Tight Space Prepping: Decorating your home for survival

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prepping decor 800 x 800Just because you live in a small apartment or home doesn’t mean that you can’t join the wonderful world of prepping. There are many ways to have a garden, store food, and enjoy your living space – without looking (or feeling) like a hoarder!

House Plants

Filling your home with the right types of plants can be one of the best ways to both beautify your small space and have a few useful emergency tools on hand.

Food

When choosing house plants, pick ones that are useful, not just pretty. There are many types of edible flowers and plants. One of my favorites to keep are mini roses. They don’t take up a whole lot of space and are safe for human consumption, as long as you don’t spray them with pesticide. Also consider adding a few miniature fruit trees. They are great for both decoration and food production.

Medical

Many herbs, such as rosemary, are great for both cooking and medicinal purposes. It’s a pretty little shrub that looks like a fir tree. As a cooking herb it’s great for chicken, but it also aids in the digestion of richer meats. Rosemary essential oil is great for the scalp and reduces dandruff.

Rosemary and other herbs keep well on window sills or the kitchen counter. Aloe, for burns, is another favorite to keep in the house.

Finding Space

A bunch of planters sitting in the middle of the living room is hardly attractive, and few us of have a large outside window sill like the one pictured above. Putting your plants on the balcony would be an obvious go to, but not all apartments have a balcony. In that situation, try hanging your plants from the ceiling in a sunny area, but don’t go overboard. One or two plants per room will do.

Perhaps you would like to start a vegetable garden but don’t have an outside space. That’s where an indoor vegetable garden comes in. You can use a specially designed AeroGarden, or simply place a book case across from a large window in a non carpeted room.

No matter what kind of plants you have, an indoor grow light can help. If you have pets or small children, it’s best to keep your plants on the top shelves. Some cats will even try to eat cactus!

Purposeful Decorations

There are some decorations that are pretty but serve no practical purpose. Others are really pretty and can do something useful. When decorating in our home, I try my best to go with the second choice.

Lighting

Candles are my first go to for decorative lighting. They are easy to store and many even come in their own jars. They don’t take up much space because they are on display when not in use. They don’t require a storage of fuel, like oil.  If you have children or pets you could use the LED candles. They require batteries, but so would flashlights.

You could also use decorative oil lamps. You may be able to find a few at thrift store or online. They do require oil, but you can counter that by buying a lamp with a clear oil tank and filling it with a colored oil. The advantage of these lamps is that the light may be turned up or down and they also contribute to warming your home.

Insulation

Insulation is important to any prepper’s home. Covering those windows is the first step I would take to insulate my home.

Thermal curtains are designed to keep the outside heat, cold, and prying eyes out of your home, and they also keep the room extra dark. They are readily available at store like Target as well as online, so there are more than enough options to find something to match any room.

Where permitted, cover the windows with an insulating window film. These come in many decorative designs and serve two purposes. The first is to help block UV light from coming into my home and to reflect sunlight away. The second (an added bonus) is that they may also prevent street viewing inside your home when the curtains are open.

I also love to use floor rugs. It adds an extra layer of insulation to the floors and keeps the apartment carpets from getting quite as dirty.

Concealment Decor

I confess: I don’t like staring at piles of cans in my living room. While I love having my storage, I don’t like feeling as though I live in a tiny warehouse so when I find a way to hide my storage, I do.

Creative Furniture Use

Bean bag chairs are the absolute best when it comes to hiding storage in plain sight. Children and grownups alike, love to sit on them. They are easy to move from room to room as a portable chair and are amazingly comfortable to read on. I use them as advertised. I hide bags of beans and peas in them. When I need a bag of split peas to make soup, I simple evict whichever child is sitting on the food storage for a moment and get what I need.

Creative Shelving

One of my favorite memories growing up is the giant bookcase my parents made. It was made of plywood and buckets, although cinder blocks are a common variation. The buckets contained stored flour and rice. To make this design look more decorative all you need to do is cover the ply wood with self-sticking shelf paper and color coordinate the buckets.

Hide Away Decor

Couch covers and bed ruffles make it easy to hide storage under my furniture, where I am happy not to see it. They also provide a potential fabric source should I need it. They come in a variety of patterns and colors to meet your decorating needs and (if made of the right fabric) can also be used as an extra blanket.

What other decorating ideas have you come up with to help with your prepping in tight spaces?

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Teraesa Farrell

Teraesa Farrell is a free lance writer, mother of two children and wife to a mechanic. She has been a military brat, nurse and pharmacy tech.

20 thoughts on “Tight Space Prepping: Decorating your home for survival”

  1. Great ideas, Thanks 🙂

    Just a thought: plain-vanilla “daylight” or “sunlight” (depending on brand) flourescent tubes or CFL’s (vs. “cool white” or “warm white”) are a LOT cheaper than the ‘grolite’ type bulbs. I have no rigorous scientific research to back it up, but I have been using the cheapies for years for indoor culinary herbs, bay laurel and avocado trees (and aquariums) for years, and never found any noticeable difference as the expensive ones burned out and got replaced.

