How can I make my space more livable for a disabled person?


I am an disabled woman moving out of a huge house into a Gerbil Cage with no eat-in kitchen or diningroom. It is an accessible unit so I guess they figure you can eat in your tinie Winnie living room. I also have to downsize by 3/4 of things in my house and need so many space saving tips I cannot tell you how overwhelming this is to me. I need to find out ways to be able to keep the things that mean so much to me and get rid of the rest yikes! I’m terrified. PLEASE HELP for tips and projects for shelving, making a table that comes down from a wall so I can at least have my children to visit me for dinner once a month. Any ideas on space-saving ideas are so welcome as I have 2 closets for barn and one closet for coats and NO LININ CLOSET either. I would be so grateful to all of you, if you would be so kind as to give me some awesome ideas on how to maximize my storage problems in such a small place and I would like to thank each and every one of you wonderful amazing people in advance for all of your ideas and SUPPORT. It truly means the world to me, and this way I win’t Have to leave my whole life behindBless All Of YouLaurie Lee

  5 answers
  • Shelley Shelley on Dec 06, 2018

    We went through a few years ago, at 80!

    Shelves on the walls was a big help and left floor for seating.

  • Em Em on Dec 06, 2018

    A table the folds down from the wall with a picture or painting on the bottom. When you fold it back up the picture is on the wall. I know this will be difficult but when you look at your belongings how many glasses, dishes do you need? Probably 4 dishes, glasses and cups. Get rid of all of the other stuff. Keep one silicone baking pan. And one square casserole oven dish. Keep two sets of sheets (one on bed one in laundry) donate the rest. Keep towels on a rack in the bathroom one you are using one in the laundry. Keep extra clothing in a pull out on wheels under the bed. Keep ONLY your favorite treasures. For each you keep donate two. Same with clothes. How many coats can you wear at one time?

    I know it is hard but you CAN do it. I moved after retirement to a LARGER home because of the price. I still gave 72 boxes to the Vietnam Vets. Look at what you have with fresh eyes and a new start not at what you are losing. I have two racks of books right now that I haven't touched in years. Do I really need them. No. Those unread are being taken off the shelf, read then given away. Do one small area a day and put NON keepers in a box. Look at it this way. Your memories are in your heart not you closet. Take pictures of things that are hard to give away and do it anyway. You will have the memory and nothing to dust.

    Good luck.

    • See 1 previous
    • Em Em on Dec 17, 2018


      A drop down table can be made from scrap wood and sanded or fresh wood cut from Home Depot to your size. Do you have someone, friend or family to help? 4 or 5 boards wide to the size you want held together at either end with another board. Attach an oil painting or framed poster to the two boards you used to hold the table top together. A length of small chain is attached with eye hooks to the wall and to the table top to make it level when you detatch it from the wall. Some add small hinges and two legs that fold down like table legs.

      Ikea also carries one. The idea of the picture is that when it is folded up it serves as art work.

      Think basics. It is truly freeing when you see how much you can get rid of. Once an item is gone it is gone. You will not miss it. You no longer have to clean it and life can be so much simpler. Think of your new life and not what you are losing. It WILL work out.

  • Twyla J Boyer Twyla J Boyer on Dec 06, 2018

    A fold down table requires really good hanging hardware, but can be done using a piano hinge and a hinged leg. There are lots of videos online. An easier idea, however, would be to have a drop leaf table or a sturdy folding table (like churches use or like the kind that fold down and fold in half - available at places like Costco or BJs for less than $50) Either of those ideas does not require damaging the walls and either can be moved easily. My grandmother simply kept her table (a small dining table with additional leaves) against the wall that separated the galley kitchen from the living room area. Against the wall, it required about 30 inches by about 42 inches of floor space and could seat three reasonably. Pulled away from the wall with leaves added it could accommodate 6 or even 8. She would borrow folding chairs from the building (they allowed that) when she was having more than three people.

    Get bed risers and put them under the legs of the bed frame. If you have a standard Hollywood frame and get the tallest risers, you can actually fit file boxes (the cardboard kind that are like a smaller version of bankers boxes) under the bed. You would be amazed how much stuff you can fit in those. A full sized bed will fit 9-12, depending on how it is constructed. A coathook attached to an old broom handle is pretty handy for pulling them out from under the bed so you don't have to crawl under the bed to get them (yep - took me years of crawling under to figure that out!)

    There are organizer shelves available for inside of cabinets. They make a world of difference in what you can easily and conveniently store in a kitchen cabinet.

    Tall book cases and other case pieces (china cupboards, armoires, etc.) can be positions perpendicular to walls in large rooms to create the illusion of dividing walls as well as to allow more storage with easier access. I have divided bedrooms into a sleeping area and crafting area by running a row of bookcases perpendicular to a wall to create two long and narrow spaces. If the backs of the bookcases or whatever are unattractive, thumbtack pretty fabric or table cloths to them or use command hooks to hang art on them.

    Think vertically as much as possible. There is a LOT of unused space above doorways and along the tops of walls. If you are allowed to add wall mounted shelving in your new place, add a ledge along the top of the walls of each room (like a border) and use it to display the things you like to look at or to hold attractive storage boxes of stuff or books. If you aren't allowed to wall mount shelves, you can still use more vertical space by stacking attractive storage boxes or even extra shelves on top of other furniture like bookcases and china cabinets. Put some of that grippy/rubbery drawer liner stuff in between the top of the item and the shelves so the shelves don't slide around.

