Sometimes we think there just isn’t a solution to our small space living problems and we give up. 

Well, I seldom give up. 

Here are some solutions I’ve come up with living in my 725 square foot apartment:

No Washer/Dryer Hook-ups, & I Wanted My Own Washer/Dryer: 
When I moved into this apartment, there were no washer/dryer hook-ups. So I researched my options, and came up with a European-style washer/dryer in one machine that you hook up to your kitchen sink when in use. 

My first problem was: Where can I possibly put it?

My refrigerator was closest to the kitchen sink. So I had management come take my kitchen stove. 

Then I moved the refrigerator over where the stove had been. Then I had a spot for my new appliance I ordered from Austin.

This set-up works great! I just pull the hoses across the counter to the sink when I want to do a load of laundry.

So Then I Didn’t Have A Stove. How Would I Cook Food?

Well, in April I will have lived here three years without a stove/oven. And I can say that I truly don’t miss it. I have all kinds of ways to cook, and I use these things every single day. 

Here’s a post about how I cook my food.

After Some Mice Scares, I Decided Not To Use My Kitchen Cabinets. So Where To Put Dishes, Etc?

Another problem: From time to time, mice have gotten in the kitchen cabinets. So I WAS NOT having my dishes, etc. in those cabinets. 

Instead, I put my dishes and such in the blue hutch in my dining space. 

Then I didn’t have anywhere for canned goods, etc. So I purchased a small thin cupboard to use as a pantry ($65), which I also have situated in my dining space. 

I also found this red cupboard for sale at my favorite antique mall for $35. I had Israel put it on the wall for me. This is where I store the rest of my food.

Works great!

I Wanted A Place To Hook Up Water Garden Pumps:

Last year I decided I wanted a couple of galvanized container water gardens. But there are no electrical outlets on my patio.

So I unscrewed one of two outdoor lights close to the patio door.

I ran an outdoor extension cord up the side of the patio door and clipped it into place. I stuck a three-pronged fitter up there and hooked up my water garden pumps.

Problem solved!

I Wanted A Patio Space With Shade:

Last spring I also decided I wanted some shade out on the patio to sit outside, watch the birds and gaze at my gardens. 
So I got online and started researching fabric topped gazebos. I priced them many places to get the best deal. I finally ended up getting one from Wayfair. 

Because I am a Wayfair Homemaker, I get a discount there. And also free shipping from Wayfair is a real consideration.

I paid Israel and his son to put it up for me one Saturday. And so far the Oklahoma wind has not blown it apart! 


I am one of those people who tend to stick a shim under something that isn’t even, and consider any problem a puzzle to be solved. I figure: If there’s a will, then there will be a way.

So don’t let obstacles keep you from doing what you want. Look at the situation from every angle. Think outside of the box, and many times there IS an answer. If only you look till you find it. 

I Didn’t Like The Counter Tops:

I hated the kitchen counter tops.

So I got in touch with Giani Granite and asked if they’d send me their product to try for review. They said yes.

I found it was quite easy. And after about a year, the counter tops still look fantastic! Win-win! 

I Didn’t Like The Plain Kitchen Cabinet Doors: 

I’ve actually changed the cabinet doors up twice in less than three years. The first solution was to take the doors off.

After about a year, I decided I wanted the doors back on. So I put them back on, but decided I didn’t like the plain look of them.

So I did a couple of things.

I added a wood applique just above the cabinets where my sink is. That gave things a little more of a custom look.

I gave the cabinets a fresh coat of white paint. Then I wandered around a couple of stores looking for inspiration.

I wandered around Lowes, Home Depot, and then Bed, Bath & Beyond. Probably a few more places I’ve forgotten.

I stumbled across my answer at BB&B. 

I was slowly pushing my cart down an aisle and some colorful bamboo place mats caught my eye. I stopped and picked them up and looked them over, ideas twirling around in my mind. 

They were sold individually, so I bought enough for my cabinet doors, plus a couple of extras. They were less than $2 each.

I figured if I couldn’t find a way to use them on the cabinet doors, I’d have new place mats.

