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Square Footage - Making the Most of Small Spaces

Updated on August 23, 2017

Extend Square Footage to Make the Most of Small Spaces

According to the U.S. Government Census Bureau, in 2010 the average single-family house completed was 2,392 square feet. In 2009, the average single-family house was 2,438 square feet.

Those "average single-family-house residents" are living in mini mansions when compared to our small spaces in Paradise. Our single-family home in Hawaii measures 640 square feet, so believe me when I say I KNOW small spaces. I can definitely tell you how to go about making the most of small spaces and how to extend square footage.

Whether it's a matter of limited quantities of land being available or the affordability of housing, or perhaps a direct result of owning too many things, space is often at a premium for many people. For anyone who may be serious about making the most of small spaces, this page has been created with you in mind.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Bed Risers Extend Square Footage
Bed Risers Extend Square Footage

Bed Risers Produce Bountiful Square Footage

The single best space saver in our small home!

Bed risers make efficient use of square footage in the bedroom. Plus, getting in and out of a bed is so much easier for adults when the bed is elevated. In addition, bed risers are super strong. (We've been using the same set of risers for over five years and not one problem ever.)

Something to remember when purchasing bed risers....They normally are available for purchase in sets of four only, however, any bed over twin size routinely has at least one additional "leg" serving as a center support underneath. Amazon has made it convenient to get the correct number of bed risers necessary as they sell the single bed risers at a very affordable price. (as shown below)

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Amazon Knows Bed Risers - And I do too. :)

These featured bed risers will do the job. I've also used bed risers to elevate a couch for an elderly relative. It is now so much easier for him to get on and off the couch.

KENNEDY Home Collection 5 to 6-Inch Black Bed Risers,4-pack
KENNEDY Home Collection 5 to 6-Inch Black Bed Risers,4-pack

These are the bed risers we've used for the past several years. Still going strong! :)

It's good to know also you can buy a single bed riser to go with a set of 4 because many beds over twin size have an extra "leg" support in the center of the bed frame.


New Longer Bed Skirt from Amazon - Cover up the Bed Risers and the Underbed Storage

Using bed risers, or bed lifts or bed elevators (whatever you wish to call them) allows for even more underbed storage which increases square footage in what would normally be considered wasted space. Unfortunately, standard bedskirts aren't long enough to cover the bed risers and the items stored under the bed. If you prefer you can make a DIY elongated Velcro bedskirt or purchase a 21" length bedskirt like the one below.

Small Space Storage
Small Space Storage

Magnets Make the Most of Small Spaces

All over the house....

Another way we maximize our square footage at home is with the use of magnets. A magnetic knife rack is convenient in our kitchen for keeping our knives in sight and, of course, well out of the reach of small children.

In the bathroom, our nail clippers and small scissors are kept orderly with the use of magnets applied inside the medicine cabinet door.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Bedskirt Shoe Storage
Bedskirt Shoe Storage

Small Space Shoe Storage

extend square footage!

This is one of the most clever space savers I've seen in a while. This is called the Storage Dynamics Shoes Away Hidden Organizer and it's available through Amazon.

This product provides a great way to expand square footage by storing 16 pairs of shoes and keeping them dust free, saving closet space AND storing shoes out of sight at the same time. Clever design!

Small Space Storage
Small Space Storage

Savvy Storage Solution for Small Spaces

Increase Square Footage in a Home Office

Find an old mailbox, the type that hangs on the wall to utilize as small office storage space. Look in flea markets, at garage sales and thrift shops. Check online sites like Ebay or Etsy.

Clean the exterior of the mailbox with mild soap and warm water. Rinse well and allow to dry. Shine with a metal polish if desired. Protect the patina for the small office storage space mailbox by spraying the exterior with a satin finish polycrylic.

Write your last name on a piece of paper for the name slot or use the paper as a label to identify the contents. Hang the office storage mailbox on the wall. Insert letter and business size envelopes into this stylish new small office storage.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Repurposed Spice Rack
Repurposed Spice Rack

Repurposed Wooden Spice Racks Extend Square Footage

Lots of possibilities for these thrift shop finds.

Anytime I find a vintage wooden spice rack at a thrift shop or garage sale, I snap it up. They can be used is so many ways to make the most of small spaces. They can store cosmetics in a bathroom, lots of nail polish can hang on the wall in a teens bedroom.