    Use storage type furniture as tables. A trunk can make a great coffee table, a chest or low shelving unit can make a great end table.

    If the accessible unit has no storage under the sink in the kitchen (as many don't to make room for wheelchairs), low rolling carts or plastic drawers on wheels can easily add a great deal of storage there.

    If there is room in or near the bathroom, a small armoire, tower style shelf unit or even kitchen cabinet (the kind meant to be mounted on the wall, but in this case placed on the floor) can serve as a linen closet. If you can attach stuff to the walls, also think about building (or having built) a shallow set of shelves to put behind the bathroom door to hold things like toiletries. Even a 2-3 inch deep shelf unit can hold a LOT of bottles of shampoo, nail polish, boxes of toothpaste, whatever.

    Hang stuff on walls when possible. My toilet brush hangs on a command hook next to the toilet, for example. My towels are stored in a wall mounted hotel-style towel shelf. The hotel style thing did require holes and wall anchors in the wall, so you would need to make sure you are allowed to mount stuff like that.

    Stemware can be hung on glass racks that mount under upper cabinets.

    Hiding stuff in plain sight (stacked pretty boxes tucked in the corner of the living room can store winter coats and blankets off season).

    Use over the door hooks and shoe pockets and even over the door mounted shelves where ever possible. You can put them on BOTH sides of a door. Some are suitable for hanging on walls, as well, if that's permissible.

    Make everything as mobile as possible in the room that you will be using as both living and dining space. Put thick felt pads under table and chair legs and even bigger pieces like trunks and stuff. That way you can slide stuff out of the way easily when you need to rearrange to make space for the table.

    Make as many things do double duty as possible.

    Hope all that helps a bit. Good luck. I know it's a huge change and really hard, but you can do this!

    • See 1 previous
    • Twyla J Boyer Twyla J Boyer on Dec 07, 2018

      I am so sorry you are facing all these challenges. Since your kids aren't available to help, you might try contacting a local church or the local agency on aging for some help in all the sorting and packing and such. Both sorts of places will often have volunteers willing to help. Consider contacting an estate sales person to see if they would run an estate sale for you for a percentage of the sale proceeds. You would take the items you want to keep and they would deal with selling off the rest and getting rid of whatever doesn't sell.

      I did think of one other possibility regarding family dinners. See if the place you are moving to has a conference or dining room you could use so you can still have family dinners without having to host them in your apartment. Yes, you would have to take the stuff from your apartment to that room, but a rolling hostess sort of cart could make that quite easy. Of course, if the place you are moving to has a dining hall, you might be allowed to invite guests for a small fee. Or you can tell them to take you out to dinner - you've earned it! ;)

      Get one of those reaching grabber things for better ability to get things that are higher up. And also check with the area agency on aging to see what services you might qualify for - my grandmother qualified for a monthly cleaning service and for someone to help her wash her hair and cut her toenails (none of us lived close enough to do those things - we were all scattered across the nation). Such services came at no charge to those who qualified for either financial or health reasons or both.

  • Bijous Bijous on Dec 06, 2018


    So you know you don't need all the pots and pans, dishes and glasses you now have. Keep the ones you use daily. Get rid of the rest. If you have a big feast, you can always rent big pots, etc.

    1. Pull down table: sold at Overstock. Reasonably priced.
    2. Use bookcase(s) with doors. Less to dust. The bottom shelf can be used for linens. Get rid of all the extras you now have. You only need the basics. Everything else can be rented when the family comes. Again, Overstock for this one.
    3. Get rid of all your furniture. Buy a loveseat to replace the couch. Use dining room chairs for seating instead of traditional living room chairs. Buy a coffee table that pops up when it's just you and you want to eat on the loveseat. Use side tables with storage. Use free standing lamps for more space on the side tables. You can even use these in your bedroom. Use closet organizers. The middle shelves can be used for all sorts of things. Not just shoes and clothes.

    Think of this transition as a new beginning, no longer needing to be a steward to things you want other people to have "after you're gone". Give it all now. Everything else -- it's just stuff. I'm happy for you. I know you'll love it too!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 03, 2021

    Hello Laurie,

    Buy some Polythene storage Boxes that stack! Then start putting the things that mean a lot to you in them and label them. Use Boxes also for Linen and clothes. Buy a Butterfly table and chairs ( they are all compact in side each other and sit against a wall) when not in use). Make a list of those items you will need in the New Home! and label them as keep!. (Bed - side table - Wardrobe- Armchair etc. Label them as keep. If possible

    place all these items in one room!

    Then make a list of those things you know you cannot take because they are too big - Mark them as - Sell, Gift, Donate, or Dispose of.

    Then the items you might like to take - sort into going with you or any of the above ( Sell Gift, Donate or Dispose of) lists or piles.

    Then the other items left into boxes Sell - Give away - Donate or Dispose of.

    It is a very hard thing to have to do, "BUT YOU CAN DO IT" if you do it calmly and in an orderly way. "SLOW BUT SURE WINS THE RACE"

    My very best wishes go with you in your task! It is daunting, BUT NOT MMPOSIBLE!