I also picked up a couple of packages of unpainted wooden utensils.

I ended up painting the wooden utensils, in colors that would accent the place mats.

Then I took small nails and tacked the place mats up on the cabinet doors. 

Then I dug through my closet and found that I had an extra roll of black and white checked shelf liner.

I cut a single width of squares and placed them around the place mats for definition and cohesiveness. 

It’s been almost a year since that little redo, and I’m still quite happy with them. When I get bored, I’ll figure out some other solution. 

So basically I decorated cabinet doors but don’t use the cabinets! Oh well, works for me.

Also, I put under cabinet lights up that you see above. Got them at Lowes and they’re battery operated. Cost me very little. Around $10 if I remember correctly.

I Didn’t Like My Bathroom:

Well, as most of you know, that is a project that is moving slower than I thought due to people being ill. But I will soon have an almost new bathroom.

A new vanity with sink I purchased online from Home Depot will go in. Also new lighting and a new faucet. 

I had purchased a new taller toilet before I even moved in due to my ankle injury. And a hand-held shower head. Which came in mighty handy after the second ankle surgery.


I’ve learned that there’s a lot of problems you can fix with a can of paint. So when in doubt, I paint.

If you live in a small space, I’d suggest choosing a theme of paint colors throughout your entire space. That way, it pulls it all together. Also, you can move furniture from room to room and not have to repaint.

There is so much you can do if you just take the time to think it through.

I will be sitting here in my chair and happen to look up and inspiration will “ding” in my head. And I’m off to the races. 

So let your inspiration and creativity loose. Search Pinterest. Get out your decorating magazines and see if something spurs you into an idea. Wander around stores and antique malls.

Go up in your attic or down in your basement or out to your garage. Take an inventory of what you have. Don’t look at something as what it is. Look at it as what it CAN be.

I don’t have a basement or attic or garage. But I do all of these things. 

And it’s always worked for me. 

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  1. You are very inspiring Brenda! As I've said before, I love the outside of the cabinets!! See, I told you they looked like placemats! I know b/c I used to have some like them. Just love the whole look of how you decorate them. I can't believe you aren't using the cabinets for something else, but I guess you don't want mice on anything. I wouldn't either. In the first apartment I lived in with first husband, we had a mice problem. They were coming in to feast on the bird seed we kept for a birdfeeder on our deck. One night we were sitting on the couch & saw a movement out of our peripheral vision. Darn if it wasn't a tiny mouse. In the end we ended up catching & killing…well, I can't remember, but it was a lot. No more birdseed in the closet.
    Anyway, back to your apartment…clever idea about the washer…does it take a long time to dry clothes? They have a similar concept for RVs that have W/D…has to hook up to drain of course & it takes a long time to dry. Seems like they never fully dry.
    I too, am impressed with your creativity. LOVE the cover over your porch…looks so inviting & I'm sure you get the blazing heat there as we do in Alabama. In fact, it's probably worse, as my brother, who lives in Texas, is always telling me. OUR heat is MUCH WORSE than YOUR heat. LOL…whatever.

  2. Brenda, I am SO impressed with your ingenuity! You have a great strength to make do and or figure out a creative way to make it work. I also LOVE your red touches, the red hanging cupboard and the red and white checks…so cheerful! You have inspired me, thank you! On a similar note, I wanted my old beige stove vent unit to match my other appliances but did not have the ready cash to buy a new one. At first I thought I'd get it repainted by an auto repainting shop (located an hour and a half away from my home) but my husband did not know how to take it apart, dismantle the electricity and vent and then reinstall. This is what I did….I bought two cans of appliance paint for $3.99 each. Then I hired my handyman Frank to dismantal, sand and repaint the stove vent his heated workshop. The entire project cost me under $35.00. Problem solved! It can be done!! Donna at the Small House Homestead

  3. Your home is so lovely Brenda. I recall when you used the placemats and wooden utensils on your kitchen cabinet doors … that was so cute, colorful and clever. Can mice really get into upper cabinets? Yikes! Good idea you had to use alternate furniture pieces for food storage. Thanks for all the creative small space tips!