    You can also pick up a daylight CFL and a cheap megamart clip-on lamp for that ‘problem-child’ corner that never gets enough light to keep the plants happy 🙂

  2. The bean bag idea is inspired! I never would have thought of that.

    I have a few house plants that I have grown from pineapple tops, but since I live so far north I doubt I will get more pineapples from them.

  3. I am storing water and other things in 5 gallon buckets…. put a wooden round on top (or not)…put a cover on and POOF….end table….with storage. Or use 4 of them together with a space in between…plywood on top…….. you have a desk.

    1. I did similar water storage with a 55 gallon drum. My husband made a rolling base for it, then I covered it with a tablecloth and found a large round mirror to place on top — top that with candles and a rosebud vase, and it’s a nice corner table.

  4. I found that I can use all the nice wool blankets and quilts I have made & acquired as decor items in my home. Every chair, sofa and loveseat has one or more draped over it. They can also be tossed over the curtain rods to add extra window insulation when the winter winds blow. Also, I have chosen to decorate in a “rural primitive” style which means all my hand powered kitchen tools (egg beaters, flour sifters, coffee mill, can openers) look right at home, along with the hand carved wooden and big ceramic bread-making bowls. I collect cast iron skillets and ceramic fermenting crocks and covered casserole dishes to use in/on our woodstove, so it all looks cohesively a lot like Grandma’s kitchen. Most folks find it very charming and not at all eyebrow raising!

    Thanks for the great article 🙂

  5. i recently acquired a Mate’s bed for one of my boys, with the storage drawers on the long side. The benefit to me of this is that his storage only takes up a little over half the space under the bed, so I can use the rest 😄 It’s the perfect size for boxes of water bottles or #10 cans

  6. I have created a bench seat out of a large storage tub on more than one occasion. Just get a large plastic storage tub, a nice blanket or sheet and a few nice looking throw pillows. Use the tub as storage, throw a blanket over the tub, place the pillows on top of the blanket and it looks like a regular piece of furniture. I’ve actually pointed out the home made nature of the seat at a during a dinner party – it made for regular laughs and conversation because no one noticed it until I lifted the sheet.

    LOVE the bean bag idea. Never would have thought of that one!

  7. We live in an old farm house….there is ONE closet in the bathroom….which was a later addition…which makes storage interesting. I put blocks of wood under the bed feet which makes for a lot of storage (since we have lots of beds to accommodate our children/grandchildren). We also utilize the space behind books in wall units. One of our daughter put her bed on an angle and stored buckets there putting a flowing drape from the ceiling down to hide the buckets and make it decorative.

  8. Great ideas! I love candles, and have them all over my house, but I never thought about how they could help me in a survival situation.

    The bean bag chair has to be the most inventive idea I’ve ever heard of. A great way to store food, without taking up space. The beans stay fine even after people sitting on it constantly? Do you put the beans/peas in something else within the bean bag as well? Thanks for the help, I can’t wait to try this one.

  9. Joe,
    I buy the small bags of beans rice and peas and store them inside the bean bag inside their bags. If someone jumps on the beanbag or throws themselves on it,the small bag can burst, but hasn’t happened often enough for me to stop bean bag storing. Thanks

  10. I have 5 gallon buckets stored behind my couch. They are hidden under a long console table and you wouldn’t know they were there unless you were looking for them. Also, use the lower shelves of a bookshelf for pantry storage and hang simple curtains from a tension rod.

  11. I too have a lot of candles that I leave out for decorative purposes. BUT I made sure that the majority were non-scented. If you have to burn several different scents at the same time for a long period of time, you might end up with a headache (or even respiratory issues). You can also pull the couch out a little from the wall and store a row of canned goods behind it.

  12. A recent remodel add two new bedrooms to our retreat. I had a local craftsman build some simple “boxes” for the beds in these rooms. They have a shelf and a floor with hinged doors similar to kitchen cabinet doors. The “floor” shelf is tall enough for #10 can dehydrated food storage. The upper shelf is sized to house “under-bed” plastic storage tubs. These tubs become the clothing storage instead of a dresser. The balance of the clothing is in closet units. We sacrificed the box spring, but have basically platform beds with lots of storage that is accessible.

  13. We have an old waterbed frame (with regular mattress now). It has drawers on the sides, but has a ton of room down the middle between the drawers. I also have some old wooden fruit crates hung on the walls as shelves that have old tools, hand mixers, old metal plunger washer, etc on display. They look decorative but could be handy to use. I also have a collection of oil lamps and lanterns. Long term storage also in any shelves that are harder to access for daily use (i.e. over refrig). I definitely need to throw some beans in the bean bag in the “kid” guestroom.. love that idea.

  14. All across one wall in the living room, hang an iron rod all the way at the ceiling about one foot from the wall. Hang long curtains and place a sofa or piece of furniture in front of it. That gave me 12′ X.8′ X12″ of space for shelves that looks like a fine wallpapered wall. I even hung a mirror from the rod also. It really is beautiful and hold a ton of supplies.

  15. Great article! My favorite place to keep extra supplies is in suitcases under the beds. We have several suitcases that we don’t use, since we don’t travel, and they are great for organizing food and other supplies, and keeping them out of sight.

  16. I have a big armoire in my bedroom and it is set into a corner but not flush to either wall. I store buckets of supplies and food in the triangular space behind it.

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