Maximizing Usable Space in a Small Apartment
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Maximizing Usable Space in a Small Apartment

Tips on making the best design choices in a small apartment space

A small apartment poses several challenges to occupants trying to fit their entire lives into a limited amount of space. By using a few techniques and tricks that focus on functional space and self-editing a small apartment can feel homey, welcoming and not over crowded and cluttered.

Shelves and Storage

When attempting to make your apartment look good while maintaining high functionality storage and shelving should be your biggest concerns. There are key places in an apartment where shelving is not only most efficient in terms of functionality and storage but also aid in making the apartment look larger and more put together.

If you apartment has low ceilings, try hanging shelves just above eye level. Lower hung shelves can appear to cut the room in half and accentuate lower ceilings. Corner shelving units with multiple tiers can optimize otherwise unused space and provide much needed storage. Corner shelving also plays a slight trick on the eye, emphasizing the corner and seeming to push the walls away from the viewer. This subtle optical illusion can make a room feel much larger than it is. Take care not to put shelves in every corner, however as this will immediately give the room a cluttered appearance.

Try to include some kind of storage aspect in as many pieces of furniture possible. A lift-top coffee table allows for usable tabletop space and storage space beneath where items can be hidden from view yet easily reached. Television stands and entertainment centers are excellent sources of storage space. Your television stand can contain shelves not only on the front but on either side. By including as much storage as possible in these standard furniture items you are taking full advantage of the space taken up by each piece.

Wall Space

Shelves aren’t the only way to maximize the functionality of your wall space in a small apartment. To the side of your apartment’s main entryway, try hanging a series of hooks at varying levels as a wall mounted coat rack. The small holes created by the hooks are easy to patch and this frees up valuable closet space for storage.

If your television set is capable of being mounted a wall, you should definitely mount it. Wall space is primarily nonfunctional display space and by moving your television off of the floor you are creating more usable space in the room and open the floor plan.

To save space on shelves, hang as many of your family photos on the wall as possible. By arranging your photos in an interesting way on an empty wall you are opening up shelving for functional storage and create an affordable focal point in a room.


In small apartments seating is usually one of the most pressing issues. There are a number of ways to accommodate several seating options without over crowding a smaller living space. One of the most important things to remember is that it is your home and you’re totally allowed to move your furniture around as you need.

Stackable chairs can be a life saver when it comes to seating in small spaces. When choosing dining room chairs for a dining area that is directly off of a living room space, try picking chairs that are easily stacked on top of one another. This will ensure that when the dining table is not in use, the functional space around the table is still usable for traffic.

Many apartment dwellers make the mistake of kiddy cornering their couch at an angle in a corner. This technique creates a lot of dead space behind the couch that is only functional for a lighting option, if there is an outlet there. Instead of killing the space behind your couch, try choosing a corner couch that will maximize the functionality of the space it takes up.

Functional Vs. Nonfunctional Knick-Knacks

A nonfunctional knick-knack is an item meant solely for display. When the usable space in your home is limited nonfunctional knick-knacks should be used with a mindset of self-editing. This is not to say that you should not show off your favorite bobble heads, figurines or autographed footballs but rather to limit the amount of nonfunctional knick-knacks that also have no sentimental or emotional value.

Examples of functional knick-knacks include decorative baskets that add additional storage, unique lighting fixtures that add to ambient lighting and glassware with personality. To help you decide if an item at the home goods store is functional or nonfunctional think to yourself “will I ever do more with this item than look at it and dust it?” If the answer is “no,” than you have a nonfunctional knick-knack in your hand and should most likely leave it behind. Too many small curio items can make a room look cluttered and devour space that could be used for more functional items.

A small apartment does not need to feel cluttered or under decorated. There is a middle ground when decorating a small space where storage, functionality and comfort are maximized without sacrificing any of your personal style.

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Comments (4)

Excellent. Sorry, I'm out of votes

Some new information for me. Thanks for sharing.

Outstanding piece of work here.

Very helpful information well presented. Promoted.