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How to Make a Small Apartment Look Big: 10 Little-Known Hacks

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I am the queen of small living spaces. I once lived in a 200-square-foot basement apartment in San Francisco. Then I moved on up to a 400-square foot garage apartment in Florida. Each time, I struggled with figuring out how to make a small apartment look big. By now, I’m a pro.

Below are my best tips for making your small space feel larger than it is.

10 Hacks that Make a Small Apartment Look Big

1. Paint the walls and ceiling white (or a light color).

Dark paint makes walls look closer, and thus makes a room look smaller. If you can, go with white! If you paint the ceiling the same white color, your apartment will look even larger. Avoid dark walls at all costs.

Notice in the above photo of the attic bedroom how they painted the walls AND ceiling AND beams all white. Imagine if they’d left the beams a dark brown color; it would visually cut off the rest of the ceiling, making the room feel darker and smaller.

2. Hang curtains higher than the window.

These curtains start from the ceiling, making the walls appear taller.

Even if you have short little window, frame them as if they’re large! When you’re hanging curtains, place the curtain rod at least a foot higher than the top of the window itself. Even better, place the curtain rod almost touching the ceiling.

Why? Anything that draws your eye upward will make your space feel larger.

Also, get long curtains that almost touch the floor or graze the floor. Again, this makes the walls seem taller than they actually are.

3. Have hanging plants or pendant lighting to draw the eye upward and make ceiling appear taller.

Again, it’s all about drawing the eyes upward. You can get ceiling hooks and install hanging plants. You can also get pendant lighting that hangs down from the ceiling.

To achieve this look:

4. Fill the space. Avoid tiny pieces and furniture.

When you have a small apartment or studio apartment, it can be tempting to buy tiny furniture because you think it’ll make the place more spacious. Wrong! Actually, what happens when you don’t fill the space is it can look smaller because the tiny pieces accentuate the tiny room.

Take a look at the bedroom photo above. That bedroom is TINY; the space is very narrow. They could’ve easily put a twin-sized bed in there, BUT if they’d done that, it would make the room feel juvenile and smaller. By putting a full-sized bed, hanging a pendant light, making the walls white, and hanging tall curtains, they actually make the room feel mature, bright, and spacious despite its small size.

Fill the space. When I had a 200-square-foot apartment, I actually had a queen bed and a full sectional couch in there! It really helped it feel like a “grown-up” room because it had substantial furniture. Pick one or two large pieces to start. Don’t go overboard and fill every space.

5. Use area rugs.

Area rugs can be used in a couple of ways. One, they can create “sections” of space in a studio apartment. Two, they can make the room appear larger because they accentuate large parts of the floor.

To achieve this look:

nuLOOM Modern Chic Zig Zag Trellis Tassel Shag Rug

6. Make use of natural light and windows.

In a small apartment, sunlight and windows are your best friends! Pull up those blinds and pull back your curtains. Accentuate windows where you can. Sunlit rooms feel more spacious and breezy.

Notice in the above photo how they utilized sheer, white curtains to allow more sunlight to flood into the gorgeous windows. It makes the room feel bigger than it actually is.

7. Mirrors are your friend.

If you don’t have many windows or much space, use mirrors to create the illusion of extra space and reflect more light into your apartment.

Some ideas for incorporating mirrors:

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Advice for Millennials shares real-life advice from real-life millennials about all the things they wish they'd known—from finance to health to careers.

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