Maximize Your Apartment Space

Living in a small space brings its own decorating challenges, and if you live in an apartment many of your options may be determined by your landlord’s rules. But don’t let them be limitations! There are plenty of creative ways to transform your apartment, dorm, or other small living space into a beautiful, comfortable home. Try some of these ideas to open up space, add personality, and make the place feel like yours.

Let there be light

Reflected light makes a room feel bigger, so use interesting lighting, glass items, and mirrors to open up small spaces. Layering multiple light sources – a window, a floor lamp, and a wall sconce (some don’t need to be hardwired) – also helps to make small spaces look larger. You can visually double the size of a room thanks to the illusion of depth created by a hanging mirror. Take advantage of the space beyond your windows and use minimal treatments, such as blinds, that can be opened wide to draw the eye beyond the wall. Glass-topped dining tables or coffee tables virtually disappear, giving a sense of openness.


It’s the best trick to make yourself feel like you have a whole new apartment. As you experiment, you’ll find different ways to use your limited space. Try an arrangement that breaks your room into several functional zones. Float furniture away from the walls to create groupings – TV-watching zone, dining area, home office – to make the most use of your space. Opt for flexible pieces that can be easily moved – tables with fold-down leaves can do double duty against the wall or in the middle of the room. Modular furniture, such as a sectional sofa that splits up into smaller pieces can be arranged in different combinations – they may fit up the stairs better than a traditional sofa too!

Take it UP!

Visually increase the height of your room with tall furnishings. Vertical lines draw the eye up, so try a tall bookshelf. One with open shelves, known as an etagere, offers display space as well as always-useful storage. You can create the same heightening effect with artwork hung high on the walls. Your favorite art or photographs will also add color and personality to drab apartment walls. Small nail holes are easily spackled over when you move out, but there are options for picture-hanging hardware that doesn’t damage the wall.

Make an entrance

Literally! If you don’t have an official foyer or hall, creating one with a console table or hall tree is a snap. An entrance is more than just a place to hang coats, leave shoes and drop keys; it’s a welcoming area that sets the tone for the rest of your home. Depending on the size of the area by your door, you could fit a shallow bookshelf, a small bench, and a basket for gloves and scarves. Add a mirror for taking a last quick check how you look before heading out.

Camouflage with rugs

Landlords choose carpets in neutral colors that will hide stains, but are rarely stylish. Cover up boring carpeting with an area rug to bring new life to the floor. A few accents in the room that are the same color as the rug will further help to distract from the existing wall-to-wall. Get creative with your small space solutions, and make the place a reflection of yourself. Just because you don’t own your apartment doesn’t mean you can’t make it yours. If it’s full of your personal touches, it will feel more like home.