Even the world’s best city to live in in 2021 has its share of inconveniences –  small apartments. But luckily for San Francisco residents, this one has an easy fix: even a small home can be very cozy and comfortable if you keep it neat and tidy. Here’s how to declutter your small San Francisco apartment to make sure you have enough room for all your daily activities and, also, how to deal with the items you have in your home.

Start by decluttering closets, cabinets and drawers

The first step toward a better-organized, uncluttered apartment is to go through all the storage spaces in your home, from closets and drawers to cabinets and pantry. Your goal is to make sure you are only keeping around items that you need and use. Stuff has a way of piling up and invading your life and your space, if you don’t keep up with it. These are the main steps you should take to purge your home storage spaces of useless items:

  • Start with clothing, as it’s usually the category of belongings that takes up the most space. Take all your clothing out of the closets and put them in a pile, on the bed or on the floor. Then, pick up every item (piece of clothing, accessory, shoes) and decide whether it’s something you use regularly and should keep or something you should let go of. Try on the outfits you haven’t worn in a while to see if they fit and if you still like them. A good rule of thumb is to give up on all the items you haven’t used during the past 12 months, except for certain categories, such as elegant outfits you are keeping for special occasions.

  • Unsure what to do with the clothes you no longer need? You can donate them to organizations such as St. Anthony’s Foundation in San Francisco to help with their Free Clothing Program. As for clothes that are no longer salvageable, you can use one of the many USAgain drop boxes in San Francisco – the organization is recycling textiles.
  • Tackle drawers next. Let’s be honest – we all have at least one junk drawer at home (probably several). Recycle (or throw away, depending on the situation) items like old phones, chargers, cables, outdated bills and papers, and so on. A couple of free drawers doesn’t sound like much storage space but will successfully “house” other, useful items that are currently cluttering various surfaces in your home: keys, sunglasses, umbrellas, and so on.
  • Go through your books – yes, it’s a very difficult, almost insurmountable, task to give up on your books. However, if you’re done reading them, it’s a good idea to find a new home for them. Look at it this way – someone else will get to enjoy your old books while you have space for new ones that will enrich your life. A great way of making the most of the books you no longer need is to drop them off at one of the San Francisco’s many Little Free Libraries. Almost all of the city’s neighborhoods have at least one of these – they’re basically small outside spaces where people can donate books for others how are interested in reading them.
  • Time to deal with the kitchen. The most common “space wasters” in the kitchen are tableware and cooking gear that you’re rarely, if ever, using. From bulky juicers or bread machines to chipped bowls and mugs or pans that are just too big for your needs, there’s probably plenty of useless stuff cluttering your kitchen cabinets. Get rid of all the ballast and keep around only those items you are using regularly. A bit of extra space inside the cabinets and drawers in your kitchen equates to fewer items on your countertops and other surfaces, which will help you create that airy, uncluttered, cozy vibe you are chasing.
  • Pay extra attention to the entryway area. Most apartments have small entryways with very little storage space, which can easily lead to the accumulation of stuff. That’s unfortunate because the entryway sets the tone for the atmosphere inside the entire apartment. Whether it’s you coming home or someone else visiting you, a neat and tidy entryway makes a world of difference. Make sure to keep here only items that you use regularly, instead of your entire shoe and bag collection. Also, adding extra storage options to the area, if possible, helps tremendously.

Reorganize your possessions in the newfound space

Now that you created a bit of extra space in your apartment by decluttering your possessions, it’s time to start reorganizing what’s left in a smart way. Here are some suggestions on how to manage your belongings in a way that ensures both a tidy home and easy access to everything that you own:

  • Group items that are similar or complementary. We all do that to a certain degree. Still, it’s a good idea to be consistent with this rule, and to come up with “pairings” that make sense for you personally. For some people it works best to have all their pants on one shelf of the closet, and all their shirts on a different one. For others, it makes more sense to organize clothing as outfits. Find out which method works best for you and apply it to every category of items in your home.
  • Make a habit of sorting through your stuff every couple of months or so, to avoid falling into the same trap of clutter accumulating in your home.
  • You can save both space at home and money by avoiding impulse shopping and postponing new acquisitions until you’re certain you definitely need a new item – and you’re going to use it.
  • Enlist the help of a San Francisco home organizer for extra storage tips and tricks tailored to your particular needs.

Create more storage in your home

You can always add more storage to your home, even if you feel that you have absolutely exhausted all your options. Here are some ideas that can help you unleash the true storage potential of your small San Francisco apartment:

  • Make use of over-the-door storage. There are various types of racks and organizers you can add to virtually every door in your apartment and have them pick some of your slack.
  • Corner storage is another idea that most people seem to ignore. Corner shelves and corner cabinets – or, why not, corner desks, if you’re working from home – are a great idea of adding storage to your home without taking up valuable floor space.
  • Go high, even up to the ceiling, with your shelving, even in hallways. Plenty of open shelves, plus some nice storage boxes, are a great combination for a small apartment. They provide ample space for your items while also preventing your apartment from looking overwhelmed by bulky, massive furniture.

Rent a self storage unit

  • Home organizing works up to a point. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there’s just not enough space in your small San Francisco apartment for all of your belongings. From seasonal items to sports equipment, extra furniture, or collectibles, you can put in a storage unit a variety of things you don’t use on a daily basis. A 5×10 storage unit is the right size when it comes to long-term renting, allowing you to safely store your belongings. The monthly rate for this type of storage unit in San Francisco hovers around $150.

What other strategies do you use to make the most of your apartment space? Let us know in the comments!


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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