Small wooden table with telescope books and potted plants in modern dining room

Try These Tricks if You Need to Decorate a Small Living Space

How to Decorate an Apartment or Townhouse

One of the drawbacks of apartments and townhouses is that they typically don’t have the spacious rooms that a freestanding house has – nor do they have as many rooms. This often proves to be a challenge for homeowners in terms of storage and decoration. When there’s only so much space available, a room can quickly seem cramped and cluttered.

Nothing makes a house feel less like a home than claustrophobia. Luckily, there are a few hacks and tricks that you can apply to a small space which will have it looking great and functioning optimally.


Mirrors that are placed opposite a window reflect the light and bounce it around the room, which creates an airier feel, as well as the illusion of space. Choose a very large mirror, and the effect will be even more impressive.

This is a favourite hack among interior designers, and mirrors don’t have to be used exclusively in living spaces and bedrooms. To create an illusion of space in small kitchens, hang a single mirror above the stove or at eye level in an open space on the wall. If your kitchen is narrow, hang a longer mirror horizontally along one wall, placing it in a position above the counters so that it is visible. In a kitchen, try to stick to a single mirror, as more than one may seem overwhelming. A reflective backsplash between kitchen appliances and cupboards also works well.

In small bedrooms, hang a mirror above the bed to create a sense of depth in the room. If your closets are particularly small, installing a mirror on one of the closet doors will make them seem roomier.

When it comes to mirrors, the trick is to hang them strategically. Always consider what they are reflecting – light and open space are ideal and are very effective.

decorating an apartmentLight colours

Opting for lighter colours automatically makes a space seem bigger than it actually is. Neutral colours, like those that are used in the Scandinavian style, are very popular at the moment.

Also, don’t just stick to a single colour throughout the room. Rather opt for different tones of the same hue throughout a room. If a room that is entirely white doesn’t appeal to you and makes you think of trips to the hospital, you can always paint three walls in a lighter tone, and accentuate the fourth wall with a dramatic splash in another colour.

Of course, you don’t just have to stick to whites and variations on that theme. Citrus tones, lighter greens and blues, and pastels are just as effective to create the idea of more space.

Floating shelves

Installing floating shelves is an easy way to store books and ornaments, and they don’t take up any of your precious floor space. Add the fact that they look beautiful, and you have a décor element that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Wondering where to install them? In the kitchen, add to lacking cupboard space by installing floating shelves wherever you have wall space. In the study or home office, install them above a desk for easy access. In the bedroom, floating shelves can be installed above your nightstand or even above your headboard.

apartment decorating


Metallic colours are coming back in a big way, and just like mirrors, they reflect light to make a space seem bigger than it is. Light fixtures, metallic chandeliers and frames are small things that can make a big difference. Of course, you don’t have to go full glitter on this one. Paints with just a slight shimmer still reflect light much more effectively than matte paints do.

Choose furniture that has storage space

Another way to avoid having things like tables, bookcases, chests and cabinets take up floor space, is to choose furniture that has storage space built in. Having extra space to store things helps you to get rid of clutter, which can also make a space seem much smaller than it is.  Tiered coffee tables, console cabinets and ottomans and benches with removable top cushions are popular space-saving furniture.

Things like nesting tables and other furniture that stack together and can be pulled out are novel and clever ways of maximising surface and storage space when you need it, but keeping it clean when you don’t.

In the living room, an entertainment centre works well, as it keeps all your electronics, audiovisual gear, CDs, DVDs and records neatly organised in one place.

Use dividers in open plan spaces

If you have an open plan bachelor flat or apartment, using room dividers – either curtain dividers or divider screens – can make a single room seem much more spacious. In essence, room dividers create an extra wall that splits a single room into two. Maximise the space in both “rooms” by using some other space-saving hacks and tricks, and Bob’s your uncle.

apartment decoratingUse every nook and cranny

When decorating small spaces, make sure to use every little bit of space. The corners of a room often go underutilised, but are great places to put pieces of accent furniture or bookcases.

Hang your curtains the right way

Install your curtain rails just a few centimetres from the ceiling to create the illusion of bigger windows. To make a narrow window seem wider, allow the curtain rail to extend a few centimetres past the windowpanes. When choosing curtains, try to have them closely match the colours of the walls. When the curtains match the walls, it creates an unbroken line, which gives the illusion of space. For something a little bolder, go for curtains with vertical stripes or designs. Elaborate horizontal and floral patterns tend to dominate a room and make it feel less spacious – avoid them.


A small space can be beautiful and functional if you know how to decorate it, but if creating space is your goal, there are loads of ways to decorate rooms that really seem much more roomy than they actually are. Use these tips and watch a space expand right before your eyes.