You don’t have to be stuck in a Star Wars-style trash compactor to feel like rooms are getting a little tight. As rents go up and income remains stagnant, our paychecks aren’t going quite as far as they used to.
Cramming our lives inside less square footage is a bit of a bummer, but you know what? We’re up for the challenge. If you’re feeling the squeeze in your current abode, take five and read up. We’re sharing everything you need to know to make a small room feel bigger.
Pick Light Colors
We know you’re through with elementary school science class, but color theory still applies: Dark colors absorb light and light colors reflect it. For a bright, airy space that looks bigger than it actually is, paint your walls in light shades. Whites, taupes and grays are always easy choices—and most landlords should okay them readily—but you can throw in pale splashes of color and enjoy the same effect.
Install Low-Profile Blinds Or Shades
A chunky window treatment takes up precious wall space and encroaches on the living space you have available to you. You can fix this easily by picking out affordable shades that are sleek and interior mount instead of going with a more traditional valance style which attaches to the wall or window frame. Interior mount window coverings will sit inside the window, fading into the background rather than standing out.
Resist The Urge To Overcrowd
We know you want to fit in all your worldly possessions, but that might not be the best choice for your space situation. If you’ve ever been in an antique store, you know how tight a large space can become when you cram as much as possible into a room. Instead, start with your must-have furniture and decor.
Another option is trading your heavier furniture in for pieces that take up less physical space but provide the same amount of practicality. For example, an overstuffed chair could make way for two smaller club chairs or a loveseat.
Buy Furniture That Does Double-Duty
We’re calling it: multi-tasking is the way of the future. Whenever possible, purchase new pieces that can serve more than one purpose. A throw pillow that’s large enough to be a seat cushion? Fantastic. A trunk that doubles as a coffee table? Even better. An ottoman with hidden storage inside? Gold.
With small apartments, it’s even more essential than ever to ensure that no space is wasted. If you have an odd corner in a hallway, peruse Facebook sales and thrift stores for corner-shaped shelving units you can nestle on in there. Fill those nooks and crannies!
The best way to make a galley kitchen feel impossibly tight? Store your pots and pans as far from the oven as you possibly can. The more you have to move through a space—and bump into countertops and random pieces of furniture—the tighter and more frustrating that area will appear, even if it’s really not all that bad.
That’s where smart storage solutions come in handy. Give every item you own a home that makes sense. Glasses should go near the beverages. Spatulas should go near the stove. Dish towels should go near the sink.
The same is true for other rooms in your home. Plug in chargers where you like to charge your phone or laptop, whether that’s your bedside table, your countertop or the table next to the couch. Put seasonal outerwear and your favorite shoes near the door rather than in your bedroom closet, and place linens and extra blankets near your bed.
Tip: If you find yourself frequently crisscrossing your apartment for a certain item, make an organizational change!
Hang Large Mirrors On The Walls
Light walls reflect light while mirrors bounce it across the room. Hanging mirrors on walls as statement pieces is a trend we can stand by, especially in tight spaces that feel a little cramped. Pick a pretty frame and hang it like a piece of art. You can also incorporate mirrors into collage walls with photos and other framed trinkets.
Replace Light Bulbs
Flickering, ghostly fluorescents are inexpensive and long-lasting—ideal for landlords trying to make money with the least amount of maintenance they can get away with. However, most fluorescent lights don’t provide a comfortable atmosphere. They can cast shadows in corners, making rooms seem darker and smaller than they really are. Replace them if you can. Even a modern fluorescent bulb with natural or white tones will be more flattering than an older blue or yellow-y one.
Own Your Own Place?
Here are a few more musts to make your tiny home feel palatial:
- Install recessed lighting. Lamps eat up square footage and ceiling fixtures can cut into sight lines. Open up your space and make it as bright as possible by installing recessed or can lighting in living areas, hallways and your kitchen.
- Mirror hallways. Think: a narrow wall at the end of a dark hallway rather than a retro mirrored sliding door.
- Lighten up your floors. Refinish hardwood and replace carpeting, vinyl and tile with light-colored, neutral tones that will automatically make a space feel larger.
All right, small space-dweller. You have your marching orders. It’s time to DIY your way to at-home happiness, no matter how much (or how little) square footage you’re working with. Put these tips into action and we’re certain you’ll find yourself gazing at more space than you thought you had.