How Interior Designers Make a Tiny Apartment Feel Like a Palace

Updated 06/03/19

Courtesy of Fantastic Frank 

It's no secret that spacious apartments are hard to come by, especially if you live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco that boasts sky-high rent prices. Sometimes you have to sacrifice square footage for the right location, but just because you live in a tiny apartment doesn't mean you can't make it look chic and appear larger than it actually is.

In fact, with the right layouts, furnishings, and organization tricks, even the smallest of dwellings can feel like a palace. That's why we tapped interior designers Michelle Gage and Brittany Marom to glean a few expert-approved tips on how to make the most of a small living space. Ahead, find out how to plan your layout, décor, storage, and accessories to create the abode of your dreams, no matter your square footage. You'll soon see that size doesn't always matter. 

Be Strategic with Your Layout

When it comes to main living areas, Gage advises grounding your furniture. "Don't have any furniture floating in the middle of the room," she says. Instead, focus your accent pieces around the sofa to make the space feel larger.

According to Marom, it's all about utilizing as much open space as possible, even if you're working with a studio apartment. "I would rather have an open studio than have a wall separating my living and sleeping areas," she notes. Gage agrees, suggesting that less is more, especially in the bedroom. Instead of crowding together a lot of different pieces, aim to source a select few items that are highly functional, the designer advises.

Harmony Down-Filled Sofa
West Elm Harmony Down-Filled Sofa $1499
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Consider Scale

Similar to Gage's views on how to furnish a tiny apartment, she also believes that decorating your walls with a few large pieces of art is the best way to approach décor. "In a small bedroom, a large piece of art over the headboard works better than two or three tiny ones," she explains. "Same goes for over the sofa. Skip the gallery wall and think about how best to cover your vertical wall space with fewer items," Gage continues.

Number 14
Marleigh Culver Number 14 $140
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Lighten Up Your Walls

If you're debating between a dark and light shade of paint, Gage advises you choose a white or soft gray hue for your small apartment's walls. "You can bring color into the space in other fashions like an amazing velvet tufted sofa, a cool woven vintage rug, or splashy artwork on the walls," she says.

Panna Cotta Premium Interior Paint
Magnolia Panna Cotta Premium Interior Paint $45
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Have a Place for Everything

When you're living in tight quarters, it's more important than ever to keep your space clean and organized—this way, your home will feel larger and more spacious thanks to the absence of clutter. "Have a designated place for everything you own and be diligent about straightening up at the end of each day," Gage recommends.

She also suggests seeking out functional pieces that do more than just look good. "For example, could your TV be placed on a larger dresser that has more storage than a low media console? Could you select bedside tables that have multiple drawers instead of one or none," the designer asks.

Edie Marble Inlay Nightstand
CB2 Edie Marble Inlay Nightstand $369
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Embrace Innovative Storage Methods

"Shelving, whether it's on the wall or in the form or a bookcase, is going to be your best friend because it takes advantage of vertical space," according to Gage. She suggests sourcing a bookcase with open shelving on top and closed cabinets on the bottom or even creating custom fit shelves to make an awkward nook a more functional space.

Marom also thinks that storage is key when it comes to decorating a tiny apartment. "The biggest issue with small spaces is lack of storage and closet space," she points out. To remedy this, the designer advises you invest in cool storage pieces for every room in your home. "Hanging racks for kitchen islands add a warm, homey feel and help alleviate space for pans," she says. "I also love displaying my dishes on dish racks," Marom adds.

Etta Corner Shelf
Urban Outfitters Etta Corner Shelf $159
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Find Room for Accessories

While you might be tempted to opt for a minimalistic setup in your small space, Gage isn't opposed to adding decorative objects to a home with limited square footage. "Just because you're in a small space doesn't mean that you should skimp on accessories," she says. "Sure, you may need fewer total pieces, but it's an area worth investing in." She suggests decorating your sofa with throw pillows, hanging art on the walls, and styling your coffee table with a couple of chic books.

Tasseled Chenille Nadia Pillow
Anthropologie Tasseled Chenille Nadia Pillow $48
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Shop Smart

Gage likes to shop stores like Anthropologie and CB2 for stylish yet functional furniture and décor. On occasion, she also turns to digital vintage outposts for one-of-a-kind items. "You can find a unique vintage piece from places like Etsy and Chairish—for something that adds a little pop and creates a huge impact in a small space," she points out.

Retro Wicker Metal Leg Chair
Chairish Retro Wicker Metal Leg Chair $125
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