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A small bedroom is a delicate ecosystem, often teetering on the edge of total chaos. After Ping-Ponging from coast to coast, and from one tiny apartment to another, I’ve learned the value of doing regular audits to keep my stuff under control. (Pre-Marie Kondo, my purges were out of necessity, not to spark joy.)
But the experience has also made me a master at efficiently storing what I own. Some of my small bedrooms have also doubled as living rooms, offices and a nursery, making space-saving, double-duty gear even more essential.
It may feel counterintuitive to add more to a space that is crammed full, but these organizing tools can give you the upper hand against overstuffed closets and awkward floor plans. In collaboration with Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, here are five cheap(ish) things to help make the most of every inch.
A super-slim nightstand
Every adult deserves an adult-size bed, but in a small bedroom, sometimes that means the frame stretches nearly wall-to-wall, and many nightstands won’t make the cut. An extra-slim bedside table can squeeze into spaces others can’t, and it can keep your nighttime essentials close at hand.
Wirecutter recommends the slim but sturdy IKEA Nordli for small bedrooms. It’s less than a foot wide, so it fits in tiny spaces, but still has extras such as a deep drawer and a cutout in back to hide cords.
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A damage-free room divider
The easiest way to carve out privacy in an open floor plan is with a room divider, but some — like a chunky bookshelf, for example — can take up a lot of room. A curtain divider, on the other hand, makes for the most efficient use of space. You can mount it to the ceiling or hang it on a frame, but the easiest way to use one without damaging your walls is to put it on a tension rod. Wirecutter’s pick for a curtain divider is the RoomDividersNow Tension Rod Room Divider Kit because it installs in minutes, fits spaces up to 12 feet wide and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
A floating shelf
You don’t need to forgo bedside storage when floor space is tight. A shelf or cubby that mounts to the wall can create enough room for a small lamp, an alarm clock and a few small items, and its sleek silhouette can make a cramped room look less crowded than models that sit on the floor. Another bonus: If you have a space-maximizing storage bed, a floating shelf doesn’t get in the way of the drawers as a nightstand with legs might.
A sturdy, cheap storage bench
Don’t overlook multipurpose pieces like storage benches — they are the M.V.P.s of small-space living. Place one at the foot of the bed for a perfect place to stash extra linens, a yoga mat or other gear you need easy access to. But do check the measurements of any bench you consider to make sure you are getting your inches’ worth: Some “storage” benches have a large footprint but offer very little interior room.
For a cheap, foldable bench that can go almost anywhere, Wirecutter recommends the Seville Classics Foldable Storage Bench Ottoman. It’s surprisingly attractive — and roomy — for the money.
A garment rack
If your small bedroom is missing a closet (or if yours is already at maximum capacity), a garment rack can help. It’s a great way to get bulky, space-hogging coats or bags out of the way or to keep frequently worn items on hand. Look for one that will stay sturdy under the weight of heavy items and has casters so it is easier to move around as space permits. Try to find one with extra features, such as shelves or hooks, that will store more and look neater, such as The Container Store’s Industrial Pipe Clothes Rack, which is Wirecutter’s favorite. This model offers multiple ways to store many types of items, and looks great doing it.