Living in a compact apartment requires a bit of creativity when it comes to storage and organization. But getting imaginative with your living space doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your oven to store your winter coats (unless you’re Carrie Bradshaw). Planning your space with reality and practicality top-of-mind can go a long way to open up a room and make it feel bigger. Here are three simple design principles to help space feel a little roomier – and free your oven up for dinner.

Keep things off the floor.

Not in the keep-things-tidy sense – although that certainly helps, too. When you can see more of the floor, your eyes will tend to perceive the space as bigger. If you’re moving to a new apartment and shopping for furniture, excellent! This is the ideal time to plan a roomier home. When shopping, ask yourself: what purpose can this serve? Could something else do it better? If the furniture isn’t functional, it’s just taking up precious space. If the furniture does have a purpose, look for an option designed with legs over solid or bottom-heavy pieces. It’ll do its job, and you’ll still see the floor. Floating shelves can be another great (and trendy) option. They free up lots of space from the floor, but they can actually be counterproductive in our pursuit.

Declutter other surfaces. 

When everything is on display, small spaces can feel cramped. So while floating shelves may check our list for optimal floor space, it may not be the best option for functional storage. A good rule of thumb is to keep out the things that make you happy, store the things you reach for constantly in the front of cabinets and drawers, and put the rest away. Good options for the things you put away include storage cubes that double as seating or tables, under-the-bed storage containers, or other multi-purpose furniture. Not sure if you use something frequently enough to keep it out or front and center? Put it away. You’ll quickly find out if you miss it. An added bonus: when things have a clear place to go, you might even find that it’s easier to keep things neatly put away.

 

Pick furniture wisely. 

A small apartment doesn’t necessarily mean small furniture. In some cases,

that can actually diminish the size of the room even more. The right large piece of furniture can make a space feel purposeful, tidy,

even luxurious. More and smaller pieces of furniture (a few chairs versus a full-size couch) can exacerbate the sense of clutter and crampedness. Again, ask yourself: what purpose does this serve? Other multi-purpose furniture to consider includes coffee tables that expands into a dining room table or seating with hidden storage. Fewer, bigger, functional.

 

Making more of less space can be a great opportunity to assess your things and Marie-Kondo your apartment. What things do you have around, just because they’re there? Would you miss them if they were gone? Evaluate your belongings for their purpose and for the joy they do (or don’t) give you. Then, clean out your stove and reward yourself with a nice, non-microwaved dinner.