Save Space in a Small Apartment With These Clever Ideas
These nifty designer tricks can help you turn a tiny house into a bright and spacious haven
Many of the projects I work on have the luxury of space, but as an apartment-dweller myself, I know that not all of us can afford sprawling bungalows in an urban jungle. Whether you live in a 300-square-foot (27.9sqm) studio apartment or a 900-square-foot (83.6sqm), four-bedroom flat, these nifty designer tips and tricks will help make your space look and feel larger.
Generally speaking, there are a few guidelines to small-space living, namely those that revolve around maximizing storage and decreasing visual noise. As much as I am an advocate of decorating rules, I truly believe that some rules are meant to be broken. Just because you have a small space does not mean you can’t have a bold and vibrant home. Have fun with the guidelines below and remember: your (small) home should be a representation of you and how you live.
1. Go vertical.
Let’s begin with a basic guiding principle: think tall when small. Floor space is limited and everyone always needs storage options, so make those walls work doubly hard. Keep curios and books in the living room on shelves that span the height of the wall.
Apply this principle to your closet organization too: whether you have built-in wardrobes or standing dressers, make full use of the space by storing things on top of cabinets if they don’t already go up to the ceiling.
2. Unify your color palette.
Not all of us like open-plan living. If your apartment has smaller adjacent rooms, a unified color palette that runs throughout the house will help it feel larger as it decreases the visual noise. I like to use predominantly neutral palettes in small homes as it makes the spatial flow feel less choppy. I also look for paints that have a slight sheen to them: this helps to reflect light and give the illusion of a more spacious home.
3. Trick the eye with your window treatments.
Swapping out the material of your curtains isn’t the only designer trick in the handbook. Remember: it’s all about making the room seem larger than it actually is, which means you should maximize the height of the room as well as the available natural light.
To give the illusion of a high ceiling, hang curtains above your window frame—the ideal height is about two-thirds of the distance between the top of the window and the ceiling. To let in as much light as possible, extend the curtain rod about 6-10 inches (about 15 to 25 centimetres) to the sides of the windows. If you’re using store-bought curtains, you may notice that the curtains look disproportionate to your windows when they’re open. A simple fix would be to buy two panels (and not just one) for each side.
4. Opt for wall-mounted solutions.
Like vertical storage, wall-mounted furnishings are essential to a small apartment. If you’re grappling with floor space, wall-mounted electronics are a life-saver. You can then choose to do away with the usual console set-up to free up the area.
I also like to use wall-mounted lighting instead of table lamps in small homes. Overhead lighting alone is harsh and flat, but table lamps can take up precious space you cannot afford. Simple wall sconces are a great trick for illuminating darker areas, and remember: if you want a space to feel larger, it has to first look brighter.
5. Bring in mirrors.
Mirrors double the visual space of an area while reflecting light around the home. They also break down the solidity of the walls to give the illusion of a more open space.
Windowless small rooms also have a tendency to feel boxed in, so bringing in a framed mirror creates the resemblance of a window, adding a focal point to the room, and brightening the space to make it feel larger. If you’re looking to counter a small kitchen in your apartment, consider investing in a mirrored backsplash. I also like using furniture with reflective surfaces.
6. Opt for built-in furnishings.
Finally, if you’re looking to renovate or haven’t moved into your apartment, it’s worth thinking about built-in furnishings for your home. Recessed storage in small bathrooms will eliminate the need for a shower caddy, while built-in bookshelves in the living room are the most space-efficient way of utilizing your floor to ceiling space. Built-in benches can seat more people and have the added benefit of storage underneath.
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