How Big is 500 Square Feet?

Apartments come in all shapes and sizes. To figure out what's right for you, you really need to ask yourself, how much room do I need?

Living in smaller spaces doesn't work for everyone, but if you're looking at an apartment with minimal square footage, it can work if you get creative.

So, instead of asking yourself, how big is 500 square feet, start thinking about how you can make that space the perfect size to call home.

How to calculate 500 square feet

The equation used to calculate square footage is "length times width." When measuring an apartment, however, it's not always easy to grab these measurements from the entire floor plan.

If you can't create one big rectangle out of an apartment, measuring one long side (length) and one short side (width), you can go room-by-room. Measure each room's length and width and add up all the square footage for a total count of the entire space.

In an apartment, that may mean measuring the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area all separately. However, the basic dimensions of a 500-square-foot space are 25 feet by 20 feet.

Two-car garage

How do you visualize 500 square feet?

Five hundred square feet is only slightly bigger than a standard two-car garage. Using this as your visual, imagine a garage with two cars parked side-by-side where you can fully open the doors of one car that are beside the other. That's not usually possible in a regular garage, where things are a bit tighter.

An easier visual might be to imagine your standard high school classroom. That's about equal to 500 square feet. Even without all the desks crammed in, that's not a huge space. It's actually only slightly larger than a hotel room, which is typically between 400 to 450 square feet when you add in the bathroom.

Is 500 square feet small for an apartment?

The answer to this question all depends on what type of apartment you're looking for. If scanning vacancies for a studio, 500 square feet is on the larger end, but still pretty standard.

Most studio apartments are somewhere between 300 and 600 square feet. Even at its largest size, you may have to sacrifice certain amenities in a studio, like having a separate kitchen or a large bathroom. With only 500 square feet, things are bound to get smaller.

If you're not interested in a studio but are looking for a one-bedroom, 500 square feet is definitely small. The standard square footage for one-beds is between 550 and 1,000 square feet. This extra square footage accounts for the fact that the bedroom is a separate space from the living room. In a studio, it's usually all in one area. Although you may find a tiny one-bedroom that's around 500 square feet, it's probably not very likely, or very comfortable.

Tips for living in a 500-square-foot apartment

Even if 500 square feet feels small to you, it's still plenty of space to live in comfortably. You'll just have to get creative when it comes to your furniture layout and storage strategies.

1. Loft your bed

Storage baskets under a lofted bed

One way to avoid clutter in a smaller apartment is to create more storage space. The easiest way to do this is to raise your bed up enough to have all your storage go underneath. You don't need your bed as high as a bunk bed, but you want it lofted enough for larger items like suitcases, off-season clothing, books and other bulkier items to hide.

2. Buy multipurpose furniture

Another way to save space is to not have as much stuff. You can do this by purchasing furniture that pulls double-duty.

  • Get a futon instead of a couch and have a seating area and your bed all in one
  • Grab a set of nesting tables to use as an end table/nightstand. When you need additional surfaces, you have the smaller tables underneath to pull out and use.
  • Find a coffee table with a top that lifts up on a hinge to double as a place to eat

As you shop for furniture, also remember that you can't fit it all. You may have to sacrifice having a dedicated desk so that you can add a cozy chair for reading. You'll definitely have to forgo big furniture pieces like a kitchen table and even a dresser to avoid cluttering up the place.

3. Think vertical for storage solutions

Vertical storage in small apartment

Even though your floor measures 500 square feet, you can double your space if you think vertically. Putting in a few tall shelves means a narrow furniture footprint with storage that reaches up to the sky. You can even put up wall shelves to increase your storage space.

Prioritize how you store items, though, putting things you need infrequently toward the top. For example, you may want to put cleaning supplies within reach, while extra paper towels and toilet paper get shoved into the highest spot

Don't forget to invest in a folding step stool so you can reach everything, as well.

4. Use the corners

Mostly ignored because they prove challenging when it comes to room design, corners can end up being dead spaces you should use. If you need to add more light to a room, a corner is a perfect place for a standing lamp. It's an even better lamp location if the corner is behind a piece of furniture and hard to get to anyway.

A corner is also the perfect place for a tiny stool or table, otherwise known as another surface for stuff. It could make a great nightstand or the spot where you put your bag and keys at the end of each day.

5. Hang it up

Hanging storage in the kitchen

There are a lot of items you can hang up beside your clothes. While you should customize the storage in your closet to hold as much as possible, look to other areas for how hooks could save you space.

For example:

  • Coffee drinkers can put up some removable hooks in the kitchen to hang mugs on the wall
  • It's also easy to find metal hooks for pots and pans, kitchen utensils and even a spice rack
  • Those in colder climates can create a makeshift coat closet by adding hooks right inside the front door
  • In the bathroom, a set of hooks can hold a shower curtain but add a few extras and you've got space for a towel, washcloth and more

A magnetic strip can also achieve the same goal in some cases. You can hang up your knives with one, saving some drawer space in the kitchen for another useful tool.

A realistic picture of 500 square feet

With some smart decorating and thoughtful purchases, living in 500 square feet is very possible. In fact, it can even feel comfortable and cozy. So, instead of worrying about the lack of space, embrace what you have, get creative and settle in by making every last inch your own.

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