Published on November 26, 2019

Who would have thought the challenges of small-space living are ones that transcend planets? Yet that’s what IKEA hoped to address on a trip to furnish the Mars Desert Research Station, a center in the Utah desert where researchers experience what a habitat on Mars might be like. Our takeaway: If the retailer’s furniture is good enough for a 26-foot-wide pod, it’s good enough for your studio. 

The crew that lives in the domed contraption have become veritable experts at all things tiny home–related. They chose to maximize common space over private areas (they sleep in bunks to accommodate a bigger “living room”) and incorporate as much versatile furniture as possible (think: stackable chairs and storage on wheels). Potential travel through the solar system aside, those of us in minuscule apartments share quite a bit in common with these folks. We spotted a few IKEA pieces in the pod that would work just as well in any square-foot-challenged house:

To Organize Accessories

Astronauts probably won’t be clamoring to find space for various pairs of loafers, but in addition to shoes, you can also store small goods like scarves, belts, and undergarments in the little pouches. 

To Entertain on a Whim

Pick up a few of these industrial-style stools for impromptu pasta dinners with your nearest and dearest—they stack up neatly so when they’re not in use you can relegate them to an empty corner. 

To Tidy Up Pantry Staples

A rolling cart will help declutter pretty much any area, from cabinets overflowing with groceries to bathrooms without under-sink storage. The fact that it’s mobile just adds to the convenience; when you need room for Friendsgiving prep, just change up its location for the day. 

To Breathe Life Into a Lonely Nook

Take inspiration from Mars-bound researchers who can’t have fiddle-leaf figs sprawled out everywhere and condense your plant babies to a few hanging pots. Pick something that will creep over the edges, like a fern or philodendron, for maximum visual impact. 

See more small-space tips: 
The Number-One Mistake Small Space Decorators Make, According to Nate Berkus 
Found: Small Space Furniture That’s Anything But Boring
How to Live Your Best Maximalist Life in a Small Space

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