Making Your Small Space Work
Living in a tight space doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your style – make it work for you. From the color of your décor to the arrangement of your furniture, a smart interior design can help you make the most of the limited square footage in your apartment.
White walls can definitely make a space feel more expansive by diffusing light. This can really brighten up a small apartment, if you have a lot of windows. Without plenty of natural light, though, white paint can often look flat and lifeless. Choose a darker shade if you’re in a space lacking some sun.
We explained how dark paint absorbs light to make a small room appear more spacious. A matte finish will help soften the definitive lines of the walls, but you can also mimic the diffusion effect of white paint by using a lacquer finish on top of a deep tone. Either way, dark walls will effectively enhance the feeling of intimacy that a smaller room can provide – all the while making the space seem expansive.
Use Patterns With Caution.
Patterns are best avoided in a smaller space, as the added visual clutter can feel constrictive. While subtle, monochromatic patterns can occasionally be used to your advantage, we recommend sticking with solid shades (like this, this, or this) if you’re looking to create the illusion of a larger area.
Divide and conquer.
Even in the smallest of spaces, designate areas for specific uses. Determine what you’ll be doing in each space, and design each mini-“room” to facilitate that particular function. Check out our psychology design tips to learn how you can incorporate some science to achieve this.
Your décor can also help to differentiate these areas. Give each space its own distinctive style by using unique colors in that section (either your furniture or the paint you choose for your walls). Further define each area with a folding screen, shelving unit, or an area rug. If you choose to add “walls,” though, make sure they don’t block light from reaching the rest of your apartment.
Don’t downsize too much.
As tempting as it may be to fill your rooms with apartment-sized furniture, this can actually make your space appear even smaller. Instead, select a few full-size pieces and position them effectively to facilitate movement through your space. You’ll also be able to splurge a little on big-ticket items like your sofa and your bed – quality over quantity! You should apply this rule to your decorative items, too. Thoughtfully curated accent pieces will add a lot of personality and style to your space and should be included in your design – too much, though, and you’ll just end up with clutter.
Find furniture that can multi-task.
If you have items that serve just one purpose, consider replacing them with something that does double (or triple) duty. Opt for sleeper sofas (for the unexpected overnight guest), ottomans with built-in storage, and adjustable height tables that can work as a dining table, coffee table, or desk. A vanity, which has a sink, countertop, and cupboard space, allows you to store some of your necessary bathroom items – while a pedestal sink just takes up a lot of floor space.
We love Milano’s Smart Living line of artfully designed pieces that all serve multiple purposes, as well as Resource Furniture’s creative space-saving solutions. Investing in products like these ensures you get a lot of functionality out of your furniture without sacrificing space.
Keep the floor clean.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of your walls. In a studio apartment, floor space is limited –look for opportunities to get things up and out of the way. Shelves, hooks, even tall cupboards with small footprints can make a big difference in a small room.
Clean surfaces reduce visual clutter, and by getting your light sources up on the wall, you’ll leave more space for items that just can’t be stored elsewhere. Consider installing sconces or pendant lamps instead of lighting fixtures that need to stand on the floor or sit on tables.
Learn to purge.
Clutter can quickly overwhelm a small space. Keep your home tidy and make a point to regularly eliminate items that have either been replaced or are no longer useful. Old college textbooks, superfoods you’ll never actually eat, trendy clothes that don’t fit right – get rid of it all. You can even go full minimalist by embracing the French wardrobe.
Once you’ve scaled down to the essentials, look for creative ways to store them. Invest in stylish baskets or boxes, carefully arrange the items on your countertops, and check out our suggestions to artfully display the books that made the cut.
The most difficult aspect of small-space living is getting (and staying) organized. Organization is an ongoing process, and you’ll likely need to try a variety of techniques until you find an efficient system that complements you.
We recommend using open shelving to easily locate and access frequently-used items. Items that are used less often can be hidden away in smart storage (like a bedframe with drawers) to reduce the clutter in your space. A quick and dirty guide in your top drawer or taped to the inside of a cupboard door can help you find these items fast when you do need them.
Even with these tips in mind, the real key to being organized is to stay on top of it. Don’t just open your mail and leave it sitting on the counter – file it away in the drawer where it belongs. By dedicating a little bit of time each day to manage the clutter that enters your home, you can keep your small space tidy, functional, and beautiful.
While it can sometimes feel restrictive to live in a small apartment, the benefits are numerous – there’s less upkeep, your monthly bills are lower, and it’s better for the environment. And, with our tips to maximize your space, you can even do it in style.