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Maximizing your space in a small apartment

Using shelves — especially for books — is a good way to organize a small space. (iStock) (golero/iStock)

Chances are if you’re a city resident who rents, you’re very likely having challenges living in a smaller space.

You may want to start by sorting through what you have and reducing your belongings to fit the space. Focus on the bulky items that you’ve forgotten about or don’t use anymore — that Crock-Pot that has been collecting dust or those fancy pants in the back of your closet that you have never worn.

If you haven’t used or worn it in a year, you probably won’t miss it. Donate the items to charitable organizations.

There also are many things you can do to maximize the efficiency of your apartment. For instance, removing closet doors that swing into the room and hanging a curtain is an easy way to save space.

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Also, paint the rooms in lighter colors to make them feel larger. Dark-colored paint or wallpaper can make a room feel closed-in.

Here are some other tips to make the most out of a small space and improve the functionality of your home:

· Use every usable nook and cranny for storage. Organize your storage spaces with bins, baskets and shelves. Hanging racks and shelves on your walls will greatly increase your storage space. Organize your closets for maximum storage.

You can improve your storage in your kitchen with a hanging pot rack, magnets on the wall for knife storage and hanging racks for glasses. This will help you keep the counters clear.

Racks on cabinet doors and lazy Susan shelves will organize your kitchen cabinets. This will help you find what you need more easily.

· Try some space-saving furniture. A drop leaf table is great for dining or can be used as a desk. A hideaway desk is a great space saver as well. Multipurpose furniture can be very helpful in a smaller space. A bed frame with drawers, tables with a built-in compartment and an ottoman can be used as storage.

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Murphy beds are ideal for a studio, and some come with shelves for additional storage. You don’t have to buy new furniture, you can store things, such as extra blankets and clothes that you are not using in the current season, under your bed.

A trunk also can be used as a coffee table. You can dress it up with a tablecloth or a table runner.

· If you’re a bibliophile, it may take a lot of effort to reduce your book collection. Try to limit what you have, keeping your favorites and donating what you won’t miss. Remember that you can borrow books from the library or download the ones you can’t keep. Knowing you can always read what you want will make this a lot easier.

With a little bit of effort, you can make your small apartment cozy and a delightful place to call home.

Nancy Simmons Starrs is founder and president of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment-search service.