In previous posts, we outlined the benefits of downsizing and provided five steps for downsizing to help you get started on the next chapter of your life. We even included a few design tips for furnishing senior living apartments. Now it’s time to imagine your new living space filled with style that reflects your tastes. It may mean replacing older furniture that fit a larger home but looks out of proportion in a smaller apartment. But with the tips below, you’ll learn how to decorate a small apartment so it doesn’t look small.
Photo provided by: Callum Mundine
- Right-size your furniture
The biggest mistake people make when downsizing their living space is taking their furniture with them. Furniture manufacturers have embraced the demand for boomers rightsizing to apartment homes and have scaled down their collections to fit smaller living spaces. When shopping for new furnishings, pay attention to scale and size. Everything looks smaller in a big furniture store. Know your measurements. And make sure the furniture you buy will fit into your elevator and through your new doorway.
- Go curvy
Most senior living apartments are boxy. Rounded, curved furniture and fixtures soften the hard angles. Round tables work well and are easy to walk around; consider placing them off-center on a wall or in front of a sofa. Round rugs work well under a round dining table or coffee table. Just make sure you get a rug large enough that the dining chairs still fit on it when you pull them out to eat.
- With natural light, paint walls white
White walls create an airy feel that makes a small room look more spacious. A white wall presents a clean, uncluttered base for showcasing artwork. White walls also make plants really stand out. Work with different hues of white – ivory, beige, straw, dove, light wood tones and silvery metals – to suit your decorating tastes. You can also mix textures and layers for an attractive tone-on-tone effect. One word of caution though. If a room doesn’t have much natural light, bright white walls can feel sterile and flat. The solution is to stay on the lighter side and consider a rich cream or light gray. Your space will still look larger than it is and, by contrasting the trim color, you can give your small space a lot of life.
- Hang your rod high
Install an extra-long curtain rod at or near the ceiling for floor-to-ceiling draperies. It’ll make your window appear both taller and wider. The fabric you choose for your curtain can also create an illusion of a larger space. Fabrics with vertical patterns add height. Floor-to-ceiling sheer white curtains will not only lengthen a room, they can brighten it as well.
- Mirrors open up small spaces
Mirrors reflect light deep into a room, making it appear larger. By reflecting both natural and artificial light, they brighten a room day and night. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors toward it to give a room more depth. Placing a mirror near a window to reflect the outdoors is especially effective. Mirrors on the walls will give your room a more open feel.
- Spread the light around
A single light source in the center of a room will only cast a pool of light on the middle of the floor. Instead, use multiple light sources, such as floor lamps in corners and table lamps on sideboards, to open up a room. Another trick for making a room look bigger is to use vertical space. Long pendants will draw the eye up and down, emphasizing the room’s height rather than its small floor space. Thin, tall lamps with smaller shades will also give you more space and emphasize the verticals in a room.
- Put corners to work
Sectional sofas were invented for a reason: they maximize available space. This same philosophy can be applied in just about every corner of your apartment. Create a cozy lounging nook with a chair and an oversized plant. Install floating corner shelves to showcase knickknacks and prized possessions. Keep books in decorative crates or bins in the corner, next to your favorite reading chair or sofa.
- Outfit your closet to maximize storage
Shop for your closet. There are many good organizing systems for fitting lots of garments in a small space. Keep shoes in bags, boxes or racks. Instead of unsightly plastic bins, consider linen storage organizers. They’ll help your clothing stay fresh by allowing air to circulate. Invest in zippered bags to keep out-of-season clothes dust-free.
- Built-in storage
A great way to add storage space to a room is to look for furniture pieces with extra space built in. A bed with built-in drawers underneath or a coffee table that doubles as a storage chest can give you extra space. Open shelving units provide space to stash things or put them on display, and they can do double duty as a room divider.
- Love it or leave it
Taking inventory of your current belongings is key when deciding how to decorate a small apartment. If you neither love it nor use it, toss it.
For more small apartment decorating ideas Better Homes & Gardens, Apartment Therapy and HGTV are good sources for design inspiration.
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