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Rental Report: Closet Shock

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

As you sit in your new living room surrounded by dozens of boxes, the shock sets in and you think to yourself, “Where am I going to put all my stuff?” The thought crossed your mind during your apartment search, but finding that great place, close to the Metro and your favorite restaurant, all within your budget was really all you dreamed of, so you can handle a tiny closet.

The key to putting a lot of stuff in a small space is organization and creativity. Here are our top tips for getting organized in your new space.

Sort — What items do you use every day, week or month? What items are occasional? What are “keepers” no matter how often you use them? Are there any more items that you can live without? Prepare your occasional and keeper items to go into a secondary closet, hide-a-way storage, or a storage unit, and then get them out of the way.

Baskets, Baskets, Baskets — Find them in all shapes, sizes and materials. If you are on a tight budget, get crafty. Make baskets from boxes and fabric, or cover a cheap, plastic basket with rope of twine for a varied look. Check out the clearance baskets whenever you head to Target — they always come in handy. Place baskets around the house on shelves, next to furniture, under furniture, and anywhere you can find a place to stash your every day items. Baskets also help in the kitchen to organize a pantry, and for your items under the sink.

Bins and Space Bags — Space bags are your new best friend. Those occasional items, including your warm winter blankets, can get tucked away in a space bag, placed in a storage bin, and stuck under the bed until you need them. Space bags squish everything down to a much smaller size, allowing you to pack much more in that storage bin than usual.

Other Organizers — Treat your self to a housewarming gift at the Container Store or Ikea. They have so many choices in custom closet organizers to maximize your space. Be sure to take measurements of your space and make a list of exactly what you need (shoe storage, accessory storage, etc.) to make these trips more seamless.

Maximize Furniture — Get creative with what you already have, and don’t be afraid to step outside the norm. If you have to store towels in your nightstand, go for it. Cover a small table with a tablecloth, and store your cookbooks or your serving pieces underneath.

Take advantage of the storage spaces in your building. Sometimes they are included with your rent, but generally the charge is about $25-50 per month for a space in the building, which can be less expensive than a storage unit outside the building.

Spend an hour on Pinterest getting ideas of inexpensive, DIY storage ideas. But most of all, do your best to downsize and donate as much as you can. Moving to a smaller space is a great excuse to get rid of things you rarely use. Call Good Donor to come pick up your extra items.

Remember the rule — if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it! Then sit back, and enjoy your organized home.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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