There’s nothing easy about moving; it’s one of life’s most stressful events for good reason. But if you’re scaling down your space, you might also have to re-think your whole approach to designing, arranging and setting up your home. Small living spaces can make it hard to fully relax and unwind, especially if you have clutter or the wrong pieces for your new place.
With some smart design tricks and accessories, there are plenty of easy ways to remove clutter and add the illusion of space without spending a fortune. If your small apartment doesn’t feel like home, try these seven tips to help make it feel more spacious and comfortable.
1. Take Advantage of Vertical Space and Walls
You can strategically break up the negative space of your walls with well-placed artwork. One to two larger statement pieces tend to make the walls feel less cluttered than many smaller pieces. Look for artwork that won’t overpower the space — minimalist designs work well in small apartments without creating visual distraction. Hanging artwork slightly lower than you would traditionally can also make the walls of a room feel taller.
Wall-mounted cabinets, tables or hideaway beds are excellent options to help reduce clutter and expand the living space in smaller homes if you’re handy or if your budget is larger. Make sure to check with your landlord before hanging or mounting anything to your walls or ceiling, as some leases strictly forbid wall-mounted décor, furniture and storage.
2. Consider Some Color
Light, neutral walls can make a smaller space feel sunny, spacious and airy. White is a good option, especially if you’re not allowed to paint, but you can add personality with colors or painted accents of blush or pastel pink, eggshell white, beige or even a cool gray. Brighter colors do a better job of reflecting light than darker colors, but dark walls tend to recede away add depth to your space, making things feel further apart. If you decide to go with bold walls over a neutral palette, incorporate the same hues into your décor for a more expansive, put-together feel.
3. Paint Just the Ceiling
You can leave the walls alone and just paint your ceiling to help direct the eye to the vertical space of your apartment. Deep, bold colors like a dark navy or purple can instantly add complexity and make your space more interesting. Or, a light blue ceiling mimics the outdoors with virtual space while it incorporates a versatile, soothing color into your design.
4. Utilize Plenty of Mirrors
Mirrors can bring in more natural light and make any space feel bigger. No matter how small your bedroom, hallway or living room may be, a mirror can add the illusion of spaciousness and reflect as much light as a lamp without taking up any floorspace. For maximum effect, place a mirror opposite a window to reflect the outdoors and natural sunlight. Since mirrors have a space-expanding effect, bigger mirrors help create even more depth, so you don’t need to scale down when choosing a mirror.
5. Integrate Storage Into Your Furniture
You can find anything from couches and ottomans to beds, tables and wall art that smartly integrate storage into the design. But you can also add storage space without buying different furniture. Bed risers can give you several more feet of storage space underneath your bed, couch or chair, and they work with practically any design or size. Add a few clear plastic storage bins to keep your belongings organized, clean and completely out of your way.
6. Optimize Closet Space
Small apartments don’t always have the best closets, but effective organization can make a huge difference with clutter around the house. One quick and easy closet solution is a hanging shoe storage caddy that gives you convenient access to your shoes without creating more clutter on the ground or in your entryway. You can also install or hang hooks on your closet, bathroom and pantry doors to store practically anything, like handbags, belts, coats or towels.
7. Limit Your Furniture
Whether you choose a couch, a few chairs or a loveseat for your living space, it’s better not to overcrowd your overall design with too much furniture. Of course, you may need additional seating to accommodate guests, but a few removable chairs and versatile seating like an ottoman or floor pillows can suit you better in the long run than excess bulky furniture you only use to host occasional visitors. Small or compact furniture may look dwarfed and out of place when used with standard-sized accessories; it may also be less comfortable and durable in the long run. Make sure you consider the longevity of your furniture, and whether you’ll be able to use it in other places or just your current address.