I have several in use currently at our home. One repurposed spice rack hangs inside a storage closet in the hallway. The shelves with their handy built-in dowel "railing", are the perfect size to store my small bottle of latex craft paint. I can take stock quickly of the stock paint I have on hand.

Here's one thrift shop spice rack I found recently. It's just waiting for a quick coating of spray paint and I'll put it to use once again.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Amazon Gives You More Space Saving Options

Umbra Conceal Double Wall Book Shelf, Nickel
Umbra Conceal Double Wall Book Shelf, Nickel

I have the single version of the Umbra Invisible book wall shelf in our guest bedroom. You can see it below in the picture. They are made of some sort of metal and are very sturdy. It truly looks like your books are floating on the wall.

Bamboo Pot Rack Space Saver
Bamboo Pot Rack Space Saver

Bamboo Pot Rack Extends Square Footage in a Small Kitchen

Free up valuable counter space in a small kitchen by making a trellis style pot rack of bamboo. Utilize "S" hooks to hang the pot. Perfect for the galley type cooking space.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Under Cabinet Coffee Filter Dispenser
Under Cabinet Coffee Filter Dispenser

Under Cabinet Coffee Filter Dispenser

perfect for small kitchen storage

Our tiny galley style kitchen is big on organization. It has to be......Products like this under cabinet coffee filter dispenser (pictured) and the paper plate dispenser (shown below) make the most of every inch of storage in this very small space.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Under Cabinet Storage Stretches Small Spaces

Camco 43653 Coffee Filter Dispenser
Camco 43653 Coffee Filter Dispenser

I LOVE this dispenser. It was very easy for me to mount under the shelf and keeps the coffee filters close at hand.

Tipsy Pot Planter Herb Garden Saves Space
Tipsy Pot Planter Herb Garden Saves Space

Tipsy Pot Planters Make the Most of Small Space Gardening

Perfect for my herb garden!

These tipsy pot planters are not only fun to look at, they are practical too. I found this idea on the internet and this picture is of my little herb garden just off our lanai.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Surfboard Racks Extend Square Footage

Surfboard Racks Extend Square Footage
Surfboard Racks Extend Square Footage

My husband has been surfing the same spot on Oahu since he was 11 (over 40 years). He has lots of surfboards... different sizes, shapes, different number of skegs, etc. all for different surfing conditions.

We have surfboards stored on the interior walls, on the exterior walls, under the lanai roof, under the house on racks too. Surfboard racks to the rescue!

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Surfboard Racks

Surfdogz - 4 Surfboard, Steel Peg / Poly Base Wall Rack Set
Surfdogz - 4 Surfboard, Steel Peg / Poly Base Wall Rack Set

Sturdy, simple design holds 4 surfboards. (snowboards too!)

Portable Gift Wrapping Station
Portable Gift Wrapping Station

Portable Gift Wrapping Station

Convenient space saver

I don't have space left under my bed to store wrapping paper, nor do I have an entire area I can devote to wrapping packages.

The geniuses at Better Homes and Gardens came up with this practical, inexpensive solution. Read on to learn how to make this portable gift wrapping station. It'll be done in no time!

Things You'll Need:

5 gallon bucket

1" wooden dowel (15" long)

Small saw to cut dowel

Bucket apron

Drill & bit

Gift wrapping paper, ribbons, assorted tapes, etc.

Assemble the materials to make the portable gift wrapping station. Cut dowel to 15" length. Place the apron on the bucket, making sure to position it so the handle ends are located where the apron is sectioned.

On each side of the bucket drill a hole large enough for your dowel to fit through. The dowel serves two will hold your spools of ribbon and serves as a handy divider for the contents of the bucket.

Hold the handle upright. Stick one end of the dowel through one hole to the left of the handle end. Push dowel in so it's protruding about 4" inside the bucket. Thread the ribbon spools on the open end of the dowel.

Continue pushing the dowel into the opposite hole making sure this time the dowel is to the right of the handle end. This allows the handle to remain upright. Make sure the extended ends of dowel are the same length.

Start filling pockets with scissors, adhesive tape, packaging tape, special pens, a 3-hole punch, shipping labels, address book, etc. Fill the pockets of the portable gift wrapping station with all the items normally used to wrap packages.

Stand up rolls of wrapping paper on one side of the dowel inside bucket and gift bags on the other side. Store this portable gift wrapping station away in a closet until ready to use.

