You can make a success of small apartment decorating by thinking about it in three distinct stages.

  • Making the most of the structure. This can involve anything from adjusting walls to removing unnecessary features.
  • Making the most of color. The colors you select for your walls, floors, ceilings, fitments and furnishings will have a direct impact on your small apartment decorating.
  • Making the most of the space. Because by definition you don't have much space, you need to make the best possible use of the space available.

When these three factors are combined, you can successfully decorate your small apartment and at the same time make it into a comfortable home.

Making the most of the structure

(If you're renting the apartment, or for other reasons making adjustments to the structure isn't possible, then go the second section on 'Making the most of color'.)

If the apartment is a modern, purpose built one, then hopefully it's been designed to suit your purposes. But even with new apartments, you might find changes could improve it.


Walls and other features

Sometimes removing a wall can open up a small apartment. For example, you might have a separate living room and dining room, but each of them are so small (and doors taking up valuable space) that you'd be happier with a larger room. Using a table with folding sides you could make much more use of the room for everyday living.

Or you may have a large room next to a room so small that it's more like a closet. By moving the position of the wall between them you could have two reasonable sized rooms.

Sometimes doors between rooms aren't used, and one option is to remove the door altogether and have an arched entrance. It can add a real touch of style to an apartment.

Many older apartments have separate kitchens, which are often minute. Knocking these through into an adjoining room can make a more usable kitchen/diner.

So give some thought to the possibilities before you move on to the other sections on small apartment decorating.


Making the most of color

Color affects how we 'see' a room. Here are the basic ideas for color when used in home decorating.

  • Colors such as red, orange and yellow are considered to be warm colors, and seem to advance towards you. Because of this they are often used for more intimate spaces.
  • Blues and greens are considered cool colors, and seem to recede from you. These are used to make a space look larger.

When you use mixed colors, the warmth or coolness depends on the predominance of the hue used in the mix. For example, some greens can appear warm if they have a good proportion of yellow in them, or cool if there is more blue.

But don't get fixated on these ideas. Use them as guidance, but if you see a color you really like, use it. (You can find out more on this topic on the color theory pages.)


cool colors for apartment

By selecting a wallpaper with colors which recede, and using furniture painted in similar tones, this room is made to look open and inviting. Fabrics are chosen to blend in, adding to the fresh look.

Although you might not think of the picture frame and lamp base as providing accent colors, this is in fact what they are doing. The floor is a dark wood, and the items on the two pieces of furniture use this color and texture for contrast.


Separate color schemes, or just one?

Another important decision for small apartment decorating is whether you use a separate color scheme in each room, or just one for the whole apartment.

Actually, there's a middle way which can be very successful.

To provide continuity use one color or texture throughout the apartment. This could be the floor, same wood or carpet, or having the walls the same color. The within each room you could change certain features.

So if you chose to have the same floor thoughout, each room could have different wall colors. These would obviously have to be colors which went with the floor finish, but even though different, each room would be connected.


Video: IKEA Small Spaces - Small ideas. Here are some ideas from Ikea. Obviously they are advertising their products, but there's some good ideas which you can apply to any space.


Keep it all the same

If you decide to use the same finish for both your floor and walls for your small apartment decorating, you can add character to each room by using accent colors. By using different accent colors in each room you can give them their own unique effect.

These accent colors can be introduced in furniture covers, rugs, pictures, lamps, ornaments and furniture. This is a particularly good way of giving a room character when using a minimalist style, but also works well in every situation.


small apartment decorating with kitchen diner

To make this room comfortable - more like a dining room and less like a kitchen - the kitchen features have been played down and the dining room features emphasized.

Although the kitchen units are still there, an attractive wood finish as been chosen, and frosted glass used for the doors instead of having solid wood everywhere. The walls are kept plain with no tiles evident.

To emphasize the dining room, a rug has been placed under the table. Good quality furniture is used, and the chair seats are upholstered.

The result is an attractive and comfortable room, functioning both as a kitchen and a dining room.


Making the most of the space

Clutter in a small apartment will really emphasize the lack of space. So if you're an untidy person by nature, well ... now you know what to do!

There are many ingenious products on the market today for saving space. You'll find them in any store, and they really can make the most of the space when you start to implement your small apartment decorating.



  • Sofas which double up as beds
  • Home office units which close to hide all the 'stuff' you accumulate.
  • Storage units for every room in the apartment
  • Special storage units for kitchen cabinets
  • Storage units for bathrooms (install a vanity unit for the washbasin)

There are also some practical steps you can take.

  • Make sure your sofas don't have wide arms and deep backs, and that easy chairs are not too bulky.
  • Make use of every odd bit of space which isn't being used.
  • Organize your storage space, especially for clothes and shoes.
  • Use tables with folding sides which can be lowered when the table is not being used.

And so on. Also, don't forget when planning to leave room for people! Always leave enough room around furniture for people to move without bashing into things.


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