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Smart Ways to Organize Your Tiny City Apartment

In big cities, space can be difficult to find, but that doesn't mean you can't find peace. Professional organizer Jolin Polasek provides organizing ideas to keep a tiny apartment tidy.

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Living in New York City means living in small spaces. Increasingly, millennials are choosing to live in smaller and smaller spaces. The fact of the matter is that living space is hard to come by. What's not hard to come by? Stuff. The modern world forces us to accumulate things. Professional organizer Jolin Polasek recognizes this, and she's here to help. Polasek is not the first to speak up about the modern plight of accumulation. What with the widespread adoration of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method, America is beginning to understand its fraught relationship with stuff. So how does one cope with clutter in a city that's already as cluttered as your vanity? New York City houses over 8 million people -- it's the most populous city in the United States. "In this city, you need a space to breathe," says Polasek. "Because, Lord knows, the city isn't going to do that for you." For most, a concerted effort must be made in order to live an organized life. That's the other thing about New York City; it's a city that encourages hustle and bustle. It doesn't necessarily allow for the careful consideration of one's home. "Most of the people I've worked with don't have the time to deal with it," says Polasek. "And they're willing to put some money towards finding a solution." Polsek, who lives in Washington Heights, believes that there is peace to be found in a big city.


Live within your space means

In short, space is just as valuable as money. Just as we can live outside our financial means, we can live outside our "space means." "My first client was just living well outside her space means," says Polasek. Sometimes, Polasek's job is just to encourage a client to recognize their current situation. A studio apartment cannot support the dishes you've been collecting since college.


Get vertical with storage

New York City organizes itself vertically -- most densely populated areas grow upwards, not outwards. Polasek advises that city-dweller take advantage of vertical space. Install shelves! Build a drawer that fits below the bed! Polasek thinks of space as a Tetris board -- she examines the pieces, and rearranges them so that they fit snugly in a tidy box.


[TRY THIS: Maximize Your Existing Storage]


Divorce sentiment from stuff

Polasek poses a hypothetical: suppose you have twelve water bottles. One water bottle represents the trip you took to Grand Canyon, another is from a charity event last year. All have some sort of sentimental value. You can't possibly throw out so many water bottles! "Half of being an organizer is getting to the root of the psychological connection to inanimate objects...holding people's hand through the emotional release is part of the job -- giving people permission to let go of objects." According to Polasek, holding onto objects that only take up space can create a psychological stress. "The more clutter that is in your life -- it literally creates psychological clutter." Perhaps the one water bottle is worth saving. "If you love something, absolutely keep it in your life!" says Polasek. But the truth is we can only love so many things (sorry, Aunt Tilley's china!), so there will always be objects in a home that need to be purged.


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Prepare to rearrange

Sometimes, the layout of an apartment just isn't fit for an organized life. Maybe there's only one shelving bar in a closet. "Then we defintely need to install more shelving," says Polasek. Installing shelving doesn't have to damage your wallet, either. Even a few containers from various housewares stores can help keep space tidy.


Consider converting

One of Polasek's clients is preparing for a third child and Polsek has advised she turn the dining room into a nursery. "She had a china hutch and a huge clawfoot dining table -- all this stuff that we're putting into storage," says Polasek. Why keep a dining room around when there's a full table in the kitchen? Polasek advises that you be flexible about the arrangement of your home. The most important parts of the home will be the places where people actually live. If the dining room doesn't receive much foot traffic, maybe it's time to convert.


Call in an expert

If the situation is dire, it may be time to reach out to a service. Organizing an apartment will take a lot of time and a lot of decisions. We frequently -- especially in big cities -- experience decision fatigue, when we exhaust our brains. Which train should you take? What should you eat for breakfast? In addition, big cities are riddled with advertisements that beg you to make the wrong decision. Why do have so much stuff? We can't say for sure, but it might have something to do with that subway ad you had to stare at during your morning commute. "Most of the time, I find that people need to get rid of stuff," says Polasek. We're all living outside of our space means, and an expert can help.



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