Living in a space with smaller square footage can present practical challenges, but it doesn’t have to limit your sense of style. In fact, by implementing a few simple design and decor tactics, you can actually make your small apartment feel like a huge home. By opting for strategic paint colors, avoiding clutter, selecting workhorse furniture, and using vertical wall space to your advantage, even tiny apartments or studios can cultivate a sense of spaciousness.
In general, it’s best to use very light colors to create a feeling of openness but this doesn’t mean that dark colors should be completely avoided. Dark colors can actually make a tiny apartment seem larger than it is when used correctly because they appear to recede, creating the illusion of depth. The key is to use the dark color on a single feature like a bookcase or painted accent wall and then surround that feature with decor or furniture in lighter colors. This brings contrast to the room and makes the rest of the space visually expand by comparison.
When you lack square footage, you need to have some standards around what you hold onto and what you bring into your home, whether that means having a monthly purging process, making donations regularly, or cutting down on frivolous spending.
Personally, I think the real trick to avoiding clutter in a small apartment is to ensure that all of your “stuff” has a designated storage space. Think along the lines of a wall-to-wall bookcase to shelf favorite books, a display cabinet to showcase a cherished set of china or an armoire that can conceal boxes of old family photos or Christmas cards. And don’t be afraid to take it a step further by turning storage pieces into statement pieces via paint or new hardware!
If you’re lacking in square footage, I’d suggest investing in three particular items: Dual-purpose furniture, an oversized mirror, and long white curtains.
Dual-purpose furniture maximizes floor space and function, and it saves you money. Think along the lines of a bed with built-in drawers underneath for clothes, a bench with storage inside for blankets, or a dining table that you can also use as a desk.
I’d also suggest purchasing an oversized mirror. Whether it’s a large floor mirror leaned against a wall, or a wall mirror hung above a console table, mirrors make small spaces feel larger by reflecting light around the room.
Finally, white curtains bring a tailored sophistication to any room, and hanging them high above the top of the window creates the illusion of more space, visually expanding the room. Just make sure that the panels graze the ground lightly and don’t float above the ground significantly. No ghost curtains, please.
When space is tight, it’s so important to take advantage of the vertical wall space. Incorporating bookcases, cabinets or shelving that covers the height of the room draws the eye up while maximizing every inch of square footage storage. Plus, few things look more grand than floor-to-ceiling storage, whether it’s an open bookcase or closed kitchen cabinets.
Ready to dream big for your small space? Get started with our interior design style quiz.