9 Must Have Items for Small Apartments (and why they’re worth the splurge)

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Living in a small space requires some amount of ingenuity. 

If you’re used to living in a bigger space, you’ll probably need to get rid of some of your possessions (or at least put them away in storage). 

Then you’ll need to figure out how to arrange your furniture in a way that doesn’t feel too cramped.

It gets more challenging when you’re sharing your space with someone. I’ve been there.

I’ve lost count of the amount of time I’ve had to perform what seems like gymnastics to get out of bed, so I don’t wake my husband or bump into the five pieces of furniture we somehow managed to squeeze into our studio apartment

There is some charm in living in a small space though. And you can (to an extent) enjoy the amenities of a bigger space if you invest in the right things. 

Here are nine things that I personally think are worth splurging on.

1. Multi-cooker 

I love to cook. To me, it’s the perfect end-of-day activity that serves as a wind-down and transition from work mode to home mode. 

But life is hella busy, and it’s not always feasible to cook a gourmet meal every night. Plus, most small spaces don’t have the best kitchen. Limited bench space, not enough burner/zones/hot plates, not to mention small dishwasher/lack of sink space for washing.

multi-cooker can solve these issues because it often serves as a slow-cooker and a pressure-cooker. Not to mention it can steam, roast, and sometimes air-fry.

On lazy days, I used to dump frozen veggies, some sort of protein, (typically chicken or ground beef), with spices and either stock or crushed tomatoes in my crockpot before I went to work. When I came home, my apartment smelled amazing and I had a hot, home-cooked meal waiting for me. 

If you still prefer to cook, a multi-cooker allows you to cook meals that might otherwise be challenging in a small space (or would take forever). Have you ever cook recipes that require you to do three or four separate things at once before assembling everything together? A multi-cooker lets you do that.

A multi-cooker can also speed up your cooking time. For example, if you prefer to cook lentils and beans rather than using canned ones, having a pressure cooker cuts down cooking time significantly. 

2. Heat pump 

If you live in extreme climates, you probably need an air-conditioner and a heater. Unfortunately, both are usually pretty chunky (or at least the ones that actually do something.) Those mini heaters didn’t help me much when the temperature was below 0 degrees Celcius/32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Enter heat pumps, which can serve as an air-conditioner and a heater. I know many countries have central heating, which is typically sufficient. If you live in one of these countries, then just invest in an AC because living in a small space when it’s scorching hot outside is not pleasant (I tried going AC-free in a Manhattan studio in June, and I only lasted a week). 

But for those of you who live in small spaces without central heating, I recommend investing in a heat pump. In the times when I lived in a country that doesn’t have central heating (and has four seasons), a heat pump seriously made all the difference. 

3. Bed with built-in storage space

If you’ve been on this site before, you probably already know that one of my biggest regrets about living in a studio apartment is not getting a loft bed or a bed with built-in storage space.

Clutter can be challenging to avoid when you live in a small space, but buying a bed with storage space, whether it’s a high loft-bed with space underneath or one with built-in drawers and shelves, is one way of minimizing it. 

Now, you can DIY/add under-the-bed storage. However, if you’re a lazy individual like me (at least when it comes to DIY), then buying a bed with a built-in storage is the way to go. 

4. Foldable desk/table

Another investment I wished I had made during my studio-apartment days was to get a foldable desk or table

Now, the dining table I did have was small enough to fit, but because of the teeny tiny size of my apartment, there was no choice but to put it close to the door, so there was a lot of incidental bumping on our parts when we open the door to enter. 

A foldable desk/table would have solved that problem. It would also have made our small apartment feel more spacious because we can put it away anytime we’re not using it. Even folding/leaning it against the wall can make a massive difference in the aesthetic and feel of the space 

5. AeroPress

For coffee lovers, you know that a decent coffee machine doesn’t come cheap and typically doesn’t come in small sizes. That is, until Alan Adler invented the AeroPress. 

I mean, okay, technically, the Moka pot or the Chemex come in small sizes, but honestly, in my experience, nothing beats the convenience of the AeroPress. 

It’s easy to use and clean, doesn’t take forever like a pour-over seems to take, nor does it occupy precious burner/stovetop space. 

It’s also super convenient to travel with because not every city has the coffee quality of Melbourne (yes, I’ve been to Portland, Seattle, Rome, and Vienna. The coffees were good, but I didn’t think it was Melbourne good).

6. Air Purifier 

Indoor air pollution is a thing. According to the World Health Organization, 4.2 million people die prematurely from it.

It’s a big problem in developing countries and people living in energy-efficient homes, which the WHO describes as being ‘relatively airtight.’ Air pollution can accumulate from cleaning products, mold, and cooking stoves. 

A sound ventilation system can help, but an air purifier takes that up a notch. Also, there are just times when opening all your windows might not be feasible (like when there is a snow storm outside). Invest in an air purifier. Your lungs will thank you. 

7. Vacuum-mop combos 

One of the things that have yet to exist (but should) is a piece of effective cleaning equipment that is the size of our smartphone. 

I know there are sleek robot vacuums and mops, but they still take up a lot of space and don’t tend to be the most decorative things.

That’s why rather than trying to find a vacuum and a mop, get ones that do both! Reader’s digest rounded up 12 vacuum mop combos that have the best reviews, whether your budget is under $200 or a lot more than that. 

That way, you don’t have to awkwardly figure out how to store both in your non-existent cleaning closet space after every clean. 

8. Cable organizer 

We live in an electronic-centric world. And while cordless things are becoming more and more of a thing (thank god), many appliances still require cables. 

If you’ve lived with the horrors of tangled cables, you know how much of a nightmare they can be, especially in a small space where you’re a) more likely to trip over them and b) have fewer things to hide them behind. 

Invest in a cable organizer, and you won’t have this problem. 

9. Expandable (or stackable) cabinet shelf 

When shelf space is limited (and they usually are in small living spaces), you want to find hacks to maximize the space you have.

Enter the expandable and stackable cabinet shelf, where you can create shelving space within a shelf. This is especially helpful in cupboards (and drawers) with a high vertical space but not a considerable amount of horizontal space. 

You can stack things on top of each other, but that can get messy and difficult when you want to reach for that packet or small can at the bottom of the pile. 


Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice coziness, comfort, or a clutter-free aesthetic. 

Yes, you’ll need to be creative with arranging your space. Investing in these nine things can go a long way in helping you do just that. 

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