21 Wicked Easy Decluttering Tips for Apartment Living

interior picture of an apartment that is part of an apartment complex

Some apartment living can be challenging, especially a studio apartment! The key to living in minimal space is to live minimally! With just a few key pieces of furniture and no excess stuff, small apartments represent cool and easy living. Not everyone has a cool modern apartment though.

Older apartments have a lot of character and charm, and sometimes have some cool small nooks and crannies with opportunities to make some creative storage. There are all sorts of styles of apartments.

One consistent thread is, just like a free-standing home, there is only so much storage space. If you continue bringing more things into your home without getting rid of some stuff you will end up in a cluttered mess.

If you have the desire to get better organized, live more simply, or cut your cleaning time significantly keep reading,

The decluttering process

Start with one cabinet, drawer, or one small area at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

I find starting every decluttering job with heavy-duty trash bags is the best way to keep the chaos of decluttering to a minimum. I always keep a box of heavy-duty black contractor bags on hand to bring to cluttered sites.

3 black trash bags labeled Trash, Donate, and Sell

These bags hold a lot and do not tear, I label the 3 bags as follows: Trash, Donate, and Sell.

Next, empty the small area or single cabinet or drawer you wish to declutter and do a quick clean with whatever cleaner you have on hand. I keep vinegar and water solutions in spray bottles throughout my home with a couple of rags handy.

Then I suggest you pick up each item and decide what labeled trash bag the object goes into. Put the items you have deemed worth keeping back in your freshly cleaned area.

When you come across an item that does not belong where you are decluttering bring it to where it does belong.

A good place to start is clearing all the flat surfaces. Again, doing this one flat surface at a time will alleviate any additional messes.

The kitchen junk drawer is another easy win to declutter. Empty the contents of this drawer and throw out the little bits of this and that and broken elastics that have been in here forever.

Decluttering plan 

Having a clear and concise declutter plan for your entire apartment in place is well worth whatever time it takes to make. Some people like to use a home checklist to check off as they go through the decluttering journey.

checklist with big bright red check marks

If you would like to try an interactive tracking system when you declutter you are welcome to download a copy of my free Ultimate Declutter Dashboard. 

If you start in the kitchen don’t empty all the kitchen cabinets at once. There is no benefit to this and the downside is it makes a big mess. Empty a cabinet, give it a quick clean, and then one object at a time go through each item.

When you come upon a thing you are going to keep place the item in the clean cupboard. Keep organization in mind as you return things to their proper place.

Decluttering schedule

I am a fan of scheduling appointments with yourself to ensure that you get the job done. I can tell you from experience the reason people start and do not complete their decluttering project is because they don’t have a plan and those that do have a plan are not consistent in their effort to declutter.

People start decluttering their cluttered space gung-ho and then when a decision needs to made they begin to stumble. For example when you come across a sentimental item or old photographs and have to decide what to do with it, it is much easier to throw it back in the drawer to avoid making a tough decision. Sound familiar?

hands together one on top of the other


Some folks not only do not have help decluttering from family members and housemates they have 100% resistance. This is difficult. Some people can meet that resistance and simply ignore it and go about the business of decluttering. Quite often what occurs is the resistant one usually hops on board- in time.

I learned ages ago I have no control over what others do. All I can be is a power of example and continue to quietly go along doing my thing regardless of what others think and with or without help.

clean paperless desk

Going paperless

Paper takes up so much space and when the paper is scattered about it makes a small apartment look messy and cluttered. There is little need today to keep most documents in hard copy form.

Just remember to back up your files and leave the important docs in a couple of safe digital places. There are many cloud services available to choose from. I keep an external hard drive and a cloud service account or two for documents and pictures important to me.

Another thing to explore is apps for note-taking and task management to keep your life organized. There are so many to choose from today. Once you get in the habit of using 1 app exclusively it is an efficient time-saving way to live. I am giving the free version of the Notion app a test drive now.

We all have our own way of organizing, use what works best for you.

Digital decluttering

Speaking of digital the less cluttered my computers are the more peace of mind and less stress I have. I have to do a digital declutter regularly to keep my head straight because I hate clutter. Whether it is physical, mental, or digital clutter, in my mind clutter is clutter and I want it gone.

My definition of clutter is anything that gets in my way, slows me down, or aggravates me. Having to go through a mess of unwanted files to find what I need is inefficient at best, and a robber of my precious time.

You can begin by organizing your digital files and deleting duplicates on your computer. Streamline your smartphone and device apps to only essential ones. Essential apps are the apps you use regularly.

computer and devices

Many folks pay recurring monthly fees on apps they haven’t used in years because they are disorganized and procrastinate having to deal with cleaning up their digital lives. These fees can add up quickly.

This is only one example of why living a cluttered life can involve financial issues, another one is late fees because your disorganization causes bill payments to be tardy.

Because I don’t store videos and music on my devices I always buy my phones and iPads with a lower amount of storage. This forces me to go through my stuff periodically and delete old unwanted stuff.

I do not need to keep podcasts from 5 years ago or last week because the podcasts are available to download anytime. There is no need to fill up my digital storage box.

Old photos

People of a particular age especially have piles of old photographs and photo albums stored. I wrote an article about combatting this topic of ‘What to do with all your old photos.

Small space furniture solutions

Multi-purpose furniture is awesome! I am designing a comfortable storage seating area for my kitchen because I want a storage unit for kitchen stuff. I have the perfect space by a sunny sliding door that looks out to a beautiful view. No doubt the pups will take over this space too!

This will have a thick wide high-density foam pad on top and tons of storage in drawers or cabinets under the seat.

