Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

MacGyver and Martha Stewart’s Love Child

If you live in a small space in a major city, there’s a good chance you rent. As such, optimizing your space can seem like a questionable proposition: You want to make your space your own and livable, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money on improvements that will be scrapped when you move. Isabelle LaRue of Engineer Your Space has you covered, providing DIY solutions for cost-and-design-conscious small space dwellers.

As the name implies, LaRue is an engineer–a building engineer to be precise. Like most great ideas, EYS was born out of creative solutions for dealing with limited resources. When she moved to New York City, she traded a spacious two bedroom apartment for a 450 sq ft rental studio. She brought her engineering expertise to bear in making the little space functional, stylish and personal on a budget befitting rental renovations. She calls her approach, “MacGyver meets Martha [Stewart].”

Most of her projects require basic to moderate carpentry skills and understanding. One of our favorites is a room divider using the IKEA Kvartal Track System; it’s a bit more involved than many of her projects, but creating room division in a small space is a pretty critical function (we assure you the $252 spent to make it was far less expensive than the one in the LifeEdited Apartment).

LaRue features a number of other videos on decorating, lighting and tiling; she includes materials and costs for completing the projects on her site. She also has some quick tip projects like this magnetic spice rack made from a pizza pan.


While installing a built-in moving wall might be the best way to optimize your small apartment, most of us don’t have $20K sitting around to make that happen. For those of us willing to measure twice, cut once, Engineer Your Space is a great resource for renters and owners alike who want to milk every bit of utility from our small space without spending a lot of money.