bike hanging on the wall

Photo: Mini Penny blog 

"A place for everything and everything in its place" is a motto to aspire to. When living small, this motto can be essential. Your closets are full, your drawers stuffed, but ... look at that great expanse of wall and ceiling. The possibilities for what you can hang in your apartment are endless —  just to get something out of the way, or to display it.

In all these projects, it's essential to screw your rack or hook firmly in place, so the bike won't come crashing down. Make sure you use some kind of wall anchor before the screw goes in (here's an exhaustive manual from Home Depot). If you have drywall, which is thin and can't hold heavy loads, find the wall stud — the wooden frame behind the wall you see, and drill directly into that. You can find wall studs with a stud finder, or just a strong, cheap fridge magnet. Hint: Electrical outlets or switches are usually attached to the wall studs too, so look for those. 

Here are solutions for three common space-hogging items. 

1. Bicycles

Saving your bicycle from the elements and thievery by storing it inside is a huge space eater, not to mention a tripping hazard. If you love your bike enough to bring it inside anyway, why not display it? You can buy racks pre-made, like this beautiful wooden shelf from Knife & Saw, or a this Saris ceiling-mounted rack (watch your head!). 

Or, there's this simple DIY project from Mini Penny that costs less than $40 and makes two small, cute racks for your bikes. This step-by-step project from Kyle Wilson uses old handlebars (which you can often buy or get for free from local bike repair shops — or their Dumpsters! — and especially from campus or community cycling groups) which make for a steady hook. 

To store a bike vertically, instead of flush against the wall, it doesn't get much simpler than this $5 Ikea hack. But beware; having a bike jutting out three feet should be reserved for awkward corners so you don't run into them. 

2. Plants

Hanging indoor plants is an old idea that has spawned several futuristic updates, though the old macrame standby is still one of the easiest way to elevate your potted plants. It even looks hip in this how-to from Bohemian Collective, and all you need is a metal ring and some string, plus the hook and screw to attach it to the ceiling.

If you're looking for a 21st century system, Boskke makes your grandma's herb garden look like an alien landing with their simple, mystifying upside-down plant containers in ceramic or recycled plastic (here's a video about how to make your own, more down-to-earth version).

Drainage is the biggest problem for hanging gardens. Make sure all pots you hang don't have a hole on their bottom, or plug it up. Instead, use sand or rocks at the bottom of the pot to keep excess water away from the plant's roots, and be careful not to overwater.

3. Beds

Murphy beds have never really caught on, partly because of their image as old-fashioned or uncomfortable, and partly because a great-looking Murphy bed can cost thousands of dollars, not including the professional installation required. That's a shame; a bed in a studio takes up so much space, and marks the whole room as a private bedroom instead of as a social space, an office, or whatever else you do at home.

If you're brave, though, a Murphy bed might be one of the biggest space-saving coups, and the company Moddi promises to show you how to make one for less than $275 using easily found materials. They charge $7.95 for the kit, and promise it's so easy that even I could do it. The end product looks like a bed-sized canvas made of wooden squares coming about a foot off the wall. Here's what building one looks like, from intrepid Stacy via Apartment 528. 

Lori Wall Beds is Moddi's competitor, though they look more like a traditional Murphy bed, with built-in shelves around it. Downloadable plans for the vertical queen-sized Murphy bed costs $18. You can also buy the beds pre-made for anywhere up to $895, or pay for someone to come install the bed. They accommodate any mattress up to 11.5 inches thick.

For a true hanging bed that also saves space, here's a DIY construction project to build a loft bed from scratch; putting it higher up on the wall with a ladder attached leaves for a sitting space or home office underneath. 

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Kasia Mychajlowycz, who wrote this for the sharing site yerdle, is a freelance writer from Toronto who loves walking through cities, finding the best coffee and living in her cozy 300-square-foot apartment.

Maximize space by letting it all hang up
Feel like you've used up your available space? Consider your walls and even ceilings a whole new area to conquer.