8 Ways to Maximize Space—and Add Style—to Your Small Apartment

by Dejah L. McGibbonJuly 21, 2016

Whether you’re living in a studio or just a small apartment, it can be challenging to fit in everything you need while keeping things clean and attractive. Small space living definitely demands a bit of extra effort, but with a few space-saving hacks, you can easily make your apartment look bigger than it actually is. Here are eight tips for getting started.

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Light Colors Are Key

For an apartment that appears both bigger and brighter, try painting and decorating with light colors. While dark hues can create a warm and cozy feeling, they also absorb light, leaving a room feeling much smaller. On the other hand, lighter shades reflect light, which visually expands and brightens a space. Any light or neutral color will help, so work with as many colors and patterns as you want. For an airy, open space, try applying this concept to your walls, floors and furniture.

Add Mirrors to Expand Your Space

This is a super easy way to trick the eye into thinking that a room is larger than it is. Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes and can be adapted for any small space. Have fun with your mirror placement by fixing it across from a window to flood the room with sunlight, a cool piece of art or furniture for a visually interesting effect, or even another mirror for a playful illusion. If you aren’t a big fan of mirrors, shimmery metallics can have a similar effect. Look for a metallic lamp, vase or object to incorporate into the room’s decor.

Avoid Bulky Furniture

When working with limited space, big or bulky furniture is your worst enemy. Look for minimalist pieces that are comfortable but size-conscious. And remember, when it comes to space, seeing is believing. Try to keep your floors neat and clutter-free. Other furniture tips include buying tables or desks with long legs so they are farther from the floor; choosing transparent materials like acrylic or glass; and, if possible, pulling your furniture away from the wall.

Find Dual-Purpose Pieces

Another way to maximize space with your furniture is to find multi-functional pieces, something with hidden storage or a second use. Items like futons or tables that also function as desks save space and create multipurpose areas in your home. Ottomans, for example, are a great way to store unneeded items while at the same time providing a place to sit or working as a coffee table.

Put Up Some Shelves

Whether you prefer floating shelves on your wall or a floor-to-ceiling setup, shelves are a convenient way to take advantage of your empty wall space. They are perfect for storing books and small items, and for displaying decorative accents. Plus, they’re much less bulky than a bookcase or chest. Consider custom shelving to maximize trickier spaces like under the stairs or in your closet.

Decorate Upward

It’s about time we start acknowledging the space above our heads. If your home is graced with high ceilings, take advantage of that extra wall space. Drawing the eye upward will give the impression that your room is larger than it is.

  • Decorating tips: Hang curtains a few inches above the window frame (this will make the ceiling seem higher than it is); plant a vertical garden instead of crowding your windowsill with pots; fill wall space with works of art.
  • Storage tips: Install light fixtures on the wall or ceiling to save floor/table space; use the space above a doorway to store unneeded items; invest in a stowable or loft bed.

Ditch Solid Partition Walls

Alternative walls are an easy way to separate spaces in any style of home. Visual dividers, like bookshelves, instead of solid partition walls can clearly designate zones and are good for added storage as well. Other alternatives include curtains, sliding doors and glass walls. All of these options help maintain a steady flow rather than abruptly breaking up a space. Based on your personal taste, they can also be used to add an element of drama or elegance to your home.

With these tips you should be able to make any small room in your home feel much larger. Do what works for you, and remember that small apartment living does not need to be difficult. Just a few storage hacks and decorating techniques should do the trick.

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About The Author
Dejah L. McGibbon
Dejah L. McGibbon writes for CityRealty’s content team about NYC apartments. She is an urban design enthusiast with a background in Metropolitan Studies.