8 Small Space Organizing Tips Straight from Our Family's RV

Nesting on 07.22.11
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All photos by Britt Reints

My very first apartment was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom place that I shared with two other recent high school graduates. It was a sprawling country estate compared to what I'm living in now. Today, I live in a zero-bedroom, one-bathroom, 24 foot travel trailer with two adults and two children. There is considerably less beer in our fridge, but more books on our shelves - or rather there would be more books on our shelves if we had shelves. How do four people eat, sleep, work, and live in less than 200 square feet of living space? We make use of every square inch.

1. Get rid of stuff.

garage sale

Before you start thinking about where to put stuff away, it's a good idea to get rid of anything you don't need. We had three garage sales before moving into our RV and after 6 weeks on the road we found we had another carload of things we could donate to a local Goodwill. If you don't use it, don't keep it.

2. Maximize your closet space.

organizing small closets

We actually did not do a good job of this when we first moved into the RV and recently had to make some adjustments. We used rope and a cafe curtain rod to hang a second rod (the ones you can purchase in the store are too wide for our closet) and added a hanging shelf organizer for our folded clothes. We also swapped out our plastic hangers for super thin flocked ones so that we can hang more of our clothes. All four of us now share a 26 1/2 inch wide wardrobe.

3. Store what you don't use regularly.

We keep the clothes we wear often in our closet and store the rest under our bed in suitcases, including off-season clothing as well as a few dress outfits that aren't needed in our daily lives. I had to keep a few business outfits for when I travel for work, but I don't need them for most of our sightseeing trips or nightly bonfires.

4. Use your walls.

organizing tips for bathrooms

We've hung hooks and pocket organizers from several walls. We hang towels, robes, purses, brooms, and potholders. To keep our bathroom more organized, we super glued suction cups to our shower walls and hung a pocket organizer to store soaps, shampoos, and razors. Why the super glue? Because suction cups never work like they're supposed to.

5. Use your doors.

use your doors for more storage space in small spaces

In the same way that we use walls to expand our storage space, we also hang hooks on our doors. Inside our closet we've hung a backpack-style clothes hamper on a heavy-duty hook. We hang our beach towels on the back of our bathroom door. That's all the doors we have in the RV.

6. Baskets, baskets, baskets.

use baskets to organize small spaces

We use baskets on countertops, in cupboards, under tables, and on shelves. Baskets and plastic containers are crucial for keeping small spaces organized. We separate our items into containers according to function. For example, we use one basket for books, another holds journals, and another holds art supplies.

7. Attach storage underneath your cupboards and shelves.

under cabinet storage

We've fastened wire baskets beneath cupboards and shelves to increase our usable storage. For us, usable storage means keeping items we use regularly easily accessible so that it's easy to take them out and put them away. Before attaching these baskets we had too much of our items in inaccesable storage locations, which made it difficult to use them and inconvenient to put away. With small children in our home, it's crucial that we make it as easy for them to pick up after themselves as possible.

8. Revitalize dead space.

find more space

The space between our kitchen counter and the end of our bed was once used for nothing but a trash can. We slid a $20 shelving unit into the space sideways and added extra counterspace and a shelf to our kitchen. Now we're constantly on the look out for unused space. I recently added a basket for books to a small ledge under our dining room table.

I read a book on organizing once that said that the key to an organizational system is making it easy to find, use, and put away the things you need. That means paying attention to how you live in your own small space and creating solutions that work for your individual lifestyle. I hope these tips from our home can help!

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