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Small City Apartment

Art educator Amy Gulden moved into a tiny city apartment six months ago and has had trouble fitting all her things into the new space. She would love to entertain, but her living room/bedroom/study doesn't even have room for a dining table! The narrow (three-foot wide) galley kitchen doesn't have a single drawer for storage, and the even smaller entryway is crowded with too much furniture.


The entry hall was a dumping ground with overstacked shelving and useless cabinet.

No storage for utensils or drying dishes added to the kitchen's uncontrolled clutter.


The living area was cluttered with boxes of unrelated items and an overstuffed chair at the desk.

Before, the bed/couch just blended into the surrounding areas, with no distinct personality.

Professional organizer Maxwell Ryan, who specializes in small spaces, comes to her rescue. He pinpoints three major problems:

  1. She has too much "stuff," and those things are mixed together in no particular order--shorts are stored with the bed sheets, for example.

  2. The kitchen is used for cooking, putting on makeup and sorting the mail

  3. Her belongings are poorly arranged, with all the furniture pushed against a wall.

His steps for getting Amy organized include the following:

  • Sort like things together--separate piles for bath, table and bed linens, making like-piles for desk items and kitchen items.

  • Place items in see-through plastic bags to identify different groups of things and to see how much needs to be stored

  • Eliminate large furniture pieces.

  • Create an "outbox" of things removed from the space that are under consideration for return (not thrown away quite yet!)

A bright yellow wall defines the new entry, which was fitted with floor-to-ceiling shelves, a coat rack, mail files, bright red storage trunks and a desktop.

Drop-down shelving over the stove and sink adds storage and a clean, Euro look to the kitchen.

Here are the results:

A white coat of paint on the floor brightens the living room. A new desk chair and organized paperwork help streamline the desk, while the recovered chair creates a seating area to the side.

After moving some furniture around, the bed area has real presence. The "bed" is not only for sleeping, but it is also great as a couch and banquette for the dining table, which uses two chairs on the other side.

Other changes to the sitting area (far right in above left photo) include fresh paint on the two flat panels by the bookcases and new artwork on the wall.

New lights and a white canvas curtain instead of a door lighten the closet, which has clothing organized by frequency of use. The linen closet uses labeled boxes to create order from former chaos.


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