Jason Saft offers tips to make the most out of small spaces

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When realtor Jason Saft was showing the 250-square-foot Chelsea studio he now calls home, he wasn’t getting much interest:

“Everyone thought it was a s–hole,” he says. But Saft had been secretly admiring the small space, and a fortune cookie that read “You have a strong desire for a home” was the catalyst he needed to make it his own.

Now a resident for about three years, Saft, who pays $1,750 a month in rent, has become an authority on living comfortably in a small space. We got his tips for making the most out of your tiny pad.

Use every nook and cranny
Saft stores folding chairs, a vacuum and other miscellaneous items behind his dresser — positioned on an angle — to give the room some extra storage space. When he’s not using his fireplace, it doubles as a bookcase.

Repurpose everything
Saft doesn’t have anything extraneous around his digs — everything has a use, and some even have multiple uses. Take his nightstand, for instance. “Here is a great, old, vintage filing cabinet I found at a flea market. I had it put on casters so at times [it's] a seat [or] table, and I use it as an actual, real filing cabinet. Other times, when I’ve had parties, I’ve filled it with ice and used this as the bar. It’s easy to move around.”

Don’t settle for what’s given to you
Saft removed his kitchen cabinet doors to open the space up and added an extra shelf for plates and bowls. “It made the kitchen interesting,” he says. He also swapped in stemless wine glasses to save space and mounted his towel rack: “Your counters can get really cluttered quickly. I try and use the wall space as much as possible.”

Declutter your desk
All of Saft’s necessities for daily living — bike locks, cuff links, paper clips — are stored in this desktop box. “When you’re in a small space, you have to accept the disadvantages that you have and be prepared to edit things and factor in every little purchase that you’re gonna make,” he says. “You also have to think about what you need and don’t need: Sometimes I’ll go into a space and see a coffee cup filled with 50 pens and a stack of Post-It notes. The chance is that they will probably never use them in their lifetime.”

Get creative
Saft’s bathroom is so small it can only hold one person at a time. But he says: “Usually when someone’s over and they’re in the bathroom they’ll come out 10 minutes later.”  Why? Kitschy former class photos and funny old report cards lure you in. And yes, that’s a bike stored in the shower!

Find double-duty furniture
“Because I have only one closet, I had to find space-saving pieces of furniture,” Saft says. He keeps his T-shirt collection and winter clothes in drawers underneath his bed.

Master some eye tricks
“Well-positioned mirrors bring in extra light and bounce it around the room,” Saft says. “They can also open up a small space to make the room feel larger. Use mirrors to reflect light, not another wall.” And keep your paint colors unified: “In a small space, if you keep the color palate all very similar, it flows.”

Add extra shelving to your closet
“It’s organized in a way [so] you can grab it quickly,” Saft says of his multilevel storage space. “But the nice thing about having so small a space is it forces you to not go out and buy a ton of crap. It’s weird, the amount of stuff you can clown-car in through here, but it’s just making things function.”


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