  4. You have done such a great job with your little apartment! I like your advice about looking at things in new ways. I also like the attitude you have about making things work even if it seems impossible. Your new bathroom vanity is pretty. Looking forward to seeing your new bathroom.

  5. You are a genius, Brenda! At 1300 square feet, our new house should feel spacious compared to yours but cramming in our stuff has made it seem like walking through a maze as we navigate. We've come up with some solutions but I love your inspirations. As always, it is books and dishes that I can't seem to let go of.

    1. Well, I had to give up a lot of things. Much of that was books and dishes. Hundreds of books. Probably as many dishes. But you have to just tell yourself it must be done and do it. For some reason it doesn't bother me much to do that.

  6. I love how you've updated and made these spaces personal. you're right, paint gives us the biggest impact. You're so fortunate to have management that allows you to make these changes. Up here you lose your deposit if you make any permanent changes to the rental space. LOVE the outdoor canopy, I'd love to have one, but we are so windy here (and up on a hill) that I don't think it would last long.

  7. I love your home and appreciate the ideas you share. Where did you buy your washer, that would save me some space and allow for more storage in my laundry room. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    1. I finally found the info in my file cabinet. I ordered it from Compact Appliance in Austin. It is an LG ventless washer dryer. You would have to ask them what you need to order with it, like faucet adapters, etc. All told it was just under $1400 with a 3 year warranty, which is almost up. You can probably google it and find it in more places.

  8. I just love what you've done with your apartment, Brenda. I'm like you, even when I was renting, I never settled for things to be boring – I had to make each place cozy, warm, and welcoming.

  9. Brenda, God surely has blessed you with creativity! I am always amazed at what you have accomplished. I have been feeling a little down and not really doing much for my home lately, but I am inspired to quit letting myself get away with that. Time to get on with it and work on myself and my home! I have some tulip bulbs in the fridge and my sweet hubby moved a large bag of potting soil around to the front yard for me….time to get those red and yellow bulbs into the ground! Thank you Brenda for the inspiration. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

  10. I also love your blue cabinet and the dishes are darling. but I am the most impressed with how you have found a solution for every problem and have make your place so personally yours.

    I am also very impressed with how the kitchen countertops turned out. That product is amazing!

  11. I have enjoyed and been inspired by reading about these projects in previous posts, but it is really great to have them compiled into one very motivating post today!! You are so clever. I hesitate to talk about my small home when I know it is double the size of your apartment. Nonetheless, it is a small house and I get frustrated by narrow living room, not enough light in some rooms, etc. etc. You inspire me to move beyond hesitation and fear of failure and I thank you for that. I love the columns where you talk about your life, your apartment, your ideas. You do find interesting stuff online to share with your readers, but your own stories are the most inspiring and interesting.

    1. It's more than a lot of people have. I could live with less and be happy too. I try to make the most out of this square footage. I do what suits my needs. And I think using the same colors throughout somehow makes it look larger. Things just blend together that way.

  12. What do you have in your kitchen cabinets now that you have moved the dishes out? The blue cupboard with your dishes, which I still covet, is beautiful. You've done an amazing job.

  13. Brenda you are so creative! I love my little 900 sq foot duplex and I'm busy getting it fixed up this year. My Mom and I bought new kitchen faucets on a Black Friday sale and the maintenance man put them in for us. Love it so much. I'm going to live here a long time and I'll make it as comfortable and efficient as I can!

    1. As I always say: Love it while you rent it. Some folks don't want to put money into a rental. But still, whether you rent or you buy, it's still your HOME! Unless you buy with cash, you're still paying a mortgage, and until that's paid off it isn't all yours anyway.

  14. Can you use your kitchen cabinets for books or boxes or other things that you store elsewhere? Why do the mice get in those cabinets, but not in the ones in the living room? Are they coming through holes from outside?

    1. The shelves in the living room are free standing. In terms of the cabinets in the kitchen, they get in from some source, but they haven't been able to pinpoint where. So obviously they're coming in from outside somehow.

  15. So many great ideas here, Brenda. You have done a wonderful job with your small space and with some creativity you really have made a cozy home.

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