Sometimes I think that apartments are shrinking. Especially in densely populated areas like downtown Los Angeles, where space is limited, it seems as though more and more renters are facing storage dilemmas.
Just the other day, in fact, I was inspecting work at a multifamily in DTLA and had the opportunity to take a look inside one of the units. This wasn’t a high-end, luxury apartment and I wasn’t expecting to see substantial square footage, but I still found myself pleasantly surprised. Even without extensive square footage, the unit felt extremely comfortable. All of the appliances and modern upgrades were present, and there was plenty of space to cook, eat and relax. What shocked me the most, however, was that this didn’t come at the expense of storage. There were enough cupboards to satisfy all but the most fervent hoarders. There was even room to store a bike! It just goes to show that with some clever solutions, smaller apartments don’t have to sacrifice storage space.
Are Apartments Really Shrinking?
Have people just acquired more possessions, or is ample square footage really harder to come by these days? The short answer is yes to both; people do own more things these days, and apartments are shrinking. The average size of an apartment is 8% smaller than it was a decade ago. Studio apartments have shrunk even more, by 18% between 2006 and 2016. Space is particularly tight here in California, which has the smallest average apartment size of any region in the US. Compared to a national average of 889 sq. ft. and a high in the Southeast of 974 sq. ft., our apartments average only 843 sq. ft.
This may not seem like a significant decrease, but consider the fact that we now own more stuff than ever before. The average American home has 300,000 objects in it, and one in 10 of us rents off-site storage. With more stuff than ever and less space to store it, a little creative engineering can go a long way, and multifamily owners who can renovate their units with successful storage solutions are going to be able to offer prospective renters a very appealing amenity. Here are our recommendations for squeezing the most out of your space.
Upgrade Cupboards and Closets
If there’s one thing almost any multifamily apartment can do with more of, it’s cupboard and closet space. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to add more units—sometimes you have to upgrade the spaces you already have.
- Make storage adjustable. No two tenants are going to be the same—and neither are their storage needs. By implementing adjustable storage solutions in closet spaces, you give residents the flexibility to adjust the storage available as their needs change, and ensure that the needs of current and future clients are met without refitting the entire apartment.
- Add drawers and baskets to current spaces. This is a win-win, simultaneously adding more storage space while decluttering bedrooms and other rooms. By adding these features in closets and other areas where there is room to pull drawers out, you can eliminate the need for bedroom dressers or cabinets. What you put in their place is up to you.
- Implement innovative shelving. A small or compact kitchen doesn’t mean that residents should be robbed of cupboard space. Add a lazy susan in a corner cabinet and provide residents with 360 degrees of storage space instead of a measly 90 degrees. Alternatively, make the most of out-of-the-way spaces with a drop-down cabinet system or a combination shelf system.
By upgrading your current storage spaces with these alternatives, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to double, maybe even triple, the storage space available to tenants.
Make Home Essentials Multi-Purpose
There are some household essentials that take up a lot of room in apartments that could be put to work in a different way. Everyone’s seen staircases double as bookshelves, but what happens when your apartment doesn’t have a staircase? In truth, almost any furniture staple can be repurposed as storage, including:
- Coffee and dining tables
These don’t have to be any more expensive than their single-use alternatives. In fact, when factoring in the increased rent that comes with significant storage space, it can become a great investment. Consider this an opportunity to create more storage space and redecorate your units at the same time.
Install Storage Units in Communal Areas
Storage solutions don’t start and end in individual apartments. Almost every multifamily has unused or underused spaces that are waiting to be turned into new storage options for space-conscious tenants. Basements or old laundry rooms are great locations to install either of the following storage unit designs:
- Wire-mesh units. These come in a variety of standardized sizes and are cheap to purchase and implement. Units come with multiple locking options and can be upgraded to include shelving and floor tiles if required. The open design means that existing lighting and ventilation systems can function effectively without additional elements needing to be installed. They also allow owners to see exactly what residents are storing.
- Enclosed storage units. Made famous by popular television shows, these lockers can be customized to come in any size and fit any space. The enclosed nature gives tenants more privacy and makes the lockers more aesthetically pleasing than their mesh counterparts. Of course, this type of security and privacy comes at a cost, and these units are typically more expensive to install.
Start Creating Storage Space Today
If your residents have been complaining about the lack of space or if this article has inspired you to get an edge over your competitors, REIG can help you implement these storage solutions and more. We’ve worked with dozens of multifamily owners throughout Southern California and have developed a reputation for delivering successful, thorough and timely renovations. Contact us today to get your next renovation off to the best possible start.