Making the Plan: Maximizing Your Apartment’s Space

January 18, 2017 | Apartment Living

One of the fellows that works for us is married, with a kid, and spent the first several years of that kid’s life in a tiny 645-square-foot apartment. It was advertised at 900 square feet, but like many apartments, the ad was an outright lie. How and why they realized it, however, is a story worth telling — and a process, it turns out, worth repeating…for some people.

“Will It Fit?”
When their son was born, our man Mike and his wife knew it was going to change everything about how they arranged their apartment. They needed room for a bed, a changing table, a toy chest (they were forward-looking types), and so on — and their apartment was, predictably, already full. Where most people would simply move stuff around until something looked decent, however, Mike cranked the planning up to 11.

Buying a few big sheets of 1-mm graph paper and busting out his trusty tape-measure, Mike painstakingly measured every room in his house inch by inch and translated it onto his graph paper, with 1mm=2inches. Then, he took every piece of furniture the family owned, measured it, and cut it out of his graph paper, overestimating every piece by 2 inches just to make darn sure everything would fit. (Along the way, they counted the actual living space and saw just how far shy of the advertised square footage they fell!)

The Big Brainstorm
Then, the pair sat down and arranged everything they owned by putting the furniture-cutouts exactly where they would end up on the graph-paper apartment. They left nothing sacred — if the best arrangement happened to put the TV in the back bedroom and the bed smack dab in the living room, that’s what they would do. They put together more than a dozen different arrangements, snapped pictures of each, and debated the merits and demerits of every version of their new place.

One by one, realizations caused them to discard one version or another. It turned out, for example, that the back bedroom didn’t have a cable hookup, so no TV there. It also turned out that Mike woke up early, and the baby didn’t, so having the crib in the living room (which was open to the kitchen) was also out.

Rearranging and Resettling
In the end, the bed did actually end up in the living room, which also turned out to be where the TV was. It was…let’s say “highly unorthodox”…but it worked for them, at least for a few years. And that inch-by-inch cutout of the apartment and the Ziplock bag full of inch-by-inch furniture cutouts came in handy at least twice more before they finally moved out.


The point here is simple: if you have too much stuff and not enough furniture, or you’re just having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to rearrange, don’t break your back doing it by lugging things back and forth. Plan a little bit ahead, take an afternoon to just measure and cut out, and get everything laid out on paper before you do the hard work. You’ll be grateful you did!

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