If you live in an apartment, you have likely spent some time considering how to go about decorating your space to make it comfortable, functional, and reflective of you. That’s called interior design. In other words, interior design is the art and science of enhancing interiors…of a space or building, to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user.
If you’re looking for ways to decorate your apartment, this article is for you. Some of these ideas are contradictory, but that’s part of the beauty of customizing any interior space, particularly when it comes to apartment decorating. You can decide what works for you and run with it!
“When decorating apartments and small spaces, the best thing to do is be as organized as possible,” says Michele Boggs, an Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of Indianapolis. She recommends determining the primary functions of your apartment space, then working out what pieces should be included to help meet those needs.
Big Pieces First.
When you’re working in a small space to begin with, you should probably head up your apartment decorating with the largest pieces first. These tend to be the sofa (in the living room) or perhaps a bed (in the bedroom). Opt for pieces that, though the “big pieces” of your space, are in fact proportionate as well. No massive, oversized sofa will ever do a tiny apartment any décor favors, no matter how comfy it might be.
When your apartment can only hold, say, ten pieces of furniture total, you better make those ten pieces of furniture meet all your needs. Coffee tables could also store things. Dining tables can also be desks…or pool tables. Really. The potential of the apartment world just got a lot bigger.
If you’re short on space, one way to make a small apartment (or any room) look, and therefore feel, more spacious is to create a sense of airiness around all objects. This can be accomplished by selecting furnishings with care – the more “white space” or “negative space” an object has, the airier it will seem.
You can actually achieve the look of built-ins without actually building in the shelves to your apartment. Just make sure the shelves are proportionate and fit the space well. Bonus: You can take this kind of “built-in” with you if and when you move.
Floating shelves are excellent apartment decorating tools because they provide great storage space without the visual weight of standard bookcases or whatever. Get creative with the idea of floating storage if at all possible in your apartment, such as with vanities and/or nightstands.
Here’s another example of a think-outside-the-box floating shelves vignette. Use color, texture, and various sizes of the same shape to achieve a similar look. Bonus: floating shelves that look this good double as artwork!
Clutter has to be the arch nemesis of a small space, and unedited apartment décor is no exception. If possible, find ways to hide your possessions so that everything isn’t on display all at the same time. A drop-down cabinet with a gorgeous façade when closed is an ideal hideaway for a mass of stuff, whether or not you use it frequently or not.
Rich Wall Colors.
If your rental agreement and/or landlord allows it, break out of the stereotypical apartment paint colors and reach for tones that are rich and warm. Deep blues, somber greens, even purple tones can create an unexpected luxe look and feel to an apartment space.
Light Floor & Wall Colors.
Opting for lighter colors on both the floor and walls can help make a small, tiny apartment feel brighter and more spacious. Sometimes a lighter color palette can also bring in a well-edited contemporary aesthetic, which tends to open up a small space as well.
Removable Wall Decals.
The interior design market has loads of temporary wall treatment options available, from removable wallpaper to peel-and-stick decals to vinyl decals. These can personalize any space, and in a way that looks expensive and permanent but is, in fact, temporary. This is an important characteristic in apartment decorating for obvious (rental) reasons.
Neutral furniture is a great way to go when decorating an apartment, if for no other reason than you have to work with whatever the apartment itself offers. Plus, if your stay is rather temporary, you’d probably prefer to not have to purchase new furniture at every move. Neutral offers limitless decorating possibilities and is thus recommended. If you must have bold color – which is a legit need, by the way – you can always bring color in through artwork or accent pieces.
So, there’s definitely something to be said for neutrality when it comes to furnishings…but there’s just as much to be said in regard to one or two stand-out statement pieces. These should be unique while maintaining the flow of design within your apartment’s décor. Metallics and geometric patterns are generally a win-win.
Unexpected Reflective Surfaces.
When decorating a small apartment, or any apartment for that matter, you’re going to need each piece to play an important role in the décor. Even small touches – a brass lamp, a glass tray on the coffee table, or some chrome details on the furnishings – will go a long way toward lightening and brightening the room.
One Large Mirror.
Some interior designers trend toward more predictability in apartment décor, and for good reason – tried and true methods are hard to beat, frankly. This includes strategically hanging a large mirror in your apartment somewhere that natural light will reflect and bounce around the room, enhancing itself. The bigger the mirror, the fewer “cuts” into the bouncing light, the brighter the result.