Couch with shelf aboveThe average American living space is shrinking quite a bit now that the McMansions of the 1990s and early 2000s are less viable options for those who can’t afford huge houses, those who don’t want them anyway, and those who want to live near the center of everything instead of out in the suburbs. With rising interest in microapartments, off-grid living and everything in between, the small space movement (and what some might refer to as “living in New York”) is taking hold with no sign of slowing down any time soon. Here at Moveline, we’ve helped all sorts of people move all sorts of places, and we’ve got a few smart tips for maximizing a minimal amount of square footage.

1. Optical illusions

A few key things to remember when it comes to making a small space look big: mirrors reflect light and make a room feel more expansive, light wall colors feel more spacious than dark ones, and you’ve got more wiggle room than you think when you’re planning your layout. Your first instinct might be to shove everything against the walls to make room for as much open floor space in the center as possible, but actually, that makes a room feel more claustrophobic than when pieces are placed where they’re most functional. A close, clustered sitting area feels more cozy than a couch and two chairs plastered against opposing walls, facing one another in a still-life showdown. Hang a mirror or two (or place a large one in a corner), let the light shine in, and have a little fun with color and pattern. Bigger isn’t better. Smarter is better.

2. Convertible furniture

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention, a point perfectly illustrated by that old small apartment standby: the futon. Couch by day, bed by night, it’s a staple of collegiate living, and lots of other furniture pieces take their cues from its versatility. If you’re willing to part with a little cash to make your space super-functional, consider investing in a workspace that becomes a bed, an office trunk that opens & closes, or even the simple wonder of a fold-out desk that expands and contracts as you need it to. Especially for those of us who work from home and savor our sanity, a little ingenuity goes a long way.

3. Small-space gadgets

As living spaces get smaller, simpler and less wasteful, so do the gadgets that help us live our lives. If you don’t have space for a washer/dryer but hate the thought of dealing with a laundromat every time you need a few things washed, there’s the Laundry Pod, a tiny washer that handles five to ten garments at a time. For a tiny kitchenette with no room for a full-sized toaster oven and coffee maker, there’s the three-in-one breakfast maker from Maxi-Matic, which browns your toast, brews your joe and even fries an egg on top. And if you hate cleaning and/or don’t really have room for a monster-sized vacuum cleaner, a Roomba just might be your new best friend. (And for all those other super-specific problems that pop up when you live in a tiny, tiny abode? Well, there’s no limit to what you can find on the Internet, so happy Googling, dear friends.)

4. Thinking vertically

Don’t have space on your desk for a lamp? Try tucking a tall standing lamp behind it and let the light cascade down from above. Don’t have room on your kitchen counter for that herb garden you’ve been wanting to grow? Try a vertical planter in place of a wall hanging. If the footprint of your space is too small for lots of bookshelves and entertainment units, use some good hardware and hang it all on the walls instead, leaving the floor free for more essential pieces of furniture. And if you need to keep it cheap, IKEA doesn’t have to be your only solution (although it’s often an awesome one); if you’re the creative type, check out Instructables or Brit+Co for inspiration and step-by-step instructions.

5. Simplicity and cleanliness

This one’s probably the easiest (if the most dreaded) tip on our list. Every home feels nicer when it’s been given a good cleaning and everything’s been put in its place. Storage solutions abound at places like The Container Store and Target, and when it comes to getting rid of junk — old white elephant gifts, clothes that don’t fit, tchotchkes that never get used — plenty of options exist for purging your space of unwanted stuff. Here’s a great mantra to repeat when you’re trying to decide what to keep and what to toss: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Whether you’re moving out of a small space or into one, Moveline can help. Gathering quotes from reputable movers on your behalf, helping you choose the best options for your specific needs, and having your back all the way through — it’s all in a day’s work for us. Check us out and let us know if we can help you get a move on. We stand ready to delight you.