7 Life-Saving Solutions for Decorating a Small Apartment

Trust us: you'll want to take notes for this one.

My S.O. and I often joke that our apartment might as well be a treehouse. Stacked on top of two other units, it comes with sweeping views of local pinewoods, but it's also about as cramped as a one-room wooden box. Cute in theory, but not exactly comfortable.

As you can imagine, I've learned to be strategic when styling our small apartment. Here are some tried-and-true decorating tricks I've picked up from my favorite designers. ICYW, our little treehouse is already looking a lot better.

1: Versatile Color Palettes

Design by Lauren Geremia

White Contemporary Master Bedroom With Round Mirror
Laure Joliet Photography

Design by Joe Human

Blue Contemporary Bedroom With Striped Wallpaper
Colby Edwards

White Contemporary Master Bedroom With Round Mirror

The master bedroom is tucked away on the top floor of the home, where a clever built-in dresser saves floor space. Textiles are neutral with gold accents, and the circular mirror over the bed is a nice complement to the geometric light fixture.

Blue Contemporary Bedroom With Striped Wallpaper

Dark, masculine suit-stitch textile wallpaper creates a dashing look in this bedroom. For added luxury, the designers mixed light and dark tones and soft textiles for the bedding. Gold accents finish the space off. Wallpaper: Maya Romanoff wallcovering

From: Joe Human

If you have permission to paint your rental's walls, there are two things you should know: 1) I'm totally jealous and 2) Off-white isn't your only option. Though lighter colors make a space feel bigger and more open, darker shades work just as well by blurring a room's lines and edges.

For example, check out the two bedrooms above. Where Lauren Geremia painted the walls a crisp white to create an open and airy aesthetic, Joe Human used navy pinstripes to make a soothing, sleep-inducing space. Although they're different, both hues work wonders in a small apartment.

2: Apartment-Sized Staples

Eclectic Living Space Is Relaxed, Stylish

Eclectic Living Space Is Relaxed, Stylish

A family of five needed a relaxed yet beautiful living space using items they already owned and wanted to incorporate into the overall design. Designer Sarah Wittenbraker created this stunning living room doing just that; she achieved a stylish, eclectic design by mixing furniture pieces of contrasting styles.

Photo by: Sarah Wittenbraker

Sarah Wittenbraker

Nothing captures the struggle of small-space living quite like Ross Geller shouting "Pivot!" over his new sofa. Instead of heaving and squeezing a standard sectional into your living room, choose furniture that's already fit to scale. Many major retailers like West Elm and Pottery Barn have stylish lines designed specifically for apartment-dwellers.

And when you want extra sitting room for your five closest friends? Make like designer Sarah Wittenbraker above and pair your sweet apartment-sized sofa with two gorgeous, space-appropriate armchairs.

3: Low-Level Furnishings

Blue and Gray Midcentury Living Room With Ottomans

Blue and Gray Midcentury Living Room With Ottomans

Don Draper would feel right at home in this midcentury modern style living room with its crisp blue-and-gray palette and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Photo by: Caitlin McCarthy Design

Caitlin McCarthy Design

Low-level furniture is another savvy solution for renters. By keeping your sofa close to the ground or forgoing a traditional bed frame, you'll create the illusion of taller ceilings. You'll also have more wall-space for artwork or to showcase skyline views, like designer Caitlin McCarthy did in this cool, midcentury-inspired loft.

4: Raised Curtains

Blue Eclectic Living Room With Floral Curtains

Blue Eclectic Living Room With Floral Curtains

Dramatic artwork and a long wood cabinet keep the colorful style of this eclectic living room from feeling precious. The floral curtains deliver the biggest hit of pattern; a solid blue sofa and aqua walls temper the small, busy print.

Photo by: Laure Joliet Photography

Laure Joliet Photography

If curtains aren't already at the top of your home decor must-haves, they will be after this read. Not only is it tres chic to layer your space with floral fabrics a la designer Jessica McClendon, but hanging them a hair higher than the window gives the room more height and dimension.

5: Dual-Purposes Pieces

Vintage Meets Modern Bedroom

Vintage Meets Modern Bedroom

Although this bedroom space looks small, every bit of it is used. A large vintage wardrobe is perfect for storage space. Burgundy throw pillows adorn a white poster bed.

Photo by: Regan Wood

Regan Wood

That said, when you're strapped for square footage, it pays to have dual-purpose pieces on deck. In this eclectic bedroom from designer Allison Lind, a vintage trunk works overtime to display pillows and store linens, while a shelf over the bed doubles as a nightstand for odds-and-ends. The result? Every inch counts.

6: Contrasting Curves

Chic Dining Area Features Modern White Dining Table

Chic Dining Area Features Modern White Dining Table

Contemporary leather dining chairs with sleek metal bases surround a modern white dining table, carving out a dining area in this open concept home. Behind the table, a white bookshelf showcases a chic display of accessories.

Photo by: Claire Esparros for Homepolish

Claire Esparros for Homepolish

Apartments tend to be linear and boxy, so tossing a few curves into the mix will definitely draw visual interest. We suggest investing in a round coffee table, nightstand or a beautiful modern dining set like designer Justin DiPiero did. Bonus: They take up less space than square pieces.

7: Barely-There Accents

Contemporary Bedroom With White Dresser

Contemporary Bedroom With White Dresser

A small desk adorned with a computer creates a small work space in this contemporary bedroom. The white dresser pairs well with the desk chair featured in this space.

Photo by: Joyelle West

Joyelle West

Another way to avoid cramping your space's style? Opt for minimalist furniture. Thanks to their barely-there design, Lucite desks and floating shelves offer great functionality without the visual clutter. We love how designer Barbara Vail used both to create a workspace that blends right into the walls.

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