5 Ways to Design a Spacious Layout for Your Small Apartment


If you are down-sizing and moving from a larger place to a smaller one, you’ve probably already culled through your stuff to determine what you can save and what items you should dispose of. Let’s say you’re moving from a huge rural home in the hills of Austin, Texas to a downtown Austin apartment (rent prices are definitely on the rise here). What steps do you need to take?

You’ve had a garage sale, used Craigslist, given things to homeless shelters, and basically you are now down to it. You know what you need to take, but you’re worried that your smaller new digs are going to look really cramped and claustrophobic. Here are five great ways to make your new but smaller apartment look and feel bigger:

White, White, White

Don’t listen to the Rolling Stones, because you need to paint it white. Clean, bright and newly painted white walls go a long way toward giving your smaller apartment a big and spacious feel. Landlords frequently repaint before new tenants move in, so talk to your landlord and ask that they use a nice white color when they do. Dark walls can make your place look like a dungeon, and this simple step can make a huge difference. We like a matte finish for most walls except in the kitchen and bathroom areas where you can do a semi-gloss if you want.

Plus, learning how to make spaces feel bigger by painting will definitely come in handy if, and when, you decide to purchase your first home down the road.

Except for the Ceilings

Yes, we want white walls, but really savvy decorators are using rich blues and reds to paint small apartment ceilings. What this does is give a white-walled room a great feeling of depth—sort of like a never-ending blue night sky. Try it, and you can always paint over it if you don’t think the effect is pleasing.

Honor Thy Windows

Darkness is bad, light is good, and windows let in light. In some smaller units, light can be a precious commodity, so whatever you do, keep your stuff from blocking your best natural light sources. Simply don’t put things like dressers or headboards in front of windows. Avoid a kitchen spice shelf that covers even part of a window. Light is your friend, so do what is necessary to build that relationship.

Keep It Away from the Walls

What? I have 654 square feet (yes, it could get WAY smaller) and you are telling me to leave a three-inch space between my stuff and the walls? Yes, we are, because those three inches will help create the illusion of more space. Light will travel behind your big furniture items, and that will actually open things up.

Multi-task Your Closets

Ever see an old cartoon where an ironing board that was kept in a closet kept appearing and caused the characters to smash into it? OK, so you never iron, have never seen an ironing board and only know that the dry cleaner does something special to your clothes and you don’t know what. Regardless, get creative, study-up, and figure out how to use closets to store stuff you only use occasionally. While you’re at it, get a furniture catalog and see how bedframes can hold drawers for storage.

Yes, it’s a pain to downsize, but by using these five tips, your bright and airy new apartment is going to look great!


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