Tips & Warnings

Store small bows in a plastic cup and insert the cup into a pocket to prevent them from crushing.

This makes an easy, handy gift for a friend or relative who could use a little help with organizing and appreciates practical gifts.

When drilling the hole for the dowel, the idea is for the dowel to fit snugly to stay in position. Use a drill bit that is a tad smaller than the circumference of the dowel. This allows the ribbon spools to move smoothly.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Hanging Lamps Extend Square Footage
Hanging Lamps Extend Square Footage

Hanging Lamps Save Space

Free up valuable space on nightstands by utilizing hanging lamps over each bedside. Swag lamps are easy to find and easy to hang.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

DIY Lampshade Extends Square Footage
DIY Lampshade Extends Square Footage

Extend Square Footage With a DIY Lampshade

This DIY lampshade is a simple and inexpensive project to replicate and an innovative way to extend square footage. Thrift shops are a viable resource for lampshades. Apply latex spray paint and adhere self-adhesive cork circles to the surface and you've made a lampshade that doubles as a bulletin board.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Speaking of square footage......

Tiny House Blog
Tiny House Blog

(Photo credit Tiny House Blog)

How much square footage do you live in?

See results

© 2011 Pam Irie

First question of this Lens......(more space-saving questions further down the page) - Would you (or do you) use bed risers in your home?

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    • MadelaineMouse profile image

      MadelaineMouse 3 years ago

      My bed is a Japanese style fuuton on the floor... so nope!

    • profile image

      MiaMusement 5 years ago

      Sure do!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      I might, it never occurred to me.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Yes I have been using bed risers for years.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 5 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I've never heard of them before but might try to get some.

    • javr profile image

      javr 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I think I will try them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes! We use bricks!

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      I had a bed built with drawers underneath. It sits low to the floor but has tons of storage. I love it.

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      can store more under the bed for sure

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 5 years ago

      Very helpful lens. The idea of using magnets inside cabinet is great way to keep the clips where you can find them. Excellent ideas here.

    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 5 years ago


    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 5 years ago

      I do use them on all my beds and it helps more than most people would think that they do! :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm probably weird, but I like my feet planted firmly on the ground, and I feel the same way about my bed. I know it's notional on my part, but the risers give me a feeling of instability. Of course, I live in earthquake country, but then I believe Hawaii has its fair share of earthquakes too, and you haven't had a problem with them, so perhaps I should reconsider.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      More storage space is always appreciated - I think bed risers is an ingenious solution! Well done!

    • jordanmilesbask profile image

      jordanmilesbask 5 years ago

      great idea! thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      soniazahan 5 years ago

      Nice and Cool Lens.

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 5 years ago

      I had no idea these existed. What a great idea, I'm going to own by the end of the year for sure!

    • tyrosine profile image

      tyrosine 5 years ago

      Sure if it fits well in the room I would use bed risers

    • pinkrenegade lm profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 5 years ago

      Small spaces can be a challenge but you just have to make use of it wisely. I think this is a very good idea. Thanks!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Great info and thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      drinkbiogif 5 years ago

      I have mattresses on the floor with no frame but I could see getting a frame in order to use these.

    • cao2fine profile image

      cao2fine 5 years ago

      I've never heard of these before. Thought provoking.

    • Ribolov LM profile image

      Ribolov LM 5 years ago

      Nice lens, good infos. Thnx.

    • profile image

      seojyo 5 years ago


    • profile image

      seosri417 5 years ago

      Good thought..

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      I need space for my jewelry studios and so I have to make the best of the small areas I have. Great suggestions.

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      Great idea, I may think about it.

    • profile image

      Skylermeyer2012 5 years ago

      yeah absolutely.. Anything in this world came from a (dot)...

    • profile image

      Stinkerbelle 5 years ago

      Yep gotta love the extra space :-)

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I am learning to make the most of my small spaces.

    • wilfredpadilla profile image

      wilfredpadilla 5 years ago

      I think so...

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      Hmm, if I got really desperate, this would be an awesome idea!

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      Hmm, if I got really desperate, this would be an awesome idea!

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      Hmm, if I got really desperate, this would be an awesome idea!

    • niicki profile image

      niicki 5 years ago

      I think we should switch to bed risers. Currently we're using an old waterbed base with drawers, but there's a third of the space underneath our bed that's not being used, and isn't even accessible!

