Keeping a home organised is a common problem, but in a small house it can seem like an impossible task.

Messes are magnified when space is limited, and storage options always run out fast.

All is not lost, though – when it comes to small-home organisation, it’s all about strategy, and the tips below will get you well on your way to a cosy and tidy space.

Never leave a mess

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your house stayed organised by itself?

That’s an impossible dream – but you can help matters by never leaving a mess behind.

Try to imagine how a mess starts: with a single item.

A pile of papers doesn’t just show up one day. It begins as a single piece of junk mail or a flyer that finds its way onto your desk or your dining room table. That becomes a spot for loose papers and, eventually, a pile.

In a small house, every surface matters – so keep them clear. Hang up coats and put laundry in baskets instead of draped over chairs. File papers away in a folder or in the bin.

These practises can help prevent clutter from accumulating in your home or from getting any worse.

Have a strategy for every room

In any house – big or small – it’s not enough to have a single storage area for your entire home.

Each room needs its own way to deal with clutter – whether that be proper shelving, hangars, or storage bins.

Go room by room to nail down a storage strategy for each one. If it doesn’t seem like the room has enough storage options, add some in.

For more clutter-prone rooms like home offices, having the proper equipment is essential.

Furnish your office with proper filing and storage to give every important paper a home – other than the surface of your desk. Organise your desk drawers with dividers for storing miscellaneous doodahs.

Do the same for closets, kitchen cupboards, and anywhere else with a large storage workload – that way, everything will have a place to go.

Store high and low

Living in a small space takes creativity, and successful organisation of a small home is no exception.

While you have little room to spread out, you can make every square metre go farther by thinking vertically for storage.

This means finding more space – high and low.

For high storage, find places where new shelving could be hung, or add another hanging rod in your closet to effectively double your space.

Storing low can mean using the spaces under beds and sofas more strategically. Many people use flat storage bins under their beds to stow away seasonal clothing, for instance.

A word of caution: Storing low does not mean keeping things on the floor. In fact, storing things high is all about getting items off the ground and clearing the area for you and your family to live your lives.

Zone in on organising – and flexibility

One major hurdle to organising a small house is that you probably have fewer rooms than you’d like – but you can help yourself out by zoning spaces into separate areas or rooms.

You don’t need to add in walls – you can do this work with furniture, such as by positioning your couch or a kitchen island as buffers between rooms.

Zoning creates multiple separate but functional rooms out of a single space.

It’s also an excellent way to confine clutter, preventing it from spilling over and conquering your whole house if it starts to build up.

Taking this idea farther, using the same area for multiple functions can be another boon to your home’s functionality – and free up other areas for storage and organisation.

Moving your workspace from a home office to a smaller space – folding out from a closet, for instance – lets you use the office as a playroom, workout area, or even a guest bedroom.

By using space flexibly, a small home is suddenly made every bit as functional as its larger counterparts.

Consider new items carefully

While larger homes have the space for entire rooms full of unused junk, in a small house this is a luxury you can’t afford.

With each new item you consider letting into your home – a piece of furniture, a stylish decoration – carefully mull over its functionality and think about how much you truly need it.

This is the underlying principle of many organisation techniques (Marie Kondo’s notion of “sparking joy,” for instance), and it’s crucial for small spaces.

So next time a relative or friend offers you hand-me-downs, antiques, or trinkets, consider whether the item truly has a place in your home – and if not, politely decline.

Declutter routinely

Inevitably, clutter will show up – so routinise the decluttering process and audit your home’s organisation regularly.

While weekly decluttering sessions are ideal, this can be time-consuming – and if you implement a good organisation system, unnecessary.

Keep track of how often you use certain items, from clothing to kitchen equipment and gardening tools, and set a deadline – three months, six months, or even a year.

If you haven’t used an item within that timeframe, toss it.

Help yourself by moving in stages when decluttering. Even in a small home, cleaning your entire house in a single day can be a tall order – so focus on a couple rooms, zones, or locations like closets or desks.

If you can get into an established rotation and decluttering routine, organisation is no longer a monumental task – it’s a habit, and a good one.

Be patient – messes happen

The real key to organisation is to be patient with the entire process – after all, the goal is long-term organisation rather than major cleaning splurges.

You also must be patient with the messes that do form. No matter what technique or organisation system you come up with, things will get messy again – that’s just life.

But if everything has a place to go – and you aren’t afraid to toss things don’t – the process of clearing up messes and clutter will get easier and easier.