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Big Design for Small Spaces

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

I get it...mostly because I've been there. Apartment living in the NY Metro Area doesn't get you a ton of square footage for your money and furnishing a small space can be tricky! Let's check out a few tips and some great, living room furniture pieces I dug up to help you furnish that apartment right because even small spaces deserve big design!

When working in a small space, there are some tricks that designers use to make it look and feel larger. My very first apartment was a basement space with a couple of egress windows so it was tough for me to get lots of natural sunlight in there but if you're lucky enough to have some full size windows, open the blinds to allow all that good lighting to saturate your place. Then grab yourself a mirror or two to really help bounce all that light around and make your place feel fresh, bright and airy.

Pay attention to scale! You don't have to purchase tiny pieces of furniture. In fact, some designers believe that slightly larger pieces help a space FEEL more expansive. That being said, make sure you measure your place before you buy anything. You don't want to stuff a HUGE sectional into your apartment only to find you have no room to move around or go too small only to realize that your sofa looks like a tic-tac tossed in to the Grand Canyon. If you think you need some help figuring out how to measure your place, click here for a free guide to walk you through it.

Furniture manufacturer Apt 2B has a whole collection of apartment sized sofas available in tons of upholstery options but I love the clean lines and simple silhouette of this one.

This accent chair helps to add a little texture and a vintage feel while still being small enough to move around to suit your needs.

Layer your lighting! I always hated the Home Depot-esque lighting that was installed in apartments - you know that surface mounted jobbie with the nipple finial and the glass shade that basically became a bug graveyard over time. I actually never used those lights; instead I opted for floor lamps that make a statement and take advantage of some vertical space or well placed table lamps for a homey vibe and a little more ambiance.

This is a great option for a floor lamp with it's fun, modern design and small footprint!

Often times, storage is sparse in an apartment so multi-functional furniture is your new best friend! Pick a coffee table that offers a storage option or a sofa that converts to a sleeper for overnight guests. Think about media units or consoles that afford you closed cabinetry to tuck away any kitchen gadget overflow or a place to keep your shoe collection - one of the things I noticed was that a coat left out or a pair of shoes on the floor quickly made my small space look a hot mess! Keeping yourself organized with proper storage solutions will do you a huge favor in the long run.

The sophisticated detailing on this piece is giving me all the feels and at only 17" Deep, it should fit nicely just about anywhere. I also prefer closed storage to open so I can easily hide away my mess.

I'm loving the natural wood top paired with the bright white base on this storage coffee table and the round shape should be a great space saver.

As with decorating any space, the goal is for it to truly reflect your style and what better way to do that than with a little wallpaper! Your lease probably says "Oh hell no!" but no worries - wallpaper has been making a comeback and with that, lots of manufacturers have created peel and stick, removeable products with all sorts of fun patterns like this bright cityscape that's full of personality.

Fill out blank areas with small pieces that amp up your décor. This is a great time to splurge on furniture items because they should be small enough to find a spot in any future space you choose to live in.

Start with accent tables like these. I love this pair because they are neutral and stylish and can be used together or separately if you're in need of a surface where you might not normally have one.

I also love something like this for it's organic shape and material.

Adding texture to your décor with pieces like the accent table above or this pouf below is a great way to elevate your design. They are the perfect finishing pieces.

If you think you need a little pop of color, a pouf like this would definitely do the trick.

Now we're going to bring it all together with a fantabulous area rug! It should be large enough to encompass all of your furniture and it's a great way to add a little color and patterning to your space. A great rug is basically art for your floor.

I love the palette here. Even though it's got some color, this Tejal Area Rug in Sunset still has a neutral feel to it. Something like this will really help to ground your seating area and define the space.

Now that we have your furniture all worked out, check out these additional tips for small space living:

- Take advantage of your wall space including the backs of doors. This not only offers you additional real estate for storage or to display all of the things you love, it also helps bring the eye upward, creating vertical depth in your space. Installing draperies just a few inches below the ceiling, instead of on the window, will give you the same effect and make your windows look larger.

- Don't be afraid to pull in bold colors and patterns! As long as you maintain some balance in your space, bringing in pops of color or pattern in art, throw pillows, area rugs, wallcoverings or other accents helps keep a space interesting and fun.

- De-clutter!! Time to purge. If it isn't bringing you joy or functioning in your life in a positive way, donate it, repurpose it or just GET RID OF IT! The trick to maintaining a small living environment is to keep the floor clear so moving about is easy.

- Leave breathing room, not only for yourself, but for your furniture. If you can, pull the big stuff away from the wall. Make sure pieces aren't stacked on top of one another. I like to keep about 18" between a sofa and a coffee table and 3' for major passageways. Side tables should be within arms reach.

Congrats on your new place!! I bet you'll create something amazing!

As always, if you need some help with your small space, you know where to find me!!

PS. This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Thanks!

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