5 Tips for Organizing and Decorating a Small Apartment to Maximize Space

imagesWhether you’re moving into your first place, downgrading after divorce, or simply trying to live within your means, renting an apartment could provide you with the ideal living situation in terms of budget, level of responsibility, and access to a job, school, or certain amenities. But apartment living is often very different than renting or owning a home. On the upside, you don’t have a yard and landscaping to maintain. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to deal with hassles like noisy neighbors, restricted options for upgrades and renovations, and of course, limited space. And if you are moving in with a lot of stuff, you could find yourself with the unpleasant task of having to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. After all, you don’t want to wind up as the focus of an episode of ‘Hoarders’, or worse, get kicked out for creating a fire hazard with all your stuff. Luckily, you’re not the first person to live in an apartment where space is at a premium. And there are all kinds of solutions for decorating and organizing your interior in order to maximize space. Here are a few tips that should help your apartment to look and feel bigger and operate more efficiently.

1. Visual trickery.

While you can’t actually pull more space out of thin air, you can certainly use a variety of visual decorating tricks to make the interior appear larger. For example, if your landlord allows it you can add paint and carpet in light, neutral shades and paint ceilings bright white to draw the eye upward. You can also paint vertical pinstripes on walls and hang floor-to-ceiling drapes on windows to make every room seem taller. In addition, you might want to hang pictures a little higher on the walls, instead of, say, dead center. And of course, you need to think about what you put into each room. When you cram every inch of space with large furnishings and overall clutter, you’re going to make your apartment feel cramped and claustrophobic. So consider furnishings that are not only small, but offer a peekaboo effect, like Plexiglas coffee tables that you can see right through, or lightweight chairs with thinner legs and openings in the back. Believe it or not, these visual tricks can make a huge difference in the overall aesthetic of your interior design.

2.  Illumination.

Lighting is a key element in any living space, but it is especially important when dealing with small rooms. You’ll want to use as much natural lighting as possible, and since you likely have limited windows in an apartment, this could require you to hang mirrors that will bounce and intensify natural light – as a bonus, mirrors can also enhance the feeling of depth, another excellent visual trick to try. As for electric lighting, you’ll want a variety. Overhead lights likely come with the space, buy they may be too dim or too bright. If they’re really tacky, ask your landlord if you can upgrade (if not, you can always replace lighting fixtures on your own and take them with you when you leave, provided you save the old ones). From there, consider adding sconces or tall torchiere floor lamps. This will free up some table space that you can use for other décor and reduce any feeling of clutter.

3. Furniture stature.

You don’t necessarily have to use uncomfortable, spindly furniture when you have a small apartment, but neither can you fill your home with overstuffed and overbearing couches, chairs, and so on. You need to scale your furniture to match the stature of your space. This really only means that you have to be selective. If you want a cozy, overstuffed chair you can have it, but you might have to skip the full couch and opt for a loveseat instead to balance it out. And while a King bed might be on your must list, it’s a good idea to think about under-bed storage instead of a dresser to maximize space in the bedroom.

4. Modular solutions.

There are two ways to go when it comes to utilizing modular furniture solutions: up and out. And when you’re living with limited square footage, you’re not getting any more floor space, which is why vertical space can come in handy. Modular furniture allows you to add as needed, so you can start with a desk and add shelving, cabinets, or other storage above it when you find that you require more storage space. It’s a great option for tiny apartments.

Double-duty pieces.

Anyone who has lived in an Albany, Atlanta, or Austin apartment knows that storage can be an issue, and for this reason you need to consider furnishings that serve more than one purpose. A bed that has drawers in the base, storage ottomans for extra seating, and a dining table that has shelves for serving platters underneath are all great choices. And you might be surprised by the many options out there, such as beds that fold up into a wall only to reveal hinged nooks underneath that double as shelving or a desk surface when the bed is put away. With a little legwork you can definitely find the right solutions to optimize space in your apartment.

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