    • profile image

      sujathayder 5 years ago

      creative lens...

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I've never heard of them but love the idea. Of course, with 6 dogs running around, I'm sure the dust bunnies would just have more room.

    • profile image

      MarionElodie 5 years ago

      I would definitely use them, as my room is tiny and I could do with more storage space.

    • JetGirl13 profile image

      JetGirl13 5 years ago

      I used them once when I was living in the States, and it was very useful. Living in East Asia, I sleep on a futon that gets folded away everyday, so it's a moot point right now. They are very helpful though!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 5 years ago

      I've never heard of bed risers but this is a great idea.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      I live in a spacious house so I don't need one but for a small living space I would certainly consider it.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Everything which save space is good for me... Thanks for great ideas

    • Jessica Holbrook profile image

      Jessica 5 years ago from Southern Indiana

      I actually don't need bed risers. I have a metal bed frame that has 14 inches of space underneath.

    • brando87 profile image

      brando87 5 years ago

      I would definitely use bed risers. My under bed storage is very under-utilized.

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      I use bed risers for my work table, which is suppose to reach my chest for jewelry design. The bed risers work great. I also use them for my dining room table which is antique and way to low. Works great there too.

    • livinglargeandh profile image

      livinglargeandh 5 years ago

      No, but what a great idea. Who knew?

    • PamelaU profile image

      PamelaU 5 years ago

      We already have storage drawers under our bed, so we don't need bed risers. However, when our daughter is a bit older, we'll get her a loft-bed (like a bunk bed but without the bottom bunk), so that she can have a little table and chair set - she has a little box room, so she'll appreciate it.

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      Great Ideas ! Getting ready to move, want to learn as much as I can about saving space, however, i'm pretty good at it now!

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      I don't currently use them, but I think they are a great idea. Really useful suggestion!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Thanks for telling about them. I'll check on how they'd work in our house. I know that this would give our cat more head room because she likes to hide under our bed.

    • thehandmadesecret profile image

      thehandmadesecret 5 years ago

      Yes I do and I use all that space underneath for storage and shoes! They are so strong, the same kind you have in your picture up there. I love them!

    • AlexTedford profile image

      AlexTedford 5 years ago


    • profile image

      BestBuys4Baby 5 years ago

      No not yet, but good idea!

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I have never heard of bed risers before! Blessed!

    • vetochemicals profile image

      Cindy 5 years ago from Pittsburgh Pa

      We used bed risers in our first home that was a cottage sounding similar to yours and they are a lifesaver for under the bed storage. Great lens and even larger homes can use space saving ideas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the ideas and am going to mention the bed risers to one of my kids that lives in a small apartment. Never can have enough storage space.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      no buy great idea

    • JeffMcRitchie1 profile image

      JeffMcRitchie1 6 years ago

      We do and they help immensely with the extra storage space!

    • profile image

      Jack-in-the-Box 6 years ago

      Yes, I do use bed risers, but just on one side. I live in a teeny tiny basement apartment that leans to one side. LOL. Thank goodness for bed risers.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      Yes, and I have. they're smart!

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I would if I needed the extra space.

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 6 years ago from America's Dairyland

      Our bed is already pretty high (deep mattress), so probably not. But we do use the space under the bed for gift wrap and gift box storage.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Pam, this is a really good lens...don't know what you were changing, but it looks good to me. Lots of great information about making the most of the space you have. Thanks for sharing.

    • ajtyne profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I've used them, and they are handy. But nowadays, I kinda prefer no space between bed and floor -- keeps little hands and paws away.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      @Scarlettohairy: Once you switch over to using bed risers, I promise you'll never go back. :)

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      @Frischy: I think people may be wary thinking that something made of plastic can support a bed and people too. Seriously, these are my very favorite organizing tools in use in my home.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Those sound like a great idea. My bed is too low to store much under it, except Scarlett O'Hairy (she fits just fine) and some bubble wrap and small boxes I keep for mailing.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Yes, I have been using bed risers for quite a few years (about as long as you, I think). They definately increase the storage capacity of a small home.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      @ReuseItAll LM: Lauren, aren't they the greatest invention? We've had ours in use for years and they are still going strong. :)

    • ReuseItAll LM profile image

      ReuseItAll LM 6 years ago

      Each of our kids uses bed risers in their rooms and we store a ton under their beds!!! Couldn't imagine organizing their rooms now without them!