You’ve discovered the perfect apartment—or at least as close to your ideal as you’re likely to find. Now it’s time to make it your own with equal dashes of functionality and flair. Even in a small apartment, you can go big on style. Short of knocking out a wall or replacing the kitchen cabinets, you have plenty of options to add personal touches.
1. Make a statement with color. Set the tone with a palette that unites and accentuates. One idea is to start with a prized possession—a comfy chair or gorgeous table lamp—and build your color scheme around it. For a smaller space, a couple of light-and-bright shades with a darker accent color may work best. Painting the walls might not be an option, but you can paint your furniture to bring the décor together—or in a range across your chosen palette to delineate distinct areas in an open-concept layout. Removable wallpaper, murals, and decals can also add dramatic statements. New peel-and-stick products are easy to apply (and remove), and they range from realistic brick and barnwood finishes to eye-catching geometric patterns and whimsical prints.
2. Define your living space. If most of your apartment is one big room, then you can simultaneously embrace the open space and stake out entry, dining, living and sleeping spaces with strategic placement of furnishings. To create a welcoming entryway, position a hall tree or a tall shelving unit refashioned for functionality: Replace the upper shelves with coat hooks around a mirror and place square baskets in the lower shelves to store hats, sunglasses, and shopping bags. A cupboard or buffet can help define the dining area, extend kitchen storage, and provide a serving surface. A swag light over the dining table will set this space apart from the living area with its own distinctive lamps. Area rugs can also designate zones, complement color themes and (bonus!) hide worn carpet or floorboards. In a studio apartment, position your couch or a couple high-backed chairs with their backs to the foot of the bed to delineate the sleep space.
3. Add smart storage. Shelving choices abound to reduce clutter and set off your décor, from tall industrial-style metal units to wooden bookshelves to floating shelves on the walls to display framed art, photos, and small knickknacks. Look for coffee tables with storage shelves or drawers. Stick a wicker hamper or stackable wood boxes in a bare corner to store linens. Let no space go wasted.
4. Dress up the windows. Make the light through your windows a focal point of your living space with colorful curtains or a curvy valance to cover bland miniblinds when they’re not in use. With a simple rod and curtain hook rings, you can hang any type of fabric. Base plant choices on the available light to create an indoor garden, and position your table or desk accordingly if you’ve got a room with a view.
5. Nurture your inner neatnik. The smaller the space, the more quickly messes can pile up. To live comfortably in a small space—and show off the style you’ve worked so hard to achieve—develop the habit of putting things back where they belong and decluttering regularly. You may not be able to call your apartment spacious, but with a little planning and ongoing maintenance, you can declare it just right.