5 Tips for Living Large in a Small Apartment

posted: 05/01/18
by: Katie Morton

As many people realize after striving to live in larger and larger homes, the human tendency is to fill our spaces with belongings until they don't feel so "big" any more. The cost of living in a large space goes far beyond the size of the mortgage or rent. From furnishings, to cleaning, maintenance and repair costs, to heating, and cooling, it's just plain pricier and more work and stress to live in a big place.

But there's no doubt that it takes more planning, thought and consideration to live well in a small abode. If you want to live large in a small space, there are a few things you can do that make the investment in a small living arrangement well worth the effort.

1. Declutter: Live the Minimalist Lifestyle

How much do you need, really? The key to feeling calm and relaxed at home comes down to not having too many visual distractions that make your mind wander.

When selecting belongings to keep or discard, you can use Marie Kondo's method of only picking items that "spark joy." The issue though, can come down to what we think sparks joy, versus what actually does. There are some mementos that we think should make us feel joy, but they might actually make us feel wistful, nostalgic, or even a bit sad about events or phases in our lives that are over.

So listen to your body: do you actually feel joyful when you look at an item? Or do you just feel guilty about letting go? If the answer is guilt, then what better reason than to purge the item.

2. Everything in its Place

Of course we need some stuff, and that's where lots of storage comes in. Decluttering is half the battle, and storage is the other half.

The major complaint about small space living can be a lack of storage. Most small apartment designers don't want to over-dedicate living space to closets, so you're most likely going to have to invest in shelving or other storage pieces in which to keep your belongings.

As long as you have ample storage so that everything you own can get tucked neatly away, then you're ready to live large.

3. Big Art

While it can be tempting to use a lot of small art pieces to decorate a small space, the result can feel more cluttered than calming. Instead, use large-scale art to give the eye a place (or places!) to rest.

Apartment Therapy says that using large-scale art to decorate your apartment is less work than a gallery wall, less visually cluttered, and it's becoming more on trend.

4. Color Without Painting

One issue some deal with when it comes to renting: to paint or not to paint? Many apartment buildings don't allow tenants to paint. Some leases come with the caveat that if you paint your apartment, you need to change the color back to the original before you vacate. If you don't want to commit to that second paint job when you're trying to move, then it might deter you from going through the trouble.

But there other ways to bring big color to your small space that doesn't involve the cost or labor of painting. Check out the creative use of drapes, a rug, and pillows to bring bold color accents to a room.

5. Divide Space with Shelves

Dividing the functional areas with open shelving--as opposed to light-blocking methods such as curtains or room dividers--serves many purposes.

Shelving delineates the kitchen from the living area, while allowing light to travel through the apartment. It also provides ample, attractive, and convenient storage to keep utilitarian items within reach.

With some thought, care, and consideration, you can turn a small living space into a Zen oasis. With a few smart moves like carefully editing belongings, securing enough storage to keep belongings organized, and decorating well, you can enjoy your apartment and feel perfectly content and abundant in a small space.