Investing in furniture that conceals storage space, such as coffee tables and seating arrangements with hidden compartments is a smart investment. Get something good quality to serve you for a long time. The cheap stuff does not have a long-term life.

You might consider a captain’s bed, that typically has pull-our drawers under the mattress all around the bed. Another option is a bed with hidden storage.

If you have a lot of extra stuff and can’t afford to change your bed at this time you can always use under-bed storage for items you don’t need daily, and seasonal items. Try to declutter these objects first though because not having to move stuff around under the bed to clean is easier.

I love the Murphy bed! I had 2 made several years ago. Full disclosure…I would have the Murphy bed in one room folded and out of sight if my pups did not love hanging on it. I built another Murphy bed for an airbnb space I rent and find most people leave the bed set up.

You can buy or have made anything your imagination can come up with.

If money is tight there are some pretty basic storage bins you can buy that can do the job. Always declutter first, who knows, you may not even need the storage bins after all!

Less is more

Embrace minimalism by decluttering regularly and keeping only what truly adds value to your life. Prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to decor and personal items. Very little gets into my home that is not functional.

Some other storage options

Investing in furniture with built-in storage makes the most of every inch. This storage ottoman on Amazon has pretty good reviews and could help in a pinch for a small layout of cash. Of course, you can spend hundreds for better quality storage.

The same goes for furniture that conceals storage space, such as coffee tables with hidden compartments. Again you can go cheap or find high-quality goods made by fine artisans. It all depends on what you want to spend.

Considering built-in shelves and cabinets when renting an apartment may be cost-prohibitive or unwelcome by your landlord.

Clutter-free zones

I am a big advocate of people needing a little nest to call their own. It doesn’t matter how small your living space is – you can always carve out a little bitty space to relax and focus. Keep these areas minimalistic if you can, with only the things you want in them.

comfy reading nook with wing back green chair and clever book shelves.

Finding joy in simplicity

Be intentional about what you bring into your home. I am writing a story about white walls and no clutter from an artist’s perspective. I have 2 home art studios and when I enter these spaces it is a visual explosion. Everything is organized and in its designated space. I love being in these rooms.

All the other rooms in my home though have white bare walls and contain minimal stuff. I love these rooms too!
I firmly advocate our homes, whether huge mansions or studio apartments should be one way only, and this is exactly as we want them to be. Current trends mean nothing to me.

Maximizing closet space

Using slim hangers will buy you a little more closet space, nothing dramatic. More important is getting rid of clothing you don’t wear and taking up valuable closet space.

I find these multi tier type closet hangers to hold a lot in a compact space. These hanging systems are not just to be used just for clothing use. I find these to be a great place to hold lightbulbs, bathroom stuff, and art supplies too.

Smart solutions for kitchen storage

Install pull-out shelves in cabinets to make items at the back easily accessible. I never tire seeing this ingenious use of space!

This pull-out spice rack was cheap to purchase and you could take it with you when you move. Not sure it would be worth the bother considering the cost to replace it is minimal. Plus the next tenant will be so happy to discover this hidden gem!

Apartment-friendly plants

house plants decorating a room with miniimal seating

Choose small, low-maintenance plants to add a touch of greenery without clutter. Use wall-mounted planters to save floor space.

Flexible furniture arrangements

Arrange furniture to create open pathways and a sense of spaciousness. Experiment with different layouts to find what works best for your lifestyle. Be creative! A cool design tip is one large piece in a small room makes a room feel more spacious than a bunch of little pieces. Try it, it works!

Getting organized

Especially in small spaces, it is important to be organized. Put a little time into organizing up front and this will pay you back handsomely.

Every item in your home needs to have its own designated area. There is a bounty of organization systems available from cheap to expensive.

Label storage containers to easily locate items and avoid unnecessary searching. The clear rigid plastic totes available are great because you can see the contents at a glance.

Daily maintenance routine

A key to clutter-free living is to make bed-making and other things a daily habit to instantly enhance the appearance of your apartment. Spending a few minutes a day saves so much time! This is also better for your mental health.

What would you rather be greeted with first thing in the morning, a clean kitchen counter and bathroom vanity, or a big ole mess from yesterday?

mom and 2 girls tidying up

Cultivate a daily habit of tidying up for a consistently clean living space. This is a very easy thing to do when you are organized. I do not spend 10 minutes a day to keep my home in tip-top shape.

Allocate a few minutes each day to put items back in their designated places. If space allows for a trash receptacle in each room this will be helpful too.

Mindful shopping habits

Clutter-free living begins at the point of purchase for me. Before purchasing, ask yourself if this thing is either functional or so beautiful you cannot live without it. Resist impulsive buys and focus on acquiring items that align with your vision for a clutter-free home.

I much prefer to wait to buy anything until I find exactly what I am looking for. I try to avoid buying cheap stuff because I don’t want to overburden the landfill with things that have a short life and will need to be replaced.

Miscellaneous storage ideas

  • pot racks for the kitchen
  • hanging multi-storage vertical solutions for your closet
  • magnetic strips placed on the wall near your kitchen counter can take the place of a cumbersome wood knife holder that takes up valuable counter space.
  • Storage in seating is great for big bulky small appliances.

Miscellaneous decluttering tips!

The One – Touch – Rule

Get rid of it!

Obstacles to decluttering

Living in an apartment does not have to translate to uncomfortable living. Living in a smaller apartment that may or may not be permanent allows you many creative opportunities to stay decluttered and organized.

Decluttering your apartment no matter the size does not have to be an overwhelming task. In the long run, decluttering is a great way to get organized, cut your home maintenance time to almost nothing, and allow you to get out and do the things in life you keep putting off. I call this a win-win.


Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed and always a few laughs!

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