The Short Girl’s Guide to Apartment Living


When decorating and preparing storage for small apartments, all the guides agree: you must go vertical. This usually involves a lot of tall shelves and baskets that stack.

I followed this method when I moved into my new apartment. As a girl who is 4 ft 9, I quickly ran into some issues I didn’t expect. Below are a couple of tips to help you enjoy your home as a vertically challenged goddess.

Keep a stool handy.

Even if this means having a small fold-up step stool under the sink in the bathroom, one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen cupboard. I constantly found myself going back to get my stool when I needed to fetch something off a shelf. The fold-up stools are easier to store. Even having a small fold-up step ladder could work, just make sure it’s stable and in good condition.

Put your feet up, take a load off.

This is your home, after all! If I have a true love in this world, it’s the ottoman. Not only can it be used for storage, it can also serve as extra seating for guests and foot rests. I have two in the living room and one under my desk. I often have trouble with my feet not being flat on the floor, so putting my feet up when at home relaxing stops my legs from falling asleep as they dangle.

What you want, what you need.

Save yourself some time and put items used every day closer to you. My bedroom shelves are stacked high, but my socks and underwear are in the middle so I don’t have to reach up or bend over to get at them. Meanwhile, my bundle of random USB cords is in the top shelf where I don’t have to see them unless I need to.

Gettin’ dirty in the laundry room.

Unless your apartment building has a front-loading machine (lucky!), you might run into this situation: you dump your clothes into the wash, you come back in 35 minutes and take your clothes out and… oh. There’s a pair of girly pink underwear at the bottom of the washer and you can’t reach them. I’ve actually hurt myself hoisting myself up to try to reach it. If it’s stuck on the agitator, you can sometimes poke it to turn it. Another option is one of these bad boys.

You can usually pick them up at dollar stores for a buck and yes, you will probably feel silly having to use one. But it’s a lot better than falling into the machine head first, legs kicking in the air!

Share the space intelligently.

In high school, I shared a locker and got the bottom shelf. In my last apartment, I got the lower cupboard for snacks while my taller roommate got the top. It’s worth it to have a quick conversation with your roommate- just explain it’s easier for you if your stuff is on the bottom shelf while they take the top. It’s not a big deal.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Being vertically challenged is not an excuse for having a home that doesn’t feel all your own. Truthfully, you may have to ask for help with some things you just can’t reach on your own- unless you are braver than I and bring in a full-size ladder. Hanging photos and curtains are 2 things that come to mind. If you aren’t comfortable asking your roommate, consider a friend or a family member. Honestly, what are tall friends for?

Image: Tack-O-Rama

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Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.


  1. jessica
    September 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I know I’m on the taller side of things, but great article, nevertheless! Site looks great, too btw!

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