A compact space is frustrating from a design perspective. You're trying to make the room attractive, comfortable and inviting to visitors, but your ideas don't seem to fit. Instead of "comfortable," you're stuck with "cozy."
It's a recurring issue when moving into a new space in the city. The square footage doesn't accommodate your plans, and everywhere you turn, you have to compromise. You can't seem to break free of your limitations.
Fortunately, a minimalist mindset can start you moving in the right direction. You'll take full advantage of your layout and make a compact space feel twice its size. Get things started with these five simple suggestions.
1. Take Full Advantage of Vertical Space
Your walls are one of your most valuable assets in a smaller room. They deserve just as much attention as your floors, and though they can't support anything too heavy, they're perfect for shelves, cabinets and pegboard racks. These additions will free up your floor and clear away the clutter.
Of course, this suggestion isn't always applicable in every situation, but you'll find it's a useful strategy for managing your layout. If you have a bookshelf you don't need, just hang a few shelves from the wall and move the most essential items to their new home — easy as that.
2. Repurpose Your Existing Furniture
If you have a big piece of furniture you can't do without — and can't manage in your apartment — you don't have to sell it or send it home. With a dash of creativity, you can turn it into a functional part of the space. A china cabinet is an excellent example of how this idea can work.
Instead of using the cabinet to store plates or crystalware, fill it with dry goods from your pantry. Cans, jars and other items will fit nicely behind the glass, lending an almost rustic look to the room. You'll save yourself a lot of effort if you adapt your existing furniture instead of discarding it.
3. Adopt an Open Palette Approach
Open-minded landlords will occasionally allow their tenants to repaint the inside of their units. If you're lucky enough to enjoy that luxury, you should paint your walls white. Otherwise, keep an eye out for listings in a neutral palette. It's a far more compelling decision when you understand the case for white walls and their value for minimalism.
White walls provide an open palette approach, which means they're safe for a diverse variety of design choices. The colors of other items in the space won't clash with the paint, and you aren't going to encounter issues with your furniture, art or decor. White also makes a room feel more spacious.
4. Choose Furniture in Lighter Colors
On the subject of color, you should select furniture in lighter shades with a soft and airy appearance. Whites and grays are often effective for chairs and tables, especially when you pair them with a vibrant centerpiece. This palette may seem somewhat bland, but it only serves to emphasize your more daring design choices.
The color of the furniture isn't the only aspect of your pieces you need to keep in mind. Their legs will also contribute to their delicate, lightweight appearance. Look for acrylics, hairpin or MCM tapered legs to complete the aesthetic and get the most from smaller spaces.
5. Invest in Extra Storage Solutions
Storage is at a premium in an urban environment, where average square footage is only getting more compact. You have closets, of course, but they aren't always sufficient for holding your belongings. Excessive clutter is usually a good indication you need more storage solutions in your apartment.
If you've found it difficult to get around your apartment without tripping over discarded items, set aside some time to search online for under bed bins and similar storage products. It's far easier to organize your things when you have somewhere to place them.
Minimalist Design With Limited Space
A compact space is frustrating from a design perspective, but it just takes a bit of imagination. Rearrange the furniture, repurpose old pieces, paint the walls or follow another suggestion on this list. As long as you take a minimalist approach to your interior design, you'll make a big impact with a few small changes.
Holly Welles is a real estate blogger covering design, finance and market trends for apartment dwellers. You can find more of her work on her blog, The Estate Update.