small house and 3 kids! It has been my mission to make this space work for us! Love the inspiration…have a lovely weekend!

  4. Margy

    Love this post! Thank you!

  5. Sandy

    I’m trying to get my picture albums and loose pictures organized in the bottom of my china cabinet. Right now, they are in boxes in my dining room. Oh my!

  6. Alison

    Totally going to attempt the small space organization. : )

  7. Amy

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful organizing tips! I am going to have to revisit this post several times to soak it all in. My current organization task is in my children’s rooms and play area. These tips will come in handy as I set out to attempt the toy wrangling :-). Have a wonderful day!

  8. Leslie

    I love the over the door gift wrap organizer. I have the tall gift wrap bins and I am forever bottoms up in the air digging to reach the bottom of them.

  9. Faith

    Great ideas, Melissa! I really need to build a banquette into my breakfast room bay window area. Perhaps I’ll add that to my 2013 to-do list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Linda Stoll

    I’m CRAZY over that white, windowed breakfast nook!

    We started off with a small house {where we had people in/out all the time}, graduated to my dream house about 20 years ago, and are now looking ahead to downsizing once again. Bigger is not always better … more to buy, organize, clean, fix, maintain, re-organize, clean some more.

    Ah … I want to use my energy in the next season in simply walking by the sea …

  11. Sally

    Well my plan is to start with my linen closet today…and then move onto my hall coat closet…its the start of freeing up space for my spare bedroom overhaul. We live in a 1450 sq ft modular home and are now empty nesters but of course still holding things for the kids as they really arent out on their own yet. Too many towels that can be purged, coats that dont get worn not to mention shoes and gloves and scarves…by cleaning out those closets I can work on the closet in the spare bedroom and go from there to reno my extra room into something I want to enjoy using instead of it being a dumping/collection space!

    • Melissa

      Sounds like a great idea and plan! :-)

  12. Melinda

    I took on the 2013 project by splitting it up between our gardens and our home. For me, the outside means as much to me as the inside being an avid gardener. I’ve been working on bringing the outside in to keep it all feeling like it flows from one direction and then back. Inside I’m working on organizing our closets with prettying them up too. I am lining the front edge of each shelf with a strip of colorful ribbon which I’ve done in the pantry. Every time I open that door it greets me. One of my outdoor organizing projects isn’t as glamorous, but it is important. That would be our compost pile. I want to make that look like a more defined, deliberate area. I’ve seen too many gardening books to know that what it looks like now can definitely look better. Thanks for all the inspiration everyone…love these projects!

  13. MARY LOU

    I’m trying to organize my crafting room without spending a fortune!

  14. Chaney

    I’m working on our office area right now. Whew! It’s an adventure. I love this post about small house organization though – we have a tiny apartment, and everything has to multitask. You’ve gotta be creative to get it to work, that’s for sure! But it’s also part of the fun :).

  15. Liz (

    I’m just planning my new extension and I love, love, love that banquet with storage. I need all the storage I can get – just a fantastic idea.

  16. Kaara


    I’m so happy to have found your blog today, I’m a fellow Washington gal up North!

    I feel like my style, in my head at least, is somehwhat similar to yours, loving your posts…

    xoxo- Kaara

  17. Margaret Feinberg

    In love with that breakfast nook with the booth seating. Beautiful!

  18. Alexis, A Moment with MOM

    Thank you for these cute ideas. I especially love the cabinet organization ideas. Sharing this post with our readers as we are talking about room by room organizing on our blog.

  19. martha.anne

    I couldn’t agree more! I absolutely love small homes… especially older ones with all of the character. My mom lives in an 1800s home and we are slowly working at “decluttering” or making better use of the items she has. Our first big change was placing a dresser in the main entrance (which is the kitchen). It’s a small antique one which matches the board and batten character perfectly. It creates enough of an entry point without getting in the way. :)

  20. Alison

    And ps…..I just booked Haven!!!! So excited!!!!

