How to design a small apartment

Household 5 min read

There’s an art to designing the perfect space. It takes a lot of things: a love for furniture and accessories, an appreciation for color, a knowledge of trends, and a basic feel for the way all of these things fit together in a room.

But before any of that, designing the perfect space requires understanding the amount of space you have and how to use it to its maximum advantage. And the less space there is, the better of an understanding you need to have.

Small space living is more than the latest trend in interior decor. From apartments to dorm rooms, and even short-term rental spaces, more and more of us are learning how to live with less and less space. But just because a space is small, it doesn’t mean that it can’t have a full dose of style. Getting everything you want out of a tiny space can be as easy as following these seven simple steps.

Small apartment design

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Develop a floor plan

It may sound a little obvious, but developing a floor plan is a crucial step on the path to loving your small space.

Before you start buying things to fit on a coffee table or fill in a bookcase, and before you start collecting the perfect art or buying a new rug, stop and take a look at your space. Really look at it. Then measure it and find out exactly how much room you have to work with.

Measure the dimensions of each room and get accurate measurements for the furniture you want to place in the space. Lay it out on paper and see if everything will fit. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a coffee table or sofa that’s way too big for the room you’re designing.

And don’t forget to measure your doorways and hallways as well to make sure pieces being delivered can fit through them!

Small apartment design

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Go small … but not too small

Once you have an understanding of the space (and accurate measurements), it’s time to start looking for furniture.

Decide how much furniture you can comfortably fit into the space and how big it can be. Looking for smaller furniture with a more intimate feel can be a great way to maximize space and give your home a full aesthetic.

You can find apartment-sized pieces at most major retailers. But remember, don’t go too small. Just like oversized furniture can make a room feel cramped, undersized furniture can make it feel even smaller.

Use your floor plan to choose pieces that have the right dimensions for your particular space.

Small dining room table in apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Use creative construction

Go custom for a perfect fit. Custom construction is one of the best ways to make sure you get all you can out of any space, and that’s especially true when the space is small. It just has so many advantages.

Building furniture to specification takes all of the guesswork out of wondering if the things you buy will fit into the space you’ve allotted for them.

And there’s no need to build everything that goes into your space. The key is to be strategic and find the places where custom-built pieces will do the most good.

For example, built-in seating for a dining room like the one seen here can turn a petite nook into a comfortable space for entertaining without requiring the clutter of extra chairs or an oversized table.

Dining area in small apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Just add shelves

Storage is an important necessity for every room in your home.

The less space you have in a home, the less room you have to store things. The simplest way to add storage is by installing some simple shelves. A full bookcase or floating shelves can be helpful in creating spaces to store necessary items.

If you have high ceilings, look for ways to build up with your shelving. In a room with high ceilings, shelving that goes up the wall takes the eye up with it, making the space feel taller and more open.

Shelves in a small apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Implement built-in storage

When shelves aren’t enough, it’s time to take the next step and build more robust storage solutions.

In this bedroom, a storage unit built into the side of the bed does double-duty as a stylish display for jewelry and accessories and as a divider separating the sleeping area from the rest of the home.

Integrating the storage into the bed also frees up enough space in this room for a small office, complete with a desk and chair, and an additional seating area with a vintage yellow side chair.

Built-in storage in small apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Make room in the kitchen

The kitchen is one of the best places to apply the lessons of adding shelves and building storage.

Often in small spaces, the cooking area is one of the first to suffer from a significant reduction in size. Adding shelves and built-in storage areas can help you keep everything you need to produce your culinary magic close at hand. They can also provide you with even more opportunities to be creative with your design ideas.

This small kitchen is saved with the addition of a built-in unit consisting of a few simple shelves and a rack for pots and pans. Shelving is also a great option for storing spices, plates, bowls, and other kitchen accessories.

Kitchen design in small apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Refresh the bedroom space

The bedroom is one of the rooms in the home where it’s most important to actually have space. The bedroom is usually the room we want to feel the most like our oasis and getaway, so it’s important that it doesn’t feel cramped or heavy. In this cozy bedroom, sheer curtains are an innovative way to allow light in so that the space doesn’t feel too cramped.

In a small bedroom, it’s also important to keep things simple. Instead of using oversized bedside tables to hold lighting and accessories, here, a sconce has been attached to the wall to free up space.

Finally, even in the smallest of rooms, finding room for a plant is always a good idea to bring in a taste of the outdoors while keeping things feeling fresh and lively.

Bedroom design in small apartment

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Whether you’re just designing into your first apartment or have become an expert, be sure to keep everything protected with Progressive. To learn more about comprehensive renters insurance, click here. 

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