Is living in tight quarters making the light of your life seem like the lord of darkness? Cohabitation with a significant other is a challenge in and of itself, and doing so in a tiny apartment can be the ultimate test of a relationship. But being together in a small space doesn't have to result in domestic violence. Read on for a few of our tips and tricks for couples trying to keep the good vibes high even though their square footage may be low.
Photo: Michael Partenio
Lack of private space is probably the most obvious source of irritation for couples who live in small apartments. Having a separate room to escape to is a luxury that may not exist in a studio, but you can create your own by turning a closet or even a small nook into an office area. Even though it may not be a completely closed off room, it can act as a sanctuary where each partner can at least get a little work or zoning out done. The great thing about the closet idea is that you can still use a decent portion of the closet as a storage space, and when you’re done working, you can just close the door and hide the clutter. But if you need even more privacy, read on for another solution.
Any couple who has been through an argument in a studio apartment knows how annoying it is to want to storm off to another room only to realize there is no other room! Breaking up a one-room space into separate zones is crucial to having a healthy relationship, but doing so without making it feel even more claustrophobic can be challenging. Here are a few ways you can skip the shoji screens and opt for a more sophisticated space dividing solution.
Another common source of frustration amongst co-habitants is clutter, and it’s easy to see why coming home to a messy room can automatically put you or your partner in a sour mood. Make it a habit to put things away right away after you use them and employ smart storage solutions like these to keep unwanted items out of sight.
Few things breed acrimonious feelings more quickly than seeing your partner’s crap strewn all over your closet when you’re late for work and trying to search for the one pair of black pants that you can’t seem to find. The solution: having separate closets. If you live in a home with just one closet, creating another might seem like a stretch but IT IS WORTH IT. Here’s one way to make a DIY walk-in closet without having to sacrifice too much space, and another option would be to Craigslist or Krrb a freestanding wardrobe.
Try to make your home a peaceful sanctuary for your partner.
Just like you don’t want to come home to a messy space, you also don’t want to walk into an environment where you’re bombarded by another person. Even though we may be happy to see our significant other when we arrive home, it’s also nice to relax alone for a bit after being cooped up with co-workers all day in an office and then crammed against strangers on the subway. If you’re the person who is already at home when the other returns, take the edge off of the situation by letting them catch their breath in another room or sectioned off space for just a half an hour. This simple practice could defuse an argument waiting to happen!
Dividing your space up in an elegant way can help ease tensions in a tiny apartment but all human beings need to be alone (like really alone) sometimes to stay sane. When hunting for apartments, try to select one that offers a common room, a rooftop or some other place to get away in the building. Even a small courtyard or spacious lobby can act as a place to cool down if you’ve had a fight.
One of the simplest tips we can offer? Let in the light! It’s easy to be in a bad mood when the lighting is depressing, and sunlight can make a modest space feel much larger. So don’t be afraid to open up those blinds! Just don’t do it when your significant other is sleeping as that might have the exact opposite effect as what you’re going for.
Many flats in New York make up for their small footprints with high ceilings. Put that vertical space to use like this Brooklyn couple did in their 460-sq-foot apartment. By creating a lofted room, they were able to divide their one-room home into three distinct zones and maximize storage space.
If you feel like you’re sharing your apartment with your significant other AND all of their junk, there is a problem. One of the keys to inhabiting a small space is to edit your possessions so that they don’t overwhelm you, and both partners should agree when bringing new items into a home. If you’re looking to pare down what you already have, one trick is to create a “decision box”. Put a box in a closet or a corner of your home and throw in anything that you’re not sure if you want to keep or throw out. Then leave the box there for 6 months. You’ll probably visit the box to take out items as you need them. After 6 months, donate the box and anything that may still be left inside as you know you can do without the remaining items.
Lead image modified from this photo via Apartment Therapy