Whether you're decorating a new apartment or looking to breathe new life into your existing digs, it's always a good time to level up your surroundings. Redecorating offers you the chance to take some design risks, fix something that's been bugging you for a while, or make your space function even better.
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But, as anyone who has ever rented can tell you, when you live in an apartment your home improvement projects are somewhat limited to temporary (read: reversible) remedies. Unless, of course, you have a really cool landlord who is willing to let you make permanent adjustments. Another roadblock tends to be a lack of square footage. Working with a small space can get a little tricky. No need to panic. Believe it or not, there are plenty of rental-friendly solutions just waiting to be discovered.
Ready to get started? Scroll ahead for 20 creative apartment decorating ideas that will help you beautify your humble abode.
1. Reflect light with mirrors.
Allow us to let you in on a little interior design secret: Mirrors can help make small spaces appear brighter and larger than they really are, since they reflect light. This trick will prove helpful in a dimly lit room, which apartments are notorious for having. Not to mention mirrors are highly versatile — they come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, styles, and finishes. Plus, they look good in any room of the house.
2. Curate a gallery wall.
One quick and easy way to add a bit of personality and a pop of color to your apartment is with artwork. Consider a gallery wall to fill that blank space above your sofa. Nowadays, there is a plethora of sources like Society6 where you can get eye-catching and unique prints without breaking the bank.
3. Try hanging curtains as room dividers.
Privacy can be hard to come by in a small apartment, especially if you live in a studio or loft. Using a curtain as a room divider (even if it's just around your bed) is an easy and splurge-free way to divide your space. Try layering sheer white curtains to create an ethereal effect for an added bonus.
4. Welcome greenery.
Lush foliage is an easy apartment decorating idea that will instantly add visual interest, texture, and color to your space. If square footage is at a premium and you don't have room on the floor for potted plants, consider a vertical garden — it's a relatively simple DIY project if you're up for the challenge. Just be sure there's natural light nearby for your new plants.
5. Go way up high with wrap-around shelving.
Have you ever stopped to think about all of the unused space near the ceiling? There's a lot of it! Don't just let it go to waste — fill it with wrap-around bookshelves. Positioning the shelves just below the ceiling draws the eyes up and makes the room seem taller, while the continuous line created by wrapping the shelving around the room makes it seem bigger. Plus, you get those pesky space-eating books out of the way, and you don't have to take up valuable floor space with a bookcase.
6. Delineate certain areas with an area rug.
In an open apartment layout, such as a studio or loft, rugs are a great way to designate boundaries between two areas. With the help of color, pattern, and texture, they act as a subtle yet effective transition from one spot to the next. Additionally, area rugs will enhance the overall design and add a soft, cozy layer.
7. Keep it organized.
One of the secrets to successful apartment decorating is finding creative and stylish ways to stay organized. We know this doesn't sound like the sexiest idea, but decluttering your space is half the battle. For example, this coat/shoe rack ladder is a compact and appealing way to keep your entryway looking its best.
8. Dare to paint your trim.
A small and often overlooked detail in an apartment is the trim — on the windows, doors, ceiling, and walls. However, it can really make a big impact, as you can see in this bathroom. The contrast of black window trim against the white walls really catches the eye and makes the space feel a bit taller as it draws your gaze upward. If you're not ready to go all the way black, just make sure you pick a dark enough hue to contrast the paint color of your walls.
9. Get creative with pegboards.
The secret weapon of savvy, creative apartment-dwellers, the pegboard has tons of unexpected uses. It's spatially economical in addition to being a low-cost solution, and it's adjustable to boot. Rearrange the shelves (or nix them all together and just use pegs) any time you want to switch things up. We really the trio that Mandi from Vintage Revivals employed in this living room makeover.
10. Don't forget about the corners.
When decorating an apartment, there isn't a square inch to waste. Use all of the available space, including the corners. Follow the lead of this bedroom nook, and turn to a pair of potted plants and a standing mirror to effortlessly dress up your space.
11. Have fun with wall decals.
Here's a plant that doesn't need sun or water and doesn't take up a single inch of precious square footage. You can pick up this verdant wall decal from BLIK ($45). DIY projects don't get much easier than this, after all. (Pro tip: You can customize the decal to your heart's content using a pair of scissors to vary the size.)
12. Add some dimension with textured throw pillows.
Want a quick and easy way to dress up your sofa, bed, and lounge chair? Enter accent pillows. These plush cushions are oh-so-handy and come in a plethora of different sizes, textures, colors, and patterns. They can instantly add depth, dimension, and personality to any room they're displayed in. Warning: Once you buy one pillow, you might find it hard to stop.
13. Carve out space for dining.
Oftentimes apartments don't have a separate dining room, but that doesn't mean you can't have one. With a little creative space-planning, it's entirely possible to carve out enough room for a petite table and a couple of chairs. This tiny setup, complete with a round area rug, is a picture-perfect example.
14. Skip the headboard.
Headboards, especially big, tufted ones, can actually take up a surprising amount of space. So skip the headboard altogether, which is what Krista Robertson did in her apartment. A simple mirror above the bed and fluffy pillows are all she needs. We're big fans of her colorful collection of Hunter wellies, too.
15. Pay attention to the hallway.
With so much attention being paid to larger areas like the living room and bedroom, the hallway is often an afterthought. But this little thoroughfare deserves some consideration. You don't have to do anything extensive, but consider hanging a few pieces of art and throw down a runner.
16. Keep the color palette cohesive throughout the entire apartment.
Stick to a color palette throughout your apartment for a cohesive finish, especially if you're working with an open layout. For instance, in this studio apartment belonging to Keys Smith, the dining area, with its white table and gray chairs, echoes the gray sofa and white sideboard seen in the living room. Even the white bed linens and gray headboard complement the neutral scheme.
17. Opt for a petite nightstand.
One of the downsides to apartment living is a tiny bedroom. This calls for furniture pieces that are proportionate. Take, for example, the small nightstand tucked in snugly between the bed and the sofa in this apartment belonging to Karst Rauhé, featured on Jojotastic. Bonus points for the midcentury flair.
As you sift through design ideas for your apartment living room, you might be fixated on traditional coffee tables. Instead, we propose the route that Courtney Michaels took in her space, using a large, tufted ottoman as a "coffee table." It also works as a footrest and additional seating in a pinch.
19. Make the most out of small spaces.
When working with a small apartment, you'll likely need to adhere to the "less is more" philosophy. Read: Be very picky with your decor choices. Keep to a tight color palette and only display the items that you cherish the most, something that Lori Dail mastered in this space featured on Jojotastic.
20. Put the walls to work.
Sure, you could fill your limited wall space with artwork. Or, you could use it for functional shelving à la Kyle Krieger. Go with a ladder-style solution to display an assortment of books, candles, and houseplants. Pair with a couple of floating shelves as well for good measure.