Caroline Case, an interior design enthusiast and someone who has lived in small apartments for several years, says simple designs are best for small spaces. "Keep clutter to a minimum and keep your things as organized as possible. When you can, use shelving and decorative boxes. IKEA has a variety of inexpensive, great options for this, as does Target," she explains.
To make the most of the space you do have, invest in furniture that provides room for stashing items, such as a coffee table with storage, suggests Dawn Falcone, an interior designer in New York City. In addition, she says that correctly scaled furniture is a must for small spaces. "We see it all the time: a tiny room with a huge, overpowering sofa. If your space is small, it's best to buy furniture that is made for that."
Christine Schwalm, an interior designer and visual merchandiser based in New York City, recommends using pops of color in the room you're trying to enhance. "It gives your eye a reason to stop and focus on one thing for a moment," she notes. "A neutral room with a few colorful pillows and pieces of art that are tied together with a common color or theme will create an interesting space without the overkill."
When it comes to the paint on the walls, use lighter shades of paint, suggests Marissa Schneider, who's designed and decorated many small-scale apartments in New York City. "Dark wall colors, much like dark clothes, make a space seem smaller," she says. "The idea is to brighten the space to make it seem bigger."
Most experts agree that lighting can make a significant difference in establishing how large or small a space appears. Case encourages anyone grappling with a small-space dilemma to embrace light. "Try to avoid heavy curtains that prevent natural light from coming in," she says. "I love natural light, but it isn't always easy to come by in a smaller apartment. Fortunately, lamps of all types — chandeliers, table lamps, sconces, pendant lamps — will brighten your space while adding visual interest. Dimly lit rooms feel smaller than they are."
One of Schneider's favorite decor tricks is to place a mirror in an eye-catching spot. "This will reflect the beautiful space around you and create the illusion that the room is larger," she explains.
If you're having trouble deciding where to place the mirror for maximum impact, consider the following tip from blogger Cristián Lávaque: "I find it works best if the mirror is in a place where one would normally not see oneself reflected, because that instantly reminds one that it's 'just a mirror' instead of more space. Having the mirror reflect windows, especially if they have good light coming in, will enhance the effect, because one gets more of that outside space and will have more light in the room."
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