20 Modern Apartment Ideas to Make Your Space Feel Bigger and Brighter

DESIREE BURNS INTERIORS

DESIREE BURNS INTERIORS

New Yorkers know this better than anyone: In a small apartment, the best solution is to make your space feel bigger and brighter. So how do you decorate for small spaces? While many petite apartments feel cluttered and dark, the best thing you can do with limited space is to give it the appearance of airiness. Think of all-white modern apartment décor with textured fabrics and little clutter.

This can be achieved with a minimal color palette, clever window treatments, and multipurpose furniture. There are also a few things to avoid—dark and bulky furniture, too many decorative accessories, and inadequate lighting. To achieve the simplistic look, you'll have to let go of unused items and hand-me-downs that don't perfectly fit your layout.

Your space is about to feel 10 times bigger: Read on to learn 20 modern décor tips for small apartments.

01 of 20

Paint It White

BECCA INTERIORS

BECCA INTERIORS

White walls aren't just a trend for clean, bright spaces—they're also a designer trick to make a room feel more open. By pairing sleek white paint with natural colors in the furniture, Becca Interiors makes this apartment feel larger without sacrificing the warmth of earthy tones. When it comes to choosing colors, stick to neutral palettes like tan leather, wood, and woven textures while keeping more colorful accents contained in artwork and décor.

02 of 20

Embrace Natural Light

HOUSE SPRUCING

HOUSE SPRUCING

In this space by House Sprucing, the use of simple, sheer white window shades lets more light in and makes the room appear brighter. Say goodbye to blackout curtains and those outdated blinds that came with your apartment: Sheer curtains or woven shades still provide plenty of privacy, but without darkening your rooms. This is especially important for those south- and west-facing windows that receive the most natural light.

03 of 20

Create Visual Height

SPACE EXPLORATION

SPACE EXPLORATION

If your ceilings are low, choose a white shade pendant light that won't visually clutter the room. Even without creating more living space, adding visual height draws the eye up to make an area feel larger. Because this light fixture blends into the ceiling, the room feels airy from top to bottom.

Nelson™ Saucer Pendant Lamp
Modernica Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp $695
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04 of 20

Reflect With Mirrors

JESSICA NELSON DESIGN

JESSICA NELSON DESIGN

Another long-lasting interior designer trick is the use of mirrors in small spaces. By bouncing natural light across the room, large mirrors cleverly make your space appear larger when you're working with low-light areas. In this living room, Jessica Nelson Design matches the fireplace mirror's finish to the coffee table for an elegant, uniform vibe.

In small, dark hallways or those corners of rooms that don't see much natural light, use a full-length floor mirror that spans the wall's height to add visual space.

05 of 20

Layer Lighting

BESPOKE ONLY

BESPOKE ONLY

Layered lighting combines an overhead source with lights at eye level, like lamps, sconces, and unique table pieces. In this Upper East Side space, Bespoke Only uses uniform sphere-shaped lights at varying levels to create visual interest. A globe lamp brightens the room's darker corners, while hanging pendants and a large mirror bring attention to tall ceilings.

06 of 20

Keep It Clear

WHITE ARROW

WHITE ARROW

If your space is especially-limited, choose clear furniture that can virtually disappear in the room. Pieces made of glass, lucite, and acrylic all add an element of class with shiny surfaces and a sleek finish. Pair clear furniture with your favorite colorful décor and natural accents for a look that spruces up those tricky corners without standing out against bright walls.

Charles Hollis Jones Demilune Clear Lucite Console Table $1900
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07 of 20

Opt for Open Shelving

CASA WATKINS LIVING

CASA WATKINS LIVING

Rather than hiding your best dinnerware behind outdated cabinet doors, strip the hardware down and opt for open shelving on upper cabinets. Open shelves make your space feel larger and give the appearance of additional height. In this kitchen by Casa Watkins Living, natural wood shelves replace upper cabinets for an airy feeling.

08 of 20

Forget the Table

MILK AND HONEY LIFE

MILK AND HONEY LIFE

If you don't have room for a dining table, use comfortable stools to create cozy island seating in the kitchen. Not only does an island allow you to tuck the stools away when they're not in use, but it also adds another cooking surface for small kitchens with limited space. Milk and Honey Life matched this island with other wood details in the room to warm up the white walls, create plenty of surface area, and save space with stools.

09 of 20

Go Green

THOMAS RICHTER; DESIGN: SPACE EXPLORATION AND WHITE ARROW

THOMAS RICHTER; DESIGN: SPACE EXPLORATION AND WHITE ARROW

You don't have to have a green thumb to bring beautiful greenery to your space. In apartments that lack those lush, leafy views, bring the outdoors inside by incorporating plants in your interior. If you're not the plant parent type, opt for faux leaves staged in attractive vases for a touch of color without the upkeep.

faux phoenix palm leaf
CB2 Faux Phoenix Palm Leaf $15
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10 of 20

Use Minimal Bathroom Colors

HOUSE NINE

HOUSE NINE

Keep a small bathroom's color palette to a minimum. Even if you want to go bold with a single tone, be sure to keep other accents in the room like towels, floor mats, and vanity storage simple. In this bathroom by House Nine, white tiled walls complement a natural wood mirror and dark vanity without overwhelming the space with color.