  21. Celena Green

    This is WONDERFUL for me to read. I currently have an approximately 8×10 room that needs to serve as storage, a guest bedroom, future nursery, and be a place where my extra storage freezer sits. Thankfully the freezer is small and the bedroom MIGHT only be used once a year (if that), so I don’t have to focus too heavily on those, but some clever space usage is a must, haha.

  22. Tracy Allen

    My laundry room is the first room everyone walks in and I can’t stand it but have no idea how to make it look better. It is the only spot with hookups. Any suggestions?

  23. Robin

    I would challenge you to come to my little home & help me get organized. The small size & odd shape of my living room poses a problem for me & my very limited budget.
    I feel I will never have a pretty home free of disarray. It has become overwhelming & I have bought many things over the years trying to figure out how to make it functional. If you REALLY want a challenge, come visit me.

  24. Karen

    Where did you get the wrapping paper organizer? Did I miss a link or something?

    We have just downsized our home and I would love to get one of these!

  25. Kristin

    where is your cute little kitchen cabinet from? love the finish & looking for something similar :) thank you!!

  26. Sarah Parent

    Where did u find the thing that hangs over the door holding wrapping paper????

  27. Lola

    Some good ideas, but I note that the source for many (BHG) and other sites always use ADORABLE 1920s era homes or cottages, that are very rich in architectural detail…and amazingly, in PRISTINE condition. A 90 year old home like that is a museum or has been intensively remodeled at this point. It’s had a dozen owners live in it, and generations of change & update (some of it awful). It is very rare anymore today to find a perfect condition BUT un-re-muddled house of this era.

    They are also expensive if you can find them. The days of the little $30K cottage are long over, especially in the Northeast or California. I saw pictures online of the cutest, tiny Craftsman bungalow in an LA suburb, and it was…$1.6 million. And that was several years ago; it would be more today!

    What most of us ordinary people must deal with is either older homes in dreadful rundown condition, that need EVERYTHING — paint, new siding, totally redone kitchens, new bathrooms, repairs to everything, new furnace, water heater, roof, etc. — OR cost a fortune (because someone else did the remodeling for you) — OR more likely we have something much more modern, without any character or architectural detail to begin with. Plain little 50s bungalows….drab little 60s ranches….dreary 70s split levels. If you really have little money, it might be a drab apartment in a cookie-cutter building OR a mobile home in a trailer park.

    Funny thing, I never ever see these in shelter magazines nor articles. Oh, very occasionally some gorgeous 1950s “Mad Men” house, that was designed by an architect and filled with priceless mid-century modern antiques and European kitchen/baths. But NOT the typical 50s houses that dot American suburbs (many of which are quite small).

    Don’t get me wrong, I love clever ideas and beautiful & charming photos, etc. But I’d also like to see how designers and individuals can work with the REAL LIFE options that most of us have, which is not an adorable perfectly restored 1920s Craftsman cottage with a fireplace and clawfoot tub, but some drab “Levittown” bungalow that is really tired and worn.

    Most of all: I would like to see some idea of what things cost. I remember as a young first home buyer in the 80s, the shock and distress I felt when I learned that “fixing up” my old 20s kitchen wasn’t within reach of a family like mine — it would cost (in those days) over $10,000! or 5 times the downpayment we had saved laboriously to BUY the house.

    One example here that stood out to me is the beautiful fireplace with gorgeous original vintage crafted bookcases, with leaded glass doors. Sure, that’s easy to decorate around cleverly, with boxes and cute knick knacks and “pops of color” — but WHO HAS THIS to begin with????….99% of people do not have this in their home! and if you hired a carpenter (and a stained glass artist) to put this in, it would cost thousands and thousands of dollars, before you ever got to buy cute bins and baskets for display in it.

    Just some musings from a homeowner who has been there, done that.

    • Mary Ann Tkach

      This is soooooo spot on. My daughter in law is trapped in a small 2 bedroom apartment with 2 kids. I am looking for practical ideas for that situation. Surely there are “magicians” out there that can help.

  28. Faith

    I love love you ideas ,,, can you come do my small house ?? :)

  29. Jamie

    I love the back door metal bucket idea. I m using it to put my blankets and magazines it. Thanks for sharing these ideas.


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