As summer is ending, many people are making the transition back to school dorms or moving into new apartments. There’s always a struggle in small spaces to make the most of the square footage and not feel like the walls are closing in on you. After living in small apartments for the last several years, I feel like I have a few interior design tips up my sleeve for small space living.
Currently, Jordan and I are living in a 745 sq. foot apartment, so I know how difficult it can be to make a small space feel stylish yet functional.
Here are a few key interior design tips I try to stick to when styling my small space.
When scaling down think in terms of both size and number of items in your space.
Big, bulky furniture will only overwhelm a small space and make it feel even smaller. Opt for items with slimmer structure and less padding.
It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, but try to avoid thick, heavy-looking pieces.
For example, in looking for a couch, go for something with a lower back and slimmer arms. You could also choose a smaller couch and add an accent chair. A sofa with exposed legs will help it look less bulky as well.
Don’t feel like you need to use every item of furniture you own. It’s okay to sell things or put them in storage. Use pieces that will add unique style instead of just filling the room.
Because our apartment is so small, we ended up putting our dining room table in storage. Our kitchen has a breakfast-bar island, so we eat there instead. We probably could have squeezed it in, but it would have felt very crowded.
create defined zones
For the most part in small apartments and studios, all of life happens in one main room. It’s easy to feel like there’s no distinction from the kitchen to the office to the living room.
Creating “zones” helps give some definition to each specific area.
It’s very easy to do this by simply using an area rug to define the living room area, adding shelves above a desk so it feels like one unit, or using bookshelves to create a more defined living and bedroom space in a studio apartment.
choose a color scheme
Picking a set color palette gives your home a cohesive feel. Select 3-4 colors that you love and stick to it throughout your entire home. This makes the design seamlessly flow from room-to-room making your home feel larger.
It’s best to stick with lighter neutral colors in a small space. Bold colors will make your space feel small. This doesn’t mean you can’t have color. Try selecting one accent color and use it in smaller decor pieces or a chair instead of the main part of your color scheme.
Avoid using large, busy patterns. Larger patterns visually take up more volume and will make your space shrink.
If you want to do something fun and unique, consider painting, stenciling, or wallpapering an accent wall (still within a neutral palette). This will create the most impact rather than throwing in a bunch of busy patterns and colors.
shop the look
You’ve probably heard to keep things light in a small space. The reason for this is because light colors reflect the sunlight more effectively. It should always be your goal in a small space to reflect as much light as possible.
Using light colors, mirrors, and items that have bright surfaces reflects the light making the room feel larger. Add a light rug, select lighter wood stains, pick lighter fabrics and so on.
Chelsey, at City Chic Decor, is the guru of small space decorating. You would never realize her Manhattan rental was only 450 sq. feet because she is so skilled in using mirrors and light colors to make her space feel bigger. She is a phenomenal resource for small space interior design tips. Check out her blog here for some light and airy small space inspiration!
create the illusion of space
show the floor
The first way to do this is by choosing furniture with exposed legs or frames. Visually, the furniture takes up less volume, because you can see the floor so it makes the room feel larger.
In my living space, I chose a coffee table with the frame exposed. It helps open up the living area. Depending on your style, acrylic pieces like the coffee table below, are wonderful additions because they are completely see-through.
Another key in showing long expanses of the floor is in positioning furniture properly.
Instead of positioning your couch in the middle of the room, which cuts off a long visual line, put the couch against the wall so you elongate the room.
shop the look
Having things put away behind doors will make your space feel bigger. Find furniture that can double up for multiple purposes.
Nightstands that have drawers or a coffee table that expands in size for eating or game night. Couches and ottomans that have storage inside double up as seating and storage.
Get rid of the clutter. Try to keep both the floor and other surfaces simple and free of knick-knacks.
If you have tall ceilings, use that to your advantage and add a tall bookshelf for storage. Use baskets to store items that aren’t pretty like extra phone cords or TV controls.
Consider wall sconces beside your bed instead of lamps to keep the nightstand’s surface clear.
Overall, in a small space, try be very intentional about the décor pieces and furniture you select. Be sure they aren’t just filling up the room, but adding to your small space design!
Comment below with your favorite small space interior design tips!
check out these posts for more small space decor inspiration:
Modern Boho Decor from Amazon
How to Create a Gallery Wall on a Budget
Realistic Faux Fiddle Leaf from QVC
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Hi! Can you share where you got your couch? Love it!
Hey Hannah, thanks for the question. I actually got it at a local Raleigh store. I think you may be able to order online but not 100% sure. It’s called Discount Furniture of the Carolina’s. http://www.discountfurnitureofthecarolinas.com. Good luck!
Can I ask what size and where did you purchase the picture frames!
Thanks for commenting, Jacqueline! I purchased the frames from Ikea USA. They are the Ribba frames in the 19 3/4″ X 27 1/2″ size. If you want to see more information about the frames, I have a review of them in my post called ‘How to Create a Gallery Wall on a Budget’.
Do you mind sharing where your rug is from? I love it.
Jess, thanks for commenting! Yes, I just put a shopping widget in the post with a link to the rug. Let me know if you have any issues!
What is the name
Of the flooring
Hello Dominique, thanks for commenting and reading the blog! I live in an apartment so I am not sure what kind of flooring was used. It’s a dark walnut color. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!
Hello! What color are your walls painted? I love this tone!
Haley, thanks for commenting! I am not sure of the paint color. I have contacted my apartment management and asked what color was used. Hopefully they will get back to me and then I will let you know!
Have you had a response about the paint colour yet?
Hello Ellie, unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from them yet!
Following along to hear the paint color. Your home is beautiful!
Hey Alison, finally got the wall color! Silver Strand by Sherwin Williams. 🙂
Paint color is Silver Strand by Sherwin Williams. 🙂
Where is your coffee table from?
Hello Ale, thanks for commenting! My coffee table is from World Market. However, I purchased two years ago, and it’s no longer available. There are similar styles out there, it just depends on how much you’re willing to spend!
I am looking for a small sectional (not sectional with chaise lounger) and yours looks perfect! What are the measurements of your sectional?
Absolutely! 96 inches long on both sides (they overlap at the corner), 36 inches deep, and 29 inches high. Hope this helps!
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If I were to remodel my home’s interior, I would make sure to have its interior repainted with bold colors. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance of having modern furniture placed in the said space too. I also agree with you that it will be a great idea to de-clutter the place.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! 🙂
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The use of statement lighting fixtures in this space is such a smart design choice, they add drama and interest to the room.