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Think Your Place Is Small? (Articles)
Aug 16, 2011

If you think your apartment is small, it may be a palace compared to the New York City apartment depicted in this recent video feature on Gothamist.com. It's a 78-square-foot studio with no bathroom. (A shared bathroom can be found nearby in the hallway.)

The current tenant, who had been used to a 96-square-foot rental, draws on his abilities as an architect to make the most of his space. For example, he uses the rental as both a bedroom and a home office by converting the bed to a couch, and he thinks about what he could get rid of before buying something new.

If you need to make your place look and feel bigger, here are some practical tips you can follow. What advice would you suggest to other tenants who want to maximize their space?

One thing you can't do as a renter is make your apartment bigger. But, when it comes to decorating for small spaces, there's nothing to stop you from making your apartment look and feel bigger. In fact, the good news is there's a lot you can do to make that happen.

Remember how your apartment looked the day you moved in? Your place was certainly no larger that day than it is now, yet it probably appeared bigger to you. An apartment almost always looks its biggest when it's empty, and once you start to add furniture and decorations, your home will tend to start looking and feeling smaller.

Fortunately, with smart planning and careful decor decisions, you can minimize this effect and help make even small spaces look and feel bigger.
Ideas for Making Your Place Look And Feel Bigger

Here are some suggestions to make your apartment look and feel bigger:

Use light colors. Thinking of painting your apartment walls? Consider this: Light colors tend to make a room look bigger, while dark colors may have the opposite effect. Say you're expecting a baby girl and want to paint your nursery pink. If you fall in love with a certain pink color, strongly consider choosing a lighter shade of it. Most paint manufacturers offer palettes that show how lighter or darker shades appear, as well as small paint sizes so you can sample one or more colors at home.

It's always a good idea to buy a sample of any color you're considering to see how it looks on your wall before you redo the room. Very often, people are surprised to see that the color they liked looks darker than they thought, possibly because of the lighting in the room.

In addition to wall colors, if your rooms are on the small side, consider staying away from dark colors or wood stains when it comes window treatments and furniture.

Declutter. Keeping your apartment looking organized and free of clutter creates a sense of openness and serenity. Try to keep your desk clear of papers, drink bottles, and the like. If you must keep documents on your desk, instead of in a drawer, arrange them into neat piles, rather than give the appearance of a disorganized or scattered mess.

Be more selective with wall decor. When it comes to wall decor, you have so many options. But before you rush to fill up your walls with framed pictures, prints, and the like, consider placing a limit on the amount of wall space you'll cover. If your walls are almost completely covered with hangings and other decorations, they can start to feel like a busy mosaic that threatens the open feeling of a room.

Leave breathing room around furniture. If you're buying, say, a bedroom set, it can be tempting to buy more pieces than you need, especially if you get extra savings with additional pieces. But just because a piece of furniture "fits" doesn't mean it's the right choice for the room. You have to consider the room's decor, as well. Pieces of furniture crammed into a room may provide maximum storage, but such an arrangement can lead to a busy feeling. Going sparser with furniture creates more open spaces in a room, which makes the room look and feel bigger.

When it comes to a specific spot in your apartment that you're trying to furnish or decorate, try to leave some breathing room between the edge of the furnishings or decor and the boundary of the area.

For example, say you have just over 42 inches of space between the trim of your bathroom door and that of a closet door. You find a console table you love that measures 42 inches wide. Perfect, right? Not really. While this table might technically fit in the space, it will almost certainly create a stuffy feeling in the room. A table that measures 34 inches in width allows for breathing room on either side. When you look at the space, you'll see the table along with some extra space on either side that gives the feeling of openness.

Keep the air fresh and clean. To make your apartment feel -- and not just look -- bigger, you should consider the air quality as well. Weather permitting, keep a window or two open to allow fresh air to enter your apartment and stale scents to escape. Consider adding plants and room fresheners to enliven the air as well. An apartment that feels stale or stuffy can be stifling.

Lighting. Make sure your apartment is adequately lit. Dim lighting casts a shadow on your home, making colors appear dull. This, in turn, can create the feeling that a home feels smaller than it really is.

Open blinds and other window treatments during the day to let the sunshine in. (This can also help keep heating bills down.) Check the maximum wattage limitations for your lighting fixtures. If you're using 60-watt bulbs on a fixture that allows for up to 100 watts, consider changing your bulbs if you feel the lighting is inadequate. If your apartment doesn't have much or any overhead lighting, floor lamps can do the trick to illuminate a room. When it comes to lampshades, opt for lighter-colored, more translucent ones that allow more light to permeate the room.

Mirrors. A mirror is both functional and decorative, but it's also illusional. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and, until you saw your reflection on a long mirrored wall, you weren't quite sure whether the restaurant was twice the size? I'm not recommending that you plaster your apartment walls with mirrors, but the point is that a large, well-placed mirror or two can give the impression that your apartment is bigger than it is. Plus, a mirror that has a frame to match the colors and style of your room also serves to enhance your apartment's decor.

 

 

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