11 of 20

Lighten Up With Linens

CHARLIE INTERIOR DESIGN

CHARLIE INTERIOR DESIGN

Keep all your linens white to make your bathroom feel like a five-star hotel. It's also helpful to mix different textures for visual effect when working with white rooms, like pairing fluffy rugs with sleek towels and sheer curtains. In this bathroom by Charlie Interior Design, built-in cabinets create the perfect place to display white linens alongside a hanging towel rack.

12 of 20

Incorporate Matching Hardware

JESSICA HELGERSON

JESSICA HELGERSON

In bathrooms with neutral color schemes, a touch of color in the hardware adds an expensive-looking flair. Use antique brass or gold accents in your lighting and hardware to make the space feel more luxe and layered. Simple tones like white walls, marbled tile, and a bit of greenery pair well together for an elegant vibe that won't feel busy.

Thomas O'Brien Dresser Long Glass Rod Light $695
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13 of 20

Make Multi-Use Areas

HOUSE NINE

HOUSE NINE

If you don't have a dedicated home office, try creating a multipurpose dining area and office with clever accessorizing and storage. In this clever use of space by House Nine, a nook in the corner of the living room can serve as a family dining table or comfortable office bench. Pendant lights and lush pillows brighten the area while keeping it functional for mixed use.

14 of 20

Be Bold

MARY PATTON DESIGN

MARY PATTON DESIGN

While you may not have the space to dedicate an entire room to your home office, there's still a way to embrace color without making it feel busy. If you can't live without those bright, vibrant hues, keep your palette to a minimum. In this office by Mary Patton Design, a monochrome tone cleverly blends seating with painted bookshelves for a burst of personality that still feels uniform.

If you're using bold colors, keep the rest of the room as neutral as possible—pair bright walls and furniture with earthy or white-colored rugs and accessories to soften the space.

15 of 20

Store Higher, Not Wider

AMBER INTERIORS

AMBER INTERIORS

Use wall-mounted storage to organize your books and maximize the height of your space. In this home office, double bookshelves in a white finish add storage solutions while creating a chic, clean vibe. Add pops of greenery and natural tones throughout shelving to bring colors together for a dynamic overall look.

stairway white 96" wall mounted bookcase
CB2 Stairway White Wall-Mounted Bookcase $399
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16 of 20

Stay Low

THOMAS RICHTER; DESIGN: SPACE EXPLORATION AND WHITE ARROW

THOMAS RICHTER; DESIGN: SPACE EXPLORATION AND WHITE ARROW

A low-slung bed gives your ceilings the appearance of height, so by choosing furniture that's low to the ground, your rooms will automatically feel larger. This floor bed doesn't lose even a hint of style with its textured linens and patterned throw, and the use of a large white area rug feels sleek against the walls. A large pendant lamp exaggerates the ceiling height to complement the bed's low level.

17 of 20

Mix and Match Textures

MILK AND HONEY LIFE

MILK AND HONEY LIFE

Layer multiple soft textiles like rugs, blankets, and bedding in shades of white to blur the lines and create a coherent whole. In this bedroom by Milk and Honey Life, a mixture of linen, plush blankets, and natural wood grains combine for a dreamy farmhouse vibe. White walls match the dominant bedding, while unique bedside tables bring out colors from accessories and the bed's frame.

18 of 20

Lessen Your Décor

THE HOUSE ON HILLSIDE LANE

THE HOUSE ON HILLSIDE LANE

Accessorize minimally with ambient lighting and greenery to keep your space feeling calm, organized, and functional. Bedrooms with simple linen sets look airy and open, and incorporating plants makes the room feel fresher. In this space by The House on Hillside Lane, bright linen bedding complements trailing plants and neutral wood tones for a clean finish.

Parachute Linen Duvet Cover Set $289
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19 of 20

Play Up Windows

DESIREE BURNS INTERIORS

DESIREE BURNS INTERIORS

If you're lucky enough to live in a space with plenty of large, bright windows, use them as your focal point. Organize the room to place furniture near windows for an open, airy look that won't feel closed-in (even if you're working with limited space). In this living room by Desiree Burns Interiors, a green couch styled in front of floor-to-ceiling windows complements outdoor greenery and houseplants.

20 of 20

Mount Lighting

TRUE HOME

TRUE HOME

To save space on side tables and other valuable surface areas in a small apartment, mount your lighting directly on the walls. Not only does it make more room for plants and other décor (goodbye, floor lamps!), it also creates a sleek, modern look. In this space by True Home, industrial sconces hang above the couch to brighten the room with a calming, clean vibe.

WEST ELM
West Elm Sculptural Glass Globe Sconce - Clear $99
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