Small is beautiful. It’s also hip these days, especially when it comes to living spaces. Hung over from decades of consuming like it was going out of style, millions of Americans are embracing the simplicity movement. They’re often starting at home, downsizing to smaller, more modest homes.

Small is beautiful. It’s also hip these days, especially when it comes to living spaces. 

Hung over from decades of consuming like it was going out of style, millions of Americans are embracing the simplicity movement. They’re often starting at home, downsizing to smaller, more modest homes. 

The beauty of a small home is precisely what makes it an organizational challenge: There is just not much room for stuff. A key to successfully navigating this constrained space is the adoption of a “curator” mindset.

A curator typically works for a museum and is someone who makes careful, considered decisions about what objects to collect and how to display and care for them. But we think it’s also an excellent description for those who live in small spaces.

When square footage is limited, you must carefully consider what items are truly important to you and how they will fit in your home. If you don’t, you’ll end up overwhelmed with visual clutter, and those truly special items will get lost in the shuffle.

Whether you already live in tight quarters and need to de-clutter, or are about to move to a smaller abode, get your space under control by asking yourself:

Which items are most representative of me/our family? Which items serve critical purposes and cannot be left behind? Use those questions to separate the wheat from the chaff.

More strategies for organizing a small space

1. Make a plan. Think about how the space is likely to be used, then design around it. Sketch out the floor plan on a sheet of paper and play out the most likely flow of traffic.

2. Proactively problem-solve. Every living space, big or small, has a problem. It’s just that problem areas are a lot more visible in tight spaces, so you have to get out ahead of them before they overwhelm you. Using a rough floor-plan sketch, identify potential (or actual) trouble spots, like that area two steps in from the front door, and keep a running list of ideas for staying on top of it.

3. Hang curtains. Alcoves, closets with no doors, or open shelves can serve as great spaces for organizing, but they aren’t always fun to look at. Hang a curtain and voila! You have chic containment.

4. Got something new? Toss something old. Each time you bring in something new, find something that you can get rid of, sell or give away.

5. Make a habit. The key to happiness in small spaces is routine. If you make it a habit to clean up your area, apartment or room for five minutes each day, you won’t find yourself overwhelmed and avoiding the whole mess down the line.

6. Use nesting tables. There’s nothing like a set of tables that fits and looks like one table but really is two or three separate pieces. Perfect for entertaining, nesting tables are a small space’s dream.

7. Look up. There is a lot more to square footage than just the floor space. Your walls are not just for decoration; they can double as significant storage areas and organizers. Hang a chair rail with hooks, hang rods with baskets, or even put racks for items like bikes on the wall, and you’ll free up floor space.