Creative Uses of Small Spaces: A Fresh Set of Eyes Can Transform a Vexing Room

Intriguing projects rev my creative juices.  Solving puzzles has always been a hobby of mine so working with a client on a challenging space is like tackling a complex jigsaw or NYT Crossword Puzzle.  Daunting at the outset, yet once the right tiles are located or obscure clues are answered and the parts and pieces begin to gel, daunting transpires into exhilarating.  

A handful of my clients enjoy large spaces with loads of available storage options.  For them typically the goal is purely logistical placement.  But the norm is assisting clients in conceptualizing ways to squeeze their belongings into tight spaces where storage is minimal or nonexistent.  Conquering those projects is the equivalent of triumphantly completing a New York Times Sunday Puzzle without a single cheat.

From time to time, I will feature these formidable projects in my blogs with the hope that I will inspire those of you with tricky organizing dilemmas to step back and contemplate them from alternative angles.

You might think that the solution to your situation should be obvious, yet you feel challenged because you are too close to see the answers that will bring about the desired change.  Engaging an organizer brings in a fresh perspective, a new way of looking at old or vexing problems. 

Here is an example.  A client recently relocated from a three bedroom condo to the bedroom of her youth.  Some large furnishings were placed in storage, but the remainder were taken to her old/new home. 

Our mission: Transform this small room into a respite, office, and cat retreat.  The cramped, closetless bedroom needed:

  • Space for hanging clothes
  • More storage for personal items, accessories, files, etc.
  • A bright, open, airy layout to make the room feel bigger yet adding storage options
  • Areas where the cats would feel at ease and their accoutrements placed in an inconspicuous manner.



I was fortunate to work with a clever client who took on her homework assignments with zeal, agility and determination completing most of the work on her own.  Some guidance, an action plan, and a boost to her self-confidence was enough to set the inventive wheels in motion.

After a few simple adjustments, the room slowly transformed

Although the dark wardrobe was recently purchased, it consumed too much space, made the room feel cramped, did not provide adequate storage, and needed repairs.  It got repurposed elsewhere.

Papers were culled from the old file cabinet which was then removed from the room.  Retained files were switched to a credenza in an allocated office space at the foot of the bed.





Two automatic cat feeders and a bench resided under the window.  The sentimental bench is temporarily housed above the bed in the closet and as seen below, the chair was moved to the allow views of the beautiful gardens outside.

Passage between the bed and furnishings was narrow.  Below you can see that the new bookshelf wall system and removal of the chair and hamper now allows for greater clearance.


Two bookcases in the off-site storage unit replaced the wardrobe and file cabinet.  Baskets were added to the shelves to house folded shirts, accessories, and cat paraphernalia.  Books, photos, and decorative objects added a personal touch.


Brackets were hung between the 2 bookshelves to create a hanging closet system.  Curtains from a previous residence were converted into a privacy screen for the closet which also houses a cat feeder and hamper.




The original closet shelf above the bed was unsupported limiting the number and weight of goods it could safely accommodate.









Bracketed shelves were hung above the bed to increase storage space.


A slightly larger cabinet was placed adjacent to the bed in lieu of the glass curio for concealed warehousing of clothing and other personal articles.


A file sorting system rested upon the credenza along with various office and decorative items blocking the view across the room making the area feel smaller.

The file sorter was moved to a shelf inside the credenza and most other items were cleared off.  The office nook retains its distinct purpose as a work area while the contiguous flow suggests a larger overall room.



The light fixture was originally near the entryway, moving it across the room means less cluttered space in the entryway.

Moving the chair from the long wall to the window provides the cats a sunny place to nap or watch the birds. 

There were not many options for the litter box, so it is discretely stowed under the chair.

New windows and sheers render a refreshing, clean, vibrant look.  

A strategically placed mirror adds extra dimension to the room.


Lighter colored area rugs also give the impression that the room is more spacious.  If you ever wish to make your space look bigger and brighter, lighter colors are more reflective imparting an open & airy feel.

Slowly many other changes are occurring as the transition from a 3 bedroom condo to a one room residence continues to evolve. 

All in all, I hope that she knows how proud I am of her resilience, willingness to think outside the box, patience, and cleverness.  And I am grateful that she is amenable to sharing this organizing journey with you.

"Although there are still things I'd like to do with it, the room has become a PLACE where I can REST and RECOVER".
Chris D.