Posted Jun 11, 2015

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC

When I first moved to New York five years ago, I was more focused on exploring the city than how I’d adjust to the urban way of living. However, I soon realized that the lack of space associated with living in New York takes a lot more getting used to than I’d bargained for.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC

Suddenly, my suburban collection of books and clothes seemed overwhelming, and I was stumped on how I would squeeze all the living I’d planned into such a small space. I quickly learned that along with the vibrant, exciting lifestyle of the city comes a set of equally unique challenges.

Luckily, this is New York we’re talking about, and with necessity comes ingenuity– there are plenty of tried-and-true ways to make every precious inch count in small spaces.


The first order of business when moving into a New York apartment is downsizing. Even if you’ve lived here for years, chances are you have more stuff than you need. One of the unique challenges of city living is making your lifestyle fit your environment.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Downsize

For most people, this means getting used to living with less as well as living on a smaller scale. Depending on your space, this could mean anything from getting rid of your duplicate measuring cups to buying smaller, city-sized furniture. Remember that a dresser that may have seemed small in a house may overwhelm your new space.

Learn to buy infrequently and with great care. With each piece you bring in, try to dispose of something old. Did you just splurge on a cabinet that will serve as your both your pantry and cooking storage? Great! Then it’s time to give that hanging pot rack a new home – whether it’s at a friend’s place, Salvation Army, or on the curb.


You don’t have to sacrifice your grand design ideas just because they don’t quite fit your space. You just have to get creative and modify them to fit your urban floor plan. For example, I’ve always wanted a garden, but I don’t exactly have the outdoor space for one.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Miniature

Instead, I’ve created a mini-garden of succulents and basil on the ledge by my kitchen window. Instead of a full gallery wall, I created a smaller one out of 4×6 prints.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - mINIATURE 2


One of the easiest ways to decorate your apartment is to use your personal mementos and knick-knacks as elements in your design. A few carefully placed sentimental objects can turn a boring space into a creative and comfortable one.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Personalize

Don’t underestimate the artistic value of photos from your last vacation, your child’s artwork or keepsakes from your hometown. Anything sentimental can be art with the right presentation.


When space is at a premium, objects that pack a double punch are crucial. Since the main space in my apartment encompasses the kitchen and the living room, I have a few ways I maximize storage and organization.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Repurpose

In the living area, modular furniture is key. In order to combine the functions of both a dining room and a living room, I have two hollow ottomans, which my roommates and I use for everything from guest seating to stashing blankets to snack holding.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Repurpose

We also store a few cheap folding chairs in our coat closet for impromptu social occasions. Since we have a finite amount of storage in the kitchen, we use a vase to display and corral spoons and ladles.


You may think that decorating a stylish New York home requires a stylish New York salary, but there are plenty of ways to make your home look more established than your budget. For example, many wallpaper manufacturers will mail out samples of their patterns for free or a small shipping fee.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Freebies

Most people would never know that some of the framed prints in my apartment are actually just wallpaper samples! Digital printmaking services are also a great way to get wall décor on the cheap. Services like Snapfish offer free prints just for signing up as a new customer.

Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC - Freebies2

It can be challenging to edit your lifestyle to urban proportions, especially if you’re used to having a lot of space, like I was. But with New York right outside my door, I don’t seem to mind.

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Mallory Bulman is a writer for Modernize and graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology living in Brooklyn, NY.

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One response to “Home Décor for Small Spaces in NYC”

  1. I just moved to New York and I had to declutter more than usual this time because my new place is much smaller. Downsizing all I have was a good idea and I managed to get rid of too much useless stuff. Like the way you’ve decorated your place and I’m definitely taking some ideas from your post. Thanks for sharing!

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