TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING YOUR LIVING SPACE
Tips for maximizing every square foot of your tiny Denver apartment
With Denver rents showing few signs of falling back to Earth any time soon, some residents are finding themselves having to do more with less. Less square footage, that is. Just ask Tyson Martinez, 32, a University of Colorado Denver employee who lives in a 620- square- foot studio apartment in Lower Downtown. “I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do when I moved in,” said Martinez, who chose a studio for affordability. “How could I make this space not look like a giant bedroom?” You can’t tell he was concerned by looking at his apartment now. Smart furniture pieces are strategically placed to define separate dining, sitting and sleeping areas. Dry goods are stacked in plastic containers on top of the kitchen pantry, while knives and spices hang from the backsplash. Three mirrors— of the sort intended for the backs of doors— hang horizontally on a wall to create the illusion of even more space.
“The size of an apartment doesn’t matter if there isn’t usable space,” said Jocelyn Durkay, 30, who lives in a petite one- bedroom near Cheesman Park. ” A small apartment can be more functional than a large apartment.”
With just 565 square feet to work with, Durkay has been very intentional about every item brought in the door, living by a “one- in, one- out” rule for things like books and clothes.
In the living room, an antique trunk doubles as a coffee table and catch- all storage unit. A platform bed conceals more storage space below. A woodframed jewelry organizer decorates a bedroom wall and keeps her earrings tidy.
“If I lived somewhere less central, I could have more space, but I would trade the things I enjoy,” she said.
So, how can you transform your cluttered cave into a similarly space- savvy oasis? Three Denver design experts offer their tips for making the most of however much space you have.
In small homes, floor space is a precious commodity. So look up and reclaim your wall space for storage— all the way to the ceiling, said Sarah Bergholz, a Denver professional organizer and owner of XO Surroundings.
“Often, people stop their shelving at eye level or a little higher. But they don’t think about wall space above a door,” Bergholz said. “Above a door in a closet is a great place to put a little shelf or cupboard. Above a door in a bathroom is another great place.”
“You almost have to stand on your head and look at your house in a new way,” she said. “You’ll start to see spaces and things differently.”
• Take back your kitchen counter and drawers by installing a magnetic strip on the backsplash to hang your knives.
• Ditch the art print above the toilet and buy an over- the- toilet cabinet to store items like toilet paper and extra toiletries.
• Don’t forget doors. Add a hook— or two— and you’ve got a place to hang hats, jackets, bags and scarves. Over- the- door jewelry organizers keep your collection tangle- free and out of the way. Small shelves on cupboard doors are great for spices and other frequently used items.
Neutrals are your friend
If your landlord is OK with you freshening up the walls with a coat of paint, pick a bright white, said Kylee Trunck, senior staff designer at Havenly, a Denverbased online interior design service.
Yes, it sounds boring, but especially in small areas, “there is nothing that opens up a space more than a true white,” she said.
Contain, contain, contain
In the fight against clutter, everything needs a home— and a random pile in the corner doesn’t count, Bergholz said. Start by grouping like things together and then find each category— shoes, sports equipment, books, whatever— a homewhere they can stay organized.
“All items need to be contained so they’re not spilling over and taking over unnecessary room,” she said. “Contain, contain, contain.”
• Instead of just throwing things under the sink, use stackable bins to maximize the available space.
• Storage bins are also great for extra- deep ( or high) shelves. You’ll have convenient access to even the dark recesses in back; no rummaging around required.
• Create a hanging “command center” where you can keep bills, pens and stamps organized ( and off the kitchen table). One possible location: the side of your refrigerator.
When you’re shopping for furniture, look for pieces that double as storage, Trunck said. That could be a bed frame with builtin storage, a bedside table with drawers, or an ottoman or coffee table with storage inside.
“Hide anything that isn’t essential,” Trunck said. “Clutter is a small space’s worst enemy!”
At the Moxy Hotel, currently under construction in Cherry Creek North, Denver design firm Johnson Nathan Strohe is maximizing space in the tiny 180square- foot guest rooms by installing pegboards to hang the rooms’ foldable chairs when not in use and integrating under- bed storage drawers to stash carryon luggage— or the iron and ironing board.
“Storage is king,” partner Tobias Strohe said.
Small spaces aren’t the place for large or standard- sized furniture or appliances, Strohe said. Sure, that oversized sectional may be perfect for the basement den of your dreams but you can free up valuable square footage by choosing an equally comfy couch designed with smaller spaces in mind.
If a kitchen remodel is in your future, Strohe also recommends looking at smaller, European appliances, including counter depth refrigerators or 18- inchwide dishwashers.
Embrace minimalism — but celebrate what you love
There’s no getting around it: If you live in a studio apartment, you can’t have as many things as if you live in a three- bedroom ranch, Bergholz said. But that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything.
If you love books, use books as decor, with floor- to- ceiling shelves. If you love cycling, hang your bike on the wall. If you love shoes, display your favorite pairs on shelves.
“You don’t need traditional decor from Target that everyone else has,” she said. “These are the things that make you and your home unique.”
Hit the RV show
Recreational vehicles and yachts aren’t just for fun— they’re also full of space- saving ideas that can be translated to apartment living, Strohe said.
At Turntable Studios, Denver’s first large- scale micro- apartment community, JNS created multiuse counters, an idea that came straight from the RV world. Countertop induction burners can be put away when not in use. The sink faucet swings out of the way and a flush insert converts the sink into additional counter surface, perfect for setting out food, office work space or a dinner table.
“There should be no ‘ dead space’ solely dedicated to one purpose,” Strohe said.
Tyson Martinez uses mirrors to make his 620- square- foot studio apartment in LoDo feel bigger.
An earring holder is also wall art in Jocelyn Durkay’s bedroom at her 565- square- foot apartment near Cheesman Park.
Jocelyn Durkay at her 565- square- foot apartment near Cheesman Park.
Tyson Martinez’s kitchen in his 620- square- foot studio apartment in LoDo.
Jocelyn Durkay uses a trunk that doubles as storage and a coffee table at her small apartment near Cheesman Park.