Whether you live in an apartment, condo or small house, chances are you have more stuff than room to house it, which makes your limited living area seem small. Cutting down on the area you lose to outright clutter takes a serious attempt at downsizing and clearing away. Even if you're not yet ready to part with possessions that take up space, you can make smart use of the room you have.
Even small homes and rooms include unused wall space. Stacking and tiering put necessities into the vertical dimension and free up floor space without sacrificing important capabilities. Look for stackable laundry appliances—high-efficiency units with front-mounted controls—and cut the footprint of your washer and dryer in half. Instead of a countertop microwave and a small-scale convection or toaster oven, look for an over-the-range microwave that combines the features of both, while adding a vented range hood and range-top lighting. Opt for a wall-mountable HDTV that removes the need for a stand and adds positioning flexibility with adjustable hardware.
Miniaturization reduces the space required for many useful technologies. Look for a notebook, tablet or an all-in-one desktop system as your home computer and reclaim tabletop space without losing functionality. Opt for a home theater system with compact but powerful components that fit on a wall-mounted shelf below your HDTV. Skip the big upright vacuum cleaner in favor of a powerful canister model—one with HEPA filtration—and take back closet real estate. Check dimensional specifications on new equipment, furniture and storage units before you bring home something new that turns out to be larger than you expected.
Good lighting reveals the full extent of the space you have and makes it possible for you to dim the lighting selectively to create individualized areas within rooms. If your budget allows, adding recessed lighting removes the need for some floor or table lamps. Incorporating light tape, an ingenious LED-lamps-by-the-foot innovation that fits along the edges or in the recesses of room features, defines the height and depth of walls and ceilings. While you brighten your rooms, look to LED lighting across the board for energy savings, along with flawless implementation in dimmable lamps and built-in fixtures.
To reduce the amount of material you need to store in physical form, look to paper's digital equivalents. Acquiring books on a tablet reduces the need for bookshelves. Using your home computer or smartphone to pay bills cuts down on paperwork. Store the photos from your digital camera on your computer and have prints made only when you need to share them with family and friends who don't use email. Create a home inventory using a computer database and digital camera or camcorder. Your picture-taking skills provide a useful way to cut clutter in other ways, too. When you organize and purge belongings you don't need, photograph them before you donate or sell them so you can look at them again if you feel the need.
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