At some point in most people’s lives, a small living space, be it a studio apartment, a dorm room, or even parents’ basement or garage, will become “home”. While it’s good to recognize this temporary living arrangement for what it is, it’s still a great idea to make the most of it. After all, nobody wants to come home to a cramped and unattractive living space when it can be decked out to become a cozy, inviting one.

Clean and Tidy Small Apartment


It is unfortunate that most places with cheap rent do not provide ample natural light via sizable windows. You can make up for this by investing in the right kind of lighting.

Start by working on a lighting plan. Many small spaces look and feel even tinier due to inadequate and inappropriate illumination. You can remedy this by doing away with the stark, uniform lights that usually go with rentals, and going for layered illuminating fixtures, instead. This way, you can create depth and mood, and decorate in accordance with your personal tastes.

If your living space is boxy, you can lend it a semblance of spaciousness by using wall sconces so that the light gives off a beautiful, diffused glow upwards instead of casting shadows downwards. Forget about bulky floor lamps and tiered drop lights and chandeliers, as they will only take up precious space to move around in. Go for recessed lighting, as well.

LED lights are practical, sleek, space-saving, cost and energy-efficient ways to illuminate even the tiniest spaces in an interesting way. Even the most utilitarian nooks and crannies, such as those of cabinets and shelves, can be stylishly lit up for hours on end with LED lighting fixtures without racking up a huge electricity bill.

Editor’s Note: For more on selecting the right lighting, please see our article, well – Picking the Right Lighting for Any Room.


Hire a finish carpenter to work on customized furniture pieces in case you have awkwardly spaced nooks and crannies that can be transformed into something functional as well as ornamental, such as a cupboard or a bookcase. If an existing closet or cupboard does not serve its purpose and just seems to be in the way, rip it out. This will create more room both spatially and visually for you.


As with lighting, going for slender furniture pieces is a must to make the most out of a tiny living space. Bear in mind that for small rooms, bulk is out and slim is in. Forget the squashy armchairs, avante garde accents, and oversized wing chairs, for now. Instead, go for pieces with slender lines and non-fussy designs. Think nesting tables, stackable stools, telescope folding chairs, tables which can be folded, and hanging book ledges instead of cumbersome shelves and cases.

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Wall Treatments

Paint or paper your walls with something light and monochromatic to create the illusion of space. Avoid large prints and murals, as these can make a tiny room look cramped and busy. To open up the space even more, invest in medium-sized mirrors and place them strategically so they can reflect light. It’s also a good idea to adorn the mirrors with simple frames instead of highly stylized ones. Doing this allows them to look like decorative pieces that are still functional and space-saving.

Editor’s Note: For more effectively using mirrors in decorating, here’s an article – Mirrors: A Decorating Solution.


Therese Shaw lives in a cozy, tiny apartment herself with a cat and a computer as roomates. She has recently collaborated on home renovation and design with modern furniture replica experts instylemodern.com.

For more, here are 8 Clever Ideas to Maximize a Small Space from Architectural Digest.  For more from us on Apartment Living, please see that category. More on designing on a small budget, perhaps our article – Interior Design on a Budget.

Image courtesy of designexhibit.net