10 Small-Space-Living Secrets I Wish I'd Known In My 20s

Photographed by Erica Gannet.
Nothing says "stunted adolescence" like realizing that you basically live in a dumpster. Seeing a friend's (or worse, a close acquaintance's) apartment when that person has invested in Adult Things — like curtains or matching pillows or a coffee table that isn't a Pinterest project gone horribly wrong — can totally ruin your sense of self-worth.

But we're calling bullshit on apartment envy. Adulting at home is a big step, and one that feels pretty final to a lot of people. It means going out less. It means babies over brunch dates. Spending money on your apartment doesn't always make sense, and honestly, it's okay to have different priorities. Doing things your own way at your own pace — even if it feels a little hack-y at times — is completely kosher in our book. (And who doesn't love a good hack?)

Ahead, we've rounded up 10 things it's totally okay to do at home — adulting be damned!


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Photographed by Winnie Au.
It's okay to use your living room as a bedroom.
Your bed can double as seating (keep a throw blanket handy if you're sensitive about people's butts being all up in your business). Add a stack of pillows for extra cushioning and support.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
It's okay to stack things on the floor.
We've all seen those apartments with magazines stacked to the ceiling and books jauntily toppling off of each other in literary piles. When done right, stacking your favorite printed pages atop each other looks, well, smart.
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Photographed by Rus Anson.
It's okay to have clutter.
You're young. You have a ton of stuff, and you aren't always sure what to do with it. That's okay. You'll figure it out — after you find your dream job, cut back on your crippling Seamless habit, and decide if you want to find a date or just another bag of Doritos. In the meantime, celebrate what you have.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
It's okay to put your bed against a window.
It seems counterintuitive, but this can actually open up a space — and save you serious money on a headboard. Just make sure you invest in window treatments to help mediate the amount of light you'll be subjected to each morning. A good pair of patterned curtains will create visual interest behind your bed and block out streetlights when night falls.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
It's okay to store things on window ledges.
And in other unexpected nooks and crannies. Corral unloved accessories into canvas totes and woven baskets and keep them stashed on a windowsill or on top of an armoire or another piece of large-scale furniture. (I actually keep all of my tote bags in a tote bag; it's meta.)
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
It's okay to collect things (and display them in odd ways.)
Film cameras, a pair of binoculars, blocks — we all have odd things we're attracted to, and that's totally okay. Try thinking critically about what you've amassed over the years and see if there's an interesting way to display it, whether arranged meticulously on a vintage ladder or simply in a sweet vignette atop your TV console.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
It's okay to sleep in a closet.
Although it's not ideal. I once slept in a closet (against New York City regulations, truth be told), and while it wasn't exactly comfortable, it was affordable. And, let's be real; it's a sacrifice I was willing to make to have the city right outside my door. If you find yourself in a similar (legal) situation, remember that it's temporary.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
It's okay to have nice things.
And it's okay to mix them with not-so-nice things. Invest in something you really love that's easy to transport (and hopefully not too fragile). A great chair or stool, a lamp, even great art — all of it can be easily packed up when you decide to move on to your next big thing. Or, you know, your next teeny-tiny apartment.
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Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
It's okay to use pretty much your entire apartment as a closet.
If you've got it, why not flaunt it? Whether you choose to arrange your shoe collection by the front door rather than behind closet doors, or you turn a tree branch into a clothing rack, there are plenty of ways to create intentional-looking storage solutions for your space that don't involve a closet.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
It's okay to remind yourself that it's okay.
At the end of the day, have faith in this inspirational poster: Done is better than worrying about whether or not your apartment is ready for Instagram. (Your selfies get more likes, anyway.)
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