Allow me to set a familiar scene: While house or apartment hunting, despite your better judgment, you allow yourself to tour the big, spacious option you’re assuming might be out of your price range. You fall in love, and you immediately start listing things you could cut out of your life to somehow pay your astronomical rent each month. Finally common sense kicks in, and you wind up in the slightly smaller, more affordable, we’ll-make-it-work option. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been there.
The good news is, settling for a smaller space doesn’t have to seem like settling at all. By using décor to your advantage, you can sneakily make your space seem much bigger than it is. Here comes the even better news: It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either.
When it comes to decorating a smaller space, it’s important to keep every aspect of the space light and airy. The more floor space you can see, the bigger your room will seem. If you’re allowed to drill into your walls, you can install floating shelves instead of getting a heavy bookcase. You can also create the appearance of floor space by purchasing furniture with gaps underneath it so you can see the floor. Large, heavy pieces tend to weigh rooms down and make them seem cramped.
You can float your furniture by moving it out into the room and away from the walls. You might have more general floor space by anchoring your furniture to walls, but the space will seem much smaller – despite how counterintuitive that sounds. By creating multiple paths around your furniture and allowing it to breathe, your room will feel larger. Pull your sofa – or any other major piece of furniture – toward the center of the room and work from there. Get creative and place your furniture in places you wouldn’t traditionally think to do so. To save some time and energy, sketch this out beforehand.
When it comes to furniture, less is more in this case. It helps if the pieces you do have serve multiple purposes. Use your ottoman as a coffee table and use your entertainment center as storage – living in quaint quarters is all about being creative. Dining room tables that have an option for leaves are great so you can easily expand when company comes over, and you can get that space back once they leave. Put seating on rollers so you can slide it out when you need it and put it to bed when you don’t.
Because floor space is the key to maximizing any room, keeping your flooring consistent is vital. This means getting rid of your rugs and allowing your flooring to seamlessly flow between rooms. By breaking your flooring flow, you instantly minimize your space. (This is true for bathrooms, too.)
For this tip, let’s focus on one of the smallest types of spaces out there: Studio apartments. If you’re moving into one of these, you have more than just space to consider when choosing your décor. Since studios are one room, you have to accommodate a bunch of different uses in that space. Employ room dividers to make your studio feel like more than a glorified dorm room.
Breezy, open shelving is a great way to divide loft-type spaces. An open shelving unit serves as both a storage option (clutter management is one of the most important aspects of living in a small space), and it can serve as a way to break up your space into pseudo rooms. Take the tip from above and float pieces like these strategically. Place an open shelving unit at the end of your bed to avoid that bedroom feeling while simultaneously storing your tchotchkes. If you decide to go this route, it’s important not to overload the shelves. If you do, you’ll minimize the open effect of your shelving, and you’ll start closing off your space.
If you’re a minimalist and storage isn’t your concern, look into basic room dividers. Not only do they serve as light, airy wall alternatives, but they’re mobile. Room dividers allow you to hide the fact that you didn’t make your bed this morning. Once your guests leave, you can store the divider in the closet and go back to eating pizza in bed like a normal person.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or hotel lobby thinking the room continues when, really, it’s just a wall of mirrors? Oh, that’s just me? Well, anyway, you can mimic this in your home and have the same result. By reflecting the space in the room around it, mirrors naturally make your room seem bigger and open up the space. They don’t have to be large or extravagant, but the more room they can reflect off their surface, the bigger the room will seem. Basically, bigger is better in this case – but it isn’t necessary.
Paint color is another aspect of interior decorating that can drastically affect the feel of your space. If you’re allowed to paint your walls, choose light, neutral colors, unless you’re aiming for that cave-esque look. Neutral colors expand the space, making it seem bigger. If you’re up to it, paint your ceiling a different color – darker works best. By doing this, you create the illusion that your room is deeper than it actually is. You can also take colors from the outside and paint an accent wall in a similar hue. This way, your walls serve as a continuation of what’s outside your window; this tricks the eye into thinking there’s more depth. If you’re going to do any of this yourself, make sure to prep your walls beforehand!
Natural light is your best friend when trying to visually expand a smaller space. Use light, airy window treatments to maximize the space you have. Heavy curtains will make your space seem small. Use pendant light fixtures whenever you can if your landlord allows it! By suspending your lighting from the ceiling, you can free up floor space and give your room a lighter feel. Win-win.
The moral of the story is this: It isn’t the end of the world if you’re moving into a small space. Less square footage doesn’t mean your space needs to feel cramped. By keeping everything light and airy and getting creative with both décor and furniture, you can make the most of your space.