Making The Most of Small Spaces as Apartment Construction Reaches 50-Year High

There is currently more robust demand for apartments than houses due to differentials in single-family home prices and renters' purchasing power compared to older generations. And the market is responding, with the construction of apartments outpacing single-family homes almost two to one.

With millennials and zoomers being locked out of homeownership in many parts of the United States, living in apartments for longer chapters of one's life has become the norm. Bidding wars from the single-family home-buying boom have waned. After cities like New York and Los Angeles emptied out, the sticker shock on home prices that took advantage of low interest rates has been eclipsed by rising rents in desirable metropolitan areas.

Shifting Priorities

Per the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), more apartments are being built than single-family houses after a colossal multi-family boom in 2022. Over 500,000 apartment buildings broke ground in 2022, while NAHB expects 2024 to stabilize with 374,000 new multi-family properties. Despite the cooldown, apartment construction is approaching a historic 50-year high.

Ultimately, multi-family housing takes longer to build.

In 2023, several projects commissioned throughout the COVID era are expected to finish construction. High-rise apartment buildings also require more materials, workers, zoning permits, and other compliance measures than building houses, which has been reflected in the rents charged by developers.

Subsequently, renters facing unaffordable options in all directions end up prioritizing lifestyle over space. Proximity to jobs, nightlife, and social and professional opportunities inherent to cosmopolitan but exorbitant cities will push renters towards living with roommates or opting for increasingly smaller units to save money.

Living out of vans and RVs has also become popular for downsizing and avoiding onerous rents. A cadre of Instagram and TikTok influencers show viewers of all ages how they live and work when their primary residence is a vehicle.

This leaves many renters spending the prime of their lives in smaller spaces than they planned. Minimalism isn't for everyone, but there are definitely consumption limits when living in a small space. If you've got a smaller living space than you'd like, here's how to economize it effectively.

Opt for Furniture With Built-in Storage

Captain's beds have drawers instead of a base and have been a staple of small living spaces for centuries. As the name implies, they were designed for maritime quarters so the captain could easily reach his belongings where he slept.

Modern captain's beds on land automatically provide ample space-saving storage to compensate for the lack of linen closets and spacious bedrooms to store extra pillows, blankets, and sheets. As an added bonus, you don't need to vacuum or dust under them like you would with conventional bed frames.

Beds aren't the only furniture with built-in storage nowadays. When apartments face red-hot demand, so does furniture designed for small living spaces. Furniture retailers have woken up to apartment dwellers' need to maximize storage without sacrificing aesthetics: you can find everything from etagere lamps with little storage shelves to storage tables that have a set of drawers in place of legs.

Even if something isn't marketed as storage furniture, think about your storage needs and lifestyle, then get creative. Hall trees and shoe benches can provide space for outerwear and shoes while providing a comfortable place to sit.

You can also create additional storage space on top of dressers and desks by adding modular drawers and shelves, such as individual storage cubes or groups of them. Internal drawer organizers or bins can also keep your belongings from getting lost while maximizing drawer space.

Standards and Brackets and Free-Floating Shelves

Standard and bracket shelving, free-floating shelves, and prefabricated modular shelving units are tried and true space-savers for apartment dwellers. This is especially true for New Yorkers who've spent their lives in tiny prewar apartments built with high ceilings but small floor space.

Shelving is relatively inexpensive and can be fun to decorate and customize. Home goods and big-box stores offer several floating shelves for all budgets and tastes if you're not very handy or confident in your painting and varnishing skills. Plentiful wall space provides an opportunity to create both decorative and practical storage shelving.

Although this space-saving method is effective for tall residents, it often leaves short residents out because no one should ever need to drag a stepladder out for daily use. Short residents must rely more on storage furniture and the following method.

Gain Counter Space With Tiered Counter Shelving

Once you've outfitted the walls and determined which storage furniture best fits your needs, counter shelving is one of the most crucial steps to making the most of your limited space. This is especially true if you are short. The wall space is less usable to you than it is to tall people. Kitchen cabinets are often placed too high for short residents to get much utility out of them without a stepstool.

If you can't get the cabinets lowered so you can use more of their space, counter shelves will be a lifesaver. You can store items on the shelf while others fit underneath it, doubling or even tripling your counter space.

Counter storage shelves come in all sizes, tiers, and materials. They can be flat or tiered, have graduated tiers, and made of anything from coated wire to stainless steel. Counter shelves are fairly lightweight and inexpensive and can be used in any part of your home to get more utility out of a countertop, table, or desktop.

Just like with the storage furniture, get creative! Use that graduated-tier spice rack in your small bathroom to easily store and find perfume, makeup, or other personal care items. At the same time, that shower organizer designed to withstand water takes on cooking splatters as it keeps your spatulas in one place.

Counter Cooking With Micro Appliances

You've scored that dream rental in a prime location that boasts a gourmet kitchen. Then you dreamt of stand mixers, top-of-the-line blenders, and other gadgets alongside the stainless steel appliances advertised but found the counter and storage space for them was direly limited.

In recent years, space-saving micro appliances such as the Dash mini rice cooker and griddle have become Internet sensations. They take up less room than typical pots and pans and require less time to heat up than a stove or cooktop.

Because they're so small and portable and present less risk than hot plates, Dash's small appliances have become a hit with RV travelers, van lifers, and dorm dwellers. They're also great for single people who don't need to cook as much food as standard stovetop recipes tend to yield. Micro appliances have easy cleanup and storage, which makes food preparation less stressful when you're already working with very little space.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.