Posted May 6, 2015

8 Simple Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger

I’m accustomed to small spaces. From living in a dorm for years to moving to a studio to sharing a two-bedroom apartment with two other people, I’ve lived in a variety of, shall we say, cozy apartments.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger

I don’t need a mansion, but I will say that while cramped into a small apartment, I often dream of big rooms– we’re talking ballrooms here. Of course, I can’t have the large space of my dreams without spending all of my money on rent, so I’ve found ways to make my little room feel bigger. 

If you’re tired of feeling like you’re living in the old woman’s shoe, check out these small apartment ideas for opening up your space:

1. Decorate With Light Colors

Science can help you make your small apartment seem larger. Light colors reflect light while dark ones absorb it. As such, use light tones when decorating your space. This will help bounce light around the room, making it seem bigger than it actually is. 

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Decorate with Light Colors

When it comes to apartment living, you’re already in luck– most units have light, neutral colors painted on the walls. Continue this look by sticking to light furniture, area rugs, art, and curtains. This isn’t to say you can’t have any black, just limit your use of dark shades.

2. Follow the Rule of 3s

Speaking of light, you can add more to make your small apartment feel larger. In fact, interior designers all suggest that every room have three lighting sources. They create comfortable pools of light and visually push back the walls. 

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Follow the Rules of 3s

Don’t include any overhead or ceiling fixtures in your three if they fill the space– your three sources should provide defined areas. Many overhead lights (especially those standard in most apartments) just create a diffused light. Hanging fixtures can count if they make a pool of light.

Ideally, you should arrange your work lights in a triangle pattern. This helps move your eye throughout the room, making the space feel larger.

3. Try Transparent

To further move light throughout your small apartment, consider investing in transparent furniture. Glass tables and clear plastic chairs are great examples of pieces that let your eyes see through them and into the rest of the seemingly larger space.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Try Transparent

What’s more, transparent furniture is in vogue right now, so the pieces will look like contemporary design choices.

4. Add Mirrors … Anywhere

To wrap up my segment on light (I promise this is the last one), let’s talk mirrors. They help reflect light and make your apartment feel spacious, so you should have a few, especially in tight areas that don’t get much sun.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Add Mirrors Anywhere 

Additionally, get creative with your mirror use. Hanging, framed ones are great, but what about a tall, standing mirror or mirrored furniture? Both are big trends right now that will fill your apartment with light.

5. Hang Shelving Near the Ceiling

Here’s a general tip: Decorate in a way that draws your eyes upward. This makes the room feel taller and more spacious. For example, you can mount a shelf close to your ceiling rather than in the middle of the wall.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Hang Shelves Near the Ceiling

The only downside of this is that getting items from a high shelf can be a challenge, so use it for knick knacks and books you don’t often use– decorative vases are a great choice.

6. Take Down the Doors

One of my apartments had accordion wood doors for the closet that took up 1 foot or so of space when open. My room was tiny enough as it was, so I took down the doors and stored them under the bed (make sure you get written permission from your landlord before making changes like this).

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Take Down the Doors

This made the room feel much more open. Plus, I put my TV stand in the closet and got to watch Netflix without taking up floor space in the actual room.

Whether your closet or hall doors are intruding in your space, you can take them down. If you want to conceal your clothes without using the door, consider hanging a curtain instead.

Just make sure you hold onto your doors and all the pieces that come with them. That way, you can put everything back before you move.

7. Think Storage

Clutter is the bane of small-apartment dwellers everywhere! It makes your rooms look tiny and feel cramped. Manage clutter by incorporating as much storage options into your decorating as possible.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Think Storage

From bins under your bed to ottomans that open up to reveal storage space, make your furniture go the extra mile to conceal items you’re not using.

Hanging shelves on the wall is a great way to add storage if you can’t fit it into your furniture. They’re off the ground and lift your eyes upward.

8. Reduce Artwork

Instead of cluttering your walls with a ton of small art pieces, fill a blank area with one large canvas or frame. Expansive art seems to push the walls outward, creating the illusion of more space. Tiny pieces, on the other hand, do the opposite.

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger - Reduce Artwork

Small apartments don’t have to feel cramped– I know from first-hand experience! With these tips, your tiny space should start feeling expansive.

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Easy Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger

Jen Jackowski


Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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One response to “8 Simple Ways to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Bigger”

  1. Drew says:

    All of these ideas are really inspiring! I love what you did with the closet especially. Thanks for the